The Great British Barber Bash with the small E-M10

Hello my name is Dave Brown and for the last 7 years I have been using Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras .
I was introduced to the system by a friend who recommended an EPL1 for a trip I would be taking with my family to New York to celebrate my retirement after 32 years as a Firefighter in Merseyside, England. This was going to be a trip of a lifetime and I wanted get some decent photographs to remember the trip. At the same time I didn’t want to be carrying around a full size DSLR all day around New York.

So feeling flush (this wasn’t going to be a cheap trip) I ordered an EPL1 a couple of weeks before we were to set off.
The camera was perfect for the trip , small, lightweight , fantastic image quality and we got some great photos from the trip.

When Olympus brought out its OMD range the EM10 really caught my eye , much more capable than the EPL1 and with the added advantage of a viewfinder.
After attending a couple of Olympus taster sessions, one with Neil Buchan-Grant and another with Steve Gosling, I was hooked, especially as the EM10 Mark two was coming out and the price of the Mark One came down. Throw in the Olympus voucher which was part of the taster package, I got a great deal on a new EM10 with the EZ kit lens.

While walking into our local town one Sunday to take some photos I noticed in one of the local barber shops what turned out to be an education day. It looked interesting so being nosey I just popped in and asked if I could take some photos. There was a photographer already there and he didn’t have a problem so took some shots and got talking to him. It turned out he photographed for an company that promotes the barbering industry and they were due to be holding a large event in Liverpool.


So I just asked could I come along, after seeing some of my work and gaining the OK , I was asked to take the stage stills. So I jumped at the chance. This was my introduction to The Great British Barber Bash.
I would take my other camera a Pentax K5 with a 17-50mm 2.8 and a 50mm 1.8 and thought I would just take the EM10 for some outside shots and would borrow my brothers Lumix 45-150 Panasonic kit lens to mount on the Olympus.

As I found out pretty quickly this would be a big event, 500 attendees, trade stands and barbers from around the country on stage, demonstrating and promoting their skills. there would be stage lighting and no flash. This would be a steep learning curve.
The Pentax images turned out well but the revelation was the Olympus, with what is essentially a kit lens. Sharp shots at silly slow shutter speeds (thanks to the excellent in body stability system) and high ISO images from 800-3200 still looking very usable.

The organisers where more than happy and asked if I would shoot at a few more events and this is where this series of images come from, events at Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.
The events have become much larger attracting international attention with barbers coming from America to demonstrate. These guys are treated like rock and roll stars and the event matches that vibe.
I still shoot with Pentax now upgraded to a K3 and the Olympus has gained the fantastic 45mm F1.8 with the 17mm F1.8 and Lumix 20mm 1.7 in my bag.

There are a few problems to overcome photographing on stage and these are generally low light levels with only stage lighting, a crowded stage, up to four barber chairs being used , four models, four barbers, Judges, video crews, MCs, trailing wires, never mind shooting against the light and trying not getting in the way. The last place I need to be is in front of the barber chair , the paying crowd are there to see the Barber not the back of my head.

The Em10s light weight (essential on a shoot than can last from 10 till 6) incredibly fast auto focus with the 45mm and 17mm , with a brilliant EVF that is basically showing me the image I am going to get as I press the shutter is a great combination.
Much is said about the complex menu system but once set up the camera is so easy to use . I mainly use aperture priority and generally keep between 1.8 and 2.2. just keep an eye to the shutter speed using the ISO (set on FN2).

The 45mm lens is sharp wide open which gives me, without compromise, the light gathering advantage at a wide aperture and this combined with the crop multiplier gives me enough depth of field. With a 90mm equivalent on full frame I am out of the barbers way which is appreciated as they also demonstrate straight razor shaving and the blades are incredibly sharp.

When working at the event my DSLR gets next to no mention but the Olympus does get quite a few comments, remember the people attending and the crews demonstrating are a very creative bunch, it’s part of their job, so they appreciate good form, function and reliability.

The images I provide are mainly for the social media feeds which is so important to getting the word out about the events , so the turnaround has to be pretty rapid , to that end as well as shooting RAW I set up the small jpeg option and these images I can transfer wirelessly to my phone or tablet via the Olympus app and stream up to the media sites very quickly through the day.

Once home, files are downloaded to my computer into Lightroom, a global import is applied and then they are individually adjusted and cropped for composition. Exported and sent via wetransfer to the events media coordinator for publishing on their social media outlets. Once that is done I will have a review and select a few for some more individual work .

Favourite lens has to be the 45mm F1.8, with near instantaneous and accurate focus at a focal length I really enjoy shooting at. Lightweight and inexpensive for what it is capable of, it’s my recommended lens to anyone that asks.
Next on my to buy list has to be an EM5 Mark 2 and I will kit that out with the 17mm 1.8 and the Pentax can stay at home…


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Olympus E-M10
Olympus M.17mmF1.8
Olympus M.45mmF1.8


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