Saturday, 19 November 2011

Lego and a tears

Spent the day today at Downs Syndrome Scotlands annual conference - tonight settling down to sort out the shots.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Taking the ferret out for a walk

Back in Blackpool last weekend shooting two different options for my multimedia project.  Met this guy walking his ferret.... Really liking getting back into film - HP5 again.

And of course I spent more time at the comedy carpet.  This place is going to be a magnet for the world as its impossible not to laugh when you read some of the stuff thats there.  Despite all the publicity I still don't think Blackpool properly appreciate the real potential for their new £10 million artwork.

The importance of the narrative... @hungryeyemag

I thought I'd never lost sight of the importance of story telling in photography. In all of my stills work I've felt something of a failure when I needed to include a caption or short caption as a way of helping the viewer understand the story behind what they were looking at. As photographers we study photographs because we have an inbuilt interest in them. For me then I want to go beyond that audience. To have someone look at one of my photographs and to 'read' it without the benefit of a pointer is what I aspire to.

Recently I've been working on a 90 second multimedia piece for my MA course at the LCC and have been romanced by just what can be achieved. Simple pieces can be made to look breathtaking very easily with the latest software. And that was where the problem began for me. I felt very proud of myself for gathering great sound (I'm new to sound recording)and what I think are nice images of the carousel on Blackpool's North Pier. I became more focussed on producing something that looked great. Sure there was something of a story there but it had taken up the back seat in my mind.

We are all influenced, all the time and this morning I picked up the second issue of Hungry Eye mag and read an article by Grant Scott about the importance of the narrative in short film making. Credit where credit is due but that article was a very timely reminder for me at a time when I would have said my work was all about story telling. Such is the lure of technology. And I thought that would never happen to me.

I think what Grant also starts to define what is needed to take our work to the next level. When everyone can do what you do because technology closes the learning gap the only way to stand out is to do what others don't and shy away from the video equivalent of a snapshot.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Daily Record Scotland Calum article

Pretty pleased today as the Daily Record in Scotland are running a feature tomorrow on the calendar featuring Calum the wee fella in the calendar cover shot.  I've long being interested in getting the word out and challenging stigma in the broader population and this will go some way towards that as the circulation is an incredible 300,000 plus.  The reaction will be very interesting.

To purchase a calendar click here

Courtesy of the Daily Record

Monday, 24 October 2011

Shock, Guilt, Grief, JOY - Herald Magazine October 2011

Delighted that the Herald Magazine, published in the Herald Newspaper on Saturdays (projected readership of 200,000) printed the article written by journalist Dani Garavelli which included my photographs.  It is the second collaboration we have done.  We've received great feedback and so the article seems to have achieved at least in part what it set out to do in that it is raising awareness and hopefully challenging stigma.  Please click on the lick below to visit my site to read the full article.

                                              Article courtesy of The Herald Magazine

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Blackpool and my thirty year old Olympus OM1n

My dear old Olympus has sat in a cupboard neglected for way too long and its me thats suffered for it.  Two days in Blackpool last week a Zuiko 24mm lens and roll of Ilford HP5. Three photos below.

Check out the 'Comedy Carpet' which has just been opened its astonishing and will become a staple for Street Photography in the future.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Cover shot for DSS calendar

Time to start saving your pennies... the Downs Syndrome Scotland calendar has gone to print and I'll post a link here later in the week. The cover photo is shown below.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Calendar shoots finish in Inverurie

Early start yesterday and a drive up to Inverurie near Aberdeen for the final calendar shoot.  Today is all about now getting a selection of images into dropbox so that the final selection can be made and it will then be sent to the designers then printers.  We are on target for printing mid October.  Driving back from the shoot yesterday I felt sad that it had come to end but I'm excited about how the end product will be received.  As the project progressed I felt more and more able to able to apply some of my personal style to the type of images I took, while making sure I had more conventional photographs in the mix too. Downs Syndrome Scotland seem to have taken to the 'other' images as well.    The photo shown here is more of what I like.  Although John and Sylvia are not powerlifting in this image I like them, like the angle, like the layers, like the grain as it was an extreme low light setting.  Its got me thinking about shooting for me and shooting to a brief and I've decided in future that I will only take on projects where I can define the brief from the outset. I realise thats going to mean that I turn projects down but photography is such an important part of me I can't compromise what I do.

Some fresh air now and then its back to my desk for the final stretch...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

John the powerlifter and paralympian

Spent this morning in Glasgow at the Venice bodybuilding Gym in Glasgow with John, Sylvia and their amazing coach Stephen.  As John pushed huge weights on the leg press I noticed every now again he would turn his head upwards into the light with the effort, perhaps searching for inspiration.  Telling myself to get ready to click the shutter the next time he did it, he looked up 'click' and here it is.  One more stroke and he'd finished his reps and stepped off the machine.  I nearly missed it...

Compassion is sometimes found in strange places...

Glasgow is a tough city and Glaswegians have a reputation for being hard and uncompromising.  I know I was born there. Yesterday as I took photographs as part of the Downs Syndrome Scotland calendar project I couldn't help but look around me and saw this moving scene.  Here one of the football coaches is seen helping one of the wee players and it was by no means a solitary example.  Stigma then is everywhere and I'm thinking that the impact of scenes like this is magnified when we see something which contradicts prejudices which are so established its like they are beyond contention.

Monday, 12 September 2011

DSS Swimming shoot for 2012 calendar

Very interesting day Saturday - reflections played havoc with autofocus and then condensation on the lenses due to it being highly humid. At one point I'd cleaned the fish eye five times only to realise the condensation was at the back of the lens and not the front.

Jake very kindly allowed me to borrow an underwater housing.  It was tricky to use and of course there isn't much light underwater (Thank you Nikon) . An amazing piece of kit though and with a little more practice... I'd hoped for a shallow end but with it being a competition pool it was 2m deep throughout and so I couldn't steady myself on the bottom and had to tread water between shots. I only used it for 15 mins and the shot below is the one that I was most happy with.

I've seen a draft of the calendar and the design looks complete.  Four more shoots and we should be 'good to go'.  Its nice seeing all this coming together and great to be working with Sarah and Heather at DSS who are making all this happen.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Murrayfield shoot again

I can't help but like this image.  This wee fella is such an incredible character.  I'm not sure if this photo will meet the calendar brief but I think it deserves to be featured either as part of a poster campaign or in the promotion by the Scottish Rugby Union.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

DSS calendar shoot at Murrayfield today

What a great session today.  Ten fellas showed up and Scottish Rugby Union provided professional coaches who were total amazing in ensuring participation.  The were happy for me to join in and so I could get in amongst the action.  So much so that one of the players actually licked my camera lens !!  Now I love my camera but there is a limit....

Quick (ish) to the touchline I could wipe the filter clean.

The portrait here was taken after the session when the coaches said they could each take a rugby ball home with them.  Looks like he ain't letting it go. Found myself smiling as I backed up the images tonight and so I'm sure there are shots which will work well in the calendar.

Monday night Inverness and a shoot with a guy who has a black belt in Karate - I'll be on my best behaviour.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Art cooperation

Really excited about a new cooperation that I've initiated which I am hoping will take photojournalism in a whole new direction.  I know its a bold claim but I just don't know anyone else who is trying to do what I want to do.  We are evaluating technical feasibility now before applying for funding.  Arts funding is also a whole new thing for me and so this is all a learning experience.  And so if I can pull this off, and the work is as I expect it to be, this has the chance to create a whole new discipline.

I'm also stoked about the idea of working across boundaries.  I've found photography to be a fairly solitary business and I think it will take creativity and cooperation to move it forward in new ways.  That is exactly what I (we) are hoping to achieve.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Wedding shoot the benefits of arriving early

Did a wedding shoot today today and arrived early to check the running order. Met Gillian and Sarah who conducted the ceremony.  Convinced them to let me photograph them before the wedding party arrived and it had to be the 14mm.  Looking up I realised the windows were casting amazing shapes on the ceiling.

Click on the image for a larger version.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

DSS and colour

I've started work on the calendar for DSS and tonight gave me the first chance, after completing my assignments, to download the images of Andrew McIntyre a medal winning paralympian.  My photoessay was mainly black and white and a number of my fellow students had asked why not colour.  The calendar will be in colour and so after all the discussion seemed kind of appropriate to be working on colour images tonight.

The photo here was taken in Glasgow during one of Andrews regular training sessions where he works through all the disciplines.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

BJP this month

Yesterday was kind of weird.  I picked up the latest issue of BJP and started at the letters page and a comment I made about the Hasselblad takeover on the 1854 blog was in there.  I then turn the page and there is an article which talks about Alex Majoli and the work he has done for Leica in Venice with the M9.  This week I submitted my essay 'Photojournalists at work and play' where I try to look at the differences in work done by photographers in their personal verses assignment work.  Alex Majoli was the focus and inevitably I discussed the impact of funding and made reference to the Leica project.  All very strange.  I don't know what the protocol is but I'm tempted to send the essay to BJP.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Assignments done and time for a little R'n'R

Its been a tough few weeks as my day job has been even more intense than usual.  It demands all my concentration and energy during the weekdays and with the extra time spent evenings and weekends bringing the assignments together there is no gas left in the tank. But for six hours sleep a night I'm going all the time.

I'm photographing a wedding next Saturday as the couple who are getting married have connections with the Walled Garden that I photographed last year.  After that I'll be aiming to put the camera down for week so that I can spend more time with my family.  I'm looking forward also to reflecting on whats been an intense six months.  At the outset I thought my commitment to all things photographic had peaked but I love being part of the course and sharing with colleagues and I feel so stimulated sometimes if feels like I'm going to burst.

I've just initiated a collaboration with an artist and am really hoping what I have planned fits the brief of the course next semester.

One of the other things that keeps me going is trying to predict, of the people I photograph, who will be photogenic and who won't be.  During the final shoot for my assignment last week and between focussing on my subject, Caroline, I grabbed this photo of the Musical Director, Ninian Perry. He certainly looked great but then I think he looks amazing on film (Ahem: sorry Bob I meant to say he looks great pixelated!)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

'We can take him away and you can start a family again'

Another remarkable and moving shoot today this time with Sarah and Brian and the amazing Cameron.

Working overseas when their baby was born the paediatrician offered them the opportunity to walk away and start a family again.  Cameron would have been institutionalised from birth and they would have not seen him again. The horror of such a proposal is still fresh in both their minds and will be with them forever.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Downs Syndrome Scotland calendar

With the first calendar shoot now booked with Andrew Macintyre, gold medallist Paralympian gymnast I'm really looking forward to getting going.  Looks like Murrayfield stadium have agreed to a rugby coaching session inside the international rugby stadium. And we've a great list of potential sports lined up...........

Special thanks to fellow MAPJD student Max who gave a timely boost.  He might not know that!

The photo below, of Arthur, was taken four months ago as part of a commission by Perth and Kinross Council Arts programme.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Brilliant sunshine brings challenges

We had friends visiting this weekend and the sunshine for Scotland was incredible. The portrait here at high noon of David looks very straightforward but with the sun blazing down from behind and the brim of his hat it took a bit of tweaking.  After playing around with wireless flash I resorted to a lastolite trigrip reflector and then quickly flipped over to the white side as the glint of silver just about blinded him.  I'm never a fan of bright sunlight and haven't changed my views really...

The bokeh from the Samyang 85mm f1.4 shows again what a bargain that lens was.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Commission Downs Syndrome Scotland

I've had a great telephone discussion with Downs Syndrome Scotland who have asked me to photograph their 2012 calendar.  I can't share the theme right now but its different from my current personal project but has lots of visual opportunities.  I'm looking forward to getting started.  Get your calendar orders in early :-)

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Indulge me

My daughter Holly graduated today at Edinburgh University in Chemical Engineering.

Well done Holly we are all so proud of you.  Dad

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Feeling nostalgic over the Olympus OM1n

Saw a tweet from James Estrin the other evening and it brought back memories of my cherished OM1n which lives in a cupboard ten feet from where I am writing this now. I'm going to have to get a roll of FP4 and hit the streets with it.  The picture below was taken with that camera and Zuiko 24mm in 1989 (urgh how long ago?) and shortly after this the skinheads got a little hyper and starting to pretend to 'nut' the camera.  The 'session' finished a wee bit later.  I did send them the promised picture which I printed in the darkroom myself.  Crikey James Estrin what have you started?

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Follow up meeting with Caroline

I should be getting used to it now but I'm still surprised as to how warm and open some people can be.  In meeting Caroline and hearing her speak its like tapping into an unknown world. Photographing someone who is so expressive, and just look at the way she is reaching out with her hand here, is a good thing although can present some technical challenges.  This shoot was a short one but I'm looking forward to the opportunity to taking photographs while she performs. For portraits I often like busy and this location was chosen because it had some interesting light going on but most of all for the detail in the background....... can't wait until the next shoot

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Photography gets a reaction - Ashley Gilbertson

Its interesting and quite rare to hear about photographs provoking strong reactions from the public. The curator at one of Diane Arbus' early exhibitions talks about wiping spit from images at the end of each day.

Ashley Gilbertsons exhibition has generated a strong response. From his reaction the work was not presented such that he was encouraging the public to  interact with it in a physical way.  I'm wondering just how far we go to provoke the reaction, response that we all crave.....

I'm also wondering if Gilbertsons work has been enhanced in its meaning through being defaced and shoes being added?  It seems to me the work now has an additional dimension and depth that the photographer had not considered and that it has been enhanced.  Should we then as photographers encourage a physical reaction to our work?

During last years exhibition of photos from my Walled Garden project I took around 60 A4 images of the garden and hung them on bulldog clips on the wall in a group inviting visitors to move the photographs around.  I described it as being representative of the way the garden changed day to day and asked visitors to help me recreate the garden as a backdrop to the portraits of workers shown nearby.  Judging from comments it proved very popular.

Makes me think now, every time, about how we can take a step from emotional, visual engagement to physical to create more impact.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Caroline Bowditch - Scottish Dance Theatre agent for change

Had a first meeting with Caroline yesterday as we set the scene for the next few weeks as she will be the subject of my assignment.  Caroline is a celebrated dancer who had performed for an audience of 700 the night before and who travels the world.  In this shot she is participating in the 'Do Your Thing' weekly dance class.  Here the exercise is about mimicking the movements of your partner.


Over the next few weeks I plan to test out some of the elements of my therapeutic photography approach.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Website now tweaked and up and running

Thanks to great support from my mate Sheila I've now taken big leaps with my website which is much more representative of the type of work I do.  Sheila set it up using Joomla and with a one hour tutorial I've found it very straight forward to get in there and play around with the content.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Overheard in a camera shop today....

.... its amazing technology the camera won't take the picture unless the person smiles !

Friday, 3 June 2011

Interesting composition

Reviewing some of my recent Downs Syndrome work I came across the image below.  It really made me look twice and I thought that made it interesting.  One things for sure I've never composed an image like this before.  One for the memory bank.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Penny and Rose, sisters

It was a very busy Swing 'n' Sing today and I was surprised just how much more complicated it made the shoot.  The hall was jam packed and so moving around was tricky, choice of angles limited. Forced into a corner I think this is a new angle for me.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Pandora wears her wares

Itchy feet this morning - no shoots scheduled and so headed to the Country Market near Pitlochry in Highland Perthshire.

Pandora here spins her own wool and then uses natural dyes to create incredible colours. You can see her wool in the hat she is wearing.  Here she is describing how she recently went to the market in Edinburgh and was photographed by visitors from Beijing.

Thundery overcast skies laid down some nice light.

Great person and who says it isn't the people that make the picture..............

For those interested taken using the bargain of the century as tipped by British Journal of Photography (credit where credit is due).  The Samyang 85mm f1.4 at just £240 for a 1.4............................ the secrets out!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Lesson learned update

Good news - Community Care magazine came back and due to the popularity of the internet slideshow have decided to run the magazine article and want to discuss this and more of my work this week.  If you read the email from Claire I went back to her and asked that she write to the magazine. This is what she wrote which I really appreciate sharing with the group and its this type of response which really encourages me to keep working in this field.

Hello Ruth

As a qualified children's social worker, I am a subscriber to the Community Care magazine but also enjoy the benefits of the publication through the daily emails which I find enormously informative.  The publication clearly has its 'finger on the pulse' and this gives me confidence when reading articles in the knowledge they are not only succinct and focussed on the issues but current and leading the way in the complexity of issues facing the profession as a whole.

If I may, I wished to share with you my humble thoughts on a particular article featured on the Community Care website, that I read recently.  The article in question was entitled, 'Recovering from mental health illnesses in Scotland'.  

I firstly wanted to congratulate Community Care on featuring such a powerful and incredibly discerning collection of photographs and thoughts by Graham Miller.

I felt Graham Miller demonstrated a very rare skill in the way that he was able to reach out to the reader through his photographs but just as crucially, his accompanying personal thoughts for each of the individuals he photographed were very evocative.  I felt this photographer demonstrated so articulately through the power of the photographs, the human spirit in its strongest and weakest moments.  He was able to 'do justice' to those experiencing mental health issues through the respect, compassion and empathy that he showed through this work.

My privileged position of working so intimately with families through my role has, over the years, served to demonstrate to me the truly invasive, impactive and deep rooted complex issues that parents and their children must navigate their way through when mental ill health is present within a family dynamic.  This illness does not always have a tangible presence but again, I feel the skill and articulation of Graham Miller's work has very competently served to cross this boundary and bring to life the reality of mental health issues for the reader to better understand, from the perspective of the individual; truly illuminating work.

I wonder whether as readers, we have had the opportunity to view Graham Miller's project in its entirety or whether elements of the project were not included due to your editing limitations?  Should this be the case, I feel that it would be of enormous benefit for your readers if they were able to enjoy further work by this photographer, or indeed, this particular project in its entirety, should this be at all possible.

I would applaud Community Care for providing further cover space for a photographer who clearly has so much to offer my profession by informing in the most unique style, the intimate relationship individuals experience with their mental health.

Thank you for finding the time to read this email.

With kind regards.

Independent Social Worker

Friday, 6 May 2011

Lessons learned - keeping control

Sorry for the rambling blogpost but its therapeutic to me to write this down and perhaps a story worth telling.

Last night I went from a feeling of excitement and anticipation to being sick, gutted and fed up.  A few weeks back Community Care magazine contacted me about showing some of the images from the Walled Garden project on their website and in their magazine which is circulated to community health professionals (30,000 per week).  You can imagine my excitement and are probably already anticipating at least part of what I'm going to say. The images were a mixture of portrait and landscape and over the course of a few days I got messages from the magazine saying that it would be necessary to crop some of the images. My excuse was that I was very busy, as they at least consulted me, but in reality I was so excited by the exposure I went with it and didn't ask to review what they were planning.  As I saw the images after they were published yesterday my heart sank as the cropping had been brutal in some cases and whole spirit of the original photographs lost.

Today I went back to the Walled Garden to run the monthly photography class and told the story to Debbie  who manages the project.  Her reaction was typical in that she said 'Don't worry the people who see the photographs haven't seen them before and so they won't know they've been cropped, they will still have the same effect.  Just at that point my blackberry pinged and I received the email below.

Hello Graham

I felt compelled to email you today.  A link to your work within the Walled Garden appeared on the Community Care web article I was reading earlier. 

I stopped and spent time looking through each of the photographs of the individuals involved in your project.  I was moved to tears.  The photographs but also your discerning and compassionate words beneath each photograph, found a deep connection with me.  My father passed away three years ago having spent a life time enduring mental health problems.  Sadly, and with the deepest regret, it is only now that I am beginning to understand the torment he experienced.  He was an alcoholic but had not drunk for twenty years when he passed away but continued to describe himself as an alcoholic.  I have the deepest respect and love for him. 

I just wanted to thank you for such powerful and meaningful work.  The compassion and empathy you show for your fellow humans shines through your work in the most illuminating way. 

With kind regards. 


This email sums up exactly what I am trying to achieve through my work.

I'm including the link here should anyone want to see the work and most importantly copies of the two images affected for comparison purposes.

I've certainly learnt a valuable lesson regarding controlling how my work is seen and rather than complaining I've decided to call the magazine so that I can have more involvement in the paper edition.  At least formatting shouldn't be an issue.

All images copyright Graham Miller 2011

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Wilson shares his thoughts about Downs Syndrome

It's been a great couple of days - yesterday went to the August Sander exhibition at the Dean Gallery, Edinburgh.  World class, lots of photographs and we don't often such wonderful shows here in Scotland.  Runs to July and totally inspirational.

Then today I spent time with Eve's Grandad as he recounted life at the time when his daughter gave birth to Eve who has Downs. Two sample images below.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Tracii, Neil, Ruby, Derby new photos Downs Syndrome project

I'm taking the time between terms to sort out some of those admin things that I really don't like doing but its a good investment - back up process etc.

Had a very enjoyable shoot Tuesday night as part of my Downs project and met Tracii and her partner at their flat.  They have twins ten months old and Ruby has Downs.  We had to move my recorder off the floor as it became a target and then horror of horror it appears in some of the images on its gorilla pod.  I'm not a fan of photoshop but thinking of asking my mate Jake to remove it for me.  My hope is that everyone else who sees it, thats not you lot cos I've told you about it, see as the latest in toy from the Early Learning Centre!

Joys of doing what I love tempered by a sick feeling in my stomach over the death of Tim Hetherington. Woke at 3 am thinking of his family and the loss to this great community.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Going square

On a weeks holiday and the weather was cr*p.  Lucky I'd packed the wee Ricoh and it was the first time I'd had the time to play with the menus.  Found a square file format and it became pretty addictive.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Photostory and an early morning start

Challenge here was to try and find something a little bit more dramatic for the a double page spread.  5 o'clock start and I made sure it was after the clocks had gone forward so it was darker.  Camera on a tripod, slow shutter speed and then triggered my flash manually so that it brought the van itself back to daylight.  The bonus was that the guy at the side of the van moved a little and I think it adds something. One of those rare occasions when concept actually comes close to finished result. Still work in progress here but already have the portrait in mind.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

New website up and running

Thanks to great work by a very good friend Sheila my website has been transformed. She has used Joomla and is going to give me a short training course so that I can update it myself.  Lets see how we go!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sometimes handsome happens at home

Our weimaraner Dan looking more than a little sorry for himself today. That makes two of us.

 It was a short shoot believe it or not as he got all self conscience and left embarrassed.  He's a flippin dog for goodness sake! Still got his payment in treats and hugs.  The Clark Gable of the dog world and a dude.

Just wondering if vulnerable dog requires an Informed consent form to be signed?  Trouble is he's got paws like boxing gloves and so his print might not fit on the LCC form.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Lets Dance class - Bob

I've been privileged to work with adults here in Perth who have learning difficulties in a dance class setting.
The images are not for general release but Perth and Kinross council who commissioned the work had 15 A1 images printed on foam board for display tonight and are putting together a booklet containing further images.

Bob shown above with dancer Ruth very kindly agreed for me to use the photographs I'd taken of him.  I felt suddenly very emotional as I got back to the car. In this photograph Bob is holding his head still while looking directly into the camera and the determination, effort and intelligence can be seen in his eyes.  I can't recall anyone having such an effect on me in such a short time.  The whole shoot lasted just fifteen minutes.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

It's World Downs Syndrome Day on March 21st

Spent this afternoon in Edinburgh at the invitation of Downs Syndrome Scotland.  With just two days to Worlds Downs Syndrome Day go I hope you'll take a few minutes to look at this video produced by Downs Syndrome International. Thanks

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Exhibition at Trellis UK conference

It was like meeting old friends again today as I showed a number of last years images 'The Most Important people in the World:Honesty' at the conference.  They are printed poster sized on aluminium composite and looked swell on easels. It wouldn't have been practical to hang them for a day.  Please see Bill below followed by an extended caption.

There are a few times in anyones life when something happens that is so poignant that it moves us to the core.  Bill did that to me.
As he stood in front of me he raised a clenched fist to his chest. It takes a special kind of hat I thought he said. ‘Hat Bill?’ I queried.  He shook his head very emphatically from left to right in silence and concentrated very hard before saying ‘heart’.  
It takes a special kind of heart.
He would often ask me if I was ok and on at least two occasions, when he saw me having a tea in the cafe, would put his hand in his pocket and produce some small change.  He would ask again ‘Are you ok?’ as if to offer to help me out by paying for my drink.  Ask yourself when you last experienced an act of kindness?
Now and again he would hold out the flat of his hand with a celtic cross lying in it and then tap his nose as if to say ‘now you know’ before hiding it from view like an NYPD cap badge.
Bill stands for all that is special about the fellas who work in the Walled Garden.  Life hasn’t been that kind to him and yet he still wants to take care of others.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Pinkie and John portrait shoot

Crackin couple who live in the same village and who make some amazing stained glass and then the rest of the time make techno music and gig abroad (yes really).  They were a little intimidating in the beginning but turned out to be quite shy when it came to the shoot.  One hour later and engaged in chat and things got easier.  They have a new album coming out in August and I'm going to do the publicity shots.  Woke up at 3am this morning with what I think is a great concept for that shoot - we'll find out in the next couple of days if they agree :-) They gave me a copy of their yet to be published album!

For more on portrait assignment see

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Portrait assignment

Lesley, Eves mum talks about looking into the eyes of her child for the first time.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

CCP Melbourne

Like many organisations CCP have felt the need to offer up a grand title as a way of drawing visitors.  Fair enough really and they had a number of exhibitions going on despite having only three rooms.  One of the projects I particularly liked was by Lyndal Walker and was entitled La Toilette d'une Femme which featured images of women dressing up in their home situations.  One other visitor to the gallery summed it up as she walked passed me and said out loud "I really like these' and I had to agree and we both smiled.

Another project by David Griggs featured tatoo'd ex prisoners in Manila.  I wasn't so sure about what he was trying to achieve as at first the subjects were facing the wall as if being frisked and then they had hoodies covering their heads so they couldn't be identified and then when I thought there was a theme of anonymity emerging we had some portraits showing the subjects plain as day looking into the camera. All were exposing some amazing tatoos on their bodies.  He was in Manila for two months and there were twelve images.  I was wondering where you would you start to reduce such a project to twelve and while I was kind of neutral on the work maybe he had spoiled it for me by making the wrong choices.  Some of the images were striking, one in particular, and all that achieved for me was a distortion.  Maybe that image ,as good as it was, should have been left out.

My thoughts as I walked away from the gallery were again on how important access is and how then we must make the most of the precious situations we get ourselves into.  Thats not to ignore our obligations to our subjects who have allowed into their private space.

Lyndal Walker achieved that in spades and worth the visit alone

David Griggs sorry its a miss

Friday, 4 March 2011

Photo opportunity

One of the 'service users' at the Walled Garden here in Perth has as a result of my project there last year invited me to take her wedding photographs in August and I'll meet with her to discuss it when I return.  I'm really pleased to have been approached and appreciative of the opportunity this presents to extend that work.  I'll want to spend all day with her and document a day in her life - Noelle doesn't know that yet!

Melbourne Saturday morning

Been here the lions share of a week now - few hours in the office this morning and then some free time this afternoon at last.  Found out last night there is a centre for contemporary photography in Melbourne and I'll be there - looking forward to seeing whats on show and to raiding the bookshop - we don't have one in Scotland any more.... :(

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Anthropology - understanding and benefits

Here I am on the other side of the world literally with my day job.  Long flights mean reading time and thats a plus (one of few) and I'm working my way through 'An introduction to social anthropology'.  The author talks about presenting the results of an anthropological study to the informants/collaborators and somehow distancing those who contributed to the work by using terminology only familiar to those trained in anthropology.  The people who gave so much to all understanding are alienated from the final output because they do not understand the words and concepts used.

How might that apply in photography? Should we present our work in a familiar way so that those who were photographed recognise it, appreciate it and thank us for it?

I'm still convinced that at least some understanding of Anthropology will have a positive effect on the way I approach projects and the quality of the output.

(The image below was taken near Hanoi three years ago and shows children catching butterflies.)

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Most important people in the World: Honesty

Stephen 2010 (see banner above)

It took a long time to get closer to Stephen and even then I never really got to know him.  His enthusiasm for the project seemed to grow as did his trust in me.   
More often than not he was thoughtful and in the background. I had to ask him on a number of occasions if I could photograph him.  This image then comes closest to being posed because there was no real alternative.
But then why should that be unusual?  How many people like to have their photograph taken?
This is the darkest image here reflecting deep pools of thought.  What is he thinking?  
I so want him to find the key. 

Friday, 25 February 2011

Todays tutorial

Good feedback from todays tutorial and I learned a lot.  I've a long, long way to go but was very pleased when my relationship photographs were described as real.  Its good to hear that the work is already starting to show what I want.

Uta was right on the button regards working will all age ranges and I've been doing some of that with intentions to expand.  There is value in commenting on relationships in the broadest sense.

Its fantastic being part of a community although I wished I lived in London and could meet up with fellow students.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


.... describes how a friend of his distanced himself when he told him that they were continuing with the pregnancy following diagnosis of Downs Syndrome. He, along with his wife, described this as their only negative experience of having a child with Downs. This image is only appearing on a temporary basis.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Today I'm smiling broadly..

Double celebration today - Perth and Kinross council saw the work I did last year featuring workers in a Walled Garden affected by mental illness and have asked me to photograph dance sessions with a number of people affected by learning difficulties and I'm getting paid !! This is exactly the field I want to work in.

I was also contacted today about the Walled Garden project 'The most important people in the World:Honesty' and the images will be displayed on the video array at the Perth Concert Hall in March 15th during the annual congress of Therapeutic gardening.

It feels great and working through the MA is giving me more confidence to believe in what I do.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Not a trace of guilt......

Relationship shoot this afternoon 200 shots in an hour and not a trace of guilt. Privileged to have been allowed access to Liz and Duncans house. New Edirol worked brilliantly.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Hands up - new thinking required

Going into todays tutorial I made what I thought was an innocent comment about my not using a camera like a machine gun.  Shooting lots and lots of images and then doing a tight edit.  Somehow it didn't seem right to me, it was cheating, it  was random and it was less worthy.  Patrick put me right.  In essence I am producing photographs and photographs look like photographs.  They are not the scenes or subjects themselves. Its only on rare occasions that we see pictures which are absolute representations of the scene. And so then that feeling of pride I had for getting reasonable results from the minimum number of shots was somewhat misplaced and whats more I've been depriving myself of the chance to learn.  Its important I take lots of images for lots of angles in different situations to help me move forward. Its the end result that matters as more often than not the audience have no appreciation of how you got there.