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April 2015

i have now moved the blog to myfacebook page

December 2011

i have just had a new shoot posted on the flux magazine website

it is a fashion shoot, that touches on "goth and slick new wave" - a mix of soft and hard fabrics, unzipped and tightly bound, that plays at being more than one idea, and which keeps changing it's face

when working on the post-production i realised that it would be interesting to remove tone from the monochromatic shoot, enabling us to clearly see what was an otherwise dark session, and keeping the inconsistency going by making it appear almost light

the magazine has selected different crops and a different order of frames to the shoot than i have here, which is interesting, because i started to see a story, whilst working on the post-production, which caused me to reveal the shoot in a different way, so even the presentation has an alternate

i love photography for many reasons, but one that i keep coming back to is it's potential to tell stories - even different ones from the same images - allowing the viewer to make their own interpretation

the model - a performance artist, Lauren Rae Mace - was able to wrap her body into unexpected distortions of beauty

i saw an emerging realisation of belief and the effect that had on her; starting with distraction, followed by a period of changing focus, and ending in bliss

but maybe you see something quite different, and that is good too

November 2011

i have just seen something that both made me laugh out loud and simultaneously worry whether a spoof photo is a condescending rip-off or the most sincere form of flattery

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who i have not actually heard of before, is probably a fan of annie lennox, and is surely aware of the power of this image and of the initial controversy around annie and her sexuality when she was first introduced to america, so it could be seen as very apt for him to emulate

but how should i feel about the message behind the original photograph being hidden behind the new incarnation? and what do i feel about the photographer who has created a new set of images, a number of which also seem to be "copies" of older images? or am i just being hyper-sensitive?

when annie and i got this shoot together for the face magazine, she wanted to create a series of powerful and iconographic images, which were not only powerfully visual but also meant something deeper - annie always wanted to say something in everything she did ... and still does

this was a time when women were just beginning to become equal in some areas of life, though they were still fighting for equal pay, and the glass ceiling was still a distant dream for those female high flyers, but there was progress, and it was time to add elegance to this mix, rather than just the strident view of the female academics

we had the intension of making a strong-arm pose with an ironic twist - to keep the image very clean, to be seen to be playing a role with the introduction of a mask, but to complicate what was being said by the possibility of vulnerability by omitting any visible clothing from the image, and an extra twist by the image being both a side shot but with annie watching us viewing her

as soon as we shot the first polaroids, we knew we had something very special, and that was the way with every picture we shot together that day, it was a day of pure potency

the image was made even more powerful when the face magazine cut the image out so it now had a white background, for their cover, and rca records and d'n'a then used it for the sleeve of the eurythmics next album, "touch"

this openly gay american actor is interestingly using the image in the same way annie was (in her case to empower being female, in his to empower being gay - which is still unacceptable to more people in the world than it should be)

i have been told by friends who have seen "modern family" in which jesse plays part of a gay couple is excellent, very funny, and doing very well in the U.S.

not a bad thing to be associated with :)

September 2011

on the 21st, i went to the private view of "the house of annie lennox" at the V&A in London

this is an intimate one-room show about the image and creativity of annie, who was one half of the eurythmics and now a very successful solo artiste

i had a display devoted to the shoot i initially did for the face magazine, which was subsequently used for the sleeve of "touch" and featured a few polaroids from the shoot, a copy of the face, a cd album, and an access all areas pass emblazoned with the now familiar "strong-arm" pose

i first worked with dave & annie on the eurythmics first album "in the garden", the eurythmics first, and went on to do many shoots with them around the world

i will add more images of them to the website when i find time to scan, colour correct (it is shocking how some of the colours have already changed on the 120mm transparency film i used at the time, generally ektachrome 100 in the e6 process), and clean up the pics

July 2011

i have just posted a shoot i did with brian griffin, who i first discovered and met in the early 80's

brian is a great master photographer who influenced me in the early days of my career with his extraordinary photographic works of art (even though they were commissions)

the playfulness seen in his totally unretouched (not even any cropping!) images sometimes evolved from moving lights that came out of nowhere and swirled around a subject like phantasms, imbuing them with hidden meaning

alternatively, a peculiar positioning of a /prop/lamppost/window frame/beam etc would interfere with the portrait and make a statement that could not be ignored and sometimes almost felt like a slap in the face

i met brian again at a lecture he was giving in march/april 2011, on his life and work, and i just had to ask if he would allow me to photograph him - he agreed without hesitation, much to my astonishment

within a month we met and played together in a studio that had been set with moving lights, twisting props, and brian got into the act by art directing himself using my tethered laptop

the final images were chosen by brian and his stylist daughter, and reveal his playful mind - always trying something different, totally absorbed in the moment

this is the first time i have ever photographed another photographer, and i enjoyed the experience very much

maybe i will do it again, though only with a photographer who has shown me new ways of seeing, like brian

April 2011

there is a problem keeping a blog going on my own website when i am so distracted with other social networking sites

Facebook is the most notable one, and the one i have been most persistently (if that is the right term) making comments on, posting things that i find interesting, notable, attractive, zeitgeist moments or even the absurdities of our times

however, repeated updates by Zuckerberg and his team, and an ever increasing number of friends on FB, means that i no longer am able to see what my close friends are upto, or are saying, which seems to reduce the point of a social site

it's power is to be there during the constant to'ing and fro'ing between friends, something that is especially useful in a place as geographically large as London - tho it must be said that the creative world is much smaller then it first seems

it is easy to get isolated, and miss new people, gallery openings, art movements, and the like, and fb allows me to keep in touch

so, i am about to create a "page" on facebook which will allow me to do two things, first to separate my photography work, and all things that i can relate to that, such as references and ideas, from the lives of my closest friends; but it will also allow me to link this website directly to the photographic postings on fb and not be distracted by personal stuff

on my personal page i have become aware that having more than about 250 real friends means that i miss a lot of their comments on the "home" page, and that gives out the impression that i do not care; whereas in an earlier incarnation of FB (about 3 or so designs ago) i was able to see all that went on, it has now allowed them to become too distant

this creation of a photographic fb site is not going to happen instantly by any means, though from today i am going to link to it from this website, which will allow you to make comments, or add links to interesting articles if you wish

and even to criticise the workings and contents of this website, and help me make it better

thank you

October 2010

i have just read an article in this months MacUser magazine (one of my guides when teaching myself about Apple macs and how they work, but that's another story entirely) which has been growing for a while now, but might be a bit of a surprise to those attempting to become pro photographers

the article, entitled "the tragic demise of the professional photographer" recounts the incessant rise of the fully-automated digital camera along with it's companion, the ever-enthusiastic amateur snapper

this is something that has concerned me for the last two decades, after seeing the hurt endured by my designer friends who were being threatened by the amateur typographer and page layout "expert" who, having bought a computer and relevant software, was offering their services in place of an increasingly beleagured and well educated pro industry

however, it has to be said that time has changed the situation for the design fraternity, who have taken the computer to heart and taken design to previously unimaginable heights

i believe this will be the case for photographers too, though in a different way, since the tools of the trade are being remade all the time, such that i cannot tell if there will ever be a time before the professional can offer more than all the automated software can simulate

i, myself, have been endeavouring to create a personal digital style by my labour-intensive method of lighting and post-production, though i recognise doing it by myself may not be the best route - seeing that the best in the industry at present work in duos - a partnership between photographer and computer retoucher (a relationship i could be drawn into if the right person appears)

it was the case, when i was taking a degree course in photography, that photography was using slow film (64-125asa film was the norm for top-quality work, the 400asa Tri-x was the fastest available), and this slow stock required giant lighting rigs or unbearably heavy electronic flash systems - all of which can be pushed into the corner now you can shoot 32,000asa as a twist of a button, and can get away shooting high-contrast subjects with HDR setups

these digital film speeds have changed the world of photography forever, along with vibration-free lenses which allow photographers to shoot at speeds 4 times slower without camera shake, and allow night street photography without any extra lighting required

whether this makes imagery better or not is to be seen, and i have been slow to take up the fresh opportunities of the fast "film" because i had been trained in the old knowledge and use of the equipment, to not need it, but i think it has come time to experiment, and see where i land

after all, what is the point of sticking with what i know if it is irrelevant?

September 2010

i have just come back from the opening night of a brilliant exhibition at the MoMu Fashion Museum in Antwerp Stephen Jones & the accent of fashion

From 8 September 2010 until 13 February 2011, MoMu is presenting a retrospective exhibition of the work of British milliner Stephen Jones - it houses the largest collection of Stephen Jones hats more than 120 items outside Great Britain, thanks to a long-term loan by the Antwerp private collectors, Geert Bruloot and Eddy Michiels

what separates this exhibition from Stephen's V&A showing is that this one contains a history of the man, and his work, whereas the V&A one was a general history curated by Mr Jones

if you can, see it, the settings are extraordinary - 6 hats have been expertly 3-D scanned and made 2 metres high, others are on ever-increasing sizes of hat boxes, and the whole space feels like a film-set homage to SJ

MoMu has started to download videos of the opening night, but i hope they add some less distracted ones soon, since they confuse rather then illuminate

i-d magazine, in their newish online version, made note of the show in a piece entitled "hats off for stephen jones!"

a book entitled "stephen jones & the accent of fashion" is being released worldwide, with many images from my archives

August 2010

I was honoured, earlier this year, to be asked to be a judge for the "AOP Open Awards" - AOP is the Association Of Photographers

now based in a large multi-storey premises in Shoreditch, it started out, in the early 80's, in a tiny basement in Covent Garden run by three girls with a passion for photography and the desire to help photographers deal with copyright, model release forms and any other business problems that we might come across

there are 4 separate Awards, 3 of which are for different sections of the association's membership, however the Open Awards are for everyone, whether they are members or not

i have entered a few photography competitions in my career, and had always wondered what made a certain image the winner - this was my first chance to see the process unfold using a very neat online process which, unfortunately meant that the 5 judges never actually met, though it also meant that we could not influence each other in our decision making, which is a good thing

the process of choosing was done in 3 stages, the first stage was to decide which i would like to keep in the competition, those i would prefer not to be in, and those which floated in the middle - the aim was to reduce the 1200 or so entries down to a slightly more manageable 500 or so

with 5 of us making these instant assessments (it was suggested that we spend, initially, less than 30 seconds to decide how we felt about each image, and surprisingly, i found that i was able to get in a mindset where i could instantly decide whether an image was good or not, or an inbetweener) there were obviously some difference of opinions, but this meant at the next choosing stage we had to be more circumspect as to whether we REALLY liked an image, or preferred to not have it included

repeating this another two times, it became obvious to me that there were differences of opinion between the judges, because photos i had voted out, came back the next time for a further selection process, and the decision as to approve or reject became more important than just ok'ing an image

finally, at the last stage we were asked to agree on the "best of show" from a group of about 30 images that had consistently won approval from the majority, and then each judges personal favourite from a similarly small group of photos

i found myself agreeing that the eventual winner was worthy since it felt totally natural, was beautiful graphically and had a wonderful, uplifting feel to it - a family snap of two daughters fooling with a hose-pipe whilst their mother watched from the comfort of a hammock, which could have been a setup shot, but did not feel at all posed, i was quite surprised at how much i liked it!

my personal choice was Pierre by Ben Millar Cole, a photo of a disembodied body hanging in space, that, for the life of me, i could not comprehend, but which i liked more every time i saw it

December 2009

Continuing on the editorial theme, i have photographed pandemonia for the winter 2009 (issue 304) of i-D magazine

she is an "inflatable beauty queen challenging our perception of beauty and the female form", and has become an enigma when she appears, often uninvited, at select gatherings in london

the shoot is the fourth for i-D and, hopefully, the latest in a continuing relationship

there are further new additions to the photographs on my website, too many to mention, tho not, alas, any more archive pics

the archive of both my music and fashion sections needs a lot of work, especially since some of the film is beginning to discolour ::((, but i will add images as they are needed, or as i come across them

early bodymap images come to mind, as do soft cell, renegade soundwave, depeche mode etc etc etc - oh dear!!

November 2009

Since the music industry has suffered from the effects of the internet it has put less effort, and money, into promotion

This has propelled me into starting to work for magazines again, and this month i have a rare editorial piece

It is for the photography issue, winter 2009, of Gazelland, an underground magazine based in New York City, whose mission is to "expose the fabulosity of the freak chics and the fashionistas that make it happen, in the night life of london, sao paulo and nyc"

gazelland-winter 2009 contains 4 fashion/portraits & a portrait of one of the contributing photographers to the London section, the idea being that each photographer who contributed was photographed by one of the other photographers - an illuminating idea indeed!

The London section was art directed by fashion designer Stefan Orschel-Read

It has a black & white theme, and reveals both the styles of each photographer and the personalities of their subjects

Since it is an american magazine, it can be difficult to track down in the uk

October 2009

I read, the other day, that people who follow blogs leave if those blogs are not updated every day

Which must mean that I must apologise to anyone who has been to this page over the last 6 or so months expecting to see what has caught my attention, or, what I may have been up to

My apologies to you for my apparent laxity

After all the work of going through my chaotic archives and tracking down images, I became involved in setting up a working space in a factory in north London (Walthamstow to be exact) which, although very basic, allows me to shoot more freely than ever before

I have always enjoyed the play of different light sources on a subject, and have never been one to use a single light source where ten could do, so that the increase in both availability and size of my working space has meant a lot to me

It has also allowed me to test the potential of digtal cameras to capture what i see, and feel, within a complicated chiaroscuro

Something i had believed i would lose when i moved from film to digital medium

Although I am very aware that nowadays many studio photographers use very basic lighting (often a single umbrella light positioned above and just to one side of the camera) due to limitations of both time and budget, and then have depth and colour added in the post-production stages, either by a special mix of film and chemicals (kodalith b/w of the 80's, cross-processing colour in the 90's) or by inspired printing by a master like Brian at BDI Labs (their website is being built, but you can find them at 171 Old Street, LONDON EC1V 9NJ or on 020 7251 4518), I have always preferred to start from the point of depth and suggestion through my lighting

This working space is very large, and it enables me to use many lights with different relationships to the subject, and to physically separate the foreground, middle and background from each other, something i love being able to achieve if space and time permit

The result is that i have been able to reach the qualities of the film-based photographs of my earlier career with the digital-based ones i now shoot, and then to surpass that work with qualities i would not have dreamed of just a few years ago

I now shoot solely in digital format (though still have the experience to go back to film should I see a need and the client is able to afford the costs) and i am happy to say that i find it exhilarating in the opportunities it offers me

Digital photography takes much more time to achieve what i want since i do all my own post-production (not out of ego but because i have yet to find co-conspirators to work with), and it has taken me a long time to get to that point of expertise - 7 years and counting; but recently I have been fully realising a new working method and creating new seductive styles which both reflect my own past and contemporary thinking

I think i have achieved this to a degree that should now allow me to write these blogs with more purpose and fill them with ideas and examples (especially new editorial work)

Hope you find it all worthwhile

February 2009 - part 2

Since i became a photographic student at the London College of Printing (now known as the London College of Communications), i have been friends with and worked with stephen jones

At that time, stephen was a student at St. Martins, doing a course in fashion, but he had the suss to offer his services to photography students as a make-up artist, and that led to my photographing his clothes and hats whilst we were both still students

Later this month, a retrospective, and anthology of stephen's work is to be launched at the V&A museum in london, and to celebrate our collaborations i have created a mini-website within this site

stephen jones and his fabulous hats contains a very brief view of some of his latest collections, cards that were used to launch those collections to the world, and a few portraits of him, taken from student days to the present

I have always loved working with creative people, whatsoever their speciality, but my working relationship and friendship with stephen is certainly the longest, and probably the most important of my life

If you get the chance to see the show, do not miss it, you will both get the chance to see the hats he and his brilliant team have created, but as importantly, you also can view the items from around the world that inspired him

This is too special to miss!!!

The show runs from the 24th february till the 31st may 2009

February 2009

This is an update to both June and March 2008's blog about the freedom to take photographs in UK public places, and how the government has achieved the immoral by announcing this accepted right has now been taken from us

Gordon Brown reaffirmed, last week, on the Number 10 website, that the police have a legal right to restrict photography in public places

On Monday 16th February 2009, those powers came to be. I was so incensed that i created my own Facebook group Protect the freedom to photograph in UK! which allows me and others similarly upset to post online news about this progressive removal of our freedoms

I could copy over all the links that have been posted to the Facebook site, but i would actually prefer if you would venture to the site, and join the group if you also feel aggrieved

I will continue to add comments, photographs (i have already posted my snaps from the demo outside Scotland Yard on the 16th) and would appreciate others doing so too

June 2008

This is an update to March's blog about the freedom to take photographs in UK public places, and how the police, and many other areas of officialdom, are now trying to curb this common right

The war on photographers is an article written in the The Register (an online newspaper for matters dealing with IT and associated technology) which quotes a number of cases where photographers have been threatened, and coerced to hand over their film or digital memory cards, or wipe them in the presence of the official. The article also contains a reference to both the NUJ and photographic associations worried response to this creeping threat to our freedoms

The Register article So, what can you photograph? includes some useful links

For an alternate view, in an article from, Google's controversial Street View hits the UK. Google and their data gathering on the streets of the world, using cameras mounted on cars, is causing some privacy concerns

May 2008

Another technology update this month, though this time it is more of a purely scientific nature

The microscopic world is one that fascinates all of us who are curious, and it has been just announced that it is now possible to see more detail and depth than ever before

Until now, the wavelength of light has limited how much we can see at the microscopic level, but an article in the splendid Technology Review announces a new way of using light that has revealed more information

it explains how light can be used to illuminate the world of tiny, and has a few examples of this revolutionary method

This is an example of one of those technology stories that I used to enjoy in Tomorrow's World, a TV program that preferred to see progress as a positive thing

April 2008

Technology moves ever onwards, especially the one you need to use. And it seemingly gets updated just after you have invested in it, unless you keep your eye on the ball!

Since getting stung all those years ago (see February 2008), I have become an addict to the latest technological releases, be they software or hardware

For about a year now, I have been hearing about a digital movie camera, the Red Digital Cinema Camera, which is the precursor to changes in a whole creative medium

The release date for this camera is believed to be "early 2009"

It is influencing the newspaper photographers, since it will allow them to shoot motion video as well as still images with the same piece of equipment

This is not the end of the line by any means. Rather it is just the start of a new way of looking at taking photographs, and shooting video. Especially nowadays, when a short video is often required on a newspaper's website

Even the film industry is taking note

And I am dreaming of being able to use one when they arrive

March 2008

I have recently read an article in The Saturday Times (dated 22nd March 2008), called Stop the Shooting - "amid fears about paedophilia and terrorism, the art of the street photographer is under threat" - written by Linton Chiswick

If you have a moment, please read the article. It is worth the effort. And it has focussed my thoughts to the ever growing threat to taking street pictures

Although I am not known for street photography, i often walk around with a camera looking for inspiration and hoping to capture that Cartier-Bresson "moment", or at least a snap that will provoke me into deeper thought

In recent years, I have been prevented many times from taking an arbitrary snap by security guards patrolling an area i feel is a public space, but one which they do not. They have often been employed by the property developer, and they inform me that i have no rights to take photographs in their "private" space

I think i know a public space when i see it. To my mind, it is a space that invites the public to stroll through it, to sit and have a coffee, to eat their sandwiches, or to meet up with friends

I am certainly not a paparazzi. Indeed, i do not like the actions of these marauders of celebrity, and I think they have given photographers a very bad image

I can see the time when whole areas of London will be out of bounds. Already the City and the West End have many areas where people commune, but where you may be asked to desist if you try and take a photo

This prevention of private individuals taking their own photographs in the street, whilst we are all being surrounded by government-controlled cctv cameras, is deeply worrying to me and I find it totally unacceptable in a so-called free society

Where is this going to end?

February 2008

This is the start of a fresh website, and it is about time too! So sorry for the delay

I have wanted a website that allowed me the freedom to chop and change as I desired, when I wanted to, and especially one I can update MYSELF

This allows me to keep it fresh, and not only to add photos as soon as I shoot them (if publication allows me to), but also to look for old classic shoots and add them when I find them

I will be writing this blog as much as time allows, and in it I will mention both technical and aesthetic ideas, will add references, and link to sites that interest me

I also, now, have a platform to mention some of the folks I have worked with when creating an image. The best images are ALWAYS the combined effort of a number of people. Even though I rarely ever use assistants, I love to work with other creators: be they art directors, fashion designers, set-builders, make-up, hairdressers, or just friends...

I would appreciate any comments and suggestions, especially as I start this blog, on ways of improving it, or areas of interest. Even to point out where it doesn't work!

Last year I worked on a fashion shoot and then built a website to showcase it

But one of the rather fab associations I had was, and still is, with Reptile (Matt Hughes and Richard Welland), who do beautiful graphics, and helped me with the text on the website. Here is an example from the homepage:-