Retro Processing


It has been such a hectic week and I have almost nothing to show for it shoot wise! Grrr…. what a pain in the arse. The week has totally flown by and yet again I find myself wondering what happened to that last 5 days of my life?

The weekend was uneventful but really cool, spending time with the loved ones that fill my life so completely. I also had a chance to plan a new shoot. I have been given the opportunity to develop an idea around an advert for an acoustic guitar. The brand is pretty well known amongst the guitar playing fraternity in the UK but hasn’t done much advertising over the recent years. However, it has been around for quite a while in the UK slowly developing a good and loyal following.

Now, the owner of the distribution licence came to me with a retro 70s kinda shoot for the guitar itself and a kind of VW split screen retro surf look. I took the idea which is currently en vogue and added a sexy young girly into the frame (so to speak). I was chancing my arm a little but hey, this is art and marketing! I put it to my client/old buddy and he not only endorsed the idea, he loved it! So, I quickly sourced a totally appropriate model, and made sure she was free, within a few hours, we had the whole shoot arranged and booked up!

Next week we head off for a two day spree to the south Devon coast, with a suitable sexy model, an assistant and me! Now, don’t get me wrong, we are a million miles away from the finished product but I am delighted that Alma is joining me as my Asst. as she is bright, fresh out of photo college and above all, really talented. She will help to come up with some suitably cool shoot ideas and hopefully will be a total inspiration to all of us. We plan to head down there in the early evening and shoot pretty much all day the next day from sun-rise! No drinking the night before then huh?

Now, I did have a slight problem with location shooting that may well prove to be a familiar one for a lot of togs with studio lights but no location lights other than speedlights (flash guns). After much thought I have decided to go for a solution that provides me with what I think is total flexibility. Essentially, I have ordered a super powerpack that my studio lights plug straight into. The Innovatronix Explorer XT SE allows me to use my main powerful 500 watt heads outdoors on location. I will let you know how I get on after the shoot. I am VERY excited about this as it will be a test of shooting and of processing. I have developed an idea that has a retro feel and this is an example here.

Retro Processed Holly in proverbial corn field!







My other task this week was to update my website with the lovely Old Rectory Garden shots which I have now completed and sent out to my contacts. I also am processing the final “Hard Rock Calling” shots taken at the Hyde Park gig of The Kaiser Chiefs which are coming along very nicely.

Check back soon for more thrilling updates!

Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs at Hard Rock Calling, Hyde Park, London


Take That!


The updates have been slow recently due to literally no time at all and a gruelling schedule of fun and excitement!

Thursday last week involved a wake-up call at 4.30am followed by a gentle drive to Bristol Airport to catch the 7.05am flight to Newcastle. Plans went very well apart from a small car accident on the way to the airport with much damage occurring to the car that ran into us and virtually none on the back of the Saab 93 we were in!

We were headed north to witness the ‘pre-show’ event of the massive Take That Progress tour. We were to be guests of Musical Director Mike Stevens at this exclusive and amazing final ‘dress rehearsal’ for the whole show at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.

Having successfully checked into our hotel, we made our way by taxi to the Stadium. We nervously queued with hundreds of other people slightly uncertain whether we would be actually on the list or not. Our wait was a cold and breezy one but ultimately successful. We were allowed entry and had to promptly hand over to security our mobile phones and my camera gear! We were also asked to sign a Confidentiality Agreement making sure we divulged nothing about the show before it opened and that we took no images or recorded anything. We then made our way up to the Sunderland Hospitality Suite. Beers at £4.10 a pint meant we were in for an expensive evening!

After an hour or so we were asked to make our way down into the Stadium itself. We walked along a short corridor, through some double doors and then up some steps to enter the arena high up and about where the halfway line would normally be. The sight that greeted us was, well… totally awe inspiring. The sheer scale of the stage and set was the first thing that grabbed you. Then the intricacy of the different elements of the whole set-up. Looking at it, taking it all in, you just had a great feeling that this was going to be a special and amazing show.

We made our way down to pitch level and to the 3-400 or so seats that were laid out either side of the large cat-walk jutting out far into the middle of the ‘pitch’. Within minutes the Pet Shop Boys opened their set with all the familiar faves of years gone by. They were slick, well honed and fun to watch and listen to. The show as much a visual one as it was aural. Those of us present all politely applauded and cheered but our noise was mostly lost in the scale of the vast stadium.  We felt a little pathetic stood there with an enormous stage, gigantic venue surrounding us and a massive sound but only a very small number of us trying to be heard over the huge silence.

Another hour and the main event started. The four ‘remaining’ members of Take That took to the stage and we all cheered and sang along to their recent hits. Then in flew Robbie! Wow- what a showman and what a mini set. Incredible and jaw dropping. I will not spoil the whole show and experience in any way for any future attendee but we were left thinking after eight or so songs, what on earth can they do to trump this? There was still 3/4 of the show to go! Well, believe you me, they do trump it and they do leave you knowing that you have witnessed something truly, truly special. As I mentioned on my Facebook page “Oh wow! Just wow! Totally utterly amazingly fantastically incredible! I am speechless. Totally speechless. Wow. See it whatever it takes”. And that is it really, just make sure you see it. These things do not happen very often, this is the largest Stadium tour in Europe EVER. You MUST make every effort to go and see this show, you will remember it and it will live with you for a very, very long time. See you at Wembley in a few weeks time.

My evening was made complete by managing to grab a (meaningful) handshake with both Howard and Jason as they made their way off stage at the end of the whole gig.

We hotfooted it away from the Stadium back to the Quay at Newcastle and specifically to an upmarket Hotel to hook up with our host. Mike was fascinating to listen to post the event explaining the whole concept of the show and the way it came about. He was pretty pleased with the sound and the musical side but told us there were a few ‘production’ issues along the way. After all, isn’t that what dress rehearsals are designed to iron out anyway?

At stupid o’clock we made our way back to our hotel and then got up at 4.45am to make sure we caught our (ultimately delayed grrr…) flight back to Bristol. Knackered but delighted and hoping against hope that we get the Press passes for Wembley that we so desire and need for some lovely tasty icing on our Godin project cake!

Take That

Take That in Sunderland with "Om"

Frustrating Mondays


Are Mondays always as frustrating as they are often made out to be? Well if this one is anything to go by then yes they are! After a brilliant week last week, today has been an anti-climax.

I was telephoned on Sunday by Huw from The Old Rectory where I was due to visit and take some images. However, due to an almost hurricane force wind and the prospect of torrential rain, we decided to postpone the session by 24 hours. I was called again this morning to be told that our friends at the Met Office were not forecasting anything brighter on Tuesday and that the trip should be further postponed until better weather was more likely to be forthcoming. Annoying for all of us as the exterior of the Rectory and the grounds themselves were looking amazing before the storm. We will get the job done but it would have been good to make the most of the great weather we had been having and the beautiful springtime gardens. Never mind, we shall return very soon.

I don’t know if I mentioned that on Friday I realised my fantastic file storage system had let me down big time. My Western Digital external hard drive was appearing as “not recognised by this computer” (my iMac) having previously been recognised for months with no issues. Upon many hours of internet trawling I realised that not only was this a fairly common problem for Western Digital external hard drives but also that it was likely to be fairly serious, potentially resulting in lost data! Now, this kind of thing has never happened to me before and I must say I do a fairly good job of backing up most files and images especially given the important nature of some of my work. However, upon further investigation, I realise that my system of backing up was not flawless and I have indeed several months of images that exist ONLY on this damn drive. Well, today (Monday take note), I telephoned the computer shop where I took the drive to be ‘repaired’ (saved more like) to be told that they had ripped it out of its housing and plugged it into a PC whereupon they had been asked to format the drive. The good news is that the PC recognised it and asked the question, the bad news is, they don’t have a Mac there to test it out on. So, I popped over and gave them my little MacBook Pro to test it on, with the promise they would call me later. Yep, you guessed it. They didn’t call me! So, I am still none the wiser re the hard drive and its contents.

Frustrating? You bet.

However, on the upside, we received confirmation that we are indeed invited to attend the Take That ‘pre’ show that takes place at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland the day before the official Progress tour begins. We will be one of only a few hundred privileged enough to see the show before anyone else and we will be asked to sign confidentiality agreements and to hand in ALL equipment that is able to record either visual or audio data. That means no photographs. The upside is that we hope to meet the people that know these things and manage to get a pass to at least one of the big stadium shows and snap away in the ‘pit’ along with no doubt countless other people for the Godin project. I will also take some kit just in case we get a chance after the gig to seek out our main man. To say we are pretty excited is an understatement and the only thing that could possibly stop us is some kind of Icelandic volcanic ash preventing our flight from landing at Newcastle airport the morning of the gig! Haha….wait a minute, have you seen the news today? OMG! Oh yeah, I forgot, it is Monday…

Oh well, I will post a gratuitous image of a lovely lady taken for my ‘Lyrics Project’ to cheer me up!

Voyeur Nude

Voyeuristic Nude

Two Big Days!


Olly Murs performing last night at the Colston Hall, Bristol

Yesterday was somewhat slow to get going following the big build up I had given the Olly Murs gig at the Colston Hall, Bristol. We had left for the venue in plenty of time as we wanted to hook up with our hero Rene Woollard. However, due to a ‘bonding’ go-kart session for the band and crew we were disappointed to learn that we couldn’t get to meet up. The sound check was a no goer as well which was awkward as we were then not sure of the set up for the gig itself. As it turned out the gig was interestingly an all seater affair and the ‘pit’ was simply a case of treading on the front row patron’s toes and annoying the hell out of them. They weren’t to be annoyed for too long however as our Press Pass allowed us a rather miserly 2 songs shooting only which equated for exactly 8 minutes of shooting time. This is barely enough time to get your bearings let alone grab any  meaningful images for client Godin! As it turned out we were to be slightly disappointed again as the object of our desire was again poorly lit and difficult to do justice to. I think we may need to grab Rene for a meaningful studio session in the not too distant future.

The only other memorable thing about the gig was that I had never really been to a ‘teeny’ gig before other than Avril Lavigne at the MEN in Manchester but never had I heard such awful screaming. We ended up in front of the huge PA stack and even that was drowned out by the hideous noise emanating from the audience. I guess the Band and Olly have their in-ear monitors in and therefore are protected to some degree but man, that is not a good sound!

Today was spent in two business meetings, one in Bristol and the other in South Wales. The first has a very exciting potential attached to it and I truly hope to be able to report on that in the near future. The second was a slight cock-up (not sure who was responsible) but no harm done and a good chat was had anyway with a further meeting booked for next week with the potential for another exciting project to be launched shortly.

Tomorrow has a bit of fun attached to it as we are heading up to London to visit the International Wine Fair at the Excel which will of course be all in the interests of research and assessment and nothing whatsoever to do with photography!

One final note is that we hope to be involved in some way with a big charity event at the Royal Albert Hall with the very worthy cause that is the Sunflower Jam, featuring Deep Purple. More details will follow but for now check out the website here

Ups & Downs


Well its the weekend after a rather up and down week. Running your own business has some interesting crests and falls along the way and after twelve months things seem to be going well. It doesn’t stop the odd ‘quiet’ period from getting under the skin and making you wonder whether things are going to be ok again! They will be and a day later and a couple of productive meetings and things take on a different perspective and the world is the right way up again. We have decided to have a month of portrait ‘special’ offers and will advertise locally to promote it just to keep the wheels turning in the positive. I do enjoy these sessions hugely anyway and they always throw up interesting challenges and exciting opportunities.

The other exciting news is that we may well be basing ourselves in a different place in the near future that will offer more room and more opportunity for expansion including the desirable chance of a bigger studio. The ideal location would also see us being smack in the middle of a small creative site largely occupied by marketing and creative agencies. Interesting times ahead indeed!

I have also decided to add to my ‘lyrics’ project by photographing another in the series and have made enquiries about one of my more interesting and challenging ideas! I do however need a good MUA and will be sourcing one over the next few days. Keep a watch out for this next instalment. The project itself has stalled a bit lately due mainly to the increased recent work flow but I should keep pushing forward with it.

We went out last night to a gig at The Fleece in Bristol to see Wilko Johnson. Now, that guy and Norman Watt-Roy are totally amazing. I last saw them in Weymouth probably around 1982 in a dingy basement and remember being totally blown away by both the incredible sounds Wilko manages to get from a guitar but also by his and Norman’s manic stage presence. I am glad to say that their incredible blend of rock and attitude has not left them and they totally blew me away again nearly 30 years later!

We have now seen some rain at last in this sunny area of Wiltshire and I really hope we get to see some more spectacular thunderstorms. Who knows, we may even get the chance to photograph some…keep watching, you never know.