Category Archives: Personal

Outwood Live and the ‘US’ band

Outwood Live is a new venture promoting live music with great wine and locally produced beer. Their first event showcased “US” in the beautiful Lloyd Hall, Outwood in Surrey and it sold out quickly. Fantastic music, a warm atmosphere and an eager audience made it a great success, boding well for future gigs.

The band comprises Herbie Flowers, one of Britain’s best known and loved session musicians, Chris Spedding, Malcolm Mortimore and Derek Austin. The band bios below show a phenomenal breadth of experience and talent. The show was wonderful and extremely well received; my own pleasure was heightened by being the photographer for Outwood Live.

Outwood_Live_US_Mar_2016_0172 (2)

After Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, Herbie Flowers is probably the UK’s best known session bass player. He was co-founder of Blue Mink, a member of David Bowie’s band for the Diamond Dogs album, joined T Rex, and famously played as session bassist for Elton John (Tumbleweed Connection) David Bowie (Space Oddity) Lou Reed (Walk on the Wild Side and Transformer album) Harry Neilson and Cat Stevens. Outwood_Live_US_Mar_2016_0169More recently, he has performed with Chris Spedding in Jeff Wayne’s tour of The War of the Worlds. He is a very entertaining raconteur of wonderful stories from the music industry.Outwood_Live_US_Mar_2016_0155

The four piece band features guitar hero Chris Spedding. Apart from his hit single Motorbikin in 1975, Chris has been a mainstay of the British session scene since the late 60s. He has played with just about everyone from Dusty Springfield, Jack Bruce, Elton John, Tom Waits, Joan Armatrading, Brian Eno and Roxy Music to Paul McCartney and Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. He famously once turned down the possibility of replacing Mick Taylor as a member of the Rolling Stones. As a producer, he produced the Sex Pistols’ first demo. Outwood_Live_US_Mar_2016_0125

Drummer Malcolm Mortimore was a member of 70s progressive rock band Gentle Giant and Ian Dury and The Kilburns. He continues to tour as a member of The Three Friends, a band starring former members of Gentle Giant www.threefriends.info. He has played with many other famous names including Mick Jagger, Chris Jagger, Arthur Brown, Tom Jones, Big Jim Sullivan, Tina Turner and guitarist Charlie Byrd.

Derek Austin is a prolific soundtrack composer for film and TV, an orchestrator and session keyboard player. He has worked as arranger and keyboard player for artists ranging from Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee to Status Quo, Caravan, Peter Green and David Bowie. His film work includes The Empire Strikes Back and TV work includes Blind Date. Outwood_Live_US_Mar_2016_0134

Bio source: Plymouth University’s HOT-15 show    Outwood Live website

 

Fund Raising Fotos – Fizz Friday and a Swoovathon

I really enjoy offering my photography services for charity events to assist with fund raising. Recently I photographed a fund raiser hosted by Esther Rose Featherstone of Swoove Fitness. The Swoovathon at the Clair Hall in Haywards Heath was in aid of Community Action Nepal, a charity whose aim is to help the mountain people of Nepal.

Esther and her instructors have raised over £10,000 for charity since Swoove launched in September 2015. The classes combine great music with funky dance moves and attract men, women and children to their fund raising sessions. Swoove expertise and being very fit are definitely optional when it comes to community fund raising – bring only your enthusiasm, money and a sense of humour!

Fund raising - Swoovathon for CANFund raising - Swoovathon for CANFund raising - Swoovathon for CANFund raising - Swoovathon for CAN

I was also fortunate to be invited to set up a Fizz Friday Foto Booth at Cornerstone’s “Fizz Friday” event at Aberdeen’s prestigious Trinity Hall. I’m always happy to assist with fund raising for this very worthwhile charity, whose CEO Edel Harris has recently been recognised as Aberdeen and Grampian Director of the Year.

The lovely ladies who attended raised a few (!) glasses of Prosecco, bought raffle tickets, browsed gift stalls and enjoyed a fashion show all the while psyching themselves up to grab some props and strike a pose! CEO Edel joined in the foto fun with many of her colleagues and the evening raised £7,500 for the charity. Cornerstone provides care and support services for adults, children and young people with disabilities and other support needs. Visit their Facebook Page for more information and to see my images from the Foto Booth and photographic event coverage by Brian Doyle.

Fund raising - CornerstoneFund raising - Cornerstone Fund raising - Cornerstone Fund raising - Cornerstone

Exploring my creativity …

I have been neglecting my creative side. Recently though I’ve been engaging with art and artists: during my father’s exhibition, at Lewes Art Wave and the Brighton Art Fair and I’m feeling an urge to do something beyond capturing images with my camera. Not that I don’t love it … but sometimes I feel I’ve been trying too hard to improve technically; working too hard from my brain instead of my heart and losing some of my spark. I have a backlog of images made in Cuba and Galapagos and have decided I’m going to experiment more with my post processing. Some lend themselves to being a pure representation of what I experienced – traditional travel photography, which I enjoy immensely – yet others I think can be explored more deeply. It occurs to me that I can use the blog as a form of digital sketchbook and this is a trial run …

I shot a series of images in Trinidad and Havana as I was fascinated by the colourful painted walls and doorways that were in often in great disrepair, particularly in Havana. I captured people as they walked past, sometimes early in the morning as I stood casually in one place. People do have a sixth sense though and many people noticed me which I quite like.

I wanted to add movement in post production so used layers, masks and varying transparency to create a sense of time passing. Not an original idea by any means but something to start me off! The development of one of the images is below, from the original shot to the (perhaps?) finished image.

Trinidada - Movement-1 Trinidada - Movement-2 Trinidada - Movement-3 Trinidada - Movement-4 Trinidada - Movement-5

Dementia UK: Art for Good works!

The Alex Wilson Memorial Exhibition on 19th September raised over £3,500 for Dementia UK. We sold more than thirty of Alex’s paintings ensuring his art lives on and will continue to be enjoyed – art for good! Our father would have been so happy to hear the favourable comments his work received; such a pity he’s no longer here to appreciate it. We still have some of the larger pieces available and plan another exhibition to continue raising funds for Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurses.

Donations: www.justgiving.com/Alex-Wilson-Artist

Alex’s gallery: www.lauramorganphotogallery.co.uk/Alex-wilson/

Photography by Steve McDonald

Art for good …

Catalog for exhibitionOur father, Alex Wilson, died earlier this year in a care home In Hailsham. He had Dementia with Lewy Bodies, a distressing form of the disease affecting mobility and muscle function as well as causing cognitive impairment and hallucinations. He was an artist but even in the early stages of his illness became unable to paint or draw. He had been prolific, creating a diverse portfolio of work and exhibiting in Sussex over the years. He leaves a large body of abstract paintings and to honour his talent and creativity we are exhibiting around fifty pieces of work and all proceeds from sales of his work, donations and a raffle will go to Dementia UK via our JustGiving page.

The exhibition is being hosted by Lindfield Arts Festival on 19th September 2015. LAF is a community arts festival celebrating music, art, crafts, drama, poetry and comedy. It’s an ideal family weekend with events for everyone. The exhibition of Alex’s work is at The Stables, All Saints Church, 122 High Street, Lindfield from 10am to 4pm.

Dementia UK provide Admiral Nurses with the vision of  ensuring “People living with and affected by dementia will receive compassionate expert care and support that is right for them, to live positive and fulfilling lives”.  Both Alex and his immediate family would have benefitted hugely by having this type of support and we hope to raise funds to help others in the same situation.

You can visit his online gallery to browse or even purchase his work or get more details on our event Facebook page if you’d like to come to the exhibition.

Artist’s Statement:

I am often asked about the sources of my ideas and there isn’t a simple answer. My work is primarily spontaneous and intuitive and I paint from the heart – letting the colours and texture do the talking. Of course I have been influenced (and who hasn’t!) by many of the great artists, and this rich store of imagery and ideas feeds my subconscious and inevitably contributes to my output. I use a variety of brushes and sculpture tools; some work features impasto whereas in others paint is applied very thinly to the surface. I love to experiment and this has resulted in work in many media, including pen and ink, watercolour, acrylic and oil.

The title of a piece frequently presents itself at a late stage or even after the work is complete. Abstract pieces tend to develop without any preconception on my part and much of my enjoyment comes from the different interpretations placed upon my paintings; people see a variety of shapes and designs that may be inconsistent with the “theme” or title. The finished painting is therefore only half the equation and it becomes whole only after the concept or idea communicates with the viewer.

Alex Wilson, 14th July 2005AGW - Poster - Final - smlSome examples of Alex’s work:

Acrylic On Canvas Pine Frame 61 x 61 cm 71 x 71 (framed) Memorial price £185 (List price £400)

Acrylic On Canvas
Pine Frame
61 x 61 cm
71 x 71 (framed)
Memorial price £185
(List price £400)

Acrylic On Board Painted Frame 76 x 61 cm 86 x 71 (framed) Memorial price £200 (under offer) (List price £400)

Acrylic On Board
Painted Frame
76 x 61 cm
86 x 71 (framed)
Memorial price £200 (under offer)
(List price £400)

Mixed Media On Board Pine Frame 61 x 92 cm 76 x 107 (framed) Memorial price £250 (List price £600)

Mixed Media On Board
Pine Frame
61 x 92 cm
76 x 107 (framed)
Memorial price £250
(List price £600)

We all went on a summer holiday …..

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!

Lisa on the information booth at Barefoot Landing

Lisa on the information booth at Barefoot Landing

Leah, multilingual, well travelled lady from Miami.

Leah, multilingual, well travelled lady from Miami.

Jean, who hates having her photo taken!

Jean, who hates having her photo taken!

Aram, selling pearl necklaces. Born in Armenia

Aram, selling pearl necklaces. Born in Armenia

Barry, golfer from Canada

Barry, golfer from Canada

Kevin, golfer from Canada

Kevin, golfer from Canada

Amber serving us a decent coffee!

Amber serving us a decent coffee!

Kari & Jesse of a wonderful shop called Bud 'n Belle Bath & Body Care. They make their own sugar scrubs and they are fantastic!

Kari & Jesse of a wonderful shop called Bud ‘n Belle Bath & Body Care. They make their own sugar scrubs and they are fantastic!

A lovely chap who wanted to take our picture with my camera ... I prefer to be on the other side of the lens!

A lovely chap who wanted to take our picture with my camera … I prefer to be on the other side of the lens!

Ashely with her one-year old bulldog called Louis and admirer Tess.

Ashely with her one-year old bulldog called Louis and admirer Tess.

Robert Arthur Blank, on his 40th Anniversary!

Robert Arthur Blank, on his 40th Anniversary!

Shannon & Joe, shopping at Bud 'n Belle

Shannon & Joe, shopping at Bud ‘n Belle

South Carolinas, Cuba and Coloumbia …

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 …

Ubud, Bali, May 2014

Market Wall, Bali

Project South Africa 2013

Monkey Temple, Kathmandu

 

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

Shell Village, Laos

Shell Village, Laos

Passengers, Tatipani, Nepal

Passengers, Tatipani, Nepal

Pashupati Funeral Pyre, Kathmandu

Pashupati Funeral Pyre, Kathmandu

Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng, Laos

Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

Earth, Water, Fire and Air …

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.

                 fire-icon       earth-icon       water-icon       air-icon

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.

Nepal - October-November 2013.

Earth: Represents the hard, solid objects of the earth. Associated with stubbornness, collectiveness , physicality and gravity. (Or could it be Air, the freedom of movement and compassion of the prayer flags?) Muktinath, Nepal

Water: Represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the world. Associated with emotion, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism. Children reach their six-month birthday and are initiated into the holy waters at Tirta Empul, Bali.

Water: Represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the world. Associated with emotion, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism. When children reach their six-month birthday, they are initiated into the holy waters at the Buddhist Tirta Empul, Bali.

Fire: Represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world. Associated with security, motivation, desire, intention, and an outgoing spirit. Funeral Pyre at Pashupatinath Temple, Khatmandu, Nepal.

Fire: Represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world. Associated with security, motivation, desire, intention, and an outgoing spirit. Funeral Pyre at Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Air: Represents things that grow, expand, and enjoy freedom of movement. Associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness, benevolence, compassion, and wisdom. (The release of tens of thousands of lanterns could just as easily represent, Earth and Air. It is an astonishing sight as wishes are tranported into the sky by the flames of the lanterns.) Yi Peng, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Air: Represents things that grow, expand, and enjoy freedom of movement. Associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness, benevolence, compassion, and wisdom. (The release of tens of thousands of lanterns could just as easily represent, Earth and Fire. It is an astonishing sight as wishes are transported into the sky by the flames of the lanterns.) Yi Peng Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The competition ends on 16th March so my fellow photobloggers have time to enter, why not have a go:

Natalie: nataliebanton.wordpress.com

Stephen: stephencotterell.com

Cat: cateasterbrook.com

Noor: touchofinsanity.wordpress.com

Steve: stevemcdonaldphotography.wordpress.com

The Little Chair is back!

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.

litle chair 3 Little Chair 2 Little Chair 1 little chair 4 little chair 5

Charity begins at home!

Although I’ve experienced some really exciting opportunities to photograph for non-profit organisations overseas, I also help out here in the UK (which some of my friends have noted, I should do more of as charity begins at home!)  Recent work has been in support of friends who are fundraising or have charities dear to their hearts. So I’m sharing a selection from some of these events.

Climb Kili for Cornerstone involves four close friends who are bravely (madly!?) climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for Cornerstone. It’s a charity that supports vulnerable children and adults throughout Scotland – broadening their opportunities and helping them live rewarding and meaningful lives. Fundraising for the trip has included tea parties, cocktails and gourmet dining, silent auctions, supper dances, pop-up shops and a myriad of other fun events. Ann and Antonia Chapman and Lisa and Steve Duthie have all committed to raise more than the minimum required to fund their trips and it’s hard work! Plus the training and preparation – phew, I really admire them. Helping with the fundraising is my contribution; I’m far too worried about freezing my toes off on a mountaintop to join in … but I wish them all the best of luck!

Ladies Tea Party at the Fourmile, Kingswells, Aberdeen

Ladies Tea Party at the Fourmile, Kingswells, Aberdeen

"Bag a Mountain" Supper Party at the Aberdeen Douglas (featuring the Scottish Cup!)

“Bag a Mountain” Supper Party at the Aberdeen Douglas (featuring the Scottish Cup!)

Motor Neurone Disease is a devastating diagnosis and the Motor Neurone Disease Association is the only national charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland focused on MND care, research and campaigning. MNDA is a powerful national and local network that provides information and support alongside fighting for improved services. Volunteer Carol Reiley, working with fitness instructor Becky Stevens held an open “FitSteps” class in the Dolphin Leisure Centre in Haywards Heath to raise money for the charity. FitSteps is a dance orientated fitness class created by Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe of “Strictly Come Dancing” fame and Carol was fortunate to lure Ian to Mid-Sussex to co-lead the class. People of all shapes, sizes and ages Rumba’d, Salsa’d and generally had a marvellous time while raising money for this superb organisation.

Ian Waite and Becky Stevens lead the FitStep class.

Ian Waite and Becky Stevens lead the FitStep class.

Ian and Becky showing their slick moves!

Ian and Becky showing their slick moves!

Home-Start is a leading family support charity and Gette Cobban the Scheme Manager in Aberdeen asked if I would provide images the charity could use locally on their publicity material and to launch a new campaign. The photo session was carried out at the George Street charity shop which is so professional, well stocked and dressed that it belies the image that many people have of charity outlets. The Aberdeen branch was a finalist on the Grampian Award for Business Excellence this year and from what I saw, it is well deserved. Representatives from Aberdeen Football Club, volunteers, staff and trustees all played their part in a fun morning (as we dodged the sun and wind!)

The Home-Start shop in George Street, Aberdeen

The Home-Start shop in George Street, Aberdeen

The Home-Start shop in George Street, Aberdeen

The Home-Start shop in George Street, Aberdeen