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2020 – The Year Of The Mask

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I think I will always remember 2020 as the year of the mask. It is a year I don’t think I will ever forget, even though I may want to. It has been a tough year for so many reasons. Emotionally, physically, fiscally, mentally and creatively. That said, I do appreciate how lucky I am. I still have my health. Like many people, I didn’t think that something like this would happen in my lifetime. It is more the stuff of Science Fiction and there is still part of me that finds it a bit surreal. As I said, I am very fortunate and very thankful to the NHS, teachers, shop workers and all those who kept the country going throughout this extraordinary year.

We all had to change our plans this year. I even changed the plans I had already changed. As I reflect back on the year, I find it hard to judge. This probably seems an obvious thing to say, but without looking back and judging it, how can we learn from it? But perhaps now isn’t the time to do that. It might be the end of 2020, but it is not yet the end of Covid19. The end is in sight, although still someway off.

This is a reflection of the my year through photography. I was going to pick out just one photo for each month, but for some I couldn’t decide, so there are lots more than 12 to look at. I hope you enjoy them. Enjoy the festive period while staying safe, and I’ll see you in 2021

January

All the way back in January I did a photoshoot with The Lost Trades. It seems like a lifetime ago right now, being in a room with other people. It was such a fun shoot, with great people, you can read more about it in this blog.

3 piece folk group The Lost Trades

The Lost Trades

 

February

February was all about early spring bulbs, which meant being outside as much as possible. Given what was to come, that turned out to be an even better thing than it usually is.

Greater snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii)

Greater snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii)

 

March

March was something of a month of two halves. Going out as much as possible, followed by staying in as much as possible.

Silver birch trees, Bickerton Hills, Cheshire

Silver birch trees, Bickerton Hills, Cheshire

an orange mug of tea, a DSLR camera & a computer

Lockdown Life

April

April was the month I became very grateful for my partners love of gardening and the fact that she relatively recently acquired a bigger garden. It did mean doing more work in the garden, but having that outside space during Lockdown made things easier. It also meant lots of photography opportunities, not just of plants but of wildlife too. 



May

Another month spent at home. Mostly out in the garden, thanks to the nice weather. Plants and wildlife was once again what I saw most of through my lens.

June

June was another month of the same. Although it was also the month I launched my shop, (go and check it out, you know you want to) which might explain why I took fewer photos this month.

July

The month when things started to relax. Leaving the house became a possibility. Although I started the month off by experimenting with some indoor still lifes of plants. I am sure there was a good reason for this, although I can’t remember what it is. 

 

August

A two week trip to the Isles of Scilly took up a lot of my August. It was a little bit odd going from wearing a mask on a busy boat to being the only people on a beach. You could forget for a little while that there was a pandemic.

September

September was more time spent in the garden and preparing for the months to come as best as possible.

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Rustic Dwarfs Mixed’

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Rustic Dwarfs Mixed’

October

Photographing autumn colours will never get boring and I tried to make the most of the opportunity. I think the first image here sums up the year quite well.

November

The second Lockdown in England started this month.

Ginkgo biloba leaves and fruit

Ginkgo biloba leaves and fruit

December

And now here we are in December. Short days. Colder, wetter weather. Coronavirus cases on the rise, despite the Second Lockdown. The prospect of a very different Christmas on the way. So I decided I needed to do something fun. Anyone who follows me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter will have seen my Lego Star Wars Advent Story. I have been posting one part each day, but here it is in full (or as much as I have shot at time of writing. I will update when it is finished).

New In The Shop

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I hope you are all keeping safe out there, and managing to look after your mental as well as your physical health. I know I have been a little quite, but I have been busy. I’ve added lots to my shop. So much so, I am not sure where to begin. I guess I will begin at the beginning, it’s a very good place to start (apparently).

A6 cards

Whilst having a sort out recently, I came across a box which contained some of the first cards I produced. When I first started putting my images on cards, the cards were smaller. They were A6 size. That’s 105 x 148mm, 10.5 x 14.8cm, or 4.1 x 5.8 inches. Before I had sold out of these cards I changed supplier and size and for a while I sold both sizes. After a while, to simplify things, I switched to only selling the 5×7 inch cards. But having re-discovered these cards and now having a shop on my site, they are once again available to buy. I have no current plans to get anymore cards of this size, so when they are gone, they are gone. Some of the card designs are the same as the 5×7 cards I currently sell, so you can pick the size when you have chosen the design. Others are only available as A6 cards and are listed as such. They are currently on available at sale prices in the the card section in my shop. They are already discounted, so no need to add a coupon code at checkout.

Autumn & Winter Cards

I have added my range of autumn and winter cards. They are included in the multiple buy coupon offer, so you add one of the coupon codes – 3CardsFor£5, 6CardsFor£10 or 10CardsFor£15 – as necessary at the checkout stage. And while I am writing about cards, should I mention the ‘C’ word? I know it is early, but we all seem to be thinking about it earlier this year, because of the crazy state of the world. So I will mention it. Christmas. There I did it. So, yes, I have also added my Christmas cards to the shop. They are available to buy as boxes of ten. They can also be bought individually and are also part of the multiple buy coupon offer.

Framed & Mounted Prints

All my prints are now available to buy framed, mounted or unframed. They would make excellent Christmas presents (I know I said the ‘C’ word again). I have also added a few more images to my range of prints, so hopefully there should be something for everyone. All my framed and mounted prints are on sale until 2nd November 2020. This discount is has already been added, so no need to use a coupon code at checkout. If there is an image of mine that you would like as a print that is not already available, please get in touch and I will make it available (where possible). There is free delivery on all UK orders from my shop.

New Cards

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I have added some new cards to my shop. They are also available from Edington Farm Shop, as well as my Etsy store. They were printed for me by Redcliffe Imaging, who are based in Bristol.

These new cards expand my range to cover new subject matter, while complementing the cards I already have available. The cows in their muddy field, may be a familiar image to you, as it is available as a print. It has sold so well as a print that I have now made it available as a card. Boats feature on three of my new cards. These were all taken on the Isles of Scilly last year. Although they are all of boats, they are all quite different.

All the other photos were taken in the garden during lockdown. I am really lucky to have had the garden to enjoy and take photos in. And also really lucky that we get so much wildlife visiting, the highlight being the young long tailed tits.

Coronavirus Update – July

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It’s been 15 weeks since the UK government introduced its lockdown measures. These measures are now being eased, so I though I would give a ‘Coronavirus Update’ about changes I am making. Covid 19 has affected us all. Some people have been affected more than others. I’m sure we have all been affected in ways that aren’t obvious to other people and maybe not even to ourselves. And probably in ways that haven’t come to light yet. I hope you are all keeping safe and staying sane.

During this time we have all had to make difficult decisions about work and life. Being self-employed is a double edged sword. You have the freedom of being your own boss, but you have no fixed income, no holiday or sick pay. This is two sided-ness has been highlighted during the Covid 19 pandemic. I can keep myself as safe as I want, but I will lose out on potential income. I do at least have my fate in my own hands, I know others aren’t so lucky. They feel a pressure to go back to work if others have deemed it safe for them to do so.

What is changing now?

So now that more lockdown restrictions have been eased, what does that mean for Andrew Bert Greaves Photography? Well, to start with Edington Farm Shop has reopened, so you can once again buy my cards from there, whilst also buying some of there more essential items. Their opening hours have changed, so check them before you go. Of course they have measures in place to keep everyone safe, so be mindful of that fact too.

I am able to do photo shoots again. While I can, according to the guidelines, do these indoors I will only be doing outdoor shoots. This is safest for everyone, as it means that proper social distancing can be maintained. This does make it weather dependent, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue at this time of the year, even in the UK (hopefully).

I am now selling to countries outside the UK again through my shop and through Etsy. As mentioned in a previous blog, I stopped selling overseas as I felt this was safest for all concerned. But now as things are easing, it seems the right time to open up that part of my business again.

Decision making

When lockdown started, I changed several things about how I run my business. Some of those were because of the government’s measures, and others were based on my own decisions aimed at keeping people safe. There were things that I could have carried on doing but chose not to.

I keep up to date with the latest government advice and use that to inform my decisions about how to safely run my business. But just because the government say that we are now allowed to do something, doesn’t mean to say that we should. The overriding thing for the UK government right now is the economy and it is that is driving their easing of lockdown measures. But to me changing too much too quickly isn’t going to end well. So I am still being cautious.

I will continue to keep up to date with the situation and what the government is saying. I will also listen to what advice and concerns are raised by other groups that are well informed and take that on board in making decisions about extending my services and range of products in the future. At the same time, being mindful that it may be necessary to pull things back and reduce what I do. The situation is fluid and being flexible is important going forward. Stay safe and stay sane.

The Environment And Me

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Like most people, I watched Blue Planet 2 with David Attenborough and was made very aware of the damage that plastic was doing to the environment. In particular, the problem of single use plastics, like packaging. For example the plastic that greetings cards come in. Like the ones I sell. I realised that I was part of the problem and needed to make a change. ‘But that was back in November 2017,’ I hear you say. ‘Why are you talking about it now?’. Because, although I made changes in the past, it is still important now. How things are packaged has become part of the thought process when thinking about making a purchase.

How things were

At the time that Blue Planet 2 came out, all my cards were in plastic to protect them from damage. No matter where I sold them. It was all the same if it was in person, online or at Edington Farm Shop, which stocks my cards. Please note that the farm shop is currently closed due to Coronavirus.

What I changed – the easy bits

The first thing I did was stop sending out my online orders in plastic sleeves. I send out my orders well packaged in ‘Please Do Not Bend’ envelopes, so the extra protection wasn’t really necessary. The next thing to consider was selling to people in person. The whole point of having them in plastic is so they don’t get damaged while people are looking at them. So my solution for this was to have a set of my cards in plastic that people can browse, but when they buy them, they get one without a plastic sleeve. 

What I changed – the less easy bits

That solution is fine selling them myself, but wouldn’t work for the shop environment. I could sell them loose, but they would get damaged and the envelopes would get separated. The first thing I did was to look into biodegradable packaging. I found varying reports of how long it would actually last for. Also they were more than 4 times the price of the plastic packaging. I know I shouldn’t put profits before the environment, but I am running a business, so I have to think about the financial side of thing every now and again. It wasn’t just about profits, but also about cash flow. How much I could afford to spend at that particular time. I decided to search for other solutions. As I had a good stock of plastic sleeves and I was using less of them already, I had time to see what I could find. 

I experimented with using card and paper bands to keep the card and its envelope together. This seemed to work for keeping them together. However, it didn’t help with the problem of protecting them as shoppers browsed them. So I kept thinking and experimenting and googling possible solutions. I kept coming back to the environmentally friendly plastic. I looked at different suppliers and finally found one that was only 3 times what I had previously paid for the plastic sleeves, if I bought double the usual amount. That was from Eco-Craft, so I placed an order with them. It would would reduce my profit, but I felt it was the right thing to do for the environment. Also, I reasoned that the more people that made the switch to green plastics, the more readily available they will become and hopefully they will become more affordable.

And so back to now

That all happened in 2018. I did intend to write a blog about it at the time, but alas, I didn’t get around to it. I now get my biodegradable sleeves from Redcliffe Imaging, which is where I get my cards printed. Does this mean that all my cards are now in biodegradable plastic? The answer is sadly no. Because of the seasonal nature of cards, and the fact that I am using a lot less of them, means that I still have some cards in old non-biodegradable sleeves. I feel it is better to use these up, as to not would be an even greater waste of plastic. I am sure there are more ways I can help the environment, and I will continue to look for ways of doing that going forward.