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2017 – Looking back

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2017

2017 – 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

Photoshoot with Phil Cooper, Singer/Songwriter

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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…


At no point did Phil get bored…


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

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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 queuing 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 for Dismaland 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 spent in Dismaland.

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

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 2016? 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.