New exhibition: Two Photographers … Two Countries

Two Photographers ... Two Countries

Finally, my great friend, fellow photographer and co-conspirator, Emma Jones and I have finally hung our exhibition titled "Two Photographers ... Two Countries".  The exhibition opens on Tuesday 29th November 2016 at "Pasta n' Goulash", 51 Red Lion Street, London WC1R 4PF, which is an amazing pop-up bar and restaurant created by our good friends Agatha and Tamás as part of The Plot Twist.

The exhibition shows how two photographers can have a varied and differ view of two countries even though they were travelling together.  Back in November and December 2012, we visited Laos and Vietnam which are both still communist countries in the heart of South-East Asia but also noted for there very friendly and welcoming people.  For both of us, South-East Asia is a magic part of the world and there is always lots to photograph ... you just have to open your eyes and be inspired.

Some people think that if you go around with other photographers shooting the same things that everyone will just end up with the same images.  Generally, I don't believe this to be true as we all see the world from different perspectives and find different aspects more interesting.  Consequently, each photographer will produce their own vision of the place or subjects that they are photographing.  I know that I have often asked a fellow photographer "where was that?  I didn't notice that?".  I am very thankful that we are all different and can provide such different images so we can inspire our fellow photographers

You are welcome to come and join us for the opening on Tuesday 29th November 2016 from 6pm.  It runs until Saturday 3rd December 2016 - both Emma and I also will be there Saturday evening and are more than welcome to chat with you.  We are plotting more projects too so keep a look out.


Meeting Old Friends at 2016 Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Hot air balloon tethering

Once again I am at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta which is always a great event to attend and photograph.  So far, both of the scheduled launches have had to be cancelled because the wind has been too strong for the pilots to be able to fly safely over Bristol City Centre.  Added to that, the cloud base has bee quite low which is not good for flying.

To compensate for the lack of the Special Shaped Balloon launch on Thursday evening, the pilots managed to entertain a large crowd with an amazing Night Glow followed by a fireworks show.  The sight of the illuminated balloons firing their burners to a variety of music is great and was well received by the crowd.

Early Friday morning, a number of the pilots tethered their balloons because they were unable to fly which provided some balloons for the dedicated crowds to watch. I was also able to catch with Gary Davies, who was the first pilot that I ever flew with back in 2012 and shown above with his crew tethering in one of his balloons, "Zenith".

Hopefully, the winds will calm down for the mass launch on Friday evening so that they can fly but it is only looking like a 50:50 chance.  However, the weather for the rest of the weekend is looking much better but don't forget this is England so how know what it will do?


Guild of Young Freemen’s Midsummer Service and Garden Party 2016

Guild of Young Freeman's Midsummer Choral Service and Garden Party

Over the last few years, I have photographed a wide variety of events which have been hugely enjoyable.  One of the most pleasurable aspects has been that I have met such a wider variety of people from all walks of life who have been very interesting and friendly.  These events have included banquets, awards dinners, receptions, business meetings, conferences, church services and garden parties.

It has been my honour and pleasure to photograph a number of events for the Guild of Young Freemen and I have built a great number of friendships with their members over this time.  The last event was their Midsummer Service and Garden Party which was held at their Guild Church, the beautiful St. Michael's Cornhill in the heart of the City of London.  The church alone is worth a visit as it is a hidden treasure amongst the office buildings around Bank and behind the church there is also a lovely little secret garden.

Following a very musical service, the Young Freemen, their guest and regular congregation retired to the church garden to enjoy sandwiches, cake and of course Pimms in the sunshine.  It was a special occasion as it was the last event for Laurence Nicolas, Master of the Guild of Young Freemen before a new Master in installed in September.  Over the last two year's, I have enjoyed attending and photographing their banquets, luncheons, annual sheep drive and even the Lord Mayor's Show where the Young Freemen escorted Gog and Magog (the giants) along the parade.

The Guilds and Livery Companies of the City of London are an important part of the tradition and life of the City of London.  I always enjoy photographing these City events and am looking forward to the opportunity to record more of them in the future.

My images of this event can be found in the Guild of Young Freemen's Midsummer Service and Garden Party gallery.


Exhibiting at the London Photo Festival 18th-21st May 2016

London Photo Festival - May 2016

Today, I spent a very enjoyable evening at the Private View of the May 2016 London Photo Festival where I am exhibiting the three images shown above.  As always there was are wide variety of interpretations of this festival's theme 'The four elements: Earth, Water, Air and Fire’ from the 63 exhibiting photographers from all over the world .  I am sure that there is something that everyone will like and I am very glad that I didn't have to judge the "best in show" image.  This task fell to Vanessa Champion who selected a great self-portrait by Karandeep Bhogal - his winning image combines all four elements in a very creative way.  Congratulations to Karandeep!

If you are in London or about to get here then please make an effort to visit the Festival which is open from 10:30am until 6pm every day until Saturday 21st May 2016. It is at The Crypt, St George the Martyr Church, Borough High Street London SE1 2JA, which is very easy to get you as it is the church directly opposite Borough tube station.  Also, there is a "Click-n-Critic" evening on Friday from 6pm until 8pm which I will be there so come by and say hello.

Many thanks to all the hard work that Emma Mapp and Kit Shah put into make the London Photo Festival a great event every time.  I am already looking forward to your 1oth festival in May 2017 and would encourage other photographers to exhibit.  You can sign out to the London Photo Festival mailing list at the bottom of their home page to ensure you don't miss out on the opportunity to participate in next year's festival or the other competitions that they run.


My tour of Cuba

Classic American car in Havana, Cuba

Everyone seems keen to visit Cuba before it changes as a result of the Americans becoming more friendly towards the country and even ending the trade embargo.  However, the changes have already started since Fidel Castro stood down and his brother, Raúl, was elected President.  Raúl seems to be making many changes and this is most obvious by the number of Cubans with mobile phones and that there are efforts to bring the Internet to them too.

My journey around Cuba started in Havana, the capital, which just seems to be full of classic American cars – just like you imagine.  In reality, most of these cars have been restored and no longer have their original American engine but either Chinese, Korean or Japanese engines.  Whilst in Havana how can you resist trips to Ernest Hemmingway’s two favourite bars, La Bodeguita del Medio and El Floradita – behind the bar in La Bodeguita is a plaque which states “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My Daiquiri in El Floradita. Ernest Hemmingway”.

After Havana, I headed west to Viñales where they grow tobacco and make the famous Cuban cigars. It is great to see the tobacco leaves being dried in the wooden huts – you could tell that the various racks of leaves had been drying for different periods of time. In one of the huts, a farm worker demonstrated how they roll the cigars.

From Viñales, I had to head back towards Havana before being able to head south-east down the rest of the country towards Santiago de Cuba. The first stop was at Cienfuegos which is a port where I was lucky enough to photograph an old couple on the quayside fishing with just a length of fishing line.

Next stop was the beautiful city of Trinidad where the old city became UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. Trinidad has an amazing vibrance which really comes alight at night with lots of music and dancing throughout the old city. Whilst walking around Trinidad, I found a Cuban butcher which had a pig’s head hanging above the shop counter which opened onto the street.  Then a delivery of meat arrived in a wheel-barrow in front of the shop.

I travelled on to Camaguey which is the home of Martha Jiménez, one of Cuba's most famous artists. She has a gallery on one of the squares but some of her sculptures are in the streets and fashioned on real residents of the city. Finally, I reached Santiago de Cuba which is an interesting city but I only had a short time here before flying back to Havana.

Back in Havana, there were two more places that I was able to visit ... the fishing port of Cojimar and Ernest Hemmingway’s house just outside Havana. Cojimar is where Ernest Hemmingway moored his boat, Pilar and he used to fish with Gregorio Fuentes. I managed to have lunch at La Terraza de Cojimar and Hemmingway's table is still laid and reserved for him in his favourite corner of the restaurant.

My images can be found in my Cuba gallery … Cuba is amazing country and the people are just so friendly.


David Tovey’s #MANONBENCH 2 Show

David Tovey's #MANONBENCH 2 fashion show

Following his first and very successful #MANONBENCH fashion show, David Tovey returned to present #MANONBENCH 2 at the annual Camden Adult Pathway Awards (CAPA). It was a great privilege to be asked to photograph this second show by David and it proved to be just another amazing event.

David provided a dramatic opening to the evening by depicted his own overdose and how he was helped to rebuild his life.  This created an amazing tension in the hall before the wonderful models wearing David’s own creations appeared on the catwalk.  All the the outfits have been created from things that he has found or been given but you would never guess this from looking at them.

In fact, David also appeared in the fashion show sporting one of his outfits much to the audience appreciation.  More of the images of the fashion show and some behind the scenes shoots can be found in my #MANONBENCH 2 gallery. Yet again, David manage to put together an amazing team of models, make-up artists, hairdresser, photographers and videographers for this project.

David is now using his art (painting, drawing, photograph and fashion design) to promote awareness about homelessness especially the fact that it could happen to any of us.  He strongly believes that with the right support networks and a little helping hand a BROKEN person can be a success.

The annual CAPA evening for homeless people was held on Tuesday 22nd March 2016 in the Camden Arts Centre. Congratulations to all of those people nominated for the various awards who are homeless hostel residents in Camden.  These awards recognise the big strides that they have taken in recovering from drug or alcohol addictions or other serious issues. All of this would not be possible without the tiring work of those involved in all aspects of delivering the Pathway services in Camden or other places.

Finally, I am honoured to call David Tovey a good friend and a true inspiration to all of us on what you can achieve.


Sunday morning market in East London …

Columbia Road Flower Market

I like being up early on a Sunday morning and heading off to one of the London markets even if it was a bit grey and overcast.  On the plus side, it was much warmer again and not raining.  One of the best Sunday markets can be found on Columbia Road in East London where all sorts of traders gather to sell their plants and flowers.  I am always amazed at the variety of flowers and plants that can be found there along with the different colours which make for some interesting and colourful images.

The market takes over the whole road and once the stalls are set up is closed to traffic whilst the traders are selling their flowers and plants.  I think that it is always best to get there earlier as it is slightly less crowded but come mid morning the road between the stalls can be very busy.  In addition to the flower traders, the Victorian shops are also open selling antiques, garden accessories and a variety of other goods.

When you have had enough of the flower market, there are a number of coffee shops with food too. Normally, there is a street entertainer play in the street - today it was a singer/guitarist who was very good. Having wondered around the market taking photographs, I retired to The Birdgate for some refreshments.


Graffiti and Street Art around Brick Lane

Graffiti - Elle Street Art

The London neighbourhood around Brick Lane and Shoreditch is well know for its street art and graffiti which can be found on many walls, doors and gates. I think that it definitely makes the area more colourful, vibrant and interesting plus it is constantly changing.  Recently, a number of billboard type walls have been created and I believe that artists are commissioned or invited to create works on them.  Consequently, you often see the artists working on theses during the day and the art is changed regularly.  In other places, the walls, doors and gates just seem to change over night so every time you walk around the area it can be different.  Added to this, there are looks of interesting people, cafe shops and vintage fashion shops - it is a favourite area for street photographers.

Yesterday, I was out teaching the Cafe Art Photography Mentoring group when we found one graffiti artist finishing off her work on the solid gate at the back on the Old Truman's Brewery.  This provided a great opportunity to capture an artist at work ... thanks to Elle for being so engaging whilst she was finishing off this large piece of street art.  She told me that this was the end of the second day that she had been working on this piece.  She was putting the final touches to it as it was her last day in London - good luck to Elle in her future ventures.  Hopefully, Elle's work will be around for a while so if you are in London and what to go and see it, it is located just off Brick Lane on right-hand side of Buxton Street just before Code Street.

It was great to meet and chat to Elle and you can check out more of her work online at Elle Street Art.


Urban Fox in Horseguards Parade during the day

Urban fox out and about in Central London, UK

Today, I was waiting to meet some of the photographers that are part of the Cafe Art Photography Mentoring group which I co-ordinate for the Royal Photographic Society and all of a sudden an urban fox appeared with a dead goose in its mouth.  I have seen foxes on the street in London before but only after dark.  This particular fox appeared to be more confident and had no problem walking across Horseguards Parade with its kill.  If there weren't any armed police guarding the rear entrance to 10 Downing Street then I think the fox may well have tried to get into the garden.  Having made its way along the side of the parade ground, the fox disappears into some bushes against the buildings in the corner.

A short while later, the fox reappeared and strolled across the middle of the parade ground back towards St. James Park.  The fox briefly stalked another Canada goose but didn't seem to be able to get that close to this particular goose.  Given that is is a fairly unusual site, lots of people were trying to get pictures and video on the phones but this fox didn't seem to be phased by the attention that its was attaching.  Having successfully crossed the road back into St. James Park, the fox wandered around looking at the various species of bird in the park before jumping over one of the iron fences and disappearing into the plants and bushes.

I think that it is amazing what you can see and experience in London if you keep your eyes open.  London has a large population of urban wildlife especially in their parks, but normally it is birds and squirrels that you see.

If you would like to see more images of this urban fox images then they are available on Alamy News.


Amazing weekend Hot Air Ballooning

BIBF 2015

It was a long and tiring weekend at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta but great fun catching up with all the balloonist and an amazing media team from Plaster. This was the fifth year that I have covered the Fiesta and the weather was certainly the best with all seven planned launches being successful.

On Friday morning, the pilot of the JLL balloon managed to take off from the launch field and by flying at different attitudes he flew around the field and landed back where he started. The winds were very light which was good for the crowds as the balloons stayed very close to the arena for a long time. I was fortunate to fly with the Co-op Funeralcare team over Long Ashton.

I must thank Gary Davies who is a great pilot and friend.  My first ever flight in a hot air balloon was with Gary back in 2011 … this year I was lucky enough to fly with him on both Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Two amazing flights which were very different.  Saturday the winds were very slow and we flew for 1 hour 40 minutes from Ashton Court to Gatcombe Farm, just 2.75 miles.  We are greeted to an amazing reception by the Butler family … a great place to have breakfast is the Gatcombe Farm Shop.

On Sunday, our flight was quicker and the balloons took two different courses.  The balloons that flew lower when over the Clifton Suspension Bridge and landed on the Downs.  We were amongst the other balloons who flew higher and headed over the centre of Bristol landing just passed Shortwood Lodge Golf Club, just east of Bristol.  Finally, I must thank to Gary Davies for the flights – it is a pleasure and honour to fly with you!


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