Thursday, 26 February 2015

Bonjour from Paris

“Do you still take pictures when you’re not working?”


This must be the silliest question I get asked by friends and associates far removed from my work circles. Of course I take pictures when I am not working. It is my passion for photography that led me to what I do - I cannot not take pictures. On the other hand I don’t feel a compulsive need to snap at everything just because I am there and I have a camera. I like to capture the things that grab me visually, and they aren't always what people expect from a friend with a camera. Shooting for myself gives me freedom. If I capture a crap photo then no-one need see it, if one or two I capture are great then even better. Also a camera often helps me find new things that I wouldn't have seen otherwise particularly in new places.  


On holiday my camera helps me explore the places I visit, this was definitely the case in Paris. We went there for two days (don’t tell me the freedom to travel around the EU isn't a wonderful thing!) and I took a fair few photos. I’d never been to Paris before and found the city very relaxing. It is full of nooks and crannies, empty squares and awesome bridges. I ate my first steak there and, rather stereotypically, thought the food was delicious. It is also one of those rare places where the tourist attractions are worth the fame they are given. The Eiffel tower is incredible and the Louvre is just mind-blowing.

Enough talking, onto the photos - here is my wintry Paris:

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

What an inspiration - Tiri Hughes for Blind Children UK

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Which sense do you rely on most? As a photographer I can only answer this question in one way - without the sense of vision I would not be able to do my job and not be able to do what I love. I would also think that my general activity levels would be much lower - goodbye my regular cycle rides to Richmond park, goodbye swims in the local pool, farewell kite surfing. Losing my eyesight would probably ruin me in the current sense of me.


It did not ruin Tiri Hughes whom I photographed for Blind Children UK a few weeks ago. Tiri is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. She was diagnosed with a number of genetic ocular conditions in early childhood and would describe herself as being able to see about 5% of what normal vision would provide you with. She uses a cane and is applying to get a guide dog when she is old enough. And she just happens to be an internationally acclaimed, medal-winning athlete. She has represented the UK at disability swimming and gymnastic championships across the world and can bend in ways I never could.


This clash between apparent physical limitation and the freedom I associate with exercise provided my head with so much inspiration it was hard to choose just one setting for our shoot. We started off taking photos of Tiri in the gym - classic portraits perfect for my brief from the charity - to produce a library of publicity photographs they can use when promoting their work with visually impaired children. Gym ticked off, I had this mad idea of taking Tiri somewhere everyday and normal and asking her to do something completely abnormal. Having called all the supermarkets in Devon (or so it felt) I finally managed to convince ASDA in Torquay to block off their freezer aisle for our photoshoot for a few minutes. Tiri tried out a few different gymnastics moves and we ended up with a great shot of her doing a handstand. She was so at ease throwing the poses against the freezes I was just amazed.



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For anyone who can barely cartwheel on the carpet at home without severe head injuries (i.e. most of us) Tiri can certainly be an inspiration. Thank you Blind Children UK and Tiri Hughes for the awesome opportunity. Also thanks to the manager of ASDA in Torquay for letting us use his space in rush hour.

You can find out more about Blind Children UK’s work on their website: http://www.blindchildrenuk.org/

Friday, 13 February 2015

Six years photographing the same woman



One person has been in front of my lens more than any other. With beautiful red hair, a totally infectious smile and about five thousand different expressions she is wonderful to capture images of. I speak of course of Olga. Not only a wonderful model but also my best friend, girlfriend and greatest critic. I have been photographing her since the first day we met and have amassed a huge library of images.


After six years of sharing our time on earth I decided it was time to look back through my archives and find all the photos I have taken of Olga. What a journey that gave me. Memories came flooding back with each and every image: the time we moved into our first flat, the time we travelled around Italy together, the first time I did a proper studio shoot, the time we went to France and ate too much cheese - so many little things that had faded into the past came back with full force and I lived them again.

This is what is so wonderful about photography: it has a power to bring memories and emotions flooding back. I love watching people look at photographs: they smile, laugh, point, shout and go sad. Even more so if they are photographs of people they know or times they shared. I made a book for Olga including many of her portraits and watching her look through it was a wonderful experience. The memories of our time together showing through the expressions on her face.

So I share here just a few of these pictures, some taken 6 years ago and some taken a few days ago. All of them taken out of a fascination with this amazing woman. Thanks for the good times Olga!








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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Happy employees mean happy customers - Recruitment shoots for ThirtyThree


What springs to mind when you hear “recruitment”? I used to think of people in badly cut suits sat in characterless offices asking you questions like “If you were a supermarket chain, which one would you be and why?” as if this insight was helpful when deciding if you can handle the responsibility of being a barista at Starbucks. Having never filed a single application to what one might consider a “normal job” you must excuse me for thinking this, the way I get commissioned is a rather different process. And as I said, I used to think this, until ThirtyThree came along and asked me to do a few shoots for their clients.


ThirtyThree are an employer branding and marketing agency based in Bristol. I have worked with them regularly over the last few years which I feel has given me a bit of an insight into the world of HR. One shoot for Admiral Insurance recruitment focusing on Admiral’s call centres.


Call centres are another one of those jobs we probably all have a clear image of and it is unlikely to be a very colourful one. Oh, how wrong you would be. Call-centre work is all about the team. When photographing the teams in South Wales I got the impression that almost everyone was having fun. Admiral value their people as they realise that an unhappy person answering your call will probably mean you will not be very happy after the call is over. They organise weekends away for their teams, competitions for the most successful calls and other such entertainment. And when the workers need a break they even have space hoppers and indoor golf to bring back your joy.

Making an open plan office a thrilling background is always a creative challenge. Luckily our focus was on the people and the upbeat atmosphere of the place meant I has a row of volunteers wanting to take part in promoting their awesome jobs to other potential candidates. We took photos of the teams at work - professionals remaining professional but certainly having fun. Hope you guys also leave your jobs feeling as bubbly as the Admiral team.

















Thank you ThirtyThree for a number of great commissions! Also if you think you might want to join Admiral’s team, they have a careers website: https://admiraljobs.co.uk/

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

A bit of sunshine - Ben Fogle for Crew Clothing

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Waking up to a layer of wet snow when you know you need to head out is not fun. The summer couldn't seem further away so I think I am going to introduce some sunshine to the blog this week by reminiscing about the summer gone.


A while back I blogged about photographing Billy Twelvetrees in Salcombe for Crew Clothing. Billy was however not the only Crew ambassador launching the Stand Up Paddle Tour - Ben Fogle was also there. Ben and I have met on a few occasions before and I always look forward to photographing him. He is one of those annoying people who get along brilliantly with everyone and the whole team at Crew adore him. Three minutes into a chat with him and you would adore him to - he is simply a great guy.


Ben was judging a sand castle contest and trying out SUP and my task was to take some photos of him looking awesome for Crew’s online promotion of the event. I took some straight up portraits of Ben and then we took a board and headed to the sea. The sun was shining, the waves were rolling gently around us and Ben was distracted by the quality conversation we were having, he did not notice that half of the kids present at the event slowly approached him from behind and within seconds … pushed him off his board into the sea. Being the lovely guy he is, Ben didn’t seem to mind. I guess having ultramarathoned across the Sahara and crossing the Atlantic in a rowing boat prepares you for almost anything.

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A big thanks to Crew Clothing for an ongoing relationship always involving some sand, sea or sunshine.