Acorns and Oak Trees

General, Photographs

Before going to Ireland a couple of weeks ago I was lucky and fortunate enough to be invited to the home of a friend of a relative as part of my “Englishmans Home…” project.

I drove down to Dorset to meet Paul and we chatted and realised that he had nearly taught me at my comprehensive school and also knew many people that I did. We then proceeded to visit his “Den” and to set about taking the picture of him I needed for my project.

Returning from this successful shoot, driving across beautiful countryside and thinking as I often best do in the car, I recognised that this project could and should be much bigger and wider than I had first thought. These thoughts were then discussed with my network of friends, family and other influencers in my life whose opinions I hold very dear. During my stay away on the Emerald Isle my vision was able to to be fed and grow. Those I discussed this with all seemed to agree, there really was only myself stopping this project from becoming a very important and exciting body of work, seen by millions rather than a few hundred. Work that should get not only nationwide critical acclaim but that should be on the bookshelves of pretty much every British Citizen in the UK! A tall order you may think but a fascinating and though provoking idea.

This body of work would have mass appeal. It is already interesting with the few subjects I have shot. When I have a full and proper representation of the society we live in, we will have a body of work that will excite, disgust, amaze, amuse and appeal. The idea that the book viewer will be able to peer into 400 british male’s homes and see them deep in their own environment as never before, will satisfy all of our voyeuristic tendencies and hunger for the pursuit of ‘normal’.

Since this eureka thought process has developed, I have subsequently shot two more subjects for the project and they have been amazing encounters and produced stunning images. I realise now that my encounters with these people are extremely important in order to take the right shot. I already can see a ‘style’ of my own developing with the images for this project. I am already instinctively able to see the shot the minute I walk into their home! This has the chance to go big, big, BIG!

So, I have spent the last few days considering my next moves and they are this. I have now written up a full scale business plan and body of text to attract a Corporate Sponsor for this 2012 Olympic Year project. The upshot of this is that I need around £30,000 to make this project produce the results it needs to in the timeframe given. Most of this cost goes on advertising for subjects in the national and regional press.

I ask each reader of this blog this, please consider this project seriously. If you have ANY contacts in the business world that you feel may be able to help further this amazing opportunity then please please let me know. I need to get in front of the right businesses and the right people in those businesses that are able to make decisions. Any business with a social conscience or general duty of care to the UK as a whole would be applicable and their association would be hugely beneficial to their business as a whole.

If you have any other ideas as to where this capital could come from then please also let me know, maybe a private investor you know who would donate and support a UK based arts project or a body able to make quick decisions equally supportive of such ventures. I have all the information to hand they would need to seriously consider this undertaking.

Never before has such an important study excited me so much and I really feel passionate that this can produce one of the most photographically exciting exhibitions and books seen on these shores in recent times. Of course, if you know of any interesting UK men able and willing to take part in the study then please also let me know asap.

The opportunity is immense…

This image below was not taken for this project but gives a very small idea of the flavour some of these images could have.

Chris, Retired Banker and avid Spurs Fan, Somerset

 

 

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Ireland, Here we Were!

General, Photographs

We set off bright eyed and bushy tailed for the event of the year, a guy do in the Connemara region of Ireland. Actually, we weren’t allowed to stay in the house we did if we were on a stag do so we said we were employees of the Best Man Benno. We quickly changed that story when we got there and decided we were on the Fat Club Annual retreat and I was the “Slimmer of the Year”.

We got to Bristol Airport in plenty of time but decided it was still Guinness o’clock. Sadly, the authorities at Aer (Cunny) Lingus decided we weren’t going to travel when we thought we were going to. In fact we were over 4 hours late taking off and decided to spend our vouchers on… Guinness. Unfortunately, just as we were about to imbibe further, our flight was called so we ended up with 400 packets of dry roasted peanuts instead!

We landed at Shannon without concern and picked up our mini bus as planned. The drive to our ‘remote’ house ‘just outside Galway’ ran into several hours and we decided to stop off at a supermarket and buy a considerable amount of… Guinness for our stay. We arrived at our little house and started drinking. The lads prepared a great spag bol and we further developed our taste for the black stuff.

Next morning we couldn’t believe the view from our beds! Wow! However, no time for loitering. Off we set to our planned river fishing trip that took us a little short of 2 hours to reach and we met with our hosts, Mark and ‘Stop..’ Jonah. Most of us had no clue of the art of fishing for Trout or Salmon and quickly set about demonstrating this fact. (Some of us even went so far as to demonstrate we were actually quite a tackle menace!). Kev, who did know what he was doing, spent most of the morning trying to keep a way upstream of us but it was all to no avail. We blanked totally despite Mark telling us that the River had been “boiling with fish yesterday” – “awwww….stop!!”

We stopped for lunch and refreshment of the free flowing black stuff in a nearby hostelry and then headed back home for rugby watching and more Guinness. The evening began with yours truly ‘needing’, apparently, to speed drink a spiced rum ‘shot’ that left me feeling kinda drugged as we headed out for a night on the town in Carna, a massive village nearby! We were soon joined by thousands of villagers who weren’t coming to pay their respects to my ‘Fat Club’ win but to a local lass that was heading off to Spain for a year! Anyway, the Disco started and 10.30pm and we danced the night away until they shut and all the fresh fruit including Strawberry’s had gone home.

We carried on when we got in as it would have been rude not to. The following morning we got up late but with such good weather could not resist a few hours of photography. So off we set before the pubs opened. In the afternoon we headed off to the local big town, Clifden, to find a pub. We found one and watched the Welsh beat the Scots before we headed back for evening meal and a drinking game not best understood by our two elder statesmen who thought they could last the entire time topping up with neat Vodka. Needless to say, they didn’t and couldn’t and when we popped outside to stargaze, they wished they had been just a little more cautious…

The journey home was tired but gentle and we rested our weary heads that evening, each in our homes, relaxed and chilled out, knowing we had been party to a very special Fat Club outing!

Ireland and all its Western beauty will definitely be visited again by me over the coming few years. It is truly stunning in many beautiful ways and I can’t wait to photograph it seriously!

Our Home for the Weekend

The view from our home

Tackle Menace Si after a snag!

Yours truly showing how it's done

Mart not so sure

Mac snagging up!

Expert and ex-pro Kev showing off!

The beautiful Inverbeg Lough, one of a thousand views we could have shot

Ireland here we come….!

Photographs

The last few days have been spent shooting images for the “Englishman’s Home…” project and some landscaping for pleasure!

I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to shoot Mike who has two snakes he keeps in his home as pets. I even got to hold “Monty” his pet Royal Python which was a first for me and tremendously exciting! He had never bitten anyone and I was far too kind to him to upset him but Mike did warn me to keep my nose away from his face as they sometimes mistake them for a mouse!  “Maddox”, the Corn Snake was a bit too lively for me however. At just over 5 feet she is totally beautiful. She has amazing markings and Mike obviously looks after them really well as they are in prime condition.

The task was to shoot Mike in his home environment with his snakes. We decided on the living room with Maddox climbing over the door frame and Monty being hand held. My dilemma was that it was very tempting to shoot only these gorgeous creatures and not what I had come to do! So I managed to take some of Mike in his living room with his snakes being ‘part’ of the scene rather than ALL of it!

As I complete more of these shoots I realise that I am just a voyeur of these lovely people’s lives. Whilst it is tempting to re-arrange furniture etc it cannot be done! I shot Mike using an on camera flash for fill and a narrow depth of field. I am happy with the result and I have my memory of my first snake handling to also take with me.

At the weekend we shot down to the New Forest to visit some old and great friends to watch the rugby and generally hang out. On the Sunday morning we visited a site my friend knew on the River Test that promised much pre-dawn. However, although there was even a bit of snow on the ground, the cloud cover was too heavy and consequently there was no light of any worth to two budding and expectant photographers in arctic gear.

All was not lost as we then drove all over the Forest looking at potential spots to revisit and photograph in favourable light and misty conditions in either spring or autumn.

Which leads me onto this weekend, which for me, starts tomorrow as I am off with me bestest buddies to visit the Emerald Isle of Ireland on its beautiful west coast for my Stag weekend. Yes, it has come to this. I have now to get married in order to come up with the great excuse of needing to visit a photogenic country and boy does it look amazing. We are right on the coast overlooking a small estuary and bay. I am already dreaming of Guinness and sunsets…..

Corn snake, royal python and Mike

Monty, Maddox and Mike

Zippy

Photographs

Things have been busy all round with plenty of planning going on for various projects and opportunities.

There are two main ones. One a money making venture that links to marketing and loosely to photography. The other is pure photography and is taking some time to get prepared and into full swing. It is this one that is sparking the artful side of the brain and challenging mentally how to develop and create!

I now have a number of volunteers to really get the project, “An Englishman’s Home…”, up and running and it is tremendously exciting. I have a lovely mixture of people too and I desperately want to get many many more. The possibilities for this are limitless and the more I have the better the outcome and result.

Early this morning I shot a fantastic local character called Zippy. A real genuine gent who leads a simple but happy life, asking for little and enjoying lots. He doesn’t bother others and keeps himself to himself and lives alone in his little caravan with his small dog Sophie. We arranged to meet quickly before he went out and he happily posed in the freezing conditions (-4°C) outside his van with his little dog. It was a slight challenge in that there was so much I wanted to include about where he lived but also who he is. He has a characterful face and I wanted to capture that, his interaction with his beloved dog and the van itself. I also wanted to try to include the massive pylon and lines that loomed ominously over his van but that was a step too far. I couldn’t logistically manage to capture all three.

The sun was out and bright and not long risen so I feared the worst as I approached his home but luckily his van faced totally the opposite direction. My only slight issue was creating enough depth of field at the same time as a high enough shutter speed to handhold. I compromised the former and shot mostly at f3.5 which is enough to get Zippy himself sharp, and he is the main point and focus of the image.

I am not as yet going to post any of the final images here but here is a slightly different shot of the two of them I took today, not heavily processed but will hopefully give you an idea of the style and approach taken. Remember, I am trying to show men in and around their homes as they live, as it is. It is not meant to be a ‘staged’ shot so I am trying to discipline myself to not direct the subjects too much. I would rather they be as they are and let the viewer decide who is leading the happiest and most content life!

Zippy with Sophie

I already have a few dates booked up to shoot some other people but I still need more! Please keep sending your suggestions through to me and I will follow up every single one of them. Everyone is important and everyone will be treated with the utmost of respect.