Category Archives: news

Baby/Lon

Welcome to a rather brilliant production – with a rather exciting cast – and an even more amazing raison d’etre.

The Big House Theatre Company provides an expressive platform for care leavers who risk falling foul of social exclusion. The company is fronted by Maggie Norris, an extraordinarily enthusiastic and determined woman on a mission to ensure these individuals have a voice.

In fact, their most recent production, Baby/Lon, is based on the experiences of the cast, which only adds to the intensity and power of the play, really!

I was asked to shoot some individual shots of the cast in situ. The light was low, eratic, time minimal and the cast ever-so-slightly ruffled after five days of continuous performing…but…it was great fun and an absolute pleasure.

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Filed under concept, documentary, freelance photographer, london, news, reportage, social photography

Protest, Police and Practice

This Wednesday 2,000-odd protesters took to the streets of London. They gathered outside ULU and then marched towards Moorgate; the cuts were of course the topic of the day. It was also the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe’s first public order nightmare since his taking up the position in September of this year.

‘Total policing’ is the philosophy employed by the new Commissioner and on Nov 9, this style of policing was more than apparent as 4,000 officers escorted the protesters along the route of march, ensuring that no break-away groups caused havoc along the way – and because policing appears far less complex in a controlled space.

It was largely free from drama other than the odd bottle thrown and occasional prod from the police.

More importantly for me, I met an accomplished photojournalist and accompanied him throughout the day. A great chance to listen, learn and sprint to positions of photographic opportunity. I am deeply appreciative of his help and mentoring.

The following photographs are without a specific focus other than to convey a little of the atmosphere of the march. Protests are a great challenge to shoot and allow you to test acquired knowledge and techniques in a fast-paced and plentiful environment.

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Filed under freelance photographer, london, news, photo essay, photojournalism, social photography, Uncategorized

War Memorials Trust and Portcullis House

Earlier last week the War Memorials Trust officially launched their new initiative, In Memoriam 2014. The grand affair took place in Portcullis House and a plethora of extraordinary characters were present; from Lords and an Admiral, to Chelsea Pensioners and a George Cross decorated Royal Marine – oh, and politicians too.

The photos comprise part of my ongoing photo-essay, In Memoriam 2014.

This is Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher of the Royal Marines. While in Afghanistan he was awarded the George Cross for jumping onto a grenade ensuring no one other than himself would be killed or wounded in the blast. Fortunately for him, he walked away relatively unscathed. He is keen to raise awareness for In Memoriam 2014 and a number of charities.

Matt Croucher with two Chelsea Pensioners; Korean war veteran Bryan Shanks and former Royal Marine, David Griffin

Cadets from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

Frances Moreton (right), Director of War Memorials Trust

Matt Croucher GC, David Griffin, Admiral Lord West of Spithead and Bryan Shanks

Trust board member, Colin Amery (left)

Two cadets take names of those present

Frances Moreton and Conservative MP, Mark Francois

Former Royal Marine, David Griffin

A young cadet

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Failing to Shoot a Riot

NB : This is not a discussion of cause and effect, nor potential remedies. It is merely the ramblings of a young photographer who wants desperately to learn

All of us saw the disturbing scenes broadcast last week. I am sure, then, that the images below are not new, nor are they at all comprehensive. There is little of the flame and fire and unfortunate episodes of looting that have so aptly characterised the UK riots. These omissions frustrate me for now the following images show nothing of the ‘Broom army’, vigilantes, politicians nor those who have lost homes, businesses and cars. They are two hours and two hours only.

Last week’s episode ducked and dived at an extraordinary pace. Keeping up with events was a nightmare; respected news outlets were finding the same difficulties. Twitter had turned into a bird bath of uncensored and, in some cases, rather inflammatory rubbish. According to some tweeters, the Olympic Stadium was engulfed in flames, and to others, the relatively ‘normal’ sound of sirens meant only death and destruction and rioting. Making sense of such public hysteria was made increasingly difficult by the the number of actual flashpoints across the city – and their distance from each other. A car or motorbike was needed and I have neither – yet.

Another facet of my failure – and this is of the greatest significance to me – was the ability to immerse oneself into a seemingly merciless environment. One slip could lead – and in some cases did – to a rather swift and brutal relinquishing of hard-earned equipment. Perhaps even a bashing would result. In any case, the weighing-up of what you hope to achieve by shooting in these environments would always be contrasted against what you are willing to endure. A far more extreme example can be found amongst servicemen and women; neither wish for disfigurement or death but all are willing to take that risk – knowingly or not (?) – in the pursuit of dreams, aspirations and excitement. This was my first ‘dangerous’ environment and I, selfishly or not, wanted to test myself – to see if I could still work under duress.

I arrived on the north side of Hackney Central at 1600. My house is 10 minutes up the road and I have lived in Hackney for three years now. I am very fond of the area. On Monday it was neither homely nor accessible. Initially, I followed a group of riot police about 25 strong. They were understandably anxious and a little on edge. Having realised that I wouldn’t get onto Mare Street, I doubled back and headed towards Clarence Road. It was bizarre. Up the road was a largely balaclava-clad mob that had set up a series of barricades to hinder police movement. They were gearing up for the troubles soon to ensue.

Within 15 minutes of arriving, I bumped into another photographer who appeared more experienced than myself (a simple task in this situation). I followed him to shoot a few photos of fortress Clarence and its occupiers. We moved to within about 20 metres of the burning bins and immediately received a volley of missiles. I dashed to take cover behind some riot vans only to find myself quickly moved away by police. I got back on Clarence Road and there I remained for two hours or so. Had it not been for some very worried friends, I am convinced that I would have stayed. I chose to shoot with a small 50mm and wore scruffy clothes. In light of the obvious atmosphere towards photographers, it was clear that discretion and timing were necessary to avoid a bashing. It was a risk I felt compelled to take and my premature return to safety left me restless, frustrated and slightly on edge. Next time…he says.*

* There is so much to be said about ‘why’ you would or wouldn’t want to watch or simply be around the destruction of people’s livelihoods and outbursts of primal rage. There is most definitely something to be said about witnessing history in the                                                                making – however nauseating that expression can be. These riots are significant. Perhaps something positive can result – or at least be better understood.

What played out in Hackney and other parts of the city and country last week was extreme. It had to be covered and I hope that the images and videos recorded will remain and remind.

Some interesting links:

Jonesblog – a great blog 

All That Life Can Afford – photo essay

The Psychology of Looting – Guardian piece

Dave Hill’s blog on the riots – Guardian

Riot police make their way to Mare Street, Hackney

A father and son watch riot police rush to Mare Street. (re-edit)

North end of Mare Street, Hackney.

Clarence Road, Hackney. This was taken 10 minutes before the chaos

Residents, Clarence Road, Hackney

Hurling a bottle at police about 15m away

The police are only 15m away - and 10-or-so in number

“If you want to understand democracy, spend less time in the library with Plato, and more time in the buses with people.”

Simeon Strunsky

Guardian photo coverage

The riots

The clean-up

The aftermath

Police raids and politicians 

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Festival of the Bicycle, Mabley Green

Welcome to a sun-filled Sunday and bicycles. Yesterday saw Festival of the Bicycle play out on Mabley Green, Homerton. It was a great and eventful afternoon of racing, posing and entrepreneurial excitement.

I am particularly fond of this area. Having spent a super two years here, it was good to be back.

Oh, and I am now horrifically rose-red and my face feels a little warm.

Labour MP Meg Hillier opens the festival

 

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Filed under freelance photographer, london, news, photo essay, photography, photojournalism, reportage, summer

The Recyclers

Curiosity and chance meetings.

A few weeks back, I met two waste removal men. They drive about London collecting industrial waste from sites of construction and emptied office blocks. All that they collect is then offloaded in a Tottenham based recycling plant.

I asked if I could spend a day with them and they kindly accepted. Better than that, the guys at the recycling plant were very keen to put together some photographs of what they do and how they do it. I am especially eager to develop this project further. I personally know little about recycling and the different stages involved; the lifting, the sifting and the sifted.

Here are a few photos from my van-borne venture. They are my testing of the waste-water, and I am convinced that there is photographic mileage in this project.

The van

Meet Paul

And Lawrence

The builders

The digger driver

And dinner

Many thanks Paul and Lawrence

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Filed under freelance photographer, london, news, photo essay, photography, photojournalism, reportage, social photography, summer, Uncategorized

Pensions and Protests

Me and my 50.

Public sector workers are rather disgruntled it seems. This Thursday, a great number of them – teachers mainly – took to the streets across the UK. They were protesting against potential reforms to their existing pension schemes. In very simple terms, they are voicing extreme concern over changes that will, in their firm opinion, force them to work more hours for less.

It’s difficult to establish public sentiment on this matter. But one thing is clear; good teachers are bloody important and without them, where would we all be? I wouldn’t be writing that’s for sure. But, but, but, reforms are essential and we must adapt to survive – it’s just working out how…and let us be honest and exact, our options are limited.

It was peaceful and, the few exceptions aside, mild-mannered

The police had taken him away from the main body of protesters. It was all rather minor but that certainly didn't stop a bout of verbal copper bashing

She was also taken away from the main crowd and spoken to - about what no one really knew

Copper bashing

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Filed under freelance photographer, london, news, photo essay, photography, photojournalism, reportage, social photography, summer, Uncategorized