Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Naked Courier Calendar shoot

So last Friday marked the 5th anniversary of the LCEF. It also marked the LCEF annual christmas party and the latest instalment of the highly successful naked courier calendar.

The LCEF is an organisation that was found by couriers to help out their fellow riders when injured in the line of duty. With no sick pay or insurance, an accident whilst working can really wipe you off the map when it comes to paying your bills. Since it's creation the LCEF has grown tremendously, going from strength to strength. It's many avenues of fund raising are always very successful and the annual naked calendar is no exception.

This year I was very kindly given the opportunity to shoot for it and joined the group of 8 London based photographers who would be putting their heads together to create the calendar. A general meeting was held and topics, themes, formats etc etc were discussed (and argued about) until a final decision was made.

The theme was to be 'motion' and 'community', shot in colour on location (no white studios) and in a square format.

So with that in my head and a deadline set for the next meeting, off I went to panic about coming up with a good idea.

For me, the cycle courier community is the embodiment of family and that is reflected by it's support for every family member, looking out for one another wherever they may be.
The job of the cycle courier can be a solitary and lonely one at times. Out there on the road you are alone, just you and the bike. Your only connection to others is via the radio strapped to your bag over which you can hear what everyone else is up to at the same time. In some ways you are alone and yet not so, traveling in that little bubble of radio waves and voices.
Hearing what another rider is getting up to, maybe stuck at a problem delivery or having a joke with the controller can often be just enough to bring a little grin to your face as you fly along an empty and cold road, rain lashing down and the sound of engines approaching from behind.

I wanted to capture that some how in my image, that sense of family, support, always being part of a larger presence in some way, shape or form. You are never alone!

Along with a few other ideas, the main one that jumped out at me was based around a lone rider on the road with couriers in the back ground looking over them (like guardian angels if you like) . To help carry the message I wanted a very cold and scary road, the sort where you really are on your own 100% of the time. First to mind came Lower Thames/Victoria Embankment, an icrdeibly busy duel carriageway that lets traffic flow from east to west across the city with out having to pass through the middle. It claimed the life of one of our friends many years ago and has since always instilled the fear of death in me when using it.
There was a perfect spot with a wall in the back ground for people to stand on but with the nature of that road and the layout of the section in question, getting a herd of naked couriers into position and having a rider down on the road was NOT going to happen.
The second spot that I came across, which must have slipped my mind, was Archway Road, up beneath the infamous 'suicide bridge'. It's a busy duel carriageway with concrete either side and a long way from anywhere, so I went to scout it.

The spot was perfect.
I planned to shoot from one side of the road, directly across at the opposite side where the naked couriers would be lined up. There is a raised footpath that climbs parallel to the road up to suicide bridge. This would put the people in the back ground way up above the rider and give an extra sense of  watching over them. Plus the footpath had a small wall running along it at foot level that would give the  naked bodies somewhere to drop their robes, not have them in shot and yet still have super easy access if they wanted to cover up.
So I found the exact spot that I wanted to shoot from. Found the camera angle which was about 20cm off the floor and then proceeded to figure out how it would crop.
Beautifully is how it would crop.......... as long as I could find 20 couriers to get naked. At the same time. In Archway. Very early in the morning. Easier said than done.
Why 20? Well I wanted to fill the frame side to side to create an illusion of infinity, a never ending line of couriers. They are supposed to be suggestive, not so much a physical presence but an almost spiritual presence of the courier community watching down over the lone rider.
The spot in Archway was perfect to portray this image as the raised walkway gave separation from road level and the green foliage in the background gave even more separation from the cold concrete where the rider would be. I also decided to keep the rider clothed to further create a distinction between the 'real' and the 'metaphorically' there.

The camera angle posed a problem as I wanted to shoot with the camera locked off to later enable me to make a composite of frames if needs be. A busy duel carriageway is not the sort of place that you can just ask someone to 'move a little to the right' while you get another frame. I wanted to cover my bases and mounting the camera would do this for me. Sadly I had railings, 20 cm of hight and a gutter on the pavement making any sort of tripod useless.
That is how I discovered Magic Arm's. The most amazing device ever!!!! Whack it on a super clamp and you can lock off the camera where ever you need it. After a week of theorising, it solved all the problems.

I settled on an f stop (I think we had it at f.11) that would get me enough depth to hold the rider in front and the couriers in the background and at the same time get me a decent ISO (between 400 and 640) and speed to capture a little blur, and then went away to muster up the troops.

By the skin of my teeth and the help of my fellow couriers (mainly Polish Nick) I managed to pull together the 20 faces that I needed. I lost and gained a few along the way as we desperately tried to pin down a date for shooting.
And then the day came.

6am wake up, 7am up in Archway if I recall correctly (I have since blocked it from my mind). It had to be early so as not to scare the locals, attract the local police and have too much traffic on the road for a safe shoot. Some people had not gone to bed, some people where just climbing out of theirs when we arrived at the bridge, most were still pissed or just starting to get so. Hey, what else you gonna do when someone asks you to be in Archway at the crack of dawn on a saturday morning to get naked. But slowly and surely they arrived. As did the sun.......

By 8am we had 15 people and the sun was starting to climb. My test shots had been on an overcast day and it looked perfect but with that sun raising I could see major highlights popping up on the trees further down the road. If we did not start shooting soon it was going to be a contrast nightmare. We started to ring around the missing 5 and started to collect the excuses (don't worry, you are all forgiven now). Slept through the alarm, didn't set the alarm, thought it was the next day etc etc. I realised it was either wait and loose the shot that I had had in my mind for the last few month or settle for the 16 we had and just shoot it now.

So with the sun creeping up bit by bit the couriers made their way to the other side and started to ascend the footpath, surprisingly stripping quite eagerly as they went.

With the camera tethered to the laptop for fine focus checking and everyone in place it was time to drop the robes and shoot. I had a few variation that I wanted to cover with the group. Static poses, very straight, arms by their sides for a uniform, bowler-hat-wearing suits style shot, then a more casual one, like a courier social club and a few other little tweaks.
We had two-way radios so that I didn't have to keep shouting across the road and one of couriers who is also a film maker (cheers JT) was keeping an eye on the increasing light levels from their side of the road.

The rest as they say is history. At 7fps I got all the coverage I needed of the models and the passing rider in the fore front. The people on the passing busses got a nice giggle to start their day, and the sun? well we beat it just in time before the trees in the back ground were completely washed out and the scene lost.

All in all it was a huge success, everyone had fun and in some little way appreciated the extra few hours they had that saturday that would normally have been spent sleeping.
A huge thanks to everyone that made the shot possible, everyone that offered to lend me bits of equipment, everyone that got naked and not, Steph for helping me pull in the numbers and for printing the shot with all those willies on show (the brief was no full frontal nudity).

These are my two favourite frames. They are composites using the same image of the rider but with two variations for the onlookers.

And..... The final image, cropped to a square for print.

The only thing I would change? Just a few more bodies to fill the frame, but to be honest I think it still works just as well as it is.

Now for the important bit, GO AND BUY A CALENDAR!!!!

You can get it here

and you can find the LCEF here

Saturday, 2 November 2013

A New Chapter

This week, our family made a final trip up to York.

I have been going there ever since I was a child as that is where our mum is from and where our grandparents lived. Well as life goes, sadly, Grandpa passed away two years ago and a few weeks ago Grandma also passed away. It was expected and peaceful which is a positive note but none the less a sad time for everyone. After Grandpa died, she often spoke about how she was ready to go and that she had lived an amazing and fun filled life (she was 94). She had seen the second world war come and go, working as a fire woman through it. She was reunited with Grandpa after he spent the war as a POW in Poland and spent the rest of her life with him. She saw her grandchildren grow up as well as watching both of her great grandchildren start out their little lives in this world. Unlike many people in this world today, she was content with what she had.

She had seen it all, seen enough and was very tired as she liked to put it.

Well one thing her and Grandpa loved to do was go on car journeys, and one thing Grandpa loved to do was take photos. But now they are not here and our little family has their car parked outside so I felt it a fitting tribute to take it on it's first road trip with it's new generation. Grandma and Grandpa would take my mum and her sister to all sorts of places in the car with it packed up to eyeballs. In comparison this was nothing, but for me it was what it was. The start of our children's many adventures on the road, a torch passed down from their great grandparents for our family to now hold.

I can just see Grandma and Grandpa and the smiles on their faces as the children hurled stones into the sea today.

Ellis and Joan Jackson - May you spend the rest of eternity happily together x x x

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Anouck video shoot

Well the blog has been rather quiet for a while now. I have been getting quite busy on the work front as well as the family side of life, and all that combined has left me struggling a bit with the blog. Allot of the work that I shoot is quiet sensitive and it can be months before I am allowed to share anything with you. Also as I have been struggling to put together the 'Pic of the Week' post's, I don't want to just post up some random photo for the sake of posting something. For me that's not what it's about. Quality over quality as far as I am concerned.

Anyway, I have a few things backlogged now so here is post number one.


If you haven't heard of Anouck then you need to go and check her out. I first saw her perform a few months back at a nightclub in Mayfair after being invited along by her cousin, a family friend of ours.
The music was great and the band was great but the thing that grabbed me was her on stage personality. Very down to earth, humble and not at full of herself. Not what you would expect as she is an amazing singer and songwriter who is brilliant at what she dose and has been doing it for a long time. It's always nice to meet artists who still keep them selfs grounded.

So we had a little meeting to chat about music and photography and possible shooing some press images in the future. Those are still being planned and soon to come I hope but for now here are some BTS stills from one of her video shoots.

So head over and check her out on twitter 
and have a listen over on her Soundcloud 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The "He took his skin off for me" and how to feel young on your birthday post

Last weekend was my birthday and I'm getting old now......

Nah only joking! I'm not one of those people that moans on about getting old, I still feel like I'm 23 and that's what counts. It also helped that I spent my birthday taking pictures or a skinless, bloody arm and then spent the next day checking out the cosplay action at the London Comic and Manga convention. Those are guaranteed win's to help you feel young.

But what about the skinless, bloody arm I hear you cry?

If you follow me over on Twitter and Instagram then you probably know what I am on about but if not then let me enlighten you.

The director of 'Dinner and a Movie' Ben Aston is now working on his LFS grad film, starting with a test shoot for makeup. The film is an adaption of the short story 'He took his skin off for me', written by Maria Hummer and heavily features (yup, you guessed it) a skinless body.

The test shoot was in a disused old peoples home in west London with plenty of space for the makeup team to do their work and camera crew to get busy as well. Most of the day was spent applying the fake skin (well, mussels and tendons actually) and getting it to look right. The filming it's self only took about an hour with the aim being to see how convincing the flesh would look on camera.

Let's just say that it looks convincing enough OFF camera. Just see for your self........

Stay tuned in to this film over on the Facebook page because it is going to look amazing.

If you like the amazing makeup work then check out the amazing people who made it happen bellow 

There will be a Kickstarter campaign launching very soon so you can go and show your support for new film talent. 

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Pic of the Week 17(18).5.2013

Ok ok, I'm ten hours late and I'm going to blame the family a little.

I'm sure everyone is aware of all the bugs going around at the moment and for those of you out there with kids, you will know that your family becomes a magnet for all things ill. I'v had a stomach bug over the weekend that ended up in having to cancel a shoot and now my son has just gone down with it. Add the fact that being two and a half he has never thrown up before (unless you count milk as a baby) and you can imagine how upset he has been. So family life and illness has taken over this week which is why we have a family themed pic of the week.


The latest addition to our little family is the beautiful silver tabby called Jiji. He is 8/9 weeks old and settling right in. As you can see, he has already found our wifi and is currently clogging the bandwidth. And if you're wondering about the name then you haven't and clearly need to check out "Kiki's delivery service"


Saturday, 11 May 2013

Pic of the Week 10.5.2013

I missed last weeks post and I have almost (technically I have) missed this weeks now so let me whack this one up for you quickly.

The focus puller Ben Mitchell wields the camera around the pub on an early bank holiday monday morning. The film being shot was "Lashes", and LFS graduation film directed by Christine Sherwood.

I'll have to sort you all out with a nice juicy post soon to make it up to you all.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Exhibiting at The Urban Cycle Show

If you happen to find your self in london this bank holiday weekend, get your self down to the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane for Spin London - The Urban Cycle show. Along with lots of amazing exhibitors there is also an exhibition of memorabilia and photography including 8 prints by yours truly.
So head on down and whilst you're at it take some pictures for me as I am shooting all week and will end up missing it :(

Keep an eye out for Oak Cycles and Control Courier Collective as well. Good people with very foot things to offer. for more info.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The future is..........empty

So, this Easter we went to the in-laws for a little family holiday. They live out in the French countryside very near Poitiers so it's always a nice little getaway from the hustle and bustle of London. I can't say it was boiling hot but it certainly wasn't snowing and the kids had more fun than they have ever had on previous trips.
Whilst there me and my wife decide to cash in our Christmas gift from her parents which was two tickets to the Futurascope and babysitting all day for the kids (they aren't quite old enough for the Futurascope experience yet). If you don't know about Futurascope, it is a theme park but not the normal roller coaster sort. It's more cinema rides (you know, the simulator ones with chairs that move) and huge IMAX films and about the panet and all sorts of things like that. Plus they have an amazing light show every evening that has to be seen to be believed. And to top it all off, the place looks like the model set of Logan's Run, you know the intro sequence when the train is whizzing across the city (yes, I am a sci-fi geek in case you do not yet know).

The French kids were all still at school on the day we went so the park was empty and slightly surreal looking. I managed to capture a few frames that translate the weird world that is the empty theme park. Places that are designed to handle a huge flow of human traffic suddenly look very strange when the people are no longer there.


Friday, 26 April 2013

Pic of the Week 26.04.13

It's busy time in our house at the moment and anyone with kids will understand where I'm coming from. Kids birthday party time..........

My daughter has just turned 4 and we are busy running around trying to organise the party. I'm sure you have all noticed that the weather has been beautiful? Woooooo hoooooooo!!! That mean's we can have the party over in the park right..?..

Nope! It's looking like rain for the party day so the stress levels are up and backup plans are being put into effect. The thought of 13+ kids running around our small flat is enough to turn me into a nervous wreck so fingers crossed. 

Anyway, a big big big big big happy birthday to my little girl on her fourth birthday.


Friday, 19 April 2013

Pic of the Week 19.4.13

And they say life in the movies is all glamourous. 
This was on a location shoot for "Team Judas", an LFS graduation film written and directed by Andrew Lowry with Daniel Zafer as DOP. The location being a rooftop in Dalston a few weeks back when we were still in the middle of that snowy weather. At night. IT WAS FREEZING.

This was dinner time in the stairwell..................

As always, click to enlarge the photo.

Watch out for these guys as they are an amazing bunch of students and destined for greatness I am sure.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Pic of the Week 12.4.13

With all due respect, this week's 'Pic of the Week' is brought to you by............. 


Friday, 5 April 2013

Pick of the Week 4.5.13

Ok so you should know by now that I  had to skip last weeks post. I was away with my family with the full intention of posting a shot for you all but the laptop decided it didn't enjoy it's Ryan Air flight and refused to play fair.
My excuse and I am sticking to it.

So hear super on time is this Friday's pic. As always, click on the image to view it bigger.
Aslo you can view most of these images over on my Flickr

And So We Burn (3)

Friday, 22 March 2013

Pic of the Week 22.03.13

Ok, only a half cop out for this week's 'Pic of the Week'. It's late, I have a meeting in the morning and then 3 night shoots in a row. And to top it all off I am coming down with a cold (and I don't know where the hell it has come from, both the kids are well?!?!?!). But I refuse to start missing post's now as that's how it starts.
So get out you violins for me and have a look at this weeks instalment.

Really taken a shine to this portrait that actually started as a stand in light test during a photo shoot last week. The model is (once again) my wife and occasional assistant who seems to be popping up more quiet often these days.
It's a  nice simple portrait captured as I borrowed her for standing in but I just love the colours and the fact that it really captures her character, peeping out from behind her Gameboy. The purple and yellow really help it to 'pop' and draw you in to the eyes.

Right, i'm going to get some sleep and pray from an overnight cure.............

Friday, 15 March 2013

Pic of the Week 15.3.13

Not one from the archives today, something fresh off the boat instead.

As (I very much hope) you all know, the new website is up and running and if you have also been following my Twitter account you will have seen me quietly weeping about having to write an 'about' page.
Now, I'm not the greatest writer out there by far but when I really sit down and go for it, I can eventually end up with something I'm half proud of. Add to the mix a few very helpful friends and family and, well folks, it's almost finished.

Right let's get to the point of the post. An about page (and a website in general) needs a self portrait. A photographers webpage needs a GOOD self portrait. I mean, your a photographer, you take photo's and ask to be paid for it, you should at least be able to take one of your self right. I must say I do get a bit "really?" when I see a bad self portrait/mug, sorry, head shot being used by a photographer. A good simple headshot, fine, but a bad one? Maybe there is a reason behind it, and if they want to explain their theory about it then I am all ears, but for me thats a big no no. So this week has been spent plotting, planning testing and shooting my self portrait.
I don't want to say too much as I think I may do an extended blog post on this very soon. At least I will if I get enough comments, requests, likes, shares or a big bag of money will do actually.
So get clicking! And don't forget the Google +1 button folks.

Here is the image that is actually live on the 'Contact' page now. I have a hand full of versions that I like so maybe I will up them all in the next post for you to pick your favourite. There is also a simple portrait shot that will be going on the 'About' page once the text is finished but for now I'm going to go with the main prize.

Oh, and I better mention my lovely assistant Delphina, for helping out with the shooting again. :) Thank you x
Go and check out her instagram if your on there @phinaface. Ah what the hell, check me out while your at it @12clicksaway.

Aaaaaaaaanyway......... enjoy.

Friday, 8 March 2013

International Woman's Day

Well thats what day it is today, along with everyone's favourite day, Friday.

And so here is a little post for the woman in my life. My wife, friend and mother to our two children.

And also a very handy and beautiful stand in/model/assistant/make up artist in the making.
These are some quick pic's from a few test shoots I was doing that Delphina very helpfully agreed to stand in for. I'm sure like most women, she will turn around and tell me that I have posted the wrong ones and she doesn't like them, but I do, so there. And if your learning anything from this blog, it should be that I like to post photo's that I like the look of. Hey, it's my blog.

So here they are, and if you need a model or fancy helping her out with some make up artist advice or even a bit of assisting just get in touch with us :)

We may fight and argue like most people, but at the end of the day........ I love you x

Happy International Woman's Day.

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Pic of the Week 8.3.13

This weeks pic is one for the street photographers out there. 

I saw this on Bishopsgate in London a while back and thought it was a nice contrast in public announcements.

Just a short post this week as I pretty busy planning a few shoots. I do however have another post coming up very soon so stay tuned.

And don't forget to go and check out the new website. I'm adding new galleries and pages as I go along.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Pic of the Week 1.3.13

Its that time again.

I should get a little theme tune, keep you all entertained when you come back each week.

This was shot in Tunbridge Wells, on a family day out actually. It sits nicely within my (what seems to be a growing series) "And so we burn" collection. The first two from the collection are part of the Step Into My Office exhibition and can be seen here.
I took the title, or the inspiration for it from one of my childhood books that I now read to my own children. Its called (the book that is) "Dinosaurs and all that rubbish" and was written by Michael Forman.

Check it out when you get the chance.

As always, click the image to enlarge it.

And if you like this or any other post, please do bookmark or subscribe and share it with the relevant tabs.
And even better, if you are signed up with Google, hit the +1 button below and help the site to get seen by others.
Until next week...................

Friday, 22 February 2013

Pic of the Week 22.2.13

Holy wowsers!!! Here is another "Pic of the Week" post. On time!
Oooooo la la!

Another one from my archives.

This was shot whilst on holiday at the in-laws over in France last year.

I suspect the white washing is to diffuse the strong sunlight? Anyone?

Friday, 15 February 2013

Pic of the Week 15.2.13

Well I tried this once before, back when I first started the blog.
I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with the blog back then, or what I was going to be posting (and to be honest I still don't, but it seems to be working and you all seem to enjoy it. I hope?) so I thought that a "pic of the week" was a good way to get the ball rolling.
Well, then I ended up getting bogged down in work, and also struggling to find shots that I wanted to post without feeling that I was showing you all something half baked. Or to the other extreme of having a lovely shot to post but at the same time wanting to keep it unpublished as it was part of an ongoing project.
If I learnt anything from a decade of music writing, producing and performing, it was that if you don't let someone hear it sooner rather than later and hang on to it for too long with the aim of creating a master plan project, you will reach a point when you won't want them to hear it at all. And then sadly, some of your greatest works may go unloved and unappreciated.

So let's not do that with the photography then.

I'm still learning, and always will be. My tastes and styles may change along the way and that, for me, is what it is all about. But if that is to happen then I need to show my current work whilst it is still current to me. So I am re-starting the Pic of the Week post's.

These are not necessarily (although they may well be, who knows) supposed to be earth shattering master piece, Ansel Adams quality shots. But rather, work that I created for me  and that I, and hopefully some of you, enjoy.
A bit like the "album tracks" versus the "hit single"
You wouldn't find the masses dancing to an album track in the clubs. But then you wouldn't sit on a quiet night with a cold beer or smoke, deeply listening to a bunch of club hits.

It was whist digging through my hard drive, looking for images to add to the web site (It's HERE by the way if you have not already seen it) that I kept stumbling across photographs that I personally really love for one reason or another but had completely forgotten about. An easy thing to do in this day and age of digital vaults, full of lost information. So it is these images that I will be starting with, instead of hanging on to them in the hope of visualising the "project" that they were supposed to grow into or trying to find enough of a connection to bunch them together in a show.

And here I start with "The Olympian"

This was shot at Brands Hatch during the 2012 Paralympic cycle road racing.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Red lights

Right then, time for another post folks.

This week...... THE DARKROOM.

I just spent my weekend in the Double Negative Darkrooms learning how to wet print black and white photo's.

I have been waiting to learn how to print for a very long time now. Now film processing I can do, as my long suffering kitchen will gladly tell you but after that I have always had to head for the scanner.
You can get some very nice results from the scanner. Even more so if you happen to have a super expensive professional lab scanner. But you just don't get the depth and shadows that you do from real wet printing.


Saturday was spent learning how to process the film (yes I already knew how to do this but it was nice to do it in a dark room instead of a changing bag :) and then on to test strips and contact sheet printing.
From there it was onto the main printing and learning about filter grades and focusing the print. Then home for a little sleep and back on Sunday for a full day of printing, dodging and burning and anything else we fancied trying.

It was a great experience and if you have ever wanted to print your own photo's I highly recommend you do it. Seeing your image as it starts to appear in the developer is an amazing feeling. Then taking it back to the dark room and figuring out how you are going to tweak the print with extra exposure time, dodging parts and burning others. 10 seconds here, 3 there while dodging that little bit there and then wait for the results in the developer tray. Fun stuff.
It really dose make you think about the whole process allot more. And it is 100 times more satisfying when you end up with a print you are happy with than if you had done it in Photoshop.

Here are a few scans from the weekend and yes, that is another hawk photo.
(the scanner has darkened them a bit too much but hey)

This was on a roll of 120 that I shot in my Fuji 645 but sadly there had been a major light leak somewhere so the top half of the print is a bit washed out.

I really liked my son's pose in this shot and it was proving super easy to print. Too easy! I did another print after this one with the sky burned in but it revealed a water mark on the neg and I had to send it back to the wash. So this one will have to wait for another day.
This is my favourite print of the weekend, a crop from a 645 neg.
I shot this on Walthamstow marsh one sunny summers day with my kids (same day as the photo above actually). The hawk sat there for so long while I took the shots that I could not believe it. Until I realised that we had been standing over a dead mouse aka HIS LUNCH! and he was not looking to part with it.