A short trip to the Brecon Beacons in Wales allowed me to experience every kind on weather in only two days; I enjoyed stunning scenery and climbed a hill on a steam train. The area is lush, with abundant waterfalls and resevoirs, forests and moors. It reminds me of Scotland in many ways. The Brecon Mountain Railway is run by loving enthusiasts who maintain the trains and museum with passion. The local towns are much diminished with the loss of jobs in the area but the warmth and welcome of the Welsh people remain as strong as ever.
After my photography trips and projects I print photobooks to have something more tangible than hundreds of digital images on my hard drive. It’s a pleasure to remind myself of the experiences and to see how my skills have developed over the years. I use Albelli to print the books, not a top end product but affordable and perfect for my purposes. It’s a way to share my work with friends and family as well, although the screen version of the book isn’t as quite as good as the printed version.
At the recent RPS Travel Group Spring Weekend I gave a short talk about my non-profit work and it was helpful to share books of the projects with the travel group members as my slide show was necessarily short.
Today I realised I had a prepaid photobook with an imminent expiry date and in the absence of a new project to print I went back to 2011. I hadn’t created a book of my photo adventures with Steve McDonald in Tuscany when I was the “gofer” helping him get around the region to photograph for a new Insight Guides Travel book. Here is the link to the book – you may want to try Albelli yourself!
The idea of a week relaxing in North Myrtle Beach while my partner played golf was worrying – what would I do – especially as the weather was unseasonably cool and wet?! I knew I needed more practice at approaching people in the street to ask if I might create a portrait of them, so as we wandered around Barefoot Landing I approached some visitors and vendors to do just that. It was a lot of fun and I had some really interesting conversations.
Often they were curious to know why I wanted to photograph them and everyone has a story to tell about themselves. I managed to persuade some who weren’t particularly willing and that’s very satisfying. But to be honest, I shirked the task! It takes more time and greater intimacy to find the magic, to bring out the best in a person and make them look as good in the image as they are on the inside. I also should have been more confident to move my subjects to avoid reflections and glare … more practice coming up!
I’ve had a break from photography which is making me all the more excited about my upcoming opportunities. I’m heading to South Carolina for a holiday break but have decided a photo project is required to keep me going. Lying in the sun and shopping doesn’t do it for me anymore (although a little shopping won’t go amiss!) so I’m going to find a way to photograph holidaymakers in Myrtle Beach. Being Scottish is a great icebreaker as it puts people at ease … “Ah just lurve your accent” is a common response and I’m hoping I’ll have enthusiastic subjects!
My first visit to an American style resort many years ago was an eye-opener when I discovered “Resort Wear” was recomemend (by my colleagues), a whole new concept to me. I stayed true to myself and really stuck in my (scruffy) shorts and teeshirts … So this has got to be my theme: “A Retort to Resort”, “Loving Leisurewear” or maybe “Let’s Dig ‘em Out Again” (as I do).
But what’s really thrilling me is SOUTH AMERICA is coming up!!!!!! A month of travelling with my camera in June and July. Planning the trip is making my mouth water as I firm up details that include time in Cuba and Colombia; visiting Havana and Trinidad with travel photographer Ralph Valesco, independent travelling in Colombia and then (fingers crossed) another Momenta Non-Proft Workshop in Medellin. I’ll try to blog in Spanish at some point – not quite yet though!
Meantime I’m continuing to process neglected images from previous trips. Good to keep my hand in …
Shell Village, Laos
No, not the 70’s soul/funk band (!) but the four elements that are said to make up our world. I’ve been revisiting my travel photography recently, to immerse myself again in the trips I’ve taken and to rethink what I’ve captured and why. I head to South America later this year and hope to implement more of what I’ve learned on my recent trips with amazing photographers like Ewen Bell, Jamie Rose and Steve Davey.
Yesterday, a perfectly timed “Thomas Cook Explore the Elements Photoblogger Competition” dropped into my inbox; a vehicle to explore what I’ve already seen but looking for new stories in the images. Perfect!
Or so I thought … the reality of choosing from a variety of images, thinking carefully of the remit (which requires the images to creatively illustrate the themes) and selecting my favourites is extremely difficult. My main discoveries were that almost every image captured more than one of the elements, that the four are inextricably linked and deciding which represents the element most powerfully is very difficult. Not only that, I couldn’t decide whether to be literal (my default approach unfortunately) or more oblique in my choices … representing the fluidity of water can be done is more ways than showing a fast flowing river.
My dilemma however was a pleasure. I’m looking more deeply into my images, sensing new and alternative messages in them and it is extremely rewarding. Irrespective of the competition I feel enriched. (That’s not to say that a prize wouldn’t be lovely …)
Here are the four I’ve chosen to represent each element, see what you think.
The competition ends on 16th March so my fellow photobloggers have time to enter, why not have a go:
This weekend I joined a “Train to Print” workshop at Didcot Railway Centre run by Permajet Print Academy partnering with Timeline Events. Steam engines, “forties re-enactors” and rail and photo enthusiasts made for an interesting couple of days. The guys and gals who enjoy bringing us the past were mainly passionate volunteers who created an authentic experience … despite the many orange hi-vis jackets around! A working steam line can be extremely dangerous and our safety briefing was to the point yet we had a lot of freedom to roam. Even the oily workshops and cracked paint on old engines were photogenic.
A quiet few weeks photography-wise has led me into the backlog of images in my Lightroom Catalog. Images I’ve either previously processed and want to change or the many neglected images I didn’t have time to deal with. There are rather a lot of those, mainly because I am very bad at editing my images. (I’m trying to improve, really!)
I revisited my Little Chair Project, developed on my Cape Town trip with Momenta Workshops and created a selection of the images in B&W. The gist of the work involved having staff and local children pose for me with a small chair … a fun concept but for me it came to embody the mission of James House. It’s a nonprofit organisation providing a variety of community services to nearby Imizamo Yutha and Hangberg where poverty and unemployment can result in the breakdown of families and problems with drink, drugs and gang violence.
I am delighted that many of the images I offered to James House appear on their website and in the 2013 annual report.
I was privileged to photograph a beautiful wedding on 31st December 2014, a wonderful way to end the year. It was held at Coworth Park in Ascot, a stunning venue for a winter wedding. The event was small and private so I’m sharing only a few of the images of one of the happiest weddings I’ve attended. Everyone smiled all day; Julie, Andrew and their guests were delightful to work with and the weather was lovely. I was lucky enough to be at the New Year Party in the evening … still with camera in hand (of course!!) as a guest with my partner, both of us able to enjoy ourselves till well after the “bells”. I’m not a wedding blogger (as I think you can tell!) but I do enjoy sharing my images, especially when making them has been so much fun.
Visiting Umbria, a region that’s said to be “Tuscany’s little brother”, was a visually and gastronomically delightful experience. Fragrant truffles, delicious handmade cheeses and fabulous wines were some of the treats we enjoyed. Orvieto and Perugia were our bases and from there we travelled to hilltop villages like Terni, Todi and Gobbio, drove east to the plains of Castelluccio and enjoyed the views over lake Trasimeno.