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2017 – Looking back

20172017 – what have I done?

Well, looking back at the blog I wrote at the start of 2017, it seems things didn’t really go according to plan.

I had intended to give my website a complete overhaul in 2017 and add a shop. While I did manage to redesign my website, I didn’t manage to add the shop because I encountered a number of problems. I run out of server space and once I overcame that issue, I was then unable to find a third party shop interface with safe and secure card transaction facilities that I could (with my limited web design and development knowledge) make work to my liking.

Another thing that I failed to do was to write this blog regularly. I had thought that doing it once a month would be manageable, but I failed to do that. I’m not sure why I didn’t manage it, time just seemed to get away from me.

Also, my experiment of using Redbubble to sell my images was something that didn’t work out. I’m not sure why it didn’t. Perhaps it was because I didn’t promote it enough. Maybe it just isn’t the right platform for me to sell my work. Whatever the reason, it didn’t work for me. I’m going to keep the store open for now and see if anything changes.

That was all a bit negative, wasn’t it? Well, now for the more positive stuff that I did in 2017.

Although selling my images through Redbubble didn’t seem to work for me in 2017, selling through my Etsy shop did. My sales increased, along with my product range. If you head over there to have a look before 31st January 2018, you can get 30% off orders over £15.

I’ve started selling images through a photo library. I started contributing images to it in 2016, but it was in 2017 that my images started to sell. A lot of work goes in to choosing images and preparing them for an image library. It’s work that isn’t seen by anyone else, but it has now started to pay off for me, which is always gratifying.

Also in 2017 I started selling my cards at the Three Daggers Farm Shop in Eddington, Wiltshire. They currently stock 12 different designs of my cards, and the designs they carry will change roughly every three months or so.

I did a number of photo shoots with bands and musicians, which was something I planned to do and actually managed to see though. I did photo shoots with Jamie R Hawkins, Phil Cooper and Scout Killers

Another thing I did in 2017 was my first craft fair. I had hoped to do more than one in the run up to Christmas, but I was about a week or so too late applying so they were mostly already fully booked. I did manage to do one, which was local to me and was only on for a few hours so it was a good introduction into what it takes to do a craft fair.

Learning

Something else I did was learn. Somewhere, I can’t remember where, I read an ‘inspirational quote’. It said something like ‘running a business without advertising is like winking at a woman in the dark, only you know you are doing it.’ Which, despite the weird winking at women thing, made me realise I really need to promote myself better. I think that is something I started to do.

Thank you

Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support. I will try to write my blog more regularly. My next one will be about what I intend to do in 2018.

thank you

2017 – looking ahead

2017

Yes, I do know that the first month of 2017 is almost over. I began this at the start of the month, but then being busy happened and I’ve only just got around to finishing it off.

‘What have you been busy doing?’ I hear you ask, well, let me tell you.

Among other things, I’ve been adding new items to my Etsy Store as well as improving the listings of the items already available. Image of pedal to the floor card available to buy in 2017

I’ve also set up a shop on Redbubble. This site uses a different model to selling as they are responsible for the printing and distribution of items once sold, which means a greater range of products can be made available, from art prints to leggings (yes, really) and from clocks to phone cases, without any additional cost to myself. However, this means that less of the money from the sale comes to me. I’m not sure if this going to work for me, but the only way to find out is to try it and see. Have a look at my shop here, I’ll be adding more images over the coming weeks.

A robin sitting on a fence post

In the last week or so I also did a photo shoot with singer/songwriter Jamie R Hawkins, which was a lot of  fun. It was also a little on the cold side, although that was more of an issue for Jamie than myself. You know it’s been a good shoot when you end up lying down on the cold ground to take shots and also dodging traffic between taking photos. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some of the results of the shoot sometime soon.

What does 2017 hold for me?

Well, I don’t actually know, because I’m not  psychic… I guess the real question is what am I planning to do this year. In general terms it’s really a case of more of the same, except, well, more.

New website

I intend to give my website a complete overhaul. It will include more up to date examples of my photos. It will hopefully also have a shop so you can buy direct from me, quickly and simply. After I have redone the site, it should be easier to understand what I can do for you.

Working with bands and artist will remain a large part of what I do. Collaborating with other creative people is always rewarding.

I am also planning to keep you updated with what I am doing by blogging at least once a month. Something for you to look forward to.

2016 Reviewed

2016 reviewed by Andrew Bert Greaves Photography

Where did 2016 go? I’m sure I had all 12 months of it here just a moment ago… Nope, I just checked and they have gone.

Well, what to make of 2016?

In general it seems that it wasn’t people’s favourite year. Politically some interesting decisions were made on both sides of the Atlantic by the voting public, so 2017 and beyond will be very … interesting.
The year also saw the passing of many people we all look up to and admire, particularly from the worlds of film, TV and music. I fear that this will sadly be a trend that will continue because many of those we look up to have lead very long and full lives.

And what about me?

Well, 2016 did seem to go really fast. Much of the what I intended to do ended up on the back burner, while I tried to keep pace with life. One of the things I did do was to set up a store on the online retailer Etsy, so it is now easier to own my work.

In the latter half of the year I spent a lot of time focusing on me and I don’t mean self portraits. I am not only an introvert, but can also be shy too (no, they aren’t the same thing). This can make selling myself and my work more of a challenge, which has obvious downsides in a business. I have now started to understand myself better which means I can make the most of my strengths and also overcome my weaknesses. I haven’t by any means conquered it entirely, but I feel I’ve made significant progress. This is starting to sound like a self help blog. But sometimes you’ve got to help yourself, because no one else can do it for you.

Photos

I think I’ll stop with the words now, and finish with some photos. 12 photos in fact, a favourite from each month of the year, I hope you enjoy.

The singer from Tell The Hoi playing at The Nest, Bath January 2016
Tell The Hoi playing at The Nest, Bath January 2016

A heard of cows by a feeding trough in a muddy field, Wiltshire, February 2016
Cows in a muddy field, Wiltshire, February 2016

A jumping Spider next to a Ladybird on leaves, Wiltshire, March 2016
A jumping Spider next to a Ladybird on leaves, Wiltshire, March 2016

A close up of the head of a mute swan
The head of a mute swan, Falkirk, April 2016

The Bohos playing at The Parade Gardens, Bath for Bath Music Festival's Party In The City, with an illuminated Bath Abbey in the background, May 2016
The Bohos playing at The Parade Gardens, Bath for Bath Music Festival’s Party In The City, May 2016

A red bicycle propped up on the overgrown verge next to a field a field, Wiltshire, June 2016
Red bicycle in a field, Wiltshire, June 2016

The Neville Staples Band (formally of The Specials) playing on the main stage at the Trowbridge Village Pump Folk Festival, Wiltshire, July 2016
The Neville Staples Band playing at the Trowbridge Village Pump Folk Festival, Wiltshire, July 2016

A bee collecting pollen on a blue-spirea 'Worcester Gold' flower, Wiltshire, August 2016
A bee on a blue-spirea ‘Worcester Gold’ flower, Wiltshire, August 2016

A close up of the underside of a garden spider (Araneus diadematus) on it's web, Wiltshire, September 2016
A close up of a garden spider (Araneus diadematus) on it’s web, Wiltshire, September 2016

The Model Folk band playing at the Stallards, Trowbridge, October 2016
The Model Folk playing at the Stallards, Trowbridge, October 2016

Red roses covered in frost, Wiltshire, November 2016
Roses covered in frost, Wiltshire, November 2016

The singer from Twisted State Of Mind jumping off an amp while playing at The White Swan, Trowbridge, December 2016
Twisted State Of Mind playing at The White Swan, Trowbridge, December 2016

Photoshoot with Phil Cooper, Singer/Songwriter

Back on the 25th October 2015 I did a photoshoot with singer/songwriter Phil Cooper. The shoot had been originally planned for the week before, but we had to postpone due to illness (Phil was ill and I was starting to come down with something too). Before the getting ill, we’d had a meeting to discuss ideas about what sort of images Phil wanted from the shoot as well as how they would be used; from social media profile pics and banners to gig posters and album art.

Having decided on an outdoor shoot, and it being October and in England, this didn’t give us a lot of scope when rearranging the photoshoot, so we ended up deciding to do it before Phil played a gig at the Seven Stars in Bristol, as the weather was forecast for that day was for it to be dry, if not bright.

We drove into Bristol Sunday lunch time, aiming to get there at about 12:30. Phil needed to be at the venue for his gig by about 3ish, so that gave us plenty of time. Well, it would have done if we didn’t hit horrendous traffic as we got to Bristol, which we hadn’t been expecting. As we finally got closer to the centre, some time after one o’clock, we noticed signs informing us that the Bristol to Bath Marathon had started in the centre of Bristol earlier that morning, and further signs told us that a lot of the roads had been closed until lunch time, so we at least had an explanation for the surprising numbers of cars on the road. This all meant that we had less time for doing the photoshoot, but first we needed a cup of tea, because we like tea.

Phil Cooper drinking tea with his little finger sticking out

Despite the somewhat curtailed time frame for getting the shoot done, we had a relaxed wander along the Bristol Harbourside looking for suitable locations, which we duly found, shooting first at one, and then another. It was all quite straight forward really, we were going for fairly simple images, but with impact and connection. I thought I’d share some of the “outtakes” from the shoot.

Phil Cooper doubling over with laughter
I don’t know exactly what it was that made Phil have this reaction, but I’m  guessing it’s because I’m really funny…

Phil Cooper looking bored
At no point did Phil get bored…

Phil Cooper looking behind the bench he is sitting on
I’m not sure what he was looking for, and he won’t tell me if he managed to find it.

Phil Cooper trying not to laugh
This is a photo of Phil stifling a laugh, because apparently me lying on the cold ground and taking photos of him is something that Phil finds amusing.

Anyway after the successful shoot we went to the Seven Stars for Phil’s gig. At the time I thought I was seeing double because of the cider, but this photo proves it was just a mirror.
Phil Cooper reflected in a mirror as he plays guitar and sings at The Seven Stars in Bristol

To see which photo from the shoot made it on to the front cover of Phil’s new album have a gander at his website here and if you want to see which photos made it into the sleeve notes, well you’ll just have to buy a copy, won’t you?

Dismaland

This is something I’ve been meaning to Blog about for a while now, not sure why I’m doing it now, but well, why not? I say a while, since September would be the more accurate way of putting it, because that’s when I went  to Banksy’s Dismaland, in Weston-super-Mare. It took me and my friend just over an hour to drive there and after queueing for a few hours, in the wind and sometimes rain coming in off the sea, we finally made it to the bit where you pay and duly paid the £3 entry fee.

The beach at Weston-super-Mare and the sea aquarium
As we walked from the bit where you paid and to the actual entrance of the former Tropicana site, I got stopped for a bag search, which is what we’ve come to expect in recent years wherever you go. As well as the things you’d normally expect them to be looking for, they were also looking for pens and anything you might be able to use to deface the art works with. They were also interested in the size of the lens on my camera. The lens I had on was my 28 – 300mm zoom lens, which is a chunky bit of kit. The security person conducting the search (I say search, he never once touched my possessions as I was willingly showing him the contents of my bag) looked at it and said something along the lines of, ‘Hmmm, I think that might be too big. They don’t like it if you’ve got too big a lens.’

I was a little taken aback as I had checked the website before going to make sure I would be allowed to take my camera, and I didn’t see any mention about restrictions. I looked at the man in question in a slightly puzzled way and he sort of shrugged his shoulders. ‘I don’t really know about these things, but they might ask you to leave.’ I wasn’t going to argue with him, as he was just doing his job (and he was also a lot bigger than me). ‘I’ve got a smaller lens, will that be OK?’ I asked, more concerned about avoiding having to traipse back to my car if I couldn’t take it in, than I was with not being able to take my camera in with me. ‘They’ll probably be OK with that,’ He said. So I changed my lens outside, in the wind blowing off the sand (mud) of the beach – with a few spots of rain thrown in for good measure – before carrying on into Dismaland.

a CCTV Camera on the ceiling
I spent some time thinking through the reasoning behind me having to change my lens, and to an extent I can understand it; they don’t want people taking photos of artwork and making prints to sell, meaning the artists miss out on income. But my ability to do that, should I have wanted to do that, would not have been hampered by putting on the different lens. Also, most camera phones are capable of producing images of high enough quality to reproduce prints theses days, so the whole thing seemed very odd. I guess they couldn’t stop people using their phones, people suffer some kind of anxiety attack if they have have their phones off for five minutes these days.

an old horn shaped speaker for a public address system
I went there as both a person interested in the art work and as a photographer. As a member of the public who likes art, I took photos of the artwork on display. These images I won’t be sharing, other than with close friends and family, as they act as a record of things I have seen; most people taking photos do so for the memories.

the reflections of people in a large puddle
As a photographer (artist) I took photos of what I observed in that particular environment, at that moment in time. You may well be asking yourself what the difference is. Taking photos of other people’s artwork isn’t artistic. Other people’s artwork can constitute a part of your photograph, but only if you’re adding a different context to it or making it a small part of something much larger. Here is a selection of photos from that day.
rope through a hole on a wooden post with two holes above that looks like a shocked face

a woman's legs in blue jeans wearing shiny Dr. Martin boots

an old vetilation system

an I am an imbecile balloon stuck on the inside of a corrugated roof

an old horn shaped speaker for a public address system

Season of Sickness

In my last Blog I mentioned that I had been ill (just man flu, nothing to worry about). It started over Christmas and hung around for longer than I would have liked, so it was with me into the new year. It didn’t make for the best Christmas, but as I was surrounded by my family, and it was a holiday, it didn’t matter so much. But when I was ill after Christmas and into the current year, it became an issue because it had an affect on my work. It’s more difficult to work when you’re ill, just the physical effort if nothing more. It affects concentration and how long you can keep working before you need to take a break. It can stop you sleeping too, which just exacerbates the problems. This is a problem for the self-employed person. The question is, how to deal with it? Do you (A) just keep working through it? Or (B) do you stop and give yourself time to recover?

Let us have a look at (A).The problem with just keeping on going is that it is likely to last longer, meaning you’ll need to spend more money on whatever remedies you’ve decided (or been prescribed) to keep you going and ultimately get over it. Illness also has a tendency to make you a bit grumpy and generally not so great to be around (I’m talking about other people here, of course, because I’m always a delight to be around…). The other main problem is that it can affect the quality of your work output. This is a bigger problem with any kind of artistic work, where you rely on your judgement and artist instinct (artistic eye, ear, touch, nose, left kneecap -whatever is might be) than it might be in a field of work where something is either right or wrong and such things can be checked.

And so to (B). The main problem with stopping is, if you’re not working, you’re not earning. The other thing you lose is time. You get behind and have to catch up and there’s no one else to help you out, either by taking up the slack while you’re in your sickbed, or to help you get caught up again once you’ve recovered. You can also lose out on new work coming in, which again adds up to lost income.

So what approach have I been using? Well, a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B, due in part to the boredom induced by inactivity, and the sudden on-set of relapses when I pushed myself too hard too soon. ‘And did that work?’ I hear you ask, (I really did, I have amazing hearing, I could hear you saying it even though you said it in your head). Well, as it’s just come back again, it’s fair to say it’s not been a total triumph, but I’m hoping it’ll be gone tomorrow. In the meantime, while I recover, here are some photo’s I took over Christmas from the three times I managed to leave the house.

A tree silhouetted on the skyline

a brown chicken walking towards the camera

ventilation outlets on a moss covered roof of a farm out building

a brown bull with a ring through it's nose staring at the camera

a tree stump in the foreground with Beeston Castle in the background

the ruined walls of Beeston castle under sunset skies

bridge over to the gatehouse of Beeston Castle

The Year That Will Be 2016

Nearly two weeks into 2016? Where did that time go? Well, I’ve spent some of it doing my Tax return, because that’s such a fun thing to do. I’ve also done a shoot with a band for their upcoming album, which was a lot of fun, if a little chilly at times, (but more on that shoot at a later time). I’ve also been unwell, but don’t worry it was only man flu.

So what am I going to be up to for the rest of this year? I have know idea, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know!

I’m kidding, I always know what I’m doing… Seriously though, this is what’s on the cards (pun intended) for this year; I will be looking at extending my range of greetings cards, and I will be making it easier for you lovely people to buy my work in it’s various printed forms. I’ve been having discussions with bands and artists about promo shoots and live shoots (admittedly some of these have been whilst drinking, but then my photography is cider fuelled). I’m hoping to be able to spend more time on developing personal projects this year, now that I’ve got a better handle on on the business side of things. I’ll still be getting out into the countryside photographing wildlife and landscapes, which is something I enjoy more and more each time I do it.
A common buzzard in flight over trees
I also have plans for an overhaul of my website to make it a little more streamlined and to show off my work better. I will carry on updating my social media pages, my Facebook page is here
and/or if you’re on twitter go here 

I will continue to take photos at local gigs, because that’s what I love to do; getting up close and personal at the front with both the performers and the crowd.
A harmonica player at a jam at the tree horseshoes in Bradford On Avon
As always, if there is anyone out there how would like to work with me or if you would like to buy any prints please let me know.

Oh, and on a non-photography note (pun intended), I have picked up my drumsticks a few times already this year and fully intend to keep this up, so if anyone is looking for a drummer, just let me know.
A drumstick bag full of drumsticks resting against a floor tom

The year that was 2015

It doesn’t seem like five minutes ago I was publishing my first blog of 2015, time flies when you’re having fun. It also seems to moves a lot quicker the older you get, and seems to disappear completely when there’s so much you need and want to do.

2015 was a year of change for me, in a personal sense more than anything else. It’s been a year of friends, both old and new. A year of setbacks and picking myself up again, a year of finding my way along the path I am on, and trying to figure out what path that is and in which vague direction it might be heading in. A year of trying to balance the commercial and the artistic, as well as the working and the playing. A year of broken computers, cameras and lenses.
I’ve made progress in the business side of things, in my understanding of such things as well as the actual hard currency stuff. I’ve had a lot of fun photographing some awesome bands and artists at some wonderful venues during some amazing gigs. I’ve hiked up hills, through woods and along canals, photographing landscapes and wildlife along the way.

I was going to tell you about my plans for 2016, but I’ll save that for another blog, instead I’ll just share with a few favourite images I took this year, some you might have seen before, some you certainly won’t have. Happy New Year to you all, and I’ll see you in 2016.
band Scout Killers playing the Nest in Bath
Scout Killers, The Nest, Bath
band Stop Stop playing Charlie's in Westbury
Stop Stop!, Charlie’s, Westbury
The Kelpies horse sculptures, Falkirk, Scotland
The Kelpies, Falkirk, Scotland
A sparrowhawk pinning down a starling
Sparrowhawk pinning down a starling, Scotland
a man pressed up against the steamed up window of the pig and fiddle in Bath while the band the Bohemian Embassy play
The Bohemian Embassy, Pig & Fiddle, Bath
crows roosting in a tree
Crows roosting in a tree, Avebury, Wiltshire
birds in flight at dusk
Birds in flight, Westbury, Wiltshire
looking up at trees at Stourhead
Trees at Stourhead, Wiltshire
two birds of prey fighting in flight
Birds of prey, Wiltshire
looking up at pine trees in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park in Scotland
Pine trees, Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, Scotland
a red squirrel sitting up on it's hind legs
Red squirrel, Scotland

Lessons Learned the hard way

I’ve learnt a lot of things since I started doing this. I’ve learnt about birds, and cats and building websites and marketing and exhibitions and so much more. And I learnt how deep the deep end is. I knew the water I was jumping into wasn’t shallow when I started this, but I didn’t know how deep it was. I couldn’t see the bottom, and there was no depth gage to help me out. But I’ve learnt by doing, and now I’ve inadvertently managed to learn by not doing. The annoying thing about it was it was something I knew I should have been doing and doing more regularly than I had been.
broken computer parts
My computer died. I was working on some photos, then went to have dinner. When I came back from dinner, everything was frozen and unresponsive. The only way I could turn it off was by removing mains power, and then it would not come back to life. There was a blue light, which is how you know it’s on, and there was the noise of the fans spinning, but there was nothing else. My first response was rude words strung together in new and exciting ways. My second reaction was ‘when did I last back up…?’ If you have to ask yourself that question then your last backup was too long ago.

I know you have to back up regularly, everyone knows it, but knowing something and doing it are two different things. Complacency can set in, you get busy, you’re distracted by other things.
broken computer parts
To start with I feared the worse; that I’d lost everything. After some diagnostic work by myself, aided by internet research, and some friends who know much more about computers,  it seemed likely that the problem was a dead motherboard rather than an issue with the hard drives with everything stored on them. So there was a good chance that I wouldn’t have lost everything, but it was still a possibility.

In the intervening time between my computer’s death and its subsequent rebirth, (which was brought about by http://www.simplyitonline.com/ for which I am very grateful) there was a horrible feeling at the pit of my stomach that I might have lost a lot of photos, it was made larger by the fact that it was my own silly fault, that I could have prevented it being such a problem. But I have learnt from this, I’ve added it to the other knowledge I’ve acquired by doing things. I’ll leave this blog there I think, because I have to go as I haven’t backed up for 10 minutes …

But just before I go, if you think this was a bit of a boring blog, here’s a photo to prove I’m still a fun guy (fungi)…
a parasol mushroom

HOW I PROVED SOMETHING TO MYSELF BY GETTING DRUNK*

I’ve always known organising and forward planning isn’t my strongest trait. This was reinforced on my birthday this year. My birthday is in the summer, when there are a lot of things going on, people are on holiday or at festivals or at BBQs, or have no money left because of any number of the aforementioned reasons, so it can be very hard to organise a celebration of my birth. It’s even more difficult when you only give people a few hours notice and that’s what happened this year, so very few people were able to celebrate with me. This sort of got me down a little, not so much because I didn’t get to see some of the people I wanted to see, but because it really brought it home to me how disorganised I was, and when I thought about I realised that it was something that was affecting every aspect of my life, to a greater or lesser extent. And while I was allowing myself a little bit of self-pity wallowing, I said to myself ‘I couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery.’
empty chairs and table in a bar
And the me of a year ago would have left it at that, but I’m a different me now (I think), so I did something about it. And that something was to organise a piss up in a brewery. OK, so it wasn’t an actual brewery, but a pub with a microbrewery, but that’s  not really the point. The point is that because of me there was a group of people who knew each other (or at least they’d all met each other by the end of the night) in the same place, at the same time, drinking alcohol, and more than one of these persons had reached a state of inebriation* by the end of the night, so I’m counting it as a success. I can now say I can organise a piss up in a (sort of) brewery.*
the wall of a pub with old photos of people playing skittles and a light up sign the says tourists
What has this got to do with photography? Well, I’ve always got several on-going projects, and more I want to start, as well as commissioned shoots to do. There’s also the promotion and marketing to do, and all the other admin stuff. As I’ve already said, planning and organisation are not my strongest points, but that’s something I need, and want, to improve. Now I’ve proved to myself that I am capable of planning something, I can build on that and move things forward. Other people might not use drinking* as a way to start self-improvement, but I did.
an empty pint glass and a full pint glass

*Please drink responsibly