Tag Archives: photography

Seabird

There’s a song that was introduced to me quite some time back. Introduced by someone I keenly listen to – and very much to my benefit. He has not only a knack for patience but a wonderfully eloquent affection for music.

It’s called Seabird, by the Alessi Brothers. It’s extraordinary and has a certain but effortless melancholy, enough to suit your very own and quickly dispel it.

And I have been away from land too long and need to come home…

…so I am back with great excitement and enthusiasm – and a familiar sense of calm and serenity that follows an outpouring of words – not indulged for years.

It’s exciting to be again rolling with the blog-post-punches and expressing a little of my one true love and motivation…other than my most beloved motorbike, of course.

Here’s a few from a recent jaunt to the Brecon Beacons in Wales. Skirrid Mountain it’s called, or to call it by it’s real name, Ysgyryd Fawr or ‘Holy Mountain’.

It’s the first time in years I’ve taken pictures only for myself and me alone. Oh how I loved it, running and darting about, falling over and perspiring energetically.

There’s nothing really more to them than a re-stoked fire, picking up a fiercer flame.

And that’s the beauty.

 

 

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

Thrill

Yesterday was a hugely productive day. My new camera and lens were both taken for a spin, proper.

Absolutely thrilling.

Again, these photos form part of an ongoing project that has now entered its second year.

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Exercise in Understanding

Last week was especially exciting and comprised part of an extraordinary ongoing project. It involved sleeping rough, running and getting quite wet – all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

What was most rewarding though, was the fantastically raw insight into the Guards regiment I ve been following for over half a year. The scarlet tunics and bearskin caps that had occupied all those months in camp and on the parade ground had been stripped away and all that remained were the gritty faces and battered uniforms of infantry soldiers – on exercise.

This abrupt aberration – from public duties to war-fighting – presented me with a problem. The matter of understanding these guys and their work had taken on another much more thought-provoking dimension not directly experienced before. Subsequently it has become increasingly more complicated to project what I deem to be an honest and just portrayal of blokes I’ve known and liked for nearly a year.

Fortunately the route taken to understand who or what you are photographing is often the most rewarding and the photographs become merely a by-product of that endeavour. In this case, I have embraced the venture and each new challenge is undertaken with vigorous determination – and an exceptionally open mind.

The selection of appropriate images is therefore one of the most challenging aspects of this project – and indeed any body of work. What seems appropriate presently will feel inadequate, inaccurate and unfair tomorrow as a more substantial understanding develops.

I ve chosen to omit the laughs, the giggles and the wry faces in favour of a more austere aesthetic; the lads were working hard and I’d never embarked on such an endeavour before. Appropriate now (at this very moment in time) is to portray the uncertainty and bewilderment of what I experienced with the immense efforts they exerted.

This post and the difficulties associated and discussed is really only a microcosm of the project at large and perhaps not immediately problematic to anyone who choses to read it. But, for me, it is significant and vexing!

Avoiding cliches is also quite the issue but I’ll leave that for now.

Soon I will put together an anti-austere collection of the austere. In fact, this is a post in flux. Prepare for changes, additions and subtractions.

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On the forage

A few weeks back I spent one day and night at Wallett’s Court, a luxury spa hotel sat, perched upon the white cliffs of the Kent coast. It is the most wonderful and necessary setting often forgotten amongst the concrete streets and plastic houses of London – and any other city for that matter. A short train journey and all immediate concerns are detached, removed and then left at the gates to this 300 year old cottage. Super.

The intention of my visit was to write and photograph a food feature for The Weekender, a Kent based freemium. Wallett’s Court offers foraging courses and it was to be a day out rummaging through the ‘garden of England’, clay pigeon shooting and ‘tasting’  –  as well as the jacuzzi, sauna and enormous wide-screen TV in my room.

It was, however, still mid-February, blowing a gale, and a little nippy. There wasn’t too much to forage either.

That said, Spring and Summer are the best seasons to get out and by all accounts extraordinarily fruitful.

I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys walking – and then eating.

Ancient Roman pottery is found everywhere. The many years of ploughing have turned it out of the ground where it can easily be seen

Hedges like this offer great foraging opportunities - once you've been told what to look for!

Gavin Oakley, the owner of Wallett's Court

Sea Beet

Smoked and pressed pork belly with black pig black pudding

Sea Beet

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The Barking billboards and photoconceptualism

Never have I been offered such a fantastic opportunity.

But before I begin, I must thank all those who helped. Without your willingness to sacrifice time and expend energy on my behalf, this wouldn’t have worked as well as it did. Many thanks to you all.

In March, I was asked to shoot three billboard images for Barking and Dagenham council. Working in collaboration with Muf architecture, I set about the project with zeal and zest. I had no idea what lay ahead; an extraordinary amount of stress, deliberation and some serious learning curves with gradients to suit.

How brilliant it all was!

Katherine, the lovely artist partner at Muf architecture, met me two weeks before the agreed shoot day. We talked concepts, wishes and hopes. Articulating the concept photographically and producing the project were my responsibilities. These were new duties and ones I had to learn on-the-go. I felt much like a long distance runner learning to sprint short distances – unable to regulate my breathing.

The architects had already redesigned and supervised the construction of an arboretum in Barking town square; there sat also a mock ruin designed by Muf. My job was to provide images for the billboards leading up to the space. The regenerated area sits rather incongruously, set within a stretch of concrete jungle and drab high streets. What it does, however, is set the tone for a newer, remodelled Barking. Whether this is an achievable challenge, I am not to pass judgement. It is, though, with the best intentions, a great project in a once great area of London. Back in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Barking was one of the largest fishing ports in England.

The images themselves. Jeff Wall was to be the main photographic inspiration. In 1970s Vancouver, Wall amongst others, pioneered photoconceptualism. He meticulously reconstructed scenes he had witnessed in his day-to-day ramblings, and other images he had imagined initially as concepts. It’s all rather new to me, but immensely exciting and has definitely enhanced my photographic perspectives.

The aim was to use a dystopian bass note, add some optimism and then throw in three pre/post-apocalyptic scenarios for the actors to follow. I wanted the contrived scenes to appear as ‘natural’ as possible. I hoped that I could articulate the scenarios coherently so that the actors could then self-generate the scenes with little guidance and interference – it had to be fluid.

All the actors were tremendous and I was truly impressed by their ‘get-up-and-go’ attitude.

Community, duty, care and re-engagement with the local area were the buzzwords we worked with.

Below are some locations I scouted leading up the shoot. I acted upon Katherine’s advice, and headed up to Hampstead Heath.

We used this backdrop

The Scenarios

The two chosen images, to be split across three billboards

In situ

I appreciate that all that has been written and conveyed may not be all that coherent!

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Debauchery

Nightclubs are not the greatest photographic playground, but they do pay.

This night was the brainchild of a very good friend. It’s not necessarily my cup of tea, but I really do appreciate the effort he puts into it. After all, we can’t all be far-sighted entrepreneurs.

He demanded quantity; I demanded quality. Perhaps the balance is right.

Welcome to Supperclub and all that played-out within:

My good friend (left)

Et moi, fatigued and ready for the hours of late night editing ahead

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THE FETISH CIRCUS LIFE DRAWING EXTRAVAGANZA

Last night, I was kindly invited to shoot a life drawing class. Only this class was to have a slight twist; models adorned with horns, blindfolds and clown masks sat, straddled and lay upon the furniture, illuminated by a red glow.

Tucked away in the basement of The Book Club, the scene resembled that of a skewed burlesque brothel – a tasteful one, of course. And in the unquoted – and partially forgotten – words of the organiser, this is his inner mind extrapolated and fused into reality, albeit a surreal one. Surrealism aside, there were some truly brilliant artists present and the drawings scattered about were really quite amazing.

It was great fun and allowed me to delve into a new photographic discipline – shooting the nude.

Enter through the curtain:

The 'organiser'

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