Year One As A Professional Photographer

22 June 16

Posted at 10:40

On Thursday evening I will visit the private view of the University of Westminster Undergraduate Degree Show Photography at the Truman Brewery

The Cohort BA Photography and Photographic Arts

Courtesy John Wallace

It is perhaps appropriate to reflect on the year, my first year as a professional photographer. During the last two years of my four year degree course it became clear that documentary photography would become my favoured practice. The combination of research, understanding and immersion in a given subject and then communicating primarily through images and or video is a process that gives me immense satisfaction. Having decided that would be my prime photographic activity (prime but not sole) it also became clear to me that I must accept I was not about to earn a fortune as a documentary photographer. I am in the fortunate position not to have to depend on my photography for a living equally, at least for now, I don't have to take on a job that would no doubt distract me from and intrude on my documentary projects. So I am in a privileged position not enjoyed by many of my peers. I was also clear in my mind that a) I could not simply keep on self funding projects (I'm not that privileged) and b) to be regarded as a 'professional' my work must be credible enough for others to commission me. Having done possibly more than OK in my degree and having reluctantly accepted that my projects so far had been credible I decided my first objective must be to build a reputation as a competent documentary photographer and to achieve that in a cost effective way. I acknowledged that it would be a slow process and would require a lot of hard work and a little luck.

My major project for my degree had been successful on many levels.

The Book

Gravette The Heart of Hometown America

The output had been a photo book, a documentary on a community in North West Arkansas. A measure of my success was coverage in the British Journal of Photography Gravette BJP article

I had started the year with the kind of exposure I was looking for. I figured if I was the only one of 50 or so exhibitors covered in such a magazine it could only be good.

I already had a good idea of my next project. I was going to follow up on the progress of aid agencies and charities six months after the earthquake that struck Nepal on 25th April 2015. I applied for a bursary to part fund the project. I had no doubt that I would be successful so when I wasn't it dawned on me that rejection was also likely to be a common theme of my photography career and something I should get used to.

I went to Nepal in November 2015 spending time with three charities. I also spent time independently meeting those affected by the earthquake. By the end of the year I had the task of editing a massive portfolio of images. I also had the task of planning how to use my work.

So fast forward to today and I ask myself what progress have I made? Well my initial project objective was to document the progress of aid agencies six months after the earthquake. I expected to be focussing on rebuilding and infrastructure but what I found is that the real damage caused by earthquakes is the accentuation of the problems that Nepalese people live with - chronic poverty, child labour, human trafficking, gender disparity, abuse etc. I became close to the charities I spent time with. As a result I offered to put on an exhibition in conjunction with and in aid of Kidasha a London based charity specialising in supporting children and families in Nepal. I did this in the knowledge that I was also collaborating with two other photographers in an exhibition in June. I soon found that I had bitten off quite a lot putting on two exhibitions in the space of about six weeks. Really it boiled down to me working on nothing else from March until today. It's been worth it. Although not in the plan I am proud that my first exhibition raised over £3000 for Kidasha and also provided awareness of both the charity and their work but also exposure of my work to a new audience. In early June Yesterday's News an immersive multi media event proved to be a rewarding experience working not only with two other photographers but also set designers, a film maker, a sound engineer, a poet, journalists and documentary film producers. This was a high profile event at Platform Southwark, again my work reached a new audience. Also almost a year to the date my work was again featured in BJP Yesterday's News

Whilst at the exhibition I received a visit from a guy who is selecting work from Photo Book projects for a RPS exhibition later this year. He came to advise me that work from Gravette The Heart of Hometown America has been selected.

In twelve short months I have funded and part completed a project that has not only given me exposure but has raised money for a good cause. That and my previous project have featured in BJP and also in FAD Magazine 

I have made some progress with my objective of establishing a reputation as a documentary photograher as I said earlier it will involve hard work and a little luck. It's fair to say in year one I've experienced both.

Durbar Square

 Durbar Square

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Wembley Stadium

21 February 15

Posted at 2:32

Wembly Park tube station is just two stops on the Metropolitan Line from my campus (Northwick Park) so I go past the stadium when travelling to and from Uni. I've often thought I should take a stroll around the stadium when there is nothing on. Usually I only visit Wembley for an Arsenal match, prior to last year something that has been rare since the new stadium opened, or to a gig. So yesterday with a couple of hours to kill I went and took a look.

First Sight

This is the first sight of the stadium as you emerge from Wembley Park Station. Not the first time a 'bus has been parked at Wembley'.

Wembley Lights

I walked to the stadium from Harrow (further than I thought) so coming in from the west this is the first image that caught my eye.

Car Park

Next was the multi storey car park which is hidden behind Meccano like sheet of metal that have too much of a resemblance to Manchester United's colurs for my liking.

Wembley Stadium 1

The famous arch which is impressive from a distance is something different close up. The old Wembley stadium was demolished in 2003 and the new one opened in 2007.

Hello Wembley

It is all a bit ghostly when there are no events on but a good opportunity to observe aspects you would miss completely on a match day,

London Designer

both inside the stadium and outside.

Five a Side

I was pleased to see a majority of the 5 a side players had Arsenal shirts on.

Gate E

Gate E at the other end of the arch.

This Way

Direction signage looks somewhat over the top but necessary on Cup Final day.

Main Entrance

The main entrance.

Bobby Moore Entrance

and above it the Bobby Moore statue and entrance.

Booby Moore

And here is a close up of the statue.

Wembley Way

Here is Sir Bobby's view of Wembley Way.

At Wembley

The view of the stadium approaching from Wembley Way.

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Free Running

18 February 15

Posted at 7:20

For the last few months I have been absorbed with research, dissertation writing, then more research for my Major Project. Add to that life outside of study and it has been somewhat hectic. Hence no blogging. Although the next few moths are also hectic I will be finding far more time with camera in hand. That camera now is more than likely to be a Nikon D810. I recently sold my old and trusty D700 and my D800 and purchased a D810. You may ask why when I had a D800. Well I bought the D800 as soon as it was first released and although I sent it back to Nikon to update after the initial new product teething problems I never felt comfortable with it. So now the D810 is out there, launched, tried and tested, I've upgraded to one.

Today I paid a visit to Book Works to finalise some details for a book I hope to publish in May then after a visit to an exhibition in Peckham I strolled around camera in hand. I came across a bunch of lads near Waterloo Bridge who were Free Running. They were OK with me taking some photos so below are a couple. If you see this post lads message me and I send you some images - I have a few.

Freerunning 1

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Freerunning 2

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Freerunning 3

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Freerunning 4

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RIP KING ROBBO

01 August 14

Posted at 11:44

As you probably know I'm fascinated by street art, the culture and it's evolution. I often photograph street art, have published a book of a project about Stik and I have exhibited works derived from photographs of street art. Yesterday an infamous street artist, King Robbo passed away. He had been ill for a long time in fact since he had a fall in 2011 and was subsequently in a coma for many months, he never recovered. Channel 4 ran a documentary on the so called 'wars' between Robbo and Banksy in 2011. The two images below are from 2010 when the 'wars' were, I guess, at their height.

Banksy Robbo Archway

Originally Banksy's 'Anywhere' at Archway from 2004 this is it after a team Robbo visit in March 2010

Robbo in Camden

Another another Banksy after a team Robbo visit. This one in Camden in May 2010.

RIP King Robbo

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Lebanese Festival Day 2014

23 June 14

Posted at 5:53

The fourth Lebanese Festival Day was held yesterday (22nd June) at Paddington Green, London. I went there to capture some images for my ongoing Edgware Road Project.

Balloon Flag

Lebanese Ballon Flag

No sooner had I arrived there and was taking this photograph (at the main entrance) than a couple of burly security men advised me "you are not coming in here with 'that' (pointing to my camera), you can't use that to take photographs here". I was irked by that statement for many reasons but I bit my lip and chose not to recite my rights. Instead I expressed my concern as I had travelled a long way in order to photograph the vent as it was part of a major project blah, blah, blah. I was advised a I needed a press pass. Within ten minutes and much flashing of my University student pass I was the proud wearer of a press pass wristband and I was in. The organisers were to be fair really helpful and the job's worth security blokes were only doing their jobs after all.

The Fight

This game proved popular with boys and girls all day long.

Also popular from start to finish was the food stalls. Very nice the offerings were too.

Chicken Kebab

Chicken Kebab

At two o clock the event was formally opened. Special guest was Audrey Lewis the Lady Lord Mayor of Westminster

Audrey Lewis - Lord Mayor of Westminster

Audrey Lewis

I have to say after such a wonderful introduction and an informative speech by the organisers explaining how for so many Lebanese London was their place of birth but Lebanon their cultural home. This festival an effort to both retain the Lebanese Culture and to share it with other Londoners in what is now their adopted and much loved home. (We even had a rendition of God Save the Queen to kick events off). Well, Aud, the Lady Lord Mayor I'm afraid let the side down somewhat, she could have said so many positive things about thefamily atmosphere, the dancing, the food, the backgammon tournament even the hookah pipes but no,  she said she had 'noticed some interesting smells around the place'! Her intent was fine it's just that she couldn't find the words to articulate her sentiment. Anyway I think that was the case although she was directly above a group of young men who had been energetically dancing for the last hour so who knows. Anyway she was brief and that meant the party could commence.

Smoking the Hookah on Paddington Green

Well after a little smoke of course.

Lebanese Dancing Men

The men were soon back into it with some gusto.

I Am Lebanese

While the ladies enjoyed a calmer shuffle.

Backgammon Man

And upon the hill the serious matter of the backgammon tournament.

Lebanese Dancing

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The Funeral of Margaret Thatcher

23 April 13

Posted at 3:01

Last week I popped into town to record the funeral of Margaret Thatcher. I chose to shoot it as an historic event if nothing else. Since the announcement of her death, using my Twitter stream as a barometer, I deduced that more people were pleased by her passing than saddened. I was also somewhat surprised at the depth of the hate and vitriol that filled cyberspace. Therefore I expected to be able to make a record of 'the divided nation'. Although the security I was sure would be big enough to snuff out any violent protest I was certainly expecting a fair amount of discontent, disrespect and at least vocal protest.

The Queue

I arrived at St Pauls later than planned (naively thinking I could get a few shots here and then make my way along the proposed procession route in reverse). I wasn't too late to grab a few shots of the guests or 'ticket holders' queuing to get in.

Katherine Jenkins

Some, like Katherine Jenkins, looked quite glamorous.

Michael Portillo

Others like Michael Portillo, looking anything but!

It was here that I came across my first protester of the day.

Whipps Cross Hospital

Far from protesting about Thatcher's legacy this man was on a personal quest to raise awareness of patient neglection at Whipps Cross Hospital that led to the death of his mother. The gent next to him was protestimng about the anti-Christ Mullah Omar being in Afghanistan. Neither were what I was expecting and neither was happy that the other had tagged along to make them a crowd of protesters. Well the biggest crowd of protesters at St Pauls at that time. 

I decided to set off down Ludgate Hill and probably position myself around the circus or on Fleet Street. Mistake!! Although there was still about an hour and a half to go before the gun carriage carrying the coffin would arrive at St Pauls, Lugate Hill was rammed. Crowds don't usually present a problem for me. I usually find that a couple of cameras around my neck along with body language and expression that implies 'I'm sorry but I have the right to barge through here' works and the crowd, sometimes reluctently, part and I bustle through. Not today though. Too many people had the same aproach as me and as the crowd grew and grew progress in either direction became impossible. I decided I was more or less stuck here for the duration. Behind me, getting some respite from being on a restaurant's forecourt, which had been invaded but offered him the ability to protect his space, was this guy.

Artist

This artist had decided today was a good day to do a painting and nothing was going to deter him. I can confirm that he did not have the view that he was recording so this must have been 'one he prepared earlier'.

Crowd

This would be the best view he could possible have had if he had been able to take a few paces forward. So here I was stuck for the next hour. There were a few things to observe though.

iSee

This iPad or as I renamed it an iSee.

Look Out

Another viewer, only forty minutes to wait. It was about now it struck me that apart from the Whipps Cross Man and the Afghan I had not come across any protesters. I had not heard a single boo and nobody could have turned their back on the procession had they desired - and it appeared they didn't. I didn't even overhear one word of negativity. I was really surprised and, if I am honest, somewhat disappointed.

Is That Loaded

Just managing to get a long lens above the numerous heads in front of me I caputured this. The guy in black appears worried that the gun may be loaded. Everyone around him have the same expressions you see on identity parades.

Then the time arrived for the gun carriage carrying the coffin to pass by.

The Coffin

Something of a non event really, much camera clicking, rounds of applause and muffled cheering. Again no disent, no boos, no protest. I was beginning to think my Twitter feed functioned in a different universe.

As soon as I could I started to shuffle my way back towards St Paul's. It seemed the same TV broadcast vans were parked in the same place as they had been when I came here to shoot the Occupy protest and there amongst them hoping to get on the box was my first political protester of the day.

Pig City

But he was a lone protester and to his dismay the man from Whipps Cross was being interviewed by the TV crew.

I made my way back behind St Pauls. Photographers, TV and video crews, journalists and police out numbered by far any other sector of people. Followed by the odd tourist one of who enquired 'What is going on here today?'

Protester

Then I came across another protester

Thatcher Destroyed

and another couple.

But that was it. Three ladies. Well I was looking for evidence of 'the division' and here it was I guess

Loyal Supporter

I counted more individuals carrying placards proclaiming to be Jesus Christ than I did protesting against or as over the top for, as the lady above. Most people I saw, met, spoke to and heard interviewed were there to pay respects or just for the occasion. Most appeared to not neceserily support Thatcher's views or policies but admired her as a strong leader and person who stood up for what she believed. A quality I heard again and again that is absent from the spineless examples who represent all parties today! Interesting! I decided to snap a few celebraties as they left the service.

Wogan

Well I made Wogan laugh as of course I recognised him but forgot he doesn't (well didn't) have a clue who I am. Any way I cheered you up eh Tel?

Sebastian Coe

It seems I startled Mr. ahem! I mean Lord Coe

Glamorous Mourner

and I caught this glamorous mourners eye. Not got a clue who she is though. Getty images don't seem to have her either. So if you know please give me a clue. And Getty if you need a snap you know my number.

Then there was, I found out on newsnight, a close friend of Maggie Thatcher

Baroness Trumpington

Baroness Trumpington. and another old Tory codger (well you'd expect them to be there I guess)..

Lord Heseltine

Lord Heseltine. Looks as though he clocked me as well. They once called him Tarzan I believe, that must have been a long time ago.

And then in the middle of the departing mourners a guest (?) chilled enough not to dress formally

Wrong Place

Well by this time I was still uncomfortable that my expectations had not been met. I had seen a bigger cross section of society there paying their respects, I had seen the public enthusiastically applauding servicemen and women and the police but other than three ladies and a man with a Guido Fawkes mask I had seen no protest. I decided to trace the route back as far as Trafalgar Square. 

On Ludgate Hill now there was a small voiceferous crowd around some blokes with a megaphone. The crowd was outnumbered by numerous TV crews and photographers. I joined to swell their number further.

Megaphone Man

Well it was all pretty jolly really. What was being said is that we should not look back but should accept that we are where we are and should work towards a fairer society, the speakers added ideas to that, talked of Venuzualan coal and made a few lighthearted jokes about the police - which were well received by the many police in attendance.

More camera crews arrived attracted by the crowd and then like me left.

So I wandered down Ludgate Hill and Fleet Street.

Three Bobbies

The police couldn't wait to be told to stand down.

Clean Up

The street cleaners cleared up after the numerous horses that had trotted up and down here today.

I made my way home and had a ponder. I concluded that my Twitter stream is not a represetative view of the nation, probbaly not even a representative view of my followers and those I follow. Equally I don't think what I experienced last Wednesday is a true reflection either. It's what I saw so it's really all I could record.

 

 

 

 

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London Street Art

15 June 12

Posted at 2:51

One of my current projects is on street artist Stik. I am aiming to record all of his existing street art before more disappears. As a result I am spending a lot of time trudging round the East End. I don't plan to post any of the project until it's complete but walking the streets of London it's not esy to ignore other street art. So not surprisingly I am capturing some of that as well. I keep a record of the work as it is seen in the street, a photographic record of the piece in situ. I also create my own version of the image, perhaps removing unsightly objects (cctv cameras, air conditioning units, other street artist's abuse and stickers etc.)

First image is by an artist, David Shillinglaw. David is not a traditional 'street artist' he is an artist and will paint on just about anything anywhere. He's a sound bloke as well!

Shillinglaw Street

Shillinglaw Street Art

David designed the sleeve for The Travelling Band's album Screaming is Something. Check them out here  you will no doubt recognise the style. Last year I shot the opening night of one of David's exhibitions in Brick Lane which is also where you can see this piece. Check out the images here


Next one of ROA's animals - a rabbit in Hackney road at the junction with Weymouth street. ROA's images are instantly recognisable, they are really large and striking. ROA is a street artist from Ghent in Belgium. His works can be found around the globe. There are many in London.


Roa Rabbit

I posted a shot of one in a blog  last January at Rivington Studios - I believe it's gone now.

Here is another ROA, a crane in Brick Lane

ROA Crane

 

This is my favourite of the week. It's in Cremer Street and I only came across it as I was looking for a Stik in the same street. It's by Cept, a London street artist. Originally there was what has been described as a classic Cept on this wall. Hackney council received compliants about it so demanded the wall's owners remove it. The cost would have been £5000 so the owners asked Cept to paint a new piece over the top of it. Seems a bit of a nonsense to me but I do like this piece and may even do a canvass of it.

Love Will Tear Us Apart

Old Street is a mass of graffiti forever changing especially at the junction with Great Eastern Street. Here is the latest offering with a message for the Queen. Check out ourbarebones

OLd Street Jubilee

 

Last of all Banksey's latest which I shot a few weeks ago. It's near Turnpike Lane tube station. I shot this less than 48 hours after he painted it but already it had been covered with a perspex screen, hence the bit of reflection. I guess it's better than Robbo just obliterating the work.

Banksy's Jubilee Offering

Banksy Jubilee

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