“Pop” by Mackney – Hunger Games Inspired Photoshoot

Pop – a place full of character…

A couple of months ago I purchased a voucher for my son to have a “Hunger Games” photoshoot at award-winning photographer Simon Mackney’s “Pop Studio” in Derby. After having to cancel about five times due to both mine and my husband’s busy schedules, we finally set a date.

My husband has actually known Simon for some time and has told me on frequent occasions how amazing his work is, so I couldn’t wait to go along to his “pop up” studio which is temporarily located in the Intu shopping centre in Derby. “Pop Studio” which Simon named after the popular types of art, has been in the Intu centre in Derby since the 1st August 2015 and will be there until October 30th.

The idea behind Simon’s studio came to him whilst he was in bed for five days with a chest infection. He had been doing fairy tale type shoots for girls for about a year but many people had mentioned that it would be nice if they could offer a photo-shoot suitable for boys. Simon’s thoughts quickly developed and all his ideas for “Pop Studio” came rushing in at once.

Simon’s wonderful wife Wendy worked hard on securing a grant from Derby Council which would allow the two of them (who work hard as a team in the business) to expand outside the original studio: “Mackney Photography” which is also based in Derby at a place called Darley Abbey. You can imagine their delight when the five figure grant was confirmed; the race was now on to get the studio up and running.

In order to turn his ideas into reality, Simon would need help from his freelance set designer friends to acquire a professional aspect to his images rather than a “green screen” look which is what many other studios of this sort tend to use.

Simon wanted the real deal so he finally approached his friends who have designed sets for films such as: Harry Potter and James Bond. After much persuasion they agreed and produced what can only be described as pieces of art in the form of impressive props, scenery and backdrops which many lucky children are photographed in dressed as either: a fairy, their favourite superhero or a character from Hunger Games.

The sets are truly amazing which not only makes the photo-shoot a great experience for the children, it is also really enjoyable for the parents; especially since the children get a selection of fab clothing to wear on the day. Each child can choose anything from fairy costumes to super hero accessories and Huger Games inspired clothing.

Let us begin…

I had no idea what to expect from “Pop” but upon arriving all three of us were overly impressed with the style of the studio. Simon was actually standing in the door way with one of his assistants; they were chatting to passers-by who were stopping to admire the fabulous art work displayed in the windows and as usual some were asking if the images were paintings or photographs which Simon sees as a huge compliment to his creations.

We never imagined for one minute that we would be lucky enough to have Simon as our photographer for the day; we just assumed he would be at his other studio which is based in Darley Abbey. Obviously we were very happy and felt extremely lucky when we discovered that he would be doing our shoot.

We were shown inside to the very funky, almost industrial looking studio where there were more amazing pictures of past photo-shoots hung on each wall. Simon and his team made my son feel welcome by showing him to the coolest table I have ever seen (which Simon told me had been created by using vintage comics), gave him a “Pop” canvas bag to colour in along with some felt tips and gave us a quick run through of what the shoot would entail.

We were not rushed or hurried along and after about ten minutes we were shown through to the sets at the back of the studio. I have never seen anything quite like it before, not in real life anyway. The sets really were of the highest standard. No detail has been spared and it was clear to see that Simon has gone over and beyond with everything in the studio, ensuring that each child has an experience like no other.

Simon’s assistant was preparing the set for us. She was a very friendly girl and got Joseph all sorted with the appropriate clothing for his shoot making him feel really special. Once everything was perfect (the set was clean and tidy with everything in its place); Simon began taking the photographs.

Our shoot lasted about an hour but it went so fast. I actually feel really honoured that we were able to watch such a talented and passionate photographer work with our son, giving him clear instructions and getting the best out of him whilst making him feel relaxed. Simon was keen for him to have fun and encouraged him to express himself and try new things. Simon definitely has a knack for working with children and Joseph loved every minute of it.

After the shoot I grabbed five minutes with Simon and we talked about how he hopes that his “art work” will have a place on people’s walls forever, he wants families to cherish the photographs for years to come. Simon went on to tell me that the editing stage that takes place after the shoot is a lengthy yet very worthwhile process, many special effects are added which helps to make each photograph appear lifelike. Every piece created is the epitome of perfection, so much so that many people are brought to tears when attending the viewing – which is usually scheduled in for about five weeks after the shoot.

The members of staff that work at Pop weren’t backwards in coming forwards about how much the studio means to them. They all love working there and feel very passionate about what they do. They were all happy to speak up about the high end finish of Simon’s work saying that they think of his work as “incredible pieces of art”. They also joked that Simon’s studio is the Harrods of the photographic industry and I have to say, I totally agree!

To see examples of Simon’s other photographic work click here. I will also be putting pieces of his work in my blog after we have had our viewing.

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