Art is Life

Art is Life:

This is without doubt one of the most important pieces I have taken to date. This image is simple but I hope it portrays to the viewer a powerful message

The sitter, a fabulous artist, has embraced the devastation of the diagnosis, through to the triumph of coming through to the other side and embracing what has been dealt and using it for inspiration, not only for herself, but by the very act of being photographed like this an inspiration for others…

The Shoot:

The concept fort this shoot happened weeks earlier over a coffee at our favourite hangout. A lot of ideas were thrown about, the sitter, Hannah and her friend Janine wanted portraits of themselves for their new Art website. At one stage the ladies must have thought me rude as I phased out and then all of a sudden exclaimed “I want to throw paint over you!”

Caroline: “You want me to do what?”

The day of the shoot arrived, and the set up was relatively easy. For the first time ever, I had an assistant, the wonderful Caroline. By the look on Caroline’s face she was perplexed by what I was pitching to her as an idea and what was about to happen.

We dismantled the ‘standard set up’ and started prepping for the big shoot. the very 1st thing we did was to wrap Caroline in plastic sheeting, stand her on a stool behind the backdrop and hand her a bottle of green paint.

We handed Janine a bowl of very watery green paint and said… “throw this at your mate” when we’re already…

We had a couple of practices without paint because I, we all knew we only had one shot at this.

I was as nervous, anxious and as tense as hell…

“Everyone go on three…” I said full in the confidence this was going to work… 1… 2… 3…

I started clicking, whilst simultaneously trying to get the ladies throwing and pouring in unison and also trying to direct Hannah to get the best pose.

One shot, one chance only…

As i was clicking, the horrible thought of “my equipment.. MY STUDIO!” crossed my mind, but it was too late. We were already up to our neck and down to our belly button in green paint.

Then as quickly as it had started, it was over.

The Floor was covered

Hannah was covered

but the studio, my equipment, had gotten away with it, relatively in tact.

Hannah lead by the hand by Janine to the bathroom to clean all the paint off, she was covered unable to open her eyes due to the sheer amount of paint that had been pored over her head. Once cleaned up we retired to the front of the studio, to have a cuppa. The adrenaline was still pumping through me… my hands still shaking caused by the speed and voraciousness of what we had all done.

As a photographer, no matter how experienced and skilled, there is always that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach that it had all gone wrong…

Alternative Concept

I checked the camera; in the 5 minutes from saying “3” to stopping, 214 photos had been taken. Surely one of them had to be ok?..

Whilst my set up had me tethered to a laptop and in turn to a large screen, in order to let clients see the images, I thought it best to go through the images privately. The rawness of the subject matter tied in with seeing the ubiquitous ‘screwed up face shots’ would have left the sitter and the team probably feeling deflated, especially with the sitter so raw and exposed, it was best in my opinion to leave it a few days, to let the paint dry and the dust settle, process the images and then share them with the gang.

To my absolute delight Hannah loved the image, to which i now present to you.

For me this image captured every element of the brief. In my opinion, it is without doubt a powerful and evocotive image that i hope speaks of hope and determination plus whatever you may see in the image.

Thank you


Schrödinger’s E-mail…

It was like Schrödinger’s E-mail… my eyes were closed tightly as I pressed open. There was a pause before I opened my eyes to reveal the outcome, had all the hard work, time, effort, blood, sweat and confusion been worth it?

Letting Time Pass… Slowly, Ever so Slowly…

In order to reach this point; the voyage I decided to undertake two years hence, had taken more than one circuitous route. The reasons for setting off on this existential photographic endeavor had changed mid passage; moving from the “I must prove them wrong” to the “I’m doing this for myself”. That moment of realization that this entire voyage was for my benefit and no one else’s that made the passage a much smother one, with calmer seas, fairer winds and a prevailing attitude of pride in my work, it propelled me forward towards opening the email from the Distinctions Team at the Royal Photographic Society .

It had been a long long trip. So many obstacles had been in my way. Trying to get everything ready, printed, mounted and delivered to the RPS in Bristol, in the midst of pandemics, lockdowns and chaos was the easy bit. It was the periods of self doubt, second guessing and over analyzation of the whole Licentiate process that caused numerous return visits to the doldrums.

The Sights of Bristol

There were times when I looked at the panel of photographs I was presenting and thought, “I need more; these aren’t good enough”, the over analyzation and panic was setting in. I had the horrible feeling I was setting myself up for a scuppering of Titanic proportions.

With Covid-19 ravaging the nation and lockdowns affecting everyone, how could I build and add to my body of work? I had booked an RPS Zoom One to One thinking I would be well prepared to share my final panel with whom ever I would be chatting but I really wasn’t. In my haste I went through my entire body of work, looking for something I could present, even as a half-arsed presentation, and I discovered, that some of my old stuff was actually quite presentable.

Having not looked at some of the photos for many many years, all the time from taking them to now, I had developed a more critical eye; and could, in my very limited way, appreciate their photographic merits (or not with the very early stuff) and look to my more recent work and muse more coherently upon their suitability for presentation.

Final Presentation

The Zoom One to One with the brilliant Sarah Dow, was without doubt one of the most useful and pivotal points in this entire process. The lifting of the fog and clarity of thought that Sarah gave me in our extensive chat forced me to rethink the whole project, my reasoning behind it and put this ships head on a new and more direct route to the final destination.

But the course of true [photography] never did run smooth and to say there were complications in regards to my assessment in June was an understatement.

I am to this day still unclear as to why I couldn’t be assessed the first time, and this will never be the forum by which to explore that route, but suffices to say, a couple of my images caused a great discussion to the extent that I couldn’t be assessed. It was with great relief that the Distinctions team at the RPS said they would defer the assessment by a month and somehow squeeze me in to an already full day

From that point on I just had to let time pass… slowly, ever so slowly… until the afternoon of the 21st July… and then that email from the RPS…

The reward…