Thursday, December 15, 2011

Always on my mind

Day by day I think of you,
How can all of this be true?
I can't believe you're really gone,
Even though its been so long.

The thought of you still makes me cry,
I never got to say goodbye.
I know we didn't always get along,
And on occasion we got it wrong.
So many things I never got to say,
I never imagined you'd go away.
You were my brother,
And I loved you like no other.
In my heart you'll always be,
You’ll be my guide and help me see.
I'll never forget your soothing voice,
I would take your place if I had a choice.
But now I have to let you rest,
Although without you my world's a mess.
I miss you with all of my heart,
I wish we never had to part. 

Now rest little brother until we meet,
Sharing my time with you was such a treat!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Holding out for a hero

When I was a child my world was full of heroes, some real, most fictitious, but heroes nonetheless. Looking around today, I have to ask - where have all the heroes gone??

As a child I looked up to movie stars such as James Bond, Bruce Lee and of course, Superman. The TV was also a huge influence, full of strong (male-dominated) characters - from He-Man to The A-Team. My friends all wanted to be James Bond - he was cool, had adventures and always got the girl. By today's standards not the most politically correct role model, maybe, but still!

OK, so they were mostly fantasy-based, but they were strong characters and stood for what was right and just, it wasn't about me, me, me! They wanted to make the world a better, safer place for everyone - I grew up wanting to change the world, wanting to be the change, I didn't actually manage it :/
But those values were still embedded and worth holding onto, as I still do today.

Of course, the real heroes of the 20th century were actually the likes of Winston Churchill, Princess Diana and Gandhi, Martin Luther King, mainly because they were steadfast in their goals, and understood how to engage with people on a whole other level.

Today's society seems lost by comparison and their 'heroes' are 15 minute fame grabbing 'celebrities' - the only ambition they have is to be instantaneously rich and famous, and to hell with the world. I wonder what long-term effects this will have on the kids of today? The recent riots may have been a glimpse into their idea of what they perceive as right and wrong and reflect this vision.

Let's not forget the media, who play a huge role in fabricating idol-ism. They build up the 'next big thing' to happily bring them crashing down. We have seen this time and again with the likes of sports stars and musicians.

Given the state of society today, we need heroes more than ever, they offer us hope! Who is/was your hero? Name them and give them the credit they deserve.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Its all Greek to me

Friends, Grecians, Countrymen lend me your ears, for I have a tale to tell.
My vision of Greece was mainly concocted from films like Clash of the Titans, 300, Hercules, and of course, Jason and the Argonauts! Imagine my surprise when I arrived in Crete and saw no evidence of this fantastical notion.
Given that it's steeped in mythology I did expect to see more of this throughout the island - sadly the only place it was prevalent was in the souvenir shops. The unsuspecting traveller may well make this mistake. Today, Greece is famous for its landmark white buildings with blue domes but these images come almost entirely from Santorini, not Crete, which instead has its own unique charm - an island surrounded by the sea, with inviting beaches, quaint rural towns and villages, olive groves, vast mountains and gorges, what else do you need? So, onwards with our journey...


We left grey Gatwick and arrived in balmy Crete quite late, but on time. Emma (my flatmate) and I picked up the car from the airport and headed west - arriving in Balí at 1.30am yet we quickly got a room and then went out for a drink. I sampled my first Mythos, a Greek lager. It was quite surprising to see when we awoke in the morning that the sea was right opposite our window.


Continuing our travels west we arrived at Georgioúpoli, which has the quaintest little white chapel - Agios Nikolaos, which sits at the end of a causeway. The chapel itself is not big enough for more than two people at one time but it's a great photo subject. After shooting the chapel from every conceivable angle we went to get lunch.
Later that night we walked along the beach to the town - a good hour's walk away. We had some great Greek food at a taverna in the main square and then maybe a tad too much to drink at another spot on the way back where they were serving cocktails for half price - we had a happy hour or two there, before making our way back along the beach in almost pitch blackness to what we thought was our hotel, only to discover we had walked 2km too far! How drunk were we?!


Next morning/afternoon when I awoke, I sought out coffee for our next leg of the journey then we headed north west to Kalives. We easily found a room, stocked up on supplies and went to see a wonder called Ó Koumos or Stone House. It a bizarre collection of buildings that have been fashioned and faced with small stones and pebbles. Not only that, it's also full of remarkable sculptures. It is the lifetime's work of one man. The site now however is a HUGE taverna, but it's still a great place to seek out - remember to take your camera too as everywhere you look there is something interesting to see.

The town is quaint and interesting with the church standing proud in the centre - here I got to test my camera's ability to shoot in really low light inside the darkened church, and it did me proud :)
I was finding it hard to sleep and kept waking up during the night - maybe it was the unfamiliar sounds or just the heat?!

The next day we headed out to Chania and we found the wonderful bustling indoor marketplace where items on sale ranged from souvenirs to pigs' heads. We then headed down to the harbour and walked along the wall to the huge lighthouse. After spending the rest of the afternoon with a late lunch and a wander through the meandering streets, we watched the sun set over the harbour and then moved on.


The drive south to Elafonísi was leisurely - not by choice but because the car in front was being driven at a snail's pace. With no room to overtake on the tight bends we just sat behind him and were united in berating his bad driving and ohhhing at the scenery. Once we did arrive at the beach, we found beautiful turquoise water and pink tinged sandy beaches - it looks like it used to be a wonderful hidden spot but now is a tourist trap with coachloads of people turning up around midday. It has little in the way of shade unless you hire a parasol and lounger - quite a booming trade I would imagine. Part of the beach in covered in black rocks and interesting vegetation, while the other part is soft windswept sand, I snapped away at things that caught my eye, while Emma chilled on the beach.


We then had to drive north to reach Falásarna, which has a great viewpoint from where you can watch the sunset in a funky bar but not much else unless you go exploring the ancient part, which we did the following morning. The ruins are still being excavated and as you approach them you come to a HUGE stone throne - we stopped for some silly pictures, before continuing to the site. We looked around and tried to picture what it must have being like in its heyday. A huge chunk taken out of the top of a mountain got my attention and yet seemed to serve no purpose, why would they do that!?


Time to head back down south to get to Palaióchora. We searched for a room but many places claimed to be full. I felt this to be a white lie - as it was still early on the weekend but as we were only staying for one night, I think they were holding out for someone taking the whole weekend, but eventually we found somewhere.

We were hoping to go on a dolphin-spotting boat trip, but sadly the boats only run on certain days (needless to say, this wasn't one of them) - although the signage at different shops would have you believe otherwise. So as this wasn't to be, we investigated the back streets and stumbled across a great little veggie restaurant called The Third Eye. It was very boho and the food was delicious (even without meat).

After all the chilling and wandering around I was seeking some real adventure, something like The Samaria Gorge, which is the largest Gorge in Crete at 16km in length and walking it takes around 7 hours to complete. However, given our time constraints, we paid our €2 entrance fee and tackled the second largest - the Imbros Gorge. This gorge is 8km long, at its narrowest point is 2m wide and the rock walls reach up 300m. It took us about 2.5 hours to complete - an easy enough walk with some really impressive WOW moments, very Indiana Jones feeling. The gorge is famous for the 1200 Sfarkian rebels who took full advantage of its rugged terrain to successfully hold off invading Turkish forces. Once we got to the end we shared a taxi back to the top with a Czech couple, one of whom pointed out it could have been done in 2 hours - without a camera - very true.


Bearing east we set off for Spíli, a gorgeous mountain village with cobbled streets and rustic houses. Its square has an interesting water feature, a fountain with 19 lion heads spurting fresh cold water into it, from which locals (and tourists) fill their water bottles. We found a nice little hotel run by, and called, Heracles.
Heracles is a genuinely sweet man who offered us his expertise of the local area and pointed out landmarks. Not much happens in the evenings, so after an evening meal in a vine-covered taverna, we crashed in the silence of the mountains. Next morning, after a hearty breakfast of Heracles' home made produce - a selection of jams, honey and bread, we followed his advice to do one 'small' hike, which turned out to be quite the challenge but we managed it, only arriving back to check out slightly later than promised. He'd also recommended another local attraction called the St. Antonio Ravine. This ravine is 5km long, but takes about 2 hours to traverse, due to hard terrain, rope bridges and ladders (he didnt mention this part).

At the start of the ravine is the very old St. Antonio cave church. Now let me paint a clear picture - at this point we had ONLY intended to stop off for 10 minutes, we had no water and thus far had followed a very easy well-worn pathway. We now had a choice - turn back or follow the new path - which split into two. A sign in Greek said, something!? So Emma decided we take the path she didn't know the word for - this was to be our undoing. The pathway quickly started to dissolve and the rocks became bigger, but we pressed on. Then came the ropes and still we pressed on. The cobbled-together ladders were an interesting addition and really should have warned us of what lay ahead. The boulders got even larger, the ladders steeper, the rope handrails keeping us from falling off the sides as we crossed chasms more frayed, the gorge deeper and darker but YET we pressed on - foolishly, in retrospect. We eventually got to the end and, scrambled up a hillside, and found a road that (after walking it in blazing sunshine for 15 minutes) turned out to lead literally nowhere, we had to face the painful truth - the only way back was to do the ravine again in reverse! I must admit I was impressed as Emma became quite the intrepid explorer on a par with Lara Croft. Although at one point I thought I may have to leave her behind and seek help, she pushed on, not complaining once. We tried to keep our spirits up and whenever possible soaked our heads in pools of water.

Once we did finally make it out of the gorge, we advised several people who were heading in that the map saying exit led nowhere. We then hit the on-site taverna and downed a well-deserved Coke, a litre of water and a beer each in record time!


With only two days left we continued east to the other side of the island and Ágios Nikólaos. We arrived in time for a very late dinner and a final sleep, then we picked up our final souvenirs and checked out the place in daylight. It's OK, but it's a very rich touristy kind of place, with fur shops and jewellers lining the streets. It was funny to watch the waiters spring to life as a cruise-ship of American tourists arrived.

Before heading to the airport, we spent the rest of our last day at Elounda. While there, an off-the-cuff comment led to a conversation which highlighted the economic struggle facing the Greeks. After finishing our meal, I asked the seemingly jovial taverna owner how business had been. He revealed that in the past two years he has had to raise his prices by 250% and yet he takes home five times less due to rising costs, taxes etc. I saw him shed a tear as he donned his large sunglasses and waved goodbye, walking back into his taverna which may well not be there in 2012. I couldn't help feeling for him.

Also something worth seeing (if you have time, sadly we didn't) is SPINALONGA. This is an island that was used from 1903 to 1957 as a Leper Colony.

In General

The beer, Mythos, was very nice, cold, and slipped down all too easily. The food was simple but rich and I made sure I tried many new interesting dishes such as; Tzatziki, Briam, Moussaka, Souvlaki, Stifado, Yemista, Gigantes, Dolmades, Horiatiki, Spanakopita, Saganaki.

Even though we were there towards the end of the season, I still found it too hot to sleep and Emma frequently awoke in the middle of the night to find me by the open fridge trying to cool down.
Mosquitoes were rife and I awoke every morning with more new bites to add to my growing (and itching) collection.

If I had to fault the Cretans on anything it would be their signage. We frequently found ourselves missing turns as the road sign was either not in place, hidden by trees, shot, graffitied over or right on the turn as you passed it.

But I must admit Crete has plenty to offer the traveller and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. A special thanks to Emma for driving (nearly constantly) and having me accompany her and share the adventure together. Please take the time to enjoy the slideshow of our trip :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Broken Society?

I hear shouts from Bob the Builder - CAN WE FIX IT? But no reply! Cameron talks about a 'broken society' with his privileged background, what does he know about the common man? To make matters worse, he doesn't even consult with those that do, instead makes nonsense sweeping gestures and soundbites - role up your sleeves and get stuck in, lead by example Mr Cameron!
And watch who you are pointing your fingers at, as we the people, have far less to hide than your lot!!

I think this great track sums up attitudes of many and yet Cameron still didn't see it coming! At least Dizzee has his finger on the pulse.

If Dizzee's too fast for you, here are the lyrics:

[Dizzee Rascal]
Let’s Go
Everybody wants to be famous,
Nobody wants to be nameless, aimless,
People act shameless
Tryna live like entertainers,
Want a fat crib with the acres,
So they spend money that they ain’t made yet,
Got a Benz on tik that they ain’t paid yet,
Spend their pay cheque
In the west end on the weekend
Got no money by the end of the weekend.
But they don’t care cause their life is a movie,
Starring Louis V, paid for by yours truly,
Truthfully, it’s a joke, like a bad episode of Hollyoaks,
Can’t keep up with the cover notes,
So they got bad credit livin’ on direct debit in debt
they still don’t get
Cause they too busy livin’ the high life, the night life
Huggin’ the high when livin’ it large
And they all say

Sometimes it seems that the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do
Now and then it seems that life is just too much
But you’ve got the love I need to see me through

[Dizzee Rascal - Verse 2]
Let me take you down to London city
Where the attitude’s bad and the weather is sh-tty
Everybody’s on a paper chase
It’s one big rat race
Everybodys got a screw face
So many 2 face,
Checkin their high just like their ready to ride
I’m on the inside looking at the outside
So it’s an accurate reflection
City wide, north, east, west and the southside
Everywhere I go there’s a goon on the corner
Guns and drugs cause the city’s like a sauna
And it’s getting warmer, and out of order
Tryna put a struggling mother to a mourner
Mr politician can you tell me the solution
What’s the answer, what’s the conclusion
Is it an illusion, is it a mirage
I see young’n's die because they tryna live large
And they all say

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on all of you
Sometimes I feel like saying “Lord I just don’t care”
But you’ve got the love I need To see me through
(Check it, check it, come on, come on)

You got the love
(Who’s got the love)
You got the love
(Who’s got the love)
You got the love
(That’s right, thats right, thats right)
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love

[Dizzee Rascal - Verse 3]
We are living in the days of the credit crunch
give me the dough
I’m trying have a bunch
But I cant have rice for lunch
its not there aint enough to share
it aint fair never dreamed that he could be rare
who cares who dares to make a change
everybody in the club trying to make it rain
but not for famine just for the sake of having
15 minutes of fame and everywhere’s the same
again and again I see the same thing
everybody acting like they their plane sailin’
I see rough seas ahead maybe a recession
and then a depression in whatever professon
this is my confession I can’t front I’m in the forefront
living for money ready to start like a bungee jump
with no rope but I ain’t trying to see the bottom
because thats where I came from, I ain’t forgotten,

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A 'Crash' course in photography

Some days it's good to be me! Having recently won two categories in the Fotothon challenge I took part in last month I was content enough, but then I got a name check in Practical Photography for my work with the Brighton Rock'ed photoshoot, and I was acknowledged by Stephen Cotterell on his 121 podcasts. I was feeling very happy! What more could I want? A photoshoot with a top photographer?! Well, thanks to Lel and Jaz, I managed to get just that!
On Sunday I had the honour and privilege of attending a training course with the amazing Crash Taylor who is without a doubt one of the UK's top photographers and a contributor to several photography magazines. It's long way from Brighton to Nottingham but Emma kindly agreed to drive me there and it was SO worth it. I arrived in Nottingham and excitedly entered Crash's studio - what a cool joint it is. Crash is all set up with stacks of Apple products, a huge library of reading material, a studio space, a viewing room and an inspiration wall, all neatly tucked inside an open-plan studio space where he also used to live This surprised me a little but showed what is possible if you use space well.

Warm greetings were exchanged as more and more people arrived from the Shutter Rock group. Models (Natasha Andrioti, Andrea Hajdinova & Leonie Manners) were being prepped and Holly (on work experience) did a fab job of meeting and greeting, as Crash mingled and ensured everyone was comfortable. After a while everyone settled in and Crash put his game face on - the same one as before, just smilier! He really is a genuinely nice guy. We left his studio and hit the streets of Nottingham - a large group of photographers walking the streets with Union Jack merchandise and models - it must have looked like an Olympic bid promotional event!

The rain threatened to stop play - but Crash wouldn't allow anything to spoil our fun, so we found a dry, grungy area and set up shop there, shooting the models against a variety of natural backdrops - walls, fences etc using only available light. We changed location several times and, considering how cold it was, the models did a great job, taking direction well and ensuring everyone got the shots they wanted. One tog even brought along some smoke pellets which created an awesome effect, something I would like to use again :)

Crash was very generous with his time, skills and knowledge as he shared how he got started, what to look out for, his work flow, marketing and much more. Sadly, before I got entranced by it all and refused to leave, I had to make my excuses as we had another long drive ahead of us.

I tried where possible to mix model shots with group ones capturing everyone in action. It was a nice, warm, friendly group of people and was an experience way above and beyond my expectations. Massive thanks again to Lel Hurst, Jaz Ampaw-Farr & Crash Taylor. More can be seen on my WEBSITE

On top of all this I have a great commercial shoot coming up with a Brighton based bespoke jewellery designer. It should be lots of fun, I heard talk of wine!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Sh, sh, sh, sh, Shutter Rock

Last weekend was the first Shutter Rock gathering and promo photoshoot. What a gathering it turned out to be. Spearheaded by Gary Marshall (aka Marshall Gray) and Jaz Ampaw Farr, we met at Brighton Pier on a cloudy, chilly, rain at moment, Sunday morning - did that dampen our spirits? No! We were too engrossed with each other and what we were doing to notice.

"So this little shoot was inspired by those influences and discussions I had with Jazla (Jaz Ampaw Farr) who is the maverick supergal dynamo founder of Shutterrock UK. Sometimes in life you come across the kind of rare individual whose zest for life shows in everything they do. This kind of person puts their whole self on the table and keeps nothing back in reserve. It’s like they either do life 100% or not at all. This takes an enormous amount of trust and vulnerability on that persons behalf. They lay themselves open for life’s snipers maybe more so than the rest of us. We have to take care of these special folk in my book." 
source: Marshall Gray's website  

I couldn't have put it any better myself, the energy that Jaz has is infectious and she has a great way of bringing you along for the ride, Gary was lead photographer with this shoot as we followed his lead. I noticed he is a very considered photographer and very much fits the part, he looked at ease directing and shooting - not to mention his cool cockney accent.

What was great from my point of view was all the talent I was surrounded by and lack of egos, lack of kit envy, lack of attitude - we all just seemed to exist in the moment and I think that's what Shutter Rock is all about. "The Grumpies", as Dane Sanders calls them, were obviously not present at this shoot and I dont think Shutter Rock is for them - but this new wave of social friendly, open sourced, sharing driven, photography community is going to be huge, it IS the way forward.

To me, Shutter Rock is kind of a much needed movement, to some it's a community, to others it's a reflection of the industry and however you see it, it's a positive step forward and can be what you want it to be, the only requirement is to get involved.

There is a going to be a HUGE photography event in November as details emerge I will of course keep you informed. In the meantime join the Facebook group and check out the WEBSITE. Smaller events are planned throughout the UK so its worth seeing if anything is happening in your area.

Whatever you choose - DO WHAT YOU LOVE, LOVE WHAT YOU DO!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Finding Mojo

While I was away in Spain, a lot of camera-related activities took place in Brighton - festivals, workshops, photowalks and it felt like I had really missed out. I needn't have worried. There is such a buzz right now with photography that everywhere I look or turn, I find something happening. If you're into photography but not familiar with the Brighton scene, here are a few things you should check out:-

Nadine Burzler - Nadine is doing some great personal projects such as Instragram walks and Polaroid in the Park - she's very bubbly and looks set to go far with several additional ideas in the pipeline.

Stewart Weir has teamed up with David Freeman (no relation), to host Chameleon Phototours, planning to take groups to such diverse places as the Lake District and Barcelona. More details on the tours can be found on Stewart's website.

Fotothon - a great little idea, with big potential. It's a photographic quest which will take place on Saturday June 11th 2011 from noon till 5pm. Participants will be given 10 clues or hints and they'll have 5 hours to scour Brighton for photographic opportunities which interpret those clues in any way they see fit. There will be prizes for the best overall winner as well as in individual categories.

ShutterRock - a fantastic online sharing community, helping to shape the face of photography and very much NOW - if you need an invite to the group let me know :)

Photography 121 - a wonderful podcasts by Stephen Cotterell in which he interviews photographers and talks about their personal experiences on their photographic journeys.

Add the Colour - a popular photography haunt and coffee shop, where photographers can display their work. The MINICLICK talks are also held here, once a month.

Eclectia Gallery - a local gallery/studio based at Brighton Marina. Current plans include running studio-based workshops and the opportunity to hire their studio space which has recently been upgraded thanks to sponsorship from The Flash Centre.

Friday, May 27, 2011

As time goes by

After a year away I finally returned to Spain. Not much had changed, it still felt familiar, although my language skills must have evaporated in the heat. The trip - quiet, uneventful and long.

Being apart for a year I was apprehensive about this visit not knowing what was expected or how to be - so I decided to just be myself, warts and all. It took Ari sometime to come round to looking at me, talking to me or being near me, this was much harder that I thought - I was hoping for open arms and cuddles so tight they would turn me blue :/
Finally she warmed up and started being herself and let me hold her again - how I missed that. Ariadna is much bigger now and a little chatterbox to boot - although I have little idea what she was talking about most of the time, as she rambled away in Spanish.

We spent a few days in Madrid and visited the zoo, which pitu loved - seeing all the animals and learning about them. Last time she was there with me she was a baby, now she is an amazing little person. While I had the chance over these 2 weeks, I took the opportunity to photograph Ari, some posed, some relaxed - she had her moments when she was a willing subject and not. It's funny seeing the 'me' in her. I managed to get some great shots of her which will be treasured. What will I miss the most? her growing up? her making friends? her first day at school? Of course, but more than that, it's her cheeky smile, her laughter, her energy, her touch, her unconditional, unjudging and unrelenting love.

Sandra and I spent the first 2 days not knowing how to be with each other, which is sad when you consider we spent 3 years in a relationship. We finally decided that just being friends was at least a base to work from and moved us away from the awkwardness. Sandra did her best to ensure I was as comfortable as possible and has done a great job looking after Ari, and I know she will continue to do so - just speak more English with her! We took some time to discuss our own situations and we appear to want different things, although we still want what's best for Ari - a sad story I'm all to familiar with. So we will be going our separate ways, that at least answers that lingering question. I hope you find what you need to make your life complete.

While in Madrid I witnessed the beginning of the Spanish revolution in Puerta del Sol. The people of Spain are demanding democracy, economic change and jobs as the government prepares for another election. The protests soon spread across the country in 60 cities and around 130,000 protesters took to the streets. Sadly I didn't have my camera on me, and the protest at that point was not to the scale it later became, and to be honest, I wasn't fully aware of the size of the issues. My chance to catch history in the making dashed!

Yet again a volcanic eruption threatened my leaving Spain, you couldn't make this up, really - luckily it passed without much disruption.

Ari cracked me up the other day, when asked "how do you say goodbye in English?" she replied by waving her hand, simples!!!

I realised I have far less patience than I thought and I'm not as good a person I thought I was, I can also add this the fact I am quite selfish - a quite sobering realisation. The question is, what do I do about this? My experiences have made me quite bitter and angry and although I keep trying to shake this off it comes over me like a wave sometimes and I feel myself drowning under the pressure. I've being listening to positive motivational podcasts and reading books etc in order to help pull me out of my darkness and find a better place to be, this works to a degree, but I fear I need more permanent professional help.

So until I'm fixed, life's sorted and I have a successful business I'm off the market, sorry ladies it's devastating news I'm sure! 

To see the latest images and to see how Ari has grown, click the link below

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Urbex: Alexandra Children's Hospital

This morning I found myself awake at 8:30am ready to head out to do some urban exploration photography of the old abandoned children's hospital on Dyke Road, the weird things we do for pleasure and exploration.

The Royal Alexandra Hospital for Sick Children was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1881. It remained in use for more than a century before being replaced by a new building at the main Royal Sussex County Hospital site. The new facility opened in June 2007, and has won architectural awards for its innovative design.

The same could not be said for what remained at the old site. It is simply a vandalised shell of its former self. The rooms; bare, graffitied, vandalised and rotting, made for some uninspiring shots - so I focussed more on the fixtures and fitting. The ghosts of the building milling around you as you crunch your way through glass encrusted floors, shimmers of light break through the citex, allowing only a glimpse of what may be inside the room.

Security was onsite but posed no obvious threat as I made my way through each of the rooms. Whilst I looked around trying to understand what each room was, how it connected with the others and what it would have been like in its former glory, I also wondered why people pointlessly destroy so much, and how easily we turn our backs on the old for new. After about an hour I had seen all there was to see and made my way out, leaving only footprints behind - at least I hope so!

More of my Urbex exploits can be seen on Flickr when I visited Lillesden School for Girls and Fullers Earth Works - enjoy :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brighton Rock'ed Photoshoot

If you are going to have a dream, dream big! This has always been my approach - rightly or wrongly - and with this venture it was no different.

I had a dream - to build a community, to work alongside photographers, models, makeup artists, hairstylists and clothing suppliers on a big production, and this was a chance to do just that. Now believe me when I say that this was still a scaled-down version of my ideal which would have involved full designed sets, rotations of clothing and models, studio lighting on hand, smoke machines, milk shakes, the list goes on - but all that comes at a cost and this project was not about money. I almost made it happen without spending a penny too, with everyone giving up their time, products and skills for free*. That was no simple feat considering it was my first group photo venture - I have only been in Brighton for 3 months, know few people and am relatively unknown myself. Now don't get me wrong, I have organised many things before. In fact, that constituted most of my previous work in Spain but there the participants were captive and willing.
*The agreement is the models, stores, hairstylists and makeup artists have access to all the images shot by all the photographers to use as they wish for commercial promotions etc - fair trade ;)

We arrived bright and early to set up the dressing room and hair & makeup studio for the models. The models started to drift in, then the makeup artists and hair stylists, closely followed by the girls' clothing stylist (I had picked up the men's clothes the night before and brought them with me.) I was finally starting to see the pieces fit together and eagerly anticipated seeing it in full swing. I was mindful that the photographers were awaiting my arrival on the seafront so I headed off, leaving the girls in capable hands to get ready. I greeted the photographers and gave them the outline of the event - everyone was up for it and dying to see the models all made up, as was I. I had a good idea about how this project was to run and I'm pleased to say it went better than expected. We had a group of photographers, a team of hair stylists, a gaggle of models, a wardrobe of clothes, a riot of mods, lighting supplied by Mother Nature and a damn good time.

The models looked fantastic, not just because they were models but due to the hair, makeup and clothing which really made all the difference. As I dashed about ensuring everyone knew what they were doing and why, I realised I was missing my opportunity to shoot too. I had actually set up a whole storyboard for each genre but because I never really got into my groove, my attention being split in many different directions, I didn't manage to get many of my planned images, just grabbed shots here and there. It was a bit of a shame as I had had a whole Film Noir story planned.

Now I know some people may not believe it but I did relinquish some control - not much but a little. So I'm not a total control freak, right!? I would like to thank Emma, Linda and Ash for their assistance on the day and in advance. I would like to thank Stephen for checking I had all his questions answered before he had asked them.

The model releases, although a necessary evil, turned out not to be the nightmare I had imagined, as we could get them signed in the final minutes of shooting at each station. I have seen some amazing images and met some great folks from this venture, there just wasn't enough time to chill and chat with them all. Now that the images are being uploaded it's great to see the things I missed - different approaches to shots, different processing styles and the wealth of skills involved by each person.

One shot I was longing to get was a Quadrophenia style scooter drive-by. Unfortunately 3 scooters do not a rally make! Even though there was a large number of scooters there, they just didn't leave or arrive en masse.

So the big question is, would I do it again? Of course I would! I learnt a lot and understand the flow better now, though maybe, just maybe, I will make it smaller next time ;)

Amidst all the fun and enjoyment of the day there was also some fundraising going on for the Teenage Cancer Trust. If you missed this then please drop by the website and show your support.

Special thanks go out to the vendors:
Audrey @ KATE & AUD

Supporting thanks also go to:

Huge shout out to the MODELS:
Ruth Charnock / Seda Ilter / Christine Lechner Dostal / Clair Morrow / Jemma Measor / Danielle Watton / Charlye Cooper / Bethan Moyse / Sarah Nix / Ben Elliott / Cristiano Langella / Andrew Maclean / Chris Terrell / Ryan Wreyford

And of course, to all the talented photographers who were involved. We did indeed rock Brighton! To see for yourself click the video below.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

All quiet on the Southern front?

I know, I know, I've done it again, neglected you, my loyal reader(s). Well I have been slightly busy and this is my excuse. I am planning a photoshoot in Brighton - admittedly initially nothing on the scale it has become, but hey I love a challenge. The organising side of it all is keeping me very busy, but with around 60 people involved it does need organising.
The shoot was an idea I had about doing a themed shoot / a meet up with other photographers and the film - Brighton Rock. From all that I combined the ideas to produce what looks set to be an epic photoshoot. The shoot will revolve around 50s, 60s and Film Noir as the themes. I have original Mods coming down on their scooters and convinced some great vintage stores to provide us with clothing to use. On top of that we have 20 models, 40 photographers and 9 stylists! Told you it was big.

I have been posting on my Krysalis Photography website which has updates and info on a wedding shoot, a commercial shoot, a wedding fayre and also a trip to Telford / Birmingham to check out the FOCUS on imaging 2011 event. More details available on that site - I'm not going to duplicate posts, so nip over and give them a read.

I have also looked at several studios, but rather than looking at them as a space of my own, I am seeing them as hire options - as they are all quite different and suit various purposes. It would seem more places are now renting out their studio space, proving just how difficult the economy still is for small businesses. On top of all that I am preparing for a wedding shoot in 10 days too.
See I am busy, at least for this month :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Build it and they will come

Having worked hard on getting the look and feel of my new website - KRYSALIS PHOTOGRAPHY right, I kinda hoped it would start the ball rolling and enquiries coming in. Sadly, I have gotten more calls from bloody advertising agents than anyone else. I must start being firmer and saying no, straight away - "does that sound like something you would be interested in, Mr Freeman" grrrrrrrr.

Given that things were trickling in I did decide that maybe it was worth having some paid advertising but what, where and with whom?! One company did a mighty fine job of persuading me they were the right people for me and their offer was not unbelievable and seemed fair enough - damn my spidey-sense!!! It turned out all they wanted was my bank details then took it upon themselves to empty my account without consent, stupid me!
So I still need the advertising but not sure I want to go down this road again, hmmmmm.

I have had my work up in a few places now too, not sure how much interest that's driving, I'll give it another week and go find out. Adverts in shops and business windows doesn't seemed to have brought in anything either, but it is getting the name out there, at least I hope it is!? 
What is the best approach!? I no longer understand Google and their ranking system, which they dont allow you to know where you are? Stupid if you ask me, if they are going to rank you, you should be able to see where you come and why.
I have done as much SEO stuff as I can, but I do feel its feeling my way around in the dark a bit too much. It would be nice to understand it properly, just for my own piece of mind. I think the site itself is simple, easy to navigate and fast loading, its the marketing side that's letting it down and unless you search for Krysalis Photography by name I doesn't seem to appear, and that's not good!!!!

So if anyone can offer any hints tips or advice PLEASE do so. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The things we do for money

Sometimes you've gotta do what you've gotta do. So I've been spending an interesting few days in a clinical trial. Why? To save little bunnies from being experimented on? To give the animals a break? To help further mankind? erm, NO! MONEY, plain and simple. Yes its gotten that desperate. Now don't get me wrong I haven't sold my kidneys or anything, well not yet at least.
I applied to an ad to be used in an experimental drug for diabetes with Quintiles Medical research. Having been selected I thought from that point, I was in. Two grand for two weeks in a hospital bed, cant be that bad. As it turned out my body had other plans, apart from giving me manflu a week before I was due to go in, my triglycerides decided they were going to mess about and were in too high a range for the trial, so after a few days it hadn't gotten into an acceptable range, so I was dismissed from the trial.
"How do you feel Mr Freeman", the doctor asked - pi*%ed off, annoyed, frustrated, upset, I thought, but I responded with "it's fine, you have to do what you have to do, it was nice meeting you". Inside I shattered knowing everything that money had already allocated toward, my business, Sandra and Pitu and Emma, before leaving I checked to see if they could transfer me to another trial as I was already there and been screened, sadly not.

So what did we have to do whilst there, well to be fair the facilities were not that bad at all, Sky movies and Sky sports, a pool table, games, computer room - the computers were hit and miss on working properly. All the above is fine, when you can actually leave the ward to use them - my advice, take a laptop and plenty of movies. The not-so-pleasant side of this trial were the vast amounts of blood that was taken about every 20 mins or so, 8 vials 15 times a day, boy we were drained and how did they replenish all that blood? By giving us cold dry pasta, frozen peas and a yoghurt pot FULL of mayonnaise - which had to be eaten separately, so not nice! The meals to be honest were dire all pre-cooked and warmed up, if you were lucky and very small portions. Then not only did they want your blood but also your other waste! We had to poop in a bucket and pee in tubes, such a pleasant job for some poor guy - I really cant imagine that person at school saying to his career adviser "I want to poke around in peoples poop!" but it has a cool title as I was told, biochemical analyst, better than poop checker I guess.

The nurses were fine and for the most time pleasant, but there were very obvious tensions which I think was bad form to let the already nervous participants aware of this, one nurse actually throwing stuff on the floor in frustration/anger and openly arguing with another nurse. Not professional at all and hardly instilled us with confidence. I guess it is hard, each trial having it own criteria and nurses being drafted in for an hour then swapped others, constantly having to be brought up to speed and the same questions / mistakes happening over and over - but it is simple to address I think.

As for the brave boys who were with me on the trial there 10 of us including me. A mixed bag - all ages, races and backgrounds. A few South Africans, an Estonian, a Manc, a Scouser, a film maker, a carpenter, a guy who writes children's stories, all very interesting people and I do hope everything goes well on this study for them. Each person having there own reason for being there, and the money was it for everyone - it was frighting to consider how many people were there and what each one is paid plus the nursing costs and misc costs (nothing was spent on the meals, really) must be a small fortune which shows how much that industry is worth. Personally with unemployment rises as it is I can see this becoming a income for lots of people.   

So the plus side, well I get some money for the few days I was in and I lost 1.2kg. Would I do it again? Yes, because my situation hasn't changed I still need the money as I did before. I now know what I'm getting into so I can be better prepared mentally and physically as long as you have no fear of needles, go for it :)

If you do want to check out trails these are ones to check out:
If you have been on a trial why not share your experience! I would love to hear it. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Week 51 & 52 - finally!

I know I haven't blogged much of late but really I've been a busy bee, honestly I have! Hmm, so what have I done over the past few weeks. Well on Christmas Day I went to the Brighthelm centre to feed the homeless and hungry. It was much more rewarding than staying at home, watching crappy tv and feeding my own face with too much food.
It was nice to see so many people giving up their time and skills to help out and make a difference to those less fortunate.

Since Christmas I have been working on making my website more appropriate to my business, as before it was more a gallery than a 'working' website. I am pleased to say that after a few hiccups and headaches it's now live and I'm looking for clients to photograph for any occasion!!!
Should you want to check it out click ---> KRYSALIS PHOTOGRAPHY <---

My 52 project has just been finished! I can't believe it - late again, because I was unhappy with my Christmas theme and wanted a reshoot - I'm going to settle for the image I have and week 52 was composite, which I like the concept, just not sure about the final image!? I am going to turn the project into a coffee table book and slideshow as I am very pleased with my progress, considering I'm self taught and just tried out random ideas and never done one before. The question is will I do one this year? Answer, errr, NO! It was far harder than I thought and very consuming, but next year I might just to gauge my progress.

Well that's it for now I think, Happy (belated) New Year and PLEASE check out my new site and call or email me if you have anything you want photographing afterall that's what I do best :)

Enjoy my final 2 images

Mull over Xmas



And now for your viewing pleasure my 52 week project SLIDESHOW!

and finally my book :)
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