Monday, 5 December 2011

Exhibition time!

I'm displaying some photographs at the Dark Satanic Mills exhibition this weekend (9th-12th December). There will be two (possibly three) sets on display:

The big Bridgewater picture and book that was my contribution to the Mid-Cheshire college end-of-year exhibition. I'm also hoping to include a set of pictures taken in Ancoats back in June - these have been on Flickr for a while, but it's the first time they'll have appeared on a wall (apart from in my house).

Finally, I'm featuring a new set of portraits, taken specifically for this exhibition, called This Is My Face. From the blurb for this set:

This is my face is a kick-back at the convention that 'flaws' and 'blemishes' in the skin should be covered over and denied. The pressure to conform is especially strong for women, as evidenced by how difficult I have found it to persuade many women to agree to be photographed in this style. And yet there is much beauty in the natural textures of the skin: an endless fascination for the body's largest organ, the one that suffers the most to protect the rest from the worst that the environment can throw at it. Rather than deny its reality, let us rather relish the amazing job it does and celebrate the scars it bears from a lifetime of service.


It's interesting how my description of what I was doing has been received by men and by women (I deliberately did not ask fellow photographers). I think every man I spoke to thought it was intriguing and sounded like a good idea. Even those who were in two minds about how they'd look were appreciative of the final result. Also, when I put out a general call for volunteers to pose, only men responded.

When I asked women that I know to pose, there was almost universal refusal (and some reactions of shock that I'd even suggest it). The three that do appear in the set took a lot of persuasion ('Look, it's art!' was, I think, the phrase that sealed it).

Does this split in reaction support my contention? Are societal pressures so strong on women that they continue to succumb to them, even when invited to highlight and comment on them? And how much is it age-related? (I didn't have a significant sample in that respect.)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Nearly up and running...

I now (nearly) have a mini portrait studio in my back room. It's only big enough for torso shots at most, but it'll do me for now. The big Velux in the roof and the large window give a lovely northerly light, which I can supplement with a brolly'd flash if needed. I now need to figure out how to add blackout curtains to further increase lighting potential.

I tried it out using the only available willing model (me):

From grey dog photography
From grey dog photography
From grey dog photography
From grey dog photography

Friday, 14 October 2011

First prize!

I entered these pictures in a local competition - Capture the Canal - to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the opening of the Bridgewater Canal, and won first prize in the 'Scenic' category. I think that's the first time I've won anything with my photography.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Impressions of Ancoats

I recently went on a photowalk around Ancoats in Manchester. I don't know the area very well, so I wanted to get a series of pictures documenting an (almost) first-timer's impressions of a new area. It's a simple fact that Ancoats is somewhat run-down, but the late evening light lent a lovely soft quality to the area and helped to enhance the many bright colours to be found. This is not just a region of dingy old buildings - there's beauty and interest to be found anywhere.

Pipe and ciggie

Please use main entrance

Dorsey Street fats

Pepsi and orange

Wigs up North

The full set is here


Sunday, 29 May 2011

Calm after the storm

So, the shooting's done, the pictures edited down to the final set, negatives scanned and cleaned up, main print, book, business cards and postcard all ordered.

Is that it? It all feels a bit anti-climactic now, with over two weeks left until the exhibition. Just the journal to tidy up, and a bit of a flat period until the excitement of the print and book arriving, and the panic of hanging everything.

Time to start planning other things. More projects, get the business started, plan photowalks.

But for now, I'm just going to take a couple of days off and relax - by reading up on string theory.

Tags: , , ,

Saturday, 30 April 2011

B&^%y British weather!

It can be odd, being a photographer - you're never quite satisfied. Take now: most of the population are basking in glorious, unseasonably fine weather. Me, I'm cursing it every morning that the sun shines. I'm not being Mr. Grumpy about this, it's just that I need to get my project shoot finished and, for that, I want overcast days.

The problem I have with the current weather is harsh shadows. A nice layer of not-to-thick cloud eliminates those and suits my subjects much better. Also, I've started in that light, and I want the whole set to be consistent.

Fortunately, there's still time for our weather to be its usual self and change dramatically - except that it'll probably go from sunny to chucking it down without passing through any intermediate stages.

So, whilst you're out there soaking up the rays, think of me looking up and crying: "cloud over, dammit!"

Tags: , , , ,

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Guinea pigs wanted

The time has come to start seriously thinking about the details of what I intend to provide as part of my new business. To that end, I'm looking for volunteers to help me refine the content and presentation of my photowalks and tutorials.

What I'm offering is free sessions to anyone who's willing to put up with a work-in-progress. We can go for walks in the Manchester and Cheshire areas and talk about photography and how to 'see' more effectively, how to handle your camera to get the best out of it - anything photography related, really. What you're getting is some (hopefully) useful advice on taking better pictures; what I'm getting is feedback on what people want from such things.

Alternatively, if you want a more relaxed bit of tuition, whether it's technical details of camera use, how to use an image processing program to jazz up your pictures, or just learn a bit more about contemporary photography in general, we can arrange to meet somewhere convenient and do that.

Take the opportunity now, because at some point, I'll be charging for this service.

Tags: , ,

Saturday, 2 April 2011

On rediscovering the joys of walking around

I've been doing a bit of walking around the backside of Manchester recently for my final project at college. Following the Bridgewater Way gives you a new perspective on areas that you thought you knew well. Distances change, for example - a long-ish journey by road is actually quite short along the towpath; five minutes by tram becomes half an hour on foot.

What you also see from these alternative paths are some stunning examples of the graffitist's art. The illiterate scrawlings that pepper the well-travelled areas bear no relation to some of the stuff you can find in these out-of the-way places. Who would have thought that this sits underneath the A56 in Stretford:

Under the bridge

Lovely, vibrant colours and sense of joie-de-vivre. It has no point other than to exist, and maybe bring a smile to someone's face and the secret knowledge that you've seen it, but all those thousands passing a few feet above have no idea.

If this project's done nothing else for me, it's persuaded me to explore the back ways and byways much more than I have before. You never know what little gems might be out there.

Tags: , ,

Powered by Qumana

Sunday, 27 March 2011

New name, new start

Having let this blog lie fallow for nearly a year, this seems as good a time as any to resurrect it under a new name.

I'm nearing the end of my college course and getting scarily close to the time that I have to put all this into practice and starting earning money from my photography. Another scary prospect that's on the horizon is the end-of-year show that my college friends and I are putting on in June. We're putting it on at CUBE in Manchester (opening date to be confirmed, but it'll be around June 14th-15th); it's a lovely gallery in a good location, but it's costing a packet to hire. We've got a crowdfunder page set up here to beg for assistance paying for it. This is an important show for us - it's our opportunity to present ourselves to the world: as such, it's a key factor in progressing our careers as jobbing photographers. We're offering invitations to the opening night for anyone who donates and we're also offering various sizes of prints for higher amounts. See the link for details.