PROFILE

Clive Booth

A close-up of the head and torso of a man wrapping his arms around his body.

An intimate close-up of Birmingham Royal Ballet Principal dancer Tyrone Singleton by Canon Ambassador Clive Booth. "I met Tyrone at The Photography Show in 2017," explains Clive. "An accomplished photographer himself, he had attended one of my talks on the Canon Live stage and we struck up a friendship. We've since collaborated on several ambitious photographic projects." Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/160 sec, f/2.2 and ISO100. © Clive Booth

After 20 years as a graphic designer, Clive Booth decided to follow his lifelong ambition of becoming a photographer and filmmaker. The British Canon Ambassador is now in constant demand for his atmospheric fashion, beauty and portrait imagery.

Not only is Clive Booth a celebrated photographer and filmmaker but he's also still a practising graphic designer. "I like to think of myself as a designer with a camera," he says. "In the early 90s, I had shot stills and films for the Royal Geographic Society in the High Arctic, among polar bears and icebergs. I also worked as a cameraman for BBC TV, and in particular [British children's TV show] Blue Peter, but I never went professional; it was simply down to a lack of confidence. I had commissioned and art-directed photographers for years until finally, in 2003, a chance event changed my life."
This chance event occurred when Clive agreed to help at a charity event on the Scottish Island of Islay to raise money for the RNLI and the Children's Hospice for Scotland. Clive and his team rowed around the Island, which is famous for its whisky, on old skiff boats, picking up whisky from each of its then eight distilleries, with the idea of creating a unique blend to auction off.

"I had agreed to design the label and a photographer friend agreed to do the shoot," Clive continues, "but he broke his leg a week before and rather than let everyone down, I hired two cameras and did the photography myself. It was a seminal moment, which gave me the confidence to begin a career as a photographer."
A headshot of Canon Ambassador Clive Booth.

Location: UK
Specialist areas: Portrait, fashion and beauty
Favourite kit:
Canon EOS R5
Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM
A black and white portrait of an elderly man holding a moon-shaped orb in front of his face.

A portrait of Apollo 15 command module pilot Al Worden. In 1971, Al orbited the moon 74 times on what was one of the Apollo space programme's most ambitious and complex missions. "I ordered the moon globe just two days before the shoot," says Clive. "I wasn't really sure if the idea would work and I only had 15 minutes to take the picture." Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/40 sec, f/8 and ISO400. © Clive Booth

A black and white image of water cascading over a woman's upwards tilted face.

An image from Clive's 'Elements' photoshoot, which depicted Earth, Air, Fire and Water. "We built a waterfall in the studio," he explains. Taken on a Canon EOS 5DS R with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM) at 1/125 sec, f/8 and ISO100. © Clive Booth

It would be another twist of fate, this time in 2006, which would give Clive the professional push he needed. "I had been working with LVMH (Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE) as a designer, but my passion for photography had led me to taking my camera everywhere, including some very lavish Moët parties.

"One such party was to celebrate the then 25-year career of fashion photographer Nick Knight. I took along my Canon EOS 5D and 85mm prime, and shot a series of candid reportage pictures – all in low light – which at the time was very new, as literally every other photographer was using flash. Moët sent my edit to Nick and he phoned me the next day – within a few weeks I was shooting backstage at London Fashion week for his online fashion magazine SHOWstudio.com."

It was here that he developed his distinctive style of selective focus with natural, available, continuous, found light. It's this style that gives his work an atmospheric, ethereal quality.

Today, Clive's unique style, along with constant experimentation with new technologies and techniques, has attracted numerous international clients. These include fashion brands House of Holland, Hackett London, Louis Vuitton, H&M and beauty brands Amouage, Shu Uemura, MAC Cosmetics and L'Oréal. He also works for corporate giants including Asus, Intel, Fiat, EY (formerly Ernst & Young) and Aston Martin, and runs visual storytelling workshops for Canon's Young People Programme, the Ideas Foundation, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and the Ian Parry Scholarship.
A black and white portrait of a ballerina bending down to pull her tights over her ballet shoe.

A romantic portrait of Birmingham Royal Ballet Principal Ballerina Jenna Roberts in rehearsal for Romeo and Juliet, the final performance of her career. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM) at 1/1250 sec, f/1.4 and ISO3200. © Clive Booth

A dancer draped in red material that billows like a flame.

A picture for Birmingham Royal Ballet's innovative Ballet Now programme. "Juanjo Arqués's Ignite, inspired by J.M.W. Turner's painting The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, received its world premiere in Birmingham [UK]," explains Clive. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens at 1/250 sec, f/2.8 and ISO400. © Clive Booth

Islay remains an important place for Clive. One of his personal projects is a long-term study capturing the day-to-day life of the people on the island and its landscape. This includes working closely with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and HM Coastguard. Clive regards this work as some of the most rewarding of his career.

He is also hugely passionate about the art of photography and filmmaking. His deep level of understanding, along with his keenness to always be at the forefront of technological change and advancing processes and equipment, has meant that he has been one of the first in Europe to shoot stills and films using the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EOS C300, Canon EOS C300 Mark II, Canon EOS C500 in 4K, Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon EOS 5DS, Canon EOS 5DS R, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS R.

He was also the first in the world to shoot with a pre-production Cinema EOS C700 and the first to make an HDR film for Canon Europe using the Canon DP-V2420 reference display. His study and love of fine art print-making has led him to be chosen to be the first in Europe to use the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 and Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000, and he has recently constructed a live-streaming studio for running online print workshops, to share his enthusiasm and pass on his knowledge.
How do you prepare for a shoot?
"Before nearly every shoot, whether it's a film or stills, we create a several-page treatment that gives us a kind of script to work to. I try to think through every possible scenario and outcome. I fear failure, so the best way to succeed is to prepare."

How has your background in graphic design helped you as a photographer?
"My decades as a designer have helped hone a skill for very quickly assessing a scene to decide what will and won't work. I have a kind of library of composition in my head, and it's become instinctive."

What source of lighting do you prefer?
"I am obsessed with light, particularly natural, available and – my favourite! – window light. I rarely shoot with flash, although I do occasional studio shoots. Every so often I light for both film and stills using tungsten, which is so soft, atmospheric and complementary."

How much work do you do in post?
"I often estimate that my pictures are around 80% in the capture and 20% in post-production. This goes back to preparation because I want to give every shoot a look and feel."

In your experience, how can a photographer stand out from the crowd?
"I'm an early adopter of technology, and will use whatever I can to give my work a point of difference – whether that is through collaborating with other creatives who are doing new and cool stuff, or through lighting, lens, location, subject or technology."

One thing I know

Clive Booth

"Preparation is key. Do your research and have a clear vision of the outcome, even if this changes. Going in with an idea is always better than winging it. If you can, take time to get to know your subject or sitter and find some common ground, as so often photography isn't about the technical but more about interpersonal skills. Learning to edit your work is one of the hardest skills to develop and it's vital to know what to keep and what to lose. Always go for a 'less is more' approach; it's better to submit three great pictures than 20 average ones!"

Instagram: @cliveboothphoto

Twitter: @cliveboothphoto

Website: clivebooth.com

Youtube: Home – a film by Clive Booth

Clive Booth's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Clive Booth's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses, a printer and printer paper.

Cameras

Canon EOS R5

A professional full-frame mirrorless flagship camera offering photographers and filmmakers high resolution stills and 8K video. "For stills I have the highest resolution RF camera yet giving unprecedented DPRAW capability for print. For video, I have multiple shoot capabilities in HD, 4K and 8K capture, all wrapped up in a compact, light, robust body," says Clive. "This is, quite simply, the best Canon camera I have ever used."

Canon EOS R6

See and shoot subjects in completely new ways and add a new dimension to your visual storytelling. "For fast action, low light and a super-wide colour gamut, this serves as both B and A camera depending on the shoot and shooting conditions," says Clive.

Lenses

Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM

This RF lens offers superlative sharpness, added creative control and a remarkable low-light performance. "If I had to choose one prime for all shoots it would be this one," says Clive. "When I want to keep my equipment to a minimum it's this lens that I turn to. Fast, sharp and very portable, it's ideal for almost any situation and subject matter."

Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM

A lens that excels at producing flattering portraits with exquisite sharpness. "I built a career shooting fashion, beauty, portrait and landscapes with the EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM," Clive explains. "The RF version takes the focal length to new levels with increased speed and sharpness from corner-to-corner, beautiful bokeh with superb build quality and weatherproofing. I like to use this lens for shooting landscapes, often adding atmosphere with selective focus at f/1.2."

Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM

Ultra-wide and super sharp thanks to L-series optical quality and 5-stop image stabilisation for dynamic angles even in tight spaces. "An excellent all-round focal length that's ideal for landscape, interiors, street and even portrait photography," says Clive. "It's one of my favourite zooms for filmmaking, especially in dusty or difficult locations where you need a wide variety of focal lengths."

Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM

Give your full-frame mirrorless photography the professional edge with a 24-70mm zoom boasting a fast aperture and 5-stops of image stabilisation. Clive says: "For many this will be the go-to zoom, offering the most versatile range of focal lengths for both stills and video. My equipment list would not be complete without this lens."

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

An essential lens in the professional trio of zooms and the perfect companion for news, sport and travel. "With the RF version of the 70-200mm f/2.8L, Canon has managed to pack a huge amount of capability into a very small and light form factor," says Clive. "As with all the RF lenses, this is beautifully made and thought through. This is my fourth Canon 70-200mm zoom, and unquestionably the best."

Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM

A zoom with high pulling power and unparalleled versatility. Clive says: "I love shooting with this lens. Having such a huge range of focal lengths makes it a very useful addition on any shoot, especially when a longer focal length is needed. I particularly enjoy using it for landscape photography as it causes me to look at the world differently, particularly at 500mm."

Accessories

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300

Wonderfully compact yet highly professional, this A3+ printer offers rich and vibrant photographs every time. "The newest printer to enter my studio, the PRO-300 is especially good for black and white archival printing and produces perfect edge-to-edge prints up to A3+," says Clive. "A perfect choice for those wanting to start making short-run gallery archival prints for themselves."

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000

Print in stunning quality with a 12-ink system up to A2. Clive says: "I was involved in the launch of this printer back in 2015 and it's been my go-to workhorse for A3 and A2 fine art archival printing ever since. With larger capacity ink tanks than the PRO-300 and A2 capability, this is a perfect choice for those wanting to monetise their work with larger print runs."

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000

The ultimate large format printer for photographic and fine art printing - with unparalleled 24-inch production output and reliability. "As with all imagePROGRAF printers, the PRO-2000 delivers the same world-class quality fine art archival printing but at 24in with dual paper feed," says Clive. "Very large capacity ink and large print roll and sheet feed capability make this a perfect choice for large format and large print runs – and it's quick too!"

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