How I Shot The Royal Wedding !

That's right , yesterday I shot the royal wedding , I decided to shoot the event as a Street Photography / documentary project as part of my State Of Britain series . It might surprise some of you that I have worn the Royal Rota Press Pass on a number of occasions in the past , but I was not in the business of trying to create PR publicity shots on this occasion , thankfully. !

Mick Jagger told me a million times never to exaggerate and never to name drop, so  I won't mention here who I've shot in the past . My plan for this event was to photograph it in "Street" style from my personal (Layman's) view , I would not even travel to Windsor although I would visit a local town and shoot whatever royal wedding imagery came my way !

The local town had laid on a big screen to enable shoppers & shop workers to watch the event and create a community atmosphere., I was looking forward to being part of the crowd and recording this occasion . As Windsor hosted the worlds press with thousands of photographers present, I would record / interpret how ordinary people in a normal city responded to this memorable day. 

I prepared for this shoot with a level of seriousness that I thought was behind me , two bodies with 20mm lenses fitted, Eight camera batteries , spare cards in case of malfunctions , flash to control contrast if needed etc .  I arrived early in town to case the location and see how the local folk were responding to this historic event , at first I was worried ,as the town was quiet , very quiet?

I managed  portraits of the grooms grandmother, Harry and Megan very early on in the day before capturing a cafe worker preparing for the day ahead. 

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To be honest I was thrilled with the 3 portraits I captured in the window of the charity shop , the quirkiness of this photographic opportunity was revealing itself to me , I felt like the cat with the cream as this crazy shoot was working out.

Twelve O'clock soon came around and the television wedding coverage began on the big screen with the local folk gathered around ,  I knew this was going to be the most challenging part of this unusual wedding photography coverage , I had photographed this large screen before at  Cheltenham races  and knew that the banding problems that old TV sets presented to photographers were not an issue here , long exposures were not necessary, which was just as well, as it was a very bright day and the contrast was high !

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I shot about 200 pics on the day, obviously most of these have already hit the edit room floor and will never see the light of day ,its early days in the edit but I might have managed 7 or 8 keepers from the day, which is fine .  I have to admit that this was a tough day compared to my normal considered laid back Street Photography approach. . 

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 I have loved shooting this international event from my local  and personal perspective, the images might be challenging for some viewers as they seek to offer alternative representations and interpretations to the predictable high profile press imagery that does not really represent the reality of how most of the UK public participated & engaged with this twenty first century marriage.

 I believe this alternative Royal Wedding photographic coverage is an important contribution to my State Of Britain series .

Keep it real !

Hot spots & Red-Letter Days ?

Every now and then I write a blog that I know is madness , this is one of those !

Looking through my photographic archive recently, I noticed a very strange phenomenon, I write this today to find out if anyone else has noticed this weird "coincidence" in their digital files.

Searching out a picture recently in my files I could roughly remember the month I had made the capture, but could not remember the year.  This led to my discovery that a number of my favorite captures were all made on the same date in different years !

I know this is hard to believe, but don't knock it until you've taken a look through your files,  this "Red Letter Day" theory is bad enough but my experience is that some locations appear to deliver more interesting visual events than others despite having no special features.

Here are a number of same location coincidences ?

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Following the hot spot realisation it was no surprise to me to discover that many of my favourite captures are made in June as this is probably when I am most active , however I was surprised that the 18th & 19th deliver most year in and year out ,  this is usually about the time of the summer solstice and is associated with all things magical and mystical , I'm not prepared to say here that I believe in all this mumbo jumbo magic solstice stuff but I do associate a level of spirituality with Street Photography.   I have no better explanation for the special mindset that tunes me into the unlikely alignment of natural and surreal elements before my lens on the good days .

Here are a few of the pix from my unexplained red-letter days in June !

 

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To be honest if this phenomenon is real or imagined matters very little, but I have to admit that I work with a greater level of confidence,  positivity  and expectation during my "lucky" days in June !

Do you believe in magic ?

Enjoy your long holiday weekend , keep it real ! 

There are no launderettes in space

 

These pictures were found deep inside my subconcious and reflect imagined 1960's childhood memories, aspirations and fears !

When I was five years old I wanted to be an astronaut and hoped that the aliens I encountered would be friendly , this was the era of Telstar, moon landings and optimism. 

                        I have no memory of this "old" faded family photo from 1969 

                       I have no memory of this "old" faded family photo from 1969 

I thought I would grow up in a brighter better new world,  childhood optimism  ?

When I look around me now I see a fractured decaying society and a breakdown of community values ,whatever happened to our future ?           

Did we buy washing machines when we should have been building launderettes ?   

                                                                                                                             

 

 

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This conceptual project was created as a response to the 2018 , Reclaim Photography Festival brief  , Reclaim Your Future .

Starting Street Photography IN The UK !

I've read a number of "Street Photography For Beginners" articles recently , they appear to promote little more than a generic idea of SP , a bit of history, think like an alien , the best camera, black & white or colour, book a workshop ? , bla, bla, bla !

Is it any surprise that Street Photography in the UK  is losing its appeal and integrity as new togs are feeling confused & frustrated , "British Street" is becoming formulaic , predictable and detached from the everyday lives that it allegedly represents. British Street Photography is becoming heavily influenced by the New York Street aesthetic , the way newcomers discover SP and engage with the medium in the early days is producing togs that work hard to emulate US visual values rather than innovate a British way of seeing,  Individuality based on a authentic original approach is becoming hard to find.  You could end up producing work like the self appointed experts if your not careful ,    don't allow others to corrupt your potential, unique ideas and social vision, you do not need to know the rules , as none exist. !

How difficult can street photography be ?   Very simple if you don't get bogged down by unnecessary technique and SP propaganda  !

 New togs are confused and frustrated  !

New togs are confused and frustrated  !

My Very Quick Free Guide to Starting Street Photography In The UK .

 

1. Shoot your life and the subjects that interest you , shoot what you like and what you dislike , shoot with honesty and integrity.

2 Try to avoid engaging with the work of others initially , just find your own way , take some pictures , make some more and make even more. Edit, Edit and learn .

3. Try to create images that communicate life in 21st century Britain, don't be distracted by the superficial stylized efforts that pass for SP in the minds of those who have nothing to say and want to create "pretty" pictures,  traditional aesthetics & pictorial values should be exchanged for a more irreverent, personal, alternative view  !. ,  The World Is Not Beautiful  -  But its  there !  (John Myers ) .

4. Be influenced by the books you read and the music you enjoy, don't be influenced by the Street Photography websites & social media , including mine , value your independence and photographic ignorance, your lack of experience is a opportunity to do it your way , be curious and become the photographer you want to be, slowly ,... slowly ,.. one shot at a time .

One successful special capture each month is a attainable realistic target, if you invest enough time into Street Photography.

 

Enjoy the journey !

Lines Of Production

Thought I would share this collection of abstract images today, that follow in the footsteps of Rothko,Johns & Duchamp , these "ready Made" views belong to a industrial environment and were created by the erosion created by production activity and the necessity of space management with no aesthetic consideration  . They are part of a larger recently completed series .

These graphic compositions were captured on my mobile phone camera .

 

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Seeing it ,different !

 I have been test shooting various techniques recently that allow me to create abstractions of the urban environment and have settled on a simple multi-exposure in camera approach .

I have revisited a number of my favorite locations and searched out new interpretations, the scenes I have created so far are created by stacking a number of exposures on top of each other in camera.  A degree of visual pre-planning is required although the technique should not be so tight that it eliminates the little surprises that make this form of urban landscape photography so compelling.

Most of the attempted multi- exposures unsurprisingly end in failure but they are not a waste of time as these attempts leave clues to how improvements can be made for the next attempt.  Its a approach that adopts a continuous improvement ethos !

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All in all its great fun and worth a try if your digital camera has a multiple exposure facility. The files I make are treated the same way as my street photography ,   relying on  Levels , Contrast and Colour post processing enhancements only.

Give it a go !

Keep it surreal !

 

 

Reclaim the future, 2018 !

The Reclaim Photography Festival Open Call deadline is approaching fast , 23rd February , 2018 . don't miss it !

This is a genuine free opportunity to share your work with like minded folk ,  no entry fees , no printing costs and no hidden agenda .  No winners, no losers , this event is all about promoting Art Photography and giving folk the chance to exhibit their photography in public places and spaces.

The event takes place in the West Midlands, England and is open to all photographers , the exhibition opens in May 2018 .

I was fortunate enough to be involved in the 2017 show for the first time and have really warm memories of the event . This year I have created 4 images especially for the show .   

The Reclaim Photography Festival is supported by Arts Council England .       

Good luck with your submission .  hello@reclaimphotographyfestival.org

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One of my entries from the 2017 Reclaim Photography Festival . Durham Miners Gala , 2013

Portrait Of A Modern Poet, 2018

This portrait deliberately challenges conventional photographic portraiture, it should be seen as a protest and a warning !

This image was made by reshaping and reinterpreting existing digital media ,within a digital camera , the idea grew from the realization that modern celebrities and politicians are becoming increasingly isolated and dependent on TV screen representation, they value photographic portraiture less than ever before.

The collaboration between portrait photographer & subject appears to be breaking down in the digital age as time poor subjects with selfie sticks invest less of themselves into meaningful shoots. 

Is it possible to capture the soul of a person you have never met  ?

 

 

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Whats The Plan ?

As another year of Street Photography gets underway , its time to make plans for the months ahead, the flat lighting and lower temperatures might not be motivating you at the moment but its time to establish a few aims and objectives 

Review the past year , use the "WHY" question to analyse your successes, motivations and failures , establish in your mind what success is, success comes in different shapes and sizes and can only be measured on a personal level . The pictures and activities that make you happiest are the ones that you should consider to be the most successful, , my Street Photography is undertaken with a smile on my face , sometimes I actually laugh out loud at the things I see and shoot on the streets.  I hope this shows in my pictures.

Remember a bad days Street Photography is better than a good day at work !

Plan to shoot a few events this year or challenge yourself to shoot a few different cities . While on the subject of shooting cities, try to establish a street photography route in the city you shoot most , you'll be surprised by how much a established route changes once you start looking deeper on a regular basis, you will also become aware of how the light changes throughout the day, allowing you to predict and exploit the best light. 

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Plan to shoot different , try long exposures, blur, flash, high view points and low view points, embrace alternative techniques, this will help you to grow and learn as a photographer.

Decide what you want to achieve this year and take action to make it happen , if you fail to get "the" shot you want, return again and again until you get what you want , the picture below might look like a casual capture however it did not give itself up easily ! Eventually (3 Years later) I got it !

 

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I tried to shoot this scene in a rain storm without success, the bottom line is that all weather conditions can be the right conditions if you have a few ideas put aside, ready to be used on , dare I say it "a rainy day" !

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I hope this piece has inspired you to set aside a few dates in your diary, to do something different this year or even revisit a location that did not deliver for you last time. 

Although most of us embrace a spontaneous photographic approach on the streets this does not exclude us from being organised and making plans, setting time aside for your street photography will help you to achieve more, it will also give you something relaxing to plan around and look forward too  , 

Persperation or Inspiration ?

 

Keep it real !

 

Hello 2018 !

Ready or not the new year is here !                                                                                                                                                                                     The fireworks have gone, so its important that your hangover from 2017 doesn't last for the next twelve months, its time to initiate new projects, bin the stuff that didn't work out in 2017 and  develop your ideas, this is not a rehearsal !  

How can you move your Street Photography forward this year ?

My search for change and progress is not based on dissatisfaction of my current practice, my search is  based on a journey of change and inquiry.  I may not be moving forward but I know I am not standing still, visual questions need to be asked and answered ?                                        Doing things how you have always done them will create the results you have always had !        Embrace and seek change, change your mindset ,  change your focal length , change the locations, change, change, change, change and don't fear failure , failure is the food of creativity, learning and progress.

Think like a student no matter how long you've been shooting "Street" !  Photographic technique is becoming easier to learn , don't spend your time pixel peeping, instead show a active interest in Art , the cubists, surrealists and impressionists have many lessons for photographers with curious minds.

Look deeper , shoot  sets of pictures . Notice I used the word set not series , I understand that many photographers feel that the idea of shooting in series is pretentious and conflicts with purest principles of the "Street Photography Moment" !   Don't get caught up with the semantics , sets of images allow the author to develop a deeper narrative that can engage viewers on a different level to the sublime one off captures we usually crave. Shoot a set this year, just five or six pix, keep shooting it until it develops a rhythm and flow that works.

Care less about what others think , these are your images, this is your journey and this is your life . Should you wish to become a sheep become a black one, better still become a wolf, the world has enough sheep !    Be cautious of wolves dressed as shepherds !!!

The best advice I can give for 2018 is to stop taking pictures when your not feeling it, too many photographers create unsustainable workloads for themselves,  a dedicated street photography commitment is a huge undertaking especially when it is  combined with work and family commitments. Remember what is important to you and yours .

Ensure your photography is created on your terms and for the best of reasons . The greatest reward a photographer can / should expect is the thrill of a meaningful capture, everything else is just window dressing. 

Taking my own advice I'm going stop writing this now as I have some other stuff to do, best wishes for the next twelve months.

Keep it real in 2018 !

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