Wembley and New Shoots!

General

Monday we had a delightful ‘day-off’! We took care of some personal business and then headed across the country to tackle the mighty Wembley Stadium and traffic. The reason? Well, we and 85,411 other people had tickets to go and see the huge Take That Progress Tour. The eagle eyed among you will quickly realise that I had already seen this show, and I had. However, not with a stadium full and not from the punters perspective (as it were and not trying to sound too nobby!).

We decided that as we had the day, we would mosey on up really early and take our time. The last trip up we had was for Coldplay and we really got ourselves into all sorts of bother with the traffic and the parking arrangements. So, we arrived hours before the gig, parked in an ‘unofficial’ area (for which we were relieved of £20!) and then wandered around the delights that Wembley centre had to offer. Which, as you will know, isn’t much so we did what comes naturally and hit the pub for an hour or so!

After some food we decided to try and get an unreserved seat and good position for the gig and go into the stadium and soak up the atmosphere. We weren’t alone in being early! The place was packed with middle aged ladies dressed up and in some TT attire or another. I felt a bit out of place being a guy and not really a fan. Anyway, we waited and relieved ourselves of a huge amount of cash for beer and soft drinks and snacks etc! (Come on Wembley, £10 for 2 bottles of Carlsberg??) Things got underway with The Pet Shop Boys and their weird coloured block stage show, which many thought were a strange choice but I was quite happy with. They have a string of hits and are as static as TT are mobile so they didn’t detract from the main event.

The main show is awesome to say the least. It is such a shame the Musical Director could not get us Press Tickets so I could shoot this event properly! He hoped he would be able to persuade the Management team but obviously he hasn’t been able to. We are gutted. Anyway, we watched in awe as the ‘boys’ strutted their stuff and sang all the old classics and some of the new, soon to be, classics! All too soon it was over and we left, swiftly getting away from the venue and onto the M4 home. We got back easily and had a wonderful day. Probably like about 85,000 other people!

The last two days have been spent on processing and admin. Jobs continue to come our way which is really, really positive! I have received several enquiries from various sources and have been so motivated I might even have a spare day to organise more of my ‘lyrics’ shots!!

The James shots are all but finished and now I have to start on the Kaiser Chiefs set and see what classics we have in there!

Ho hum…..radio show now….its all go!!

Take That on Stage at Wembley Stadium

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Shooting Stars!

General

So much news so little time!

Last weekend was a blur of tiredness following the Take That gig and soooo little sleep. We had a little BBQ and drinkies for the Champions League Final and an ultimately fruitless support of the mighty Man Utd. Mighty it was until we came up against unarguably the best club side for several decades. Possibly of the century. Barcelona are a totally awesome side and have re-written the rule book of football in the modern age. Nuff said!

Claire Richardson

The amazingly graceful Claire

Monday was spent shooting a delightful and gorgeous ‘model’ I had been hassling for some time to pose and generally show off for me. We travelled to meet the lovely Claire (Richardson) and her new Beau and equally lovely, Rob at Claire’s home in Wiltshire. Despite two lunatic doggies we set up and set about shooting Claire in various poses and outfits. We definitely saved the best till last when we persuaded her to grunge up the make-up and hair to appear in a totally wicked session egged on by the ever supportive Rob! Results are yet to be properly processed but a more sedate teaser appears here.

Tuesday saw me spending the morning in Bath meeting a business partner to discuss our whizzo and totally exciting business idea that we hope to bring to market towards the end of the year/early 2012. Huge amounts of work needs to now take place but look out for further updates. The afternoon was very fruitful with a huge amount of admin and general catching up and chasing of fees etc being undertaken.

Wednesday was a hugely entertaining day spent writing up the first efforts on the business report and spending time with the kids who are on their half term break. It is so wonderful to spend time with people who mean the whole world to you and yet make you so proud and full of admiration. We had a really cool day even though I did tons of work, and they revised and did the jobs they had to do! I love you Mack and Holly.

Yesterday was an early start to high tail it down to North Devon to spend the day with the lovely Huw and Sam of The Old Rectory Hotel. My brief was to take some really good pics of the Hotel from outside and to do some kind of justice to the stunning gardens. I sat outside on the grass in the blazing sun, lining up another angle with the pond and bridge in the foreground and realised how totally lucky I am to have such a cool job. It was a real pleasure to spend time in the lovely Devon countryside with only the bees and birds for company. The afternoon was spent with the guys, giggling and taking some really cool portraits both outside and in whilst messing with courgettes and totally inappropriate conversation!  I got home just before 8pm meaning a long and tiring day but such another enjoyable one.

This morning saw me in Bristol with a firm of consulting psychologists (not on any personal mission you understand!). I love moments like today when I was shown into the building by the most attractive girl I have seen for some time (apart from Hels obviously!). It is soo uplifting to have your breath taken away by someone and hopefully one day I will pluck up the courage to ask her if I can possibly have the pleasure of taking her photograph! Keep an eye out for an update as I hope to be working with this firm on the exciting business project so you never know until you try!

This afternoon I met up with my good pal and Marketing Guru extraordinaire Steve Coleman who, like me, has so many exciting projects in the offing that if they all come off will never have time to deal with them all. But as we all know, he will find it somehow and somewhere. Steve gives me loads of helpful advice and ideas and I can see us working closer in the future as our paths will become more closely linked.

A successful week and a totally fulfilling and enjoyable one. Oh and the stars of the title?Why, my subjects of the week of course, Claire, (Rob a bit), Sam and Huw. Huge love and respect to you and hopefully I will be able to produce the images that capture your natural charisma.

Take That!

General

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"

Mid-week Excitements!

General

The update on the hard drive saga is that it is costing me an absolute fortune to see if any data can be recovered by a crack team of ‘experts’ in some far away land. I am guessing it is now becoming a forlorn hope and an experience that I never ever want to have to repeat. What a horrible feeling it is to realise you may never get back some of your hard work!! Boohoo…

On a more positive note, I had an interesting albeit maybe not too lucrative meeting down on the south coast yesterday and managed to catch up with my old buddy and friend Rich Lock. He never changes and in the 2 hours we were together managed to lose his wallet. It sounds dramatic but I have never really been with him for any length of time without him losing his wallet. Or keys. Or phone. 2 hours though is a personal best even for Rich.

Today the icelandic dust cloud has cleared the North of England which means we will be able to travel to Newcastle tomorrow morning and therefore see the amazing Take That in concert at the Stadium of Light as planned! All I need to do now is pack and make sure I have all the right paperwork etc. Early start tho’!

I also visited a potential client today to help with a couple of advertising ideas and hopefully if we can create some good concepts then I would hope to be able to get more photographic jobs from them including shooting the ads themselves. As always it will be the idea that really will win the day, the rest will come quite naturally.

After last weeks slight hiccup (too much wine tasting at the London International Wine Fair) the Radio Show continues on itfm.me.uk between the hours of 9-11pm GMT. Tonights show should be fun as it will be the first time that my Fiancee has ever graced the airwaves and boy is she nervous already! Nice easy baptism from me then in the early minutes do you think?

This triptych study was shot during a studio session with GB Olympic Diving Team members, Monique Gladding and Nick Robinson-Baker, both from Sheffield.

Monique Gladding and Nick Robinson-Baker

Olympic Diving Duo, Monique Gladding and Nick Robinson-Baker

Frustrating Mondays

General

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

The Week That Was

Photographs

OK, some weeks are good and some are bad when running your own business. Well, this has to be classed as a good one in the short history of Ellis Imagery Ltd. Where to start? Well there was the gig in Bristol to shoot Rene and Olly Murs. While we didn’t really get the shots we wanted of Rene and his lovely Godin we did (as always) enjoy the shoot itself.

Tuesday meant a meeting with a contact I have had for some time and the time flew by as we discussed an interesting and VERY exciting internet proposition. We will be spending some time building a coherent business plan that could lead to something very big and different. Time will tell as they say. The afternoon was spent in South Wales speaking quickly with another exciting contact about a new marketing proposition. It is very early days with this but it could end up being a cool way of advertising some top kit!

Wednesday was, well, how do you say….OK, a bit of a wash out. We went to London and the Excel Centre to discover the joy that is the London International Wine Fair with a very influential wine buyer. He needed our significant input on the various offerings and we really needed to be thorough in our work. It has to be said that never have I seen so many stands with so many bottles of wine waiting for people like me to obligingly taste it! My friend and Performance Director of UK Diving Kim White assisted me in this difficult and stretching task and we made it back later in the day with a very satisfactory list under our belts. Although not wine, we also are convinced that “Thunder Vodka” an extremely tasty toffee flavoured vodka will be a total sensation with vanilla ice-cream. Seriously, hunt it down and enjoy….

We learned yesterday that we are almost certainly going to have to travel up to Newcastle next week to photograph the Musical Director of Take That at the band’s pre-stadium tour small gig on the Thursday before they open at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland. We also got confirmation that we are likely to be photographing the James guitarist at Hyde Park in June when they support The Killers. Both of these gigs will be part of the Godin Guitar project.

Last night was spent preparing to shoot the beautiful and elegantly bone-structured Claire Richardson and see if we can do justice to her and her new man’s amazingly good looks during a shoot at home over the bank-holiday weekend.

This morning we arranged another visit down to the sumptuous Old Rectory Hotel in North Devon to shoot the amazingly gorgeous gardens and the equally gorgeous Huw and Sam on Monday, lets just hope for more lovely bright weather.

During the week we also had confirmed four new shoots and one ongoing project shoot for various clients and agencies. The whole scene and summer is starting to shape up nicely and our work continues to evolve and grow in its appeal. Keep visiting the Ellis Imagery site and watch this blog for further exciting updates and interesting little snippets!

Now, back to the processing and uploading of images to website…..

Olly Murs

Olly Murs performing at the Colston Hall, Bristol