Our pre-Christmas shoot for Bon Prix is now live so look out for the latest ad on TV. As before, I was behind the scenes in Manchester, documenting the shoot and delivering portraits of all the models. Shooting the ad, my client, video peeps VTR are a lovely bunch to work with, as are the team from Bon Prix. Everyone knows exactly what they want and what they’re doing and we just get on with the job…and each other…which is nice!
Happy new year!! How’s it going out there in the post-Christmas come-down? If, like me you are struggling to put your best foot forward, then take a brief timeout, press pause on 2020 and join me for a nostalgic rewind through my best bits of 2019.
The year got off to a cracking start with Johnny Marr and a spot as ‘the expert’ in N Photo magazine’s Apprentice feature.
Download Festival delivered a bumper, 12-page lead feature in the magazine and I even managed to pop up again as a guest judge in the November edition.
I found my way into mainstream press, photographing the Struts at Leeds Stylus for the Guardian.
But the biggest earner was a rather different gig – an audience with Mel B, at the Leeds Grand, complete with family members and pet pooch. The media just couldn’t get enough of our not so Scary Spice and my pictures cropped up all over the place, online and in print.
My love of all things Nikon was rewarded with some professional recognition from the UK team, when they asked me to trial their mirrorless Z 6 camera. And while I wasn’t quite ready to trade in my precious D5, the camera delivered an outstanding performance alongside the always brilliant Snow Patrol.
The final feather in the 2019 cap, an image selected from thousands for Redeye’s 10-year anniversary, print publication; my Courteeners stage shot from Old Trafford, taken just five days after the Manchester Arena bombing, in 2017.
My favourite festival image came from Wilderness; a perfect, riverside picture setting the scene for this quintessentially English junket.
Alongside my loyal band of returning customers, video company VTR North joined the party, bringing with them fashion house Bon Prix.
Pinpep Media took me to Ibis Hotels for a Tom Grennan show, in partnership with Sony..
And Leeds Beckett University signed me up to their team, delivering some brilliant shoot opportunities, not least in the world of dance.
Finally, my favourite gig for imagery, Fat White Family at Leeds University Students’ Union. Which brings us right back around and into 2020. We’re off to a flying start with my pictures of the band in Kendall, out now (or soonish!) in Mojo magazine.
Thanks, one and all for a great year and see you same time, same place in 2020 to do it all again!
I met Lucy Woodroffe at an International Teachers of Pop gig in Leeds. One of those random encounters where you find you have loads of connections in common. Lucy’s a part time model so I thought brilliant – an opportunity to have some fun in the studio, produce some nice shots for Lucy and experiment with some different coloured gels.
For anyone not familiar with them, gels are basically like sheets of heat resistant plastic which you can pop onto a light to create different effects. In daily shoots on location, a blue gel can help to balance out the yellow tone of the artificial lighting you find in older offices. Here though, I was looking for something more dramatic where different gels can change the mood and style of the pictures. Beulah Byron helped us out with styling and we had a fantastic day trying different looks. I’m really happy with the final images. Hardly any post production on these shots so all the work ‘in camera’. Thanks to Lucy and Beulah and hopefully more to come in the new year.
I first worked with Northampton based web designers in.house.media through another client, Mark Lench. This month, we’ve got together again to work on their latest project, a new site for logistics company Kammac which has a number of distribution hubs across the UK. I headed over the Pennines to Skelmersdale and Manchester to photograph all the action in and around two of them.
In our first stop, the mission included hitching a ride on one of those skyscraper fork-lifts to get an aerial view of the warehouse. Like all the best fairground rides it was fun but slightly scary, and shouting directions to the folk way down below was a bit of a challenge. Fortunately I’d already discussed a mood board and shot list with the marketing team so we knew what we were doing! Lunch gave us an opportunity to review the shots and check for pick-ups on the afternoon site visit. All in all, a really interesting day and thanks to Danielle at Kammac and the team at in.house.media for making it happen.
Open, inclusive and forward thinking, Redeye is essentially a brilliant photographers’ network. Since 1999, they’ve been building effective partnerships with different groups across the UK; they’ve set up collaborative projects, a programme of peer to peer talks from leading lights in the industry (including not so long ago, Paul Hill, my tutor from De Montford Uni) and exhibitions. They’ve also offered professional insight and practical support to all their members. I got involved with Redeye in 2004 when my business was just getting started and the advice I was able to source from them, particularly in relation to image usage and royalties, was invaluable.
Now, Redeye is celebrating its 20th. birthday. I joined the team, and some of Redeye’s partners, funders and membership, in Liverpool to “party like it’s” 1999. The party started with a photography tour of the city, appropriately enough, in partnership with the LOOK Photo Biennial. Following a diverse mix of pop up installations and presentations the tour brought us to Constellations for live music and speeches from the Arts Council and Redeye Director, Paul Hermann.
There were also free copies of the Redeye 20 commemorative publication, with selected images from some of the photographers and organisations they’ve been involved with across the years. My image of the Courteeners at Old Trafford, five days after the Manchester Arena bombing has found it’s way into this really special pack of 20 cards, and I have to say that’s really gratifying. Clearly, it’s great to be recognised in a peer to peer context. But also I’m pleased to be very visibly associated with an organisation that genuinely delivers for photographers.
Throughout the evening, there was a great feeling of warmth and solidarity. Professional photography is going through a huge sea-change just now, with increasing competition from the amateur market and downward pressure on royalties. I was recently paid just 26p for publication of an image of the Rolling Stones. So, it will be interesting to see where we’re at in another ten or 20 years. Whatever happens, I have no doubt Redeye will be there, in our corner, doing its best to help us successfully navigate a way through. I for one appreciate the effort.
Leeds based production company VTR North have been shooting the latest commercial for fashion brand Bon Prix. The client also needed stills of the models for their website, so VTR invited me to tag team the shoot in a neighbouring studio. When I wasn’t busy with the portraits I popped next door to capture some of video action. Behind the scenes pictures are always useful for social media and it was great to see the team at work. Pictures here were all taken at Prime studios in Leeds and we also did a second shoot in Manchester. As always in the world of fast fashion, the stills and the ad are already live https://www.bonprix.co.uk/web/main/TV_Ad.asp so check out the Bon Prix website for all the latest Autumn trends. Thanks to VTR – really great to work with you.
Confessions, personal insights, on-stage proposals and audience participation all made for an entertaining evening with Mel B at the Leeds Grand. These days, with three daughters and a considerable amount of personable baggage to grapple with, Scary Spice is a lot less scary but as you can see, she is sticking with the trademark animal print for this latest venture.
This was the first leg of ‘Brutally honest and fabulous’, and I guess if you’re going to be brutally honest then it’s good to start in your home town among friends. Certainly there was a really warm response coming back from the audience as the evening unfolded and you kind of got the impression that at this point in her life, Mel needs to feel that kind of love in the room. The show was hosted by Mel’s official biographer, Louise Gannon, and as you’d expect the conversation was open and straight-talking. There was plenty to say, not least in relation to Mel’s ten year marriage to a husband who appears to fit the classic mould of ‘coercive control’.
Up in the balcony I was joined by one other photographer and press lady Margaret and we had a brilliant view of all the on-stage antics. Audience members were invited to join Mel on the Union Jack sofa to ask questions. One person got into the area of same sex relationships and then invited her partner up so she could pop the question. It’s always a relief in those situations when the answers yes! Mel’s family added more colour to the life story and Mel was able to share how she’d been affected by her dad’s death. Even her Yorkshire Terrier Cookie did his bit…and his business, having a wee on his training mat. There was audience participation in a Spice Girls routine and large, ball mics thrown around the audience enabled a further, random QA.
As we left I overheard one person reflecting “Well she didn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know…” But clearly people did enjoy the evening and it’s one thing to get the gossip from the tabloids and the chat mags and quite another to hear the whole story from the real life person behind the headlines. I headed back to sort the pictures, many of which ended up in the Mail Online. Great publicity for Mel B and for the next show at the London Savoy where I hope the welcome will have been just as warm.
Big thanks to Enjoy Digital for introducing me to Optimum Medical. In February we did a great, three day shoot to promote some of their personal healthcare products on http://www.shop-optimum.com Our models, Amanda and Keith, worked really flexibly to demonstrate that Optimum products are well designed to help normal people lead normal lives. And despite the sensitive nature of the shoot the whole thing was incredibly positive, collaborative and enjoyable. You can see the results on the website, which is now live.
I always enjoy photographing manufacturing plant and processes and this month I haven’t had to travel far to find both. MPM Bradford aims to be the Number One team of choice for the supply of composite/grp tooling and products in the UK. If that means nothing to you, well hopefully the pictures will help! One of MPM’s specialist areas is pattern making and fabrication which means they can produce a huge variety of products from safety baths to horse trailers and even shells for outdoor pizza ovens.
Keane Creative are currently taking the MPM website to the next level and asked me to photograph the team at work, creating a flexible portfolio for internal and external use. Our tour took us through the entire manufacturing process including welding, woodworking, fabrication and finishing and I have to say, wherever we went, there was a hugely positive team spirit. Every area was clean and tidy and staff were super friendly. Plus there were at least a couple of women on the shop floor – which is always good to see! Thanks to Keane for inviting me along and to MPM for doing a great job on camera.
While this may look like any other music shoot it’s actually a commission for London agency Manifest via PinPep Media. And yes, I’m sure you recognise Tom Grennan but possibly not the supports; NXDIA and Olly Flavell are as yet unsigned and relatively unknown. Ibis Music, is running a series of 40, intimate gigs in Ibis Hotels all over the world. In partnership with Sony Music UK, the project has been developed to showcase emerging local talent alongside established artists, giving them an opportunity to perform in their home cities.
For this one, we were in Manchester, where all the artists got a fantastic reception and then the pressure was on to deliver the best images for circulation. The process went super smoothly with Ibis working alongside me to make a first cut then Tom refining the selection. Thanks to James at PinPep for inviting me along to what was a really brilliant event.