Saturday, 29 December 2012

Andrew and Six Percent

Andrew has very kindly agreed to write a foreward for Six Percent and it was great working with him yesterday and watching him leaf through the draft of the book.

I met him over a year ago when Downs Syndrome Scotland asked me to shoot their 2012 calendar on sporting themes.  Those who saw it may remember Andrew on the rings. I'll never forget it as I'd never seen gymnastics up close and I kept saying again, again as I balanced on top of a vaulting horse to get the right angle. Tired and aching he showed patience above and beyond.

Tomorrow I vist Katie and her folks and work begins on that replacement chapter.

All on track for publication and news will follow soon about the gallery.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Aspirational image of Lee

As we all batten the hatches against this terrible weather and prepare for Christmas and the new year ahead I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged my work during this last year.  The reaction to "6% Down Syndrome: My photographs their words' has been astonishing.  We are close to securing space within a high profile gallery for an exhibition and launch and so 2013 looks to be every bit as exciting as this one, maybe more.

Thanks go especially to Down Syndrome Scotland who have been an amazing partner  

Their CEO Pandora Summerfield has been supportive of the project from the outset and has always been there encouraging me.

Neil Burns at George James Ltd for paying for the design

Hayley Goleniowska who has opened her heart in a way that everyone can relate to through her incredible blog and who has been patient in keeping the big secret and then explosive in getting the news out.

And Umair Akhtar of UA Graphics the designer, who you won't know is affected by Aspergers Syndrome. He has been professional, committed, flexible and patient beyond what I was entitled to expect and I'm saying all this because he needs to do more work in January (just joking Umair). You are a brilliant example and  a star Umair.

Last but not least all of the families of who have let me into their lives and shared their innermost thoughts.

And so here is Lee, as promised, taken during a coaching session arranged at Murrayfield by Downs Syndrome Scotland. He realised 3 seconds later that I was standing there and the moment was gone.

When I look at this I see ambition and aspiration and I hope it has the same impact on you.

Have a wonderful Christmas and an astonishing FY13.


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Hey buddy back off ....

Let me start by saying that I don't want parents to read this and think twice about letting their kids be photographed :-)

I was shooting the DSS sports themed calendar at Murrayfield, Edinburgh and at the end of the session the coach gifted the rugby balls used to all those who took part.  This wee fella picked up his new trophy and gripped it intently.  There was no way he was letting it go.  I couldn't resist this shot which was spontaneous and not posed in any way.


Now you've looked at the photograph look again at his face as thats what makes the picture for me.  The look is one of 'back off buddy I don't want you to take my photograph'. I still pressed the shutter but it really made me think.  Release form signed and dad says, sure go ahead, but I'd forgotten that he was an individual in his own right.

Another lesson

Next time another shot from the same session and aspirational image of Lee...

Sunday, 16 December 2012

6% news #1

Firstly thanks to everyone for the incredible reaction to 6%.

In response to requests for updates I plan to issue numbered updates, like this one, on a regular basis, and as the launch date approaches I'll be tweeting captions from the book. I'll also be including other images on the blog which will not be included in the book.  They were excluded on the basis that they don't add to the story but I thought you might like to see them.

Tomorrow is a big day as I'm visiting two galleries In Edinburgh with Heather from DSS to discuss a location for the launch and then month long exhibition.  DSS are buying a number of the images with the intention to tour them around Scotland.  The first gallery is an up and coming and unique space which received huge critical acclaim during last years Edinburgh Festival. They have seen the work already and I was heartened to hear the curator Paul say 'This is important work which must be seen'.  and so they want to exhibit 6% and although its a huge space they are almost fully booked out for the dates we need.  They have one space which they have offered which may or may not be suitable and so tomorrow is all about checking it out.

I've had a number of enquiries from people wanting to reserve copies including internationally and will be back in touch as soon as I've finalised distribution arrangements.  The first print run is expected to sell out and so rest assured if you emailed me I will get back to you to confirm we will hold a copy for you.  I'm thinking we may draw up a unique book plate which will be inserted in copies of this first print run.  Thank you everybody for registering your interest as this helps planning. I'm expecting some pre-orders soon from distributors and that may then take up almost all of the production run.

I'll be posting regularly going forward and I want to thank you all again for the warmth of your response and for the amazing support.

The image below was an early one during the projects inception.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Feeling stoked....

I'm feeling a combination of stoked and emotional this evening as I've just seen the blog that Hayley Goleniowska has posted about 6%.  As the project went on I became more and more worried about doing my subjects justice and striking a balance.  I didn't want this to be a sugar coated version of events but real. It had to be credible and so when I sent the pdf to Hayley I spent an anxious few days waiting for her feedback.  I'm sitting here now blown away by what she said because as a Mum of a child with Down Syndrome she knows.  And that means so much to me.

The reaction so far has been warm, immense and overpowering and while its to be hoped we can find a publisher who will work with us to take this on for publication March 21st we have the option to self publish.

I'm travelling to two galleries in Edinburgh on Monday to discuss a launch and exhibition - more sleepless nights ahead.

Thanks Hayley

Link to Hayleys' blog about 6%

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Its six percent all the way..

This weekend is wall to wall six percent as I really knuckle down to making the selections for the book and listen to all the recorded audio so that I can add appropriate captions.  Its been a ten hour day already but thankfully my enthusiasm is undimmed.  We met the gallery on Wednesday and the curator was so bowled over with the work he vowed to find space for the launch March 21st which is World Down Syndrome day. Its put the fire back in my belly. Difficult choices to be made over the pics I'll use.  Didn't realise until I'd completed Sylvia's story that it would be 14 pages !! Maybe the 120 - 140 page target isn''t going to be as tough as I thought.

Interviewed and photographed Bryan, Camerons dad on Thursday night and we cried together with the pain and joy of what he had to say.

Pushing back Eve's story as I know the choices there will be so difficult.

Sipping a glass of Scotch and time to shut up shop for the night.  I'll be back at my desk 8am Sunday.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Blackpool again

This guy was really happy to chat for a while

Passed these two ladies and had to double back and get a picture

Moriyama Picture show at the Tate Modern

Met with photographer friends Richard and Tracey to attend the Daido Moriyama picture show and left totally inspired. There is such an honesty in his work - in the presence of an understated genius and will  be a day I'll remember for ever. I'll be visiting again in Dec for a couple of hours.

They made me wait but view not too shabby

Choose any twenty from sixty to form a book 'Menu'

Daido Moriyama signs my book no.26

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Carers UK and Katie Steel

I'm doing some photographic work for Carers Uk at the moment and am really enjoying meeting some incredible people. Just spent time with Clare Lally, her partner Derek and the incredible twins Katie and  Holly.  Or as Clare calls them the 'twincesses'.

Clare and Katie October 2012 

Friday, 5 October 2012

To meet Martin Mallett is...

Photography has given me more in my life than I can ever repay. 

To meet Martin Mallet is meet someone who represents the way I wish the world could be.  Warm, caring and someone who can really say he is who he is.  

Can we say that, can you say that ? 

Martin is Martin and that is what is so incredibly wonderful about him.  

Photography has given me more in my life than I can ever repay.

Martin Mallett photographed by Graham Miller for '6%' in September 2012

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Presentation and discussion in Edinburgh

I'm pleased to be sharing the stage with Joe Tree of Blipfoto on October 11th which looks like being a very interesting discussion.  I hope you can make it.

Friday, 14 September 2012

The most important project ... to me

This blog was always intended as a personal record of my two years as part of the MA programme and today I'm feeling pretty low in that as optimistic and passionate I am about 6% I'm not seeing that coming from anybody else.  That is except for the families that have taken part who are all wonderful,my great friend Neil who has already made a generous donation towards the book despite tough business times and my wife and family who see what this means to me and are always at my side. I owe it to them to make sure that the message gets out as widely as possible and yet on the other side of the equation it seems, and I shouldn't be surprised by this, that everyone else is only in it for themselves.  I'm not naming and shaming but its a huge disappointment to me that others can't share  my motives and do it for the cause. Those who should be supportive just are not.   I've deliberately kept my name out of the project as this is not about me making a name for myself.  Its about challenging stigma.

I have two more shoots this weekend and I cannot wait.  I love working with honest people so willing to open up their very private lives to me. I feel privileged and at the same time responsible to do the best job I can for them.

I have some thinking to do this weekend regards the way forward and that may mean disappointing some people for the greater importance of the project.  Once again I find myself recalibrating my thoughts about humanity as a whole and the more I think about it the more ugly the whole thing appears.

Whatever happens I'll stay true to the aims of the project and it will deliver on its aims......

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Interesting article about use of photography to challenge stigma in mental health by Chris O'Sullivan of TMF

Six percent update

Its onwards and upwards - well at least I think so.....  Last few weeks have been hectic although the designer is now on board and we've met to agree the way forward.  He now has the cover image and the aim is to produce a pdf of the cover so that we can start to use it for promotional purposes.  I have a meeting with a potential distributor and then printer this week and so that part is being nailed down.  The printer does work for bloomsbury and so the quality should be very good.  Distributor looking for between 50 and 60% of the cover price which seems to be the norm and so setting the RRP will be key. Initial print run 500 we expect.

Also need to look at an exhibition venue in Edinburgh as suggested by DSS - they will tour the exhibition next year around scottish venues. Work to be done there also in terms of how the images will be presented.

And last but not least the picture taking.  I have shoots this weekend and next and and following up on others.  I need to get the content substantively finished in Sept.  Meeting the twins again Saturday although its kind of weird as I'll be circulating Edinburgh until they have their nap and will get a call when I'll dash over and photograph them sleeping as I missed it first time around.

So lots to think about but can't wait to see the end result.

Putting less images in my blog right now saving them for a bigger impact.... G

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Presenting at SMHAFF in October

I had a great call with Chris O'Sullivan at TMF and he has invited me to present at SMHAFF in Edinburgh later this year.  I'm really looking forward to the event and the discussions that follow. @mentalcapital

6% goes to Prague

Just got back from the weekend to Prague when I travelled with Cameron and his Mum and Dad.  I wanted to visit the hospital where Cameron was born and take photographs for potential inclusion in the book.  In the end the Gynaecologist, Jana, gave my unrestricted access to the birthing suite for an hour and I had all that time to work.  The project continues to be a very emotional one as I could imagine the sights and sounds of what must have been happening as Cameron was born and as he struggled to breath.  I still prefer to take fewer photographs than whats become the norm with digital cameras as that works best for me. And so its quite normal for me to leave with 36 or 72 photos but knowing that I have what I need.  Sitting in the gloom of the hospital corridor looking at the light coming from the door of the delivery suite I noticed in the reflection of the stainless steel door a doctors white coat, hanging over chair.  I knew I had what I needed...

Next week more photo shoots as I need to get what I need before the end of September.  Meeting with our designer Umair Akthar next week to discuss final details and to agree his costs.

George James Ltd donated £1000 towards print costs and set us on our way towards covering the £12k needed for the first print run.

The new camera provides huge files and so I've now filled my hard disk - rethink required re my storage system.......

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

8% Tracii, Neil and the twins

Spent Saturday with Neil, Tracii, Ruby and Darby and the girls have really grown.  We went to watch the Leith parade and when reviewing the photos I noticed that there were two more twins in one of the images.  Still wrestling with black and white v Colour..........

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Photographing everything I can right now as I familiarise myself with the D800 and the voightlander 40mm f2.0.  I've wanted a fixed standard lens for while.  Spent Sunday at the Gardening Scotland show as we'd been given tickets by our neighbours Andrew Lear aka the Appletreeman.  Andrew was great and I took this with the new set up.  Above his head was a wildlife trust banner and so I took it with this crop in mind. Now need to try some video - gulp as the shoot in prague has been confirmed....

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Work on 8% now in full flow

Last Sunday was another remarkable day.  It was the second time I'd worked with Fiona and Ross, only this time around, it was just them and me.  Jamie their son with Downs Syndrome and Ellie were with their grandparents and we spent an hour together, in the garden talking about the time when they heard that Jamie would be affected by Downs Syndrome and how they reached their decision to go ahead with the pregnancy. Fiona is expecting their third child due in August.

 In the end we had lunch and then spent around an hour talking and once again I was struck by how determined those who are willing to participate in the project are to share their experiences. I think its because they know how they felt before the baby was born and then were surprised how different their lives were in a positive way afterwards.  They feel they have a great secret that they are determined to share.  Did the audio in much more controlled surroundings and then shot some video (as I received the Nikon D800 this week). Once again photography has provided me with the key to very personal experiences and I feel so privileged when people trust me enough to let me into their lives.

The photo below was taken during the interview - Fiona always thought carefully before responding and Ross would often sit quietly in the background listening.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Alex and what makes him unique

The feedback on the project around Alex and the Stigma project was very good and the final piece can be viewed here.

Alex pdf

The concept behind this 'net' is to show that there are a number of dimensions to Alex and that he should not be seen as just someone who has Aspergers.  He is a remarkable fella who has developed coping mechanisms through the use of rehearsal (the clapper board image) and faces challenges sometimes in group situations (The crowd image).  He is very talented having just completed a cooking course at the local college and is an expert at the incredibly complex role playing game 'Magic'.  He recently 'whupped' allcomers in a local competition.  And so Alex is as unique as we all are.  His aspergers is just another aspect of him as are his many other talents.  Thanks Alex for your patience and for being such a willing victim - you are a star... G

Note: Note that the content and concept here are copyrighted and I'd ask that you respect that. Thanks G

8% makes progress

This week has seen some good progress with 8% and I have two new assignments scheduled and that always feels good.  I'm also working closely with Downs Syndrome Scotland to establish if we can partner on the book and our US based publishing adviser has reviewed the scoping document and feels the book will be a success.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Image accepted for Shape Open 2012 London

Thanks to Veronika who told me about the Shape Open or I would never have heard about it.  I sent off two images and heard last night that one of them, 'Bob', had been accepted for exhibition.  I'm really pleased that image was chosen as it means so much to me.  I was commissioned by the local council to take photographs for their 'Lets dance' programme which featured adults with disability.  Bob couldn't make the official night and so we arranged a separate session for him at Perth Theatre. I'm not sure what condition affects Bob but his head and limbs are almost constantly in motion and his speech is impaired.  As the dance instructor warmed up I realised she was behind Bob and he immediately realised what I had in mind and held his head still while I took the shot. Afterwards when I sat in the car and thought back over what had happened my eyes filled with tears as the full force of what was a powerful emotional engagement hit me. I felt humble and honoured at the same time.  What a fantastic and inspirational man Bob is. I take photographs for the purpose of making those connections and when they happen it takes my breath away.

I'm not sure now how I get the image there as time is short and if I can attend the party but I'd love to.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Vietnam project Lt Cmdr Richard A Stratton

I've been working on a project based on PoW's from Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi - known by US forces as 'The Hanoi Hilton' where prisoners were subject to horrendous brutality and torture.  During my research I encountered Lt Cmdr Richard A Stratton who was one of the first PoW's and who was forced to confess and bow to his captors.  All of this photographed by Black Star photographer Lee Lockwood in 1967.  Lee was the first american photographer allowed in to North Vietnam since the start of the war.  I sourced a copy of the original Life magazine which contained the feature and sat in that rarest of things 'scottish sunshine' yesterday reading it.

The project has been fascinating as I've managed to locate Dick Stratton and we have getting along very well via email.  Last week we skyped for the first time and he is a very impressive fella. He has given me copies of photos not seen in public. We even found out our wives had the same maiden names and that his wife was of Scottish descent.  He has been incredibly supportive and encouraging and its now interesting to talk to him about his reflections on how one photograph had such an impact on his life.  When Paul said why not focus on just one photograph I thought there is not enough there but in reality there is lots to be getting on with and I'll be doing a recorded interview with Dick this Thursday in the hope that I can bring my conclusions together. This plus the rethink project phew !! It'll be time for some R & R in April but then we've found a very supportive US publisher for my book 8% and one of the couples I've been working with has agreed to travel to Prague with me to visit the Doctor who diagnosed their son as having Downs Syndrome. All this excitement is keeping me going though.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Rethink and Alex

Revisited the city centre shoot with Alex on Saturday - as dull as it was I still needed the ND to slow the shutter speed and then I was stretched to remove any trace of shake despite using tripod, cable release and mirror lock as there was also a breeze blowing. He is such a brilliant subject, patient and enthusiastic for what we are trying to achieve.  Two more set ups and I should be ready to build the net.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Making my way and hoping to make a difference

The last few months has been really helpful in putting my work into perspective for me.  I guess most serious photographers hope for peer recognition and I was the same. I put it down to insecurity and a need to have my ego massaged on a regular basis.  It seems like every third person in the street carries a DSLR now and its easy for that huge population to bypass years of learning and produce exceptional images.  I recently spoke to a friend about it, as her son is a very talented rider, as she considered buying a Nikon 1. (It takes five shots and offers you the 'best' one)

'Its as if tomorrow morning I could wake up, take a pill, and be a championship horse rider is how I described it' for thats how it feels.

I might not know how to put a saddle on a horse but I can still ride as well as anybody else.  Yes the whole thing pissed me off but more because I was fixated on the ability to take photographs rather than the direction me, or my horse, would follow.  I choose what I photograph, I choose the situations I get into and yes the whole experience can continue to be a great one providing I don't focus too much on impressing other photographers. And so being able to take technically great photographs is not enough on its own I'll derive my satisfaction from making a difference.

A few months back Claire, a social worker, wrote to me as she had seen the work I did at the Walled Garden and she spoke in a very moving way about one image in particular and the caption which reminded her of her father.  I was very moved by what she said and sent her the photograph.  This week she emailed me.

'Your print did indeed arrive safely.  Thank you for this.  In fact my sixteen year old son was looking at it only a couple of days ago and commented how much the print of Bill and your accompanying words reminded him of his granddad.  Warming words for me for sure.  

I hope that you are well and life treats you kindly.  

Thank you once again for the most generous gift of a print of Bill.  I feel privileged to hold this print. 

Your work is so very special Graham, I hope the power of your work continues to educate and touch the hearts of many.

Warmest wishes. 


And so in a world full of photographers and surrounded by some much more talented fellow students at the LCC I know now that satisfaction and enjoyment for me is not in being the worlds most famous or talented photographer its about being true to what I believe in, parking my ego and facing outwards to try to educate the world at large.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Rethink meets Alex

The pixies had moved in overnight and painted everything grey.  I know the weather forecast said today that everywhere was going to be affected by snow and cloud but as I left the house this morning at 9.30 for the photo shoot with Alex it was headlights and wipers on and that was just to get from the house to the car.  They save a special shade of grey for this part of the world which would make a battleship stand out like a sore thumb.

Available light only works when light is available but Alex had his own remedy for the doom and gloom in the form of his smiles and I'd defy anyone not to be impressed with him. And with Sorin, Lord Innistrad (more on that next time) in the room I didn't dare complain.

Part 1 complete and two and a half of the shots needed for Rethink: Net done. Really looking forward to the next shoot. Thanks Alex.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

8% takes a tangible step forward

Several encouraging calls yesterday and a skype conversation by a publisher about the book led to a sleepless night.  Mind buzzing with ideas and I had to write them all down when I got up this morning.  It feels tangible now and is gaining momentum.  This is moving forward now and I have the concept clear in my head.  Thats a very good thing but it makes me restless when I am not working on it all the time...

Frustrated at lack of contact from the UA Magazine - I think it hit the streets yesterday and included my images and that they are planning to send me a copy but a single line email confirming this would be all thats required. Now my mind is telling me they didn't run them after all.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Less Common More Sense UA Magazine

Its around six weeks ago I sent 40 images to the University magazine which goes to print this week.  The issue is titled 'Devotion' and I haven't had any involvement since sending the pictures.  Supposed to be over four pages and I can't wait to see what it looks like as I can imagine the layout, based on previous issues, will be very interesting.  The focus 'Devotion' was right up my street and I was very pleased when the editor, Alexandra,came back wanting to publish. Another audience is a great way of challenging stigma.G

Saturday, 21 January 2012

I know what patience looks like and her name is Rose

Rose with Veronica at Dunkeld (Hasselbad 500c/m 80mm HP5)

Film or digital?

I'm enjoying get back into film and have now moved from my 35mm Olympus to a second hand Hasselblad I bought via ebay about nine months ago.  The 80mm I find is restrictive as I've never liked standard lenses, but I'm just not prepared to build on the kit until I decide what to do next.  The return to film has caused me to hesitate over my next camera purchase.  The plan was to buy a new Nikon FX body and then use my D700 as a back up.  I've been taking chances for too long using just one body. I also feel I need an HD video capability And so two weeks ago the Nikon D4 came along and whilst I've got the dosh put to one side the feedback from other photographers has not been that great.  Its not the leap forward that was expected and so there is the risk Nikon follow it up with a D4s and D4x in the not too distant future and at the price it is who wants to be left with the obsolete camera after a year or so.  Having said that I've made good progress in outlining the concept for my end of MA course project and as it will be digital media and likely to be shot on a 35mm prime (as that most closely resembles our visual field of view) it may indeed make sense to get the best I can and that for me would be D4 now.

Film has forced me to cut back on the frames I shoot and I prefer that. It was suggested early in the course that I need to take more shots but I found that I was blasting away and then picking through images on the PC looking for the best ones.  When I shoot film and I did a lot of it when I was younger I chose my shots carefully and knew when I had what I wanted without the need to look at it on a screen.  My recent multimedia assignment was shot over two days in less than 2 rolls of HP5.  The piece itself which I really liked wasn't that well received by the tutor but then he explained why and I now then need to decide if I should modify my approach.  If nothing else I really like the images of people laughing on Blackpools Comedy Carpet.  There is an example below. For one thing I never choose easy topics and that makes it hard for me much of the time but I'd rather it wasn't any other way.

The conclusion now looks like D4 but then I revert to shooting with it as if it were film.  Carefully selected shots and no 'chimping'.

Blackpools' Comedy Carpet from 'Laughter'

Friday, 6 January 2012

Well done Kat and Colin

The Mums at Downs Syndrome Scotland continue to give me great support and encouragement including Kat Leese seen in the article below.  It's particularly important when information appears where it wouldn't typically be shown, as here in a magazine for chartered accountants, as we know then its being seen by a largely new audience.  Well done Kat and Colin...