Sunday, 28 April 2013
I'd worked on magazines for the last 12 years, so it was with a heavy heart that I resigned myself to leaving a job I loved. That job had seen me visit loads of interesting places and meet and equally interesting number of people. Aside from the crappy hours and the mind-boggling mileage, the positives were easy to see; loads of fishing, photography, and getting lungfuls of fresh air. But those things don't create revenue and I was one of the few to be culled because I wasn't 'financially viable'.
I actually intended to go freelance, with jobs flying in, including the dream chance of working on a guitar magazine and producing a bookazine about British luthiers. But family always comes first and when I was approached by Leeda UK to become its Digital Media Manager, I knew it was security that I couldn't turn down. I can always do the freelance thing some other time in my life...
So, what's going to happen to me as a photographer? Thankfully, I'm being employed for my skills and it's not a case of there being a round hole and me being a square peg to fit it. There's going to be a lot of video work - something I've been doing more of lately and enjoying - but also a massive load of studio photography, plus location shooting for catalogues, websites and adverts. And I get to surround myself with creative people and loads of good fishing tackle. Oh yeah, and I finally get some kit provided that I've not had to scrimp and save for.
It's amazing how two weeks sees so many emotions emerge. One minute you can be as high as a kite on the thought of creative freedom, the next minute feeling tense and anxious about things that you feel are totally out of your hands. I've done the whole spectrum. Thankfully, due to great family, great friends and great acquaintances, I've not been left wanting when it came to advice and opportunities.
It's my first day tomorrow and after 12 years of working at the same place, it feels like the day I got my first job after school. And it feel great....
His latest blog post is particularly insightful; keen to feed an interest in the birds that inhabit his garden an their food source, he ends up calling upon a raft of lighting knowledge to kmake one of the most awesome images of a bird I've seen for ages. It's the pose, the fact pretty sharp (considering it's shot remotely on a 70-200mm) and the fact that you can clearly see the bug in the bird's mouth.
It's this kind of photography that many of us crave to achieve yet never put into action. If anything, it's got me looking away from the TV and into the back garden to see what visitors I'm getting...
Read the full blog (and lose yourself in a world of lighting info) by clicking here
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
Tuesday, 5 March 2013
As mentioned, the guys at Ebay sponsor the event and for several years have entered teams into the 22-mile race that starts near Canary Wharf and finishes at Ham near Richmond. This year was the company's biggest turnout; eight teams and nearly 70 staff from within Ebay and its subisidary companies, Paypal and Gumtree. It's all done in the name of charity and this year saw in excess of 180 boats compete with nearly 1,000 rowers all told. It's a massive event that's been running from humble beginnings back in the late 1980s.
My brief was to document the day from the perspective of the Ebay team. From getting on the coach at Ebay headquarters in Richmond, through the pre-race set-up and then onto the actual race (and later the post-race celebrations) I was tasked with shooting a collection of images that would show both those involved and those staff who weren't there on the day, what happened as we passed through the capital.
London has always held a fleeting fascination with me; my brother has lived there for years, so I've spent some time there, but aside from those visits and day trips when I was at college, it's not somewhere I'm familiar with. Of course, I know the landmarks - who doesn't - but it's only when you actually see things 'in the flesh' do you get a sense of scale.
For me the day started at 4am as I set off down the M1 from Rugby, into London, finally finding myself in a sleepy, pre-dawn eBay HQ in Richmond. After a quick coffee and a chat with a few of the staff - and my contact for the day, Tony - I was rattling off frame-after-frame as the staff all huddled onto the waiting coach that would whisk us over to the start. Face painting, breakfast and a whistle-stop sightseeing tour of the city later, we arrived at the start. It was a mellee of boats, rowers and spectators. I found the press tent, quickly realised I wasn't going to be on the fast press boat (unfortunately) and then found the guys who were going to ferry me around on a comfortable motorised catamaran along with a Russian film crew, a videographer and the organiser and his wife.
I have to admit that at this point I did start to think to myself "what the hell am I doing?" - I was documenting what could only be described as organised chaos and somewhere in the middle of it were the Ebay teams. Thankfully, they'd had the forethought to all have flagged fitted to their boats that featured the Ebay logo plus some clever play on words associated with their business (such as Seabay Dragons, The Oarsome Gumtree) plus some less obvious names such as Gin & Titonic and Sea To Sea Sailors. Anyway, I knew my targets for the day.
It was safe to say that everyone was up for it; teams from Holland, Malta, Cyprus, Ireland plus loads of UK-based teams, were all doing a mixture of stretches, group hugs and cramming in the last cigarette before four hours of hard graft.
After a chaotic rush for everyone to get onto their respective boats, the start cannon fired and the boats set off in a staggered fashion, with the faster dragon boats setting off last. These faster boats are an awesome sight when they (quickly) get up to speed, although less awesome when a speed boat was a bit to keen on the throttle and several of the dragon boats were sunk by its wash!
|Organised chaos: I just rattled off frames and didn't ask questions.|
The main problem with races like this, despite the best will in the world to win, is that not everyone works to the same pace. This presented one major problem; how was I going to photograph all the eBay boats during the day as was the brief? In reality, it was never going to happen so i just rattled off as many shots as I could of the teams as they crossed the start line and then started the journey up the Thames.
|Far too many landmarks to take in... but I tried!|
|I nice way to see The Eye.|
|It was easy to lose the Ebay boats in the throng of competitors.|
|An Ebay team in acton - laughing now, laughing later I hoped.|
One thing that amazed me was the number of spectators; the bridges spanning the Thames were bulging with onlookers and once again, it gave great photographic opportunities to put the rowers in context and give them a taste of the race which they probably wouldn't be taking note of as they rowed.
|The crowds were out to cheer the competitors on.|
The whole journey to the finish lasted about three hours, pausing now and then to grab shots of nearby boats. We were actually well ahead of the lead boats by the time we docked, giving me an hour or so to suss things out on the riverbank. Families waited patiently in the heat and we even had olympians (I can't recall who - doh!) to signal the finish as the boats came through.
|The finish was a melee of boats, competitors and spectators.|
|One of the Ebay dragon boats making it to the end.|
|Even after hours of rowing, there were still smiles.|
|For many, emotions ran high once back on dry land.|
|Every Ebay team had a final group shot at the finish.|
|Ebay UK's winning team, The Oarsome Gumtree|
And that was me done....
I declined a taxi back and decided to walk the mile or so back to the car, just reflecting on a hard, tiring but rewarding day. The fuss of the race had died off and couples were moseying up and down the riverbank while joggers and fitness freaks enjoyed the late evening sunshine. Richmond really is a nice place to be when it's like this and I'll go back for sure at some point.
The journey back to the Midlands was uneventful; roads around North London were a car park for a while but the M1 was empty. I got back about 9pm, utterly pooped but with that total eagerness to look through the several thousand shots and start work on editing. That would wait, this was time to enjoy the family...
Thursday, 7 February 2013
I've become a bit of a philistine in recent years when it comes to looking at the history of photography, looking at contemporary photographers and deconstructing their work, and just generally soaking up photography to find my place within it. I do what I do and for the most part, I feel I do it well.
But is 'doing it well' enough?
The video below, shot by Zack Arias as part of a blog for scottkelby.com, pretty much sums up what myself and countless others will feel like at some point.
I've watched it a few times and although several years old (and not exactly a barrel of laughs), it perfectly illustrates the frustrations we feel as photographers when we pass that mark in our photography where 'better' is the only goal. We're sick of doing it well - we want more. More success. More recognition. More confidence that we're doing it right. We want to be more than just one of the millions who own a camera.
Tuesday, 18 December 2012
It's always exciting when editors work with you on a concept, especially when it comes to covers that push the envelope.
Traditionally, our fishing mag covers have always featured a man with fish, a man with a net of fish, or on odd occasions, a man playing a fish. However, the new editor of TCF really wanted to create a 'hero' shot that would stand out on the crowded newsstand so we took our lead from an issue of Field & Stream where a hunter was nicely lit holding his hunting equipment. We decided to use a different kind of 'hunter', well-known predator angler Mick Brown.
The studio space at work is 'bijou' to say the least so we had to work around the amount of working area; to camera left are two 24" soft boxes stacked on top of each other to replicate a strip box for soft fill, and you can see the other two lights and what they're achieving.
There's obviously a considerable crop taken place to fit the image on the cover, plus some heavy Photoshopping. However, as a cover that stands out from the crowd I'm really pleased with what we achieved.... sales will tell if we made the right decision, but nonetheless we've produced something we can be proud of.
*Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8
*1/250th @ f/7.1
Wednesday, 12 December 2012
Just a quick snap from today's feature with Bob Nudd for UK fishing magazine, Total Coarse Fishing.
This cheeky little robin was doing the usual winter trick - look cute and then steal maggots form your bait tray. I couldn't begrudge him that when he was so willing to model for the camera!
*Nikon 70-200mm VR
*1/320th @ f/4