Well, here we are just less than two weeks into the year and we’ve probably gone past the bit where people talk about resolutions, so here I am. Last year I actually made some resolutions and stuck to 3 of them, which is a massive improvement on 0. One of the things I wanted to do last year was to get out and see more of the country. Since passing my driving test a few years ago it’s been something I’ve wanted to do, but arranging things with friends has never really been my strong point so this year I’ve decided it’s time to actually do something about it.
As a result, last weekend I finally managed to drag a couple of friends out with me to The Skirrid (Ysgyryd Fawr) in the Usk Valley, just at the edge of the Brecon Beacons.
I don’t have a great record with mountains. I love them in theory- I love looking at them and I love going out walking in fields and up hills, but I’m not great with heights, and combined with a few days of not great weather we decided after a bit of research that it was a brilliant idea.
It was great. The views around the mountain are really lovely and we were just at the edge of a cloud which added a bit of drama to the view. Talking of drama, I only froze with fear about 3 times, slipped a few times but always managed to catch myself, then stopped a bit short of the top. I know my limits, so I told Adam and Ffion to carry on and I’d wait for them to get back, which they did and we made our way back down just before it started getting dark. A few people were still making their way up despite the weather getting worse and the light rapidly disappearing, but if you’re okay with heights and slipping in mud it’s fine. It was a great way to get out into the countryside and blow off the cobwebs while getting some absolutely lovely views of the surroundings. I’d definitely recommend it!
The sheep were quite friendly too.
Happy New Year!
I’ve just updated my website!
Despite all the things that have been going on in the world this year, for me personally it has been a great year. I’ve loved all the weddings I’ve done with Polly and found this year a lot less stressful than last year, mainly because of having sleep and cutting down the hours in my other job to a tiny amount. Polly has been brilliant to work with again and I really feel like we’ve improved so much- even more than in previous years.
Outside of weddings, I’ve got into a little office with two friends, Adam at CroatoanDesign.co.uk and kirstenmcternan.co.uk and it’s been great for my productivity (HEY, I’M WRITING A BLOG!) and also switching off when I get home. Spending less time at a computer really is great for the soul.
I’ve also decided this year I’d like to take more portraits. I enjoy talking to people, possibly a bit too much, and really like the idea of being able to capture the essence of someone with a photo. I love looking at portraits and should probably look more into paintings for inspiration, but there are so many photographers whose portraits I love and so the aim is to get nearer to their level. You’ve got to have goals, right?
Anyway, here’s a (very) small selection of the portraits I’ve taken this year!
Okay, I’ve been procrastinating for ages about putting my website out there and tonight, through procrastinating about something different (because I have loads of other stuff I need to do and I’m skilled at multiple levels of procrastination) I let down my guard and put a Facebook post up which I was always going to edit to keep getting an unattainable amount of likes. Initially saying I’ll launch my website when I get 5000 likes, then I changed it to something a bit more realistic, and again to a few different numbers and now it’s got a bit out of hand and I just realised various parts of my site aren’t ready!
But what is ready anyway? It’s alway going to be a work in progress.
Now I’ve pretty much ditched everything in life I’m looking forward to doing a bit more photography work anyway.
And until then, my new website is at http://www.simonayre.co.uk.
I love how it makes my photos look and how easy it is to navigate and use as a site visitor and in terms of keeping on top of it. I can’t thank Pixelrights enough for making it all so easy.
Anyway… I suppose I’d better just let the website do some talking.
Well, it’s been three years since I last blogged, despite several (SEVENTEEN!) failed attempts in that time. I don’t know if people really read blogs now, but I do intend to write more often on here this year. I used to enjoy writing them but found that as a lot of the jobs I was doing were weddings and more personal things they didn’t feel right to share on here.
I’m currently in the process of putting together a new website with Pixelrights, and I think it looks great so far. It really lets the photos speak for themselves. It’s also given me a bit more confidence looking through some old photos from various jobs that I’ve done in the last couple of years, especially some of the band portraits I’ve done for the BBC Horizons/ Gorwelion project, where I have a limited amount of time to find a good spot (some of the festivals have literally had NO good spots!), get the band for five minutes of photos then get back and shoot the next band and repeat. It’s hard work, but it’s fun and I love doing it and getting to know some of the bands.
I’m hoping to do a lot more portrait work this year. I think outside of weddings this is where I really want to be. We’ll see how it goes.
Anyway, I’ve finally edited my ‘About Me’ section to say I’m a photographer, instead of an amateur photographer. I was absolutely positive I changed that years ago but apparently not!
I’d better go anyway… I have a website to get on with.
Last weekend, after what seemed like months of excitement and build up, Tiger Bay Brawlers finally faced London Roller Girls Brawl Saints at Tal Y Bont in Cardiff.
Brawl Saints were rated number 2 in Europe and have never been beaten. Not recently, not ever. Properly unbeaten. Tiger Bay narrowly lost out in their last bout against Glasgow… a bout that was won and lost in the last jam. It was amazing to watch and amazing to be there, but we knew the bout against LRG would be even harder. The predictions were that Tiger Bay would eventually succumb to Brawl Saints by a fairly comfortable amount. While London took an early lead, it didn’t last and the Brawlers led comfortably for most of the bout. I say comfortably, there’s rarely a comfortable lead in the sport. What can seem like a comfortable lead can be wiped out in a couple of jams, so Tiger Bay were kept on their toes and certainly couldn’t afford to take it easy. Brawl Saints are number 2 in Europe for good reason.
Oh sorry, did I say are number 2? WERE number 2!
Tiger Bay won 204-135, pushing them into the top ten in the European rankings for the first time, at number 8. Brawl Saints drop to 5th place.
Beautiful scenes at the end as half the Brawlers started crying at the same time I got something in my eye. What a coincidence!
It’s been 15 years since I had this level of emotional investment in a local sports team and I have to say it is really hard trying to stay/ seem impartial while taking photos from behind the tape. I suppose I don’t have to actually act impartial, I just assumed it would be the most professional thing to do. I’ve been wondering recently whether to carry on taking photos of roller derby, as I essentially do it for my own pleasure. There are always people taking photos, whether the person/ photographer is sat in the crowd or is crouched on the corner, and sometimes I’ve been guilty of feeling that so many roller derby photos look the same, so what’s the point? Where do I fit in? Where does roller derby fit in to my life when tt’s so hard to do something different that makes you stand out. I don’t necessarily want to take my flashes, I want to document it without extra lighting, but I’m still trying to figure out how to do it in a way that stands out and still produces clear photos in often terrible lighting situations.
I nearly pulled out of taking photos on Saturday, but having seen what I saw I’m so glad I didn’t. Being a photographer is such a privilege. You get to see everything from your own unique view, meet amazing and inspiring people and then people tell you they love your work.
And if things really go to plan you get paid to do it. But above all, you have to have the love for the job and your subject, and when you’ve got all these things there’s little better in life.
I really have to stop coming up with awful titles for my blog posts.
Anyway, whatever. My plan to average at least one gig a week isn’t going brilliantly if I’m honest, but I’m only a week behind. Or a gig behind.
I heard about Peter Hook playing Clwb Ifor Bach just before Christmas and really wanted to get a ticket, but I had a nagging feeling about it that it could be a total shambles. I don’t know why. I’d seen him in conversation at Latitude a few years ago and thought he came across as quite honest and funny, but since his split from New Order I wondered if either of them would be any good without the other.
The day before the gig I got a text asking if I’d be up for shooting it for the venue and with the gig being sold out by this point I jumped at the chance. With it being an intimate warm up gig for the band before they played a few bigger gigs such as Koko in London and Manchester Cathedral, I really didn’t want to miss the chance to see, let alone photograph, someone who has been involved in creating some of my favourite songs of the last 30ish years.
I already know this is going to be one of my favourite gigs of the year!
Back in December I managed to worm my way into the BBC to photograph a live session for Bethan Elfyn’s show from Samoans, who I also managed to worm my way in to Reading and Leeds festival with back in the Summer. It’s great being able to build a relationship with a band where they feel comfortable with you taking photos at any given time, and my relationship with Samoans is exactly that sort of relationship.
18th December was a long day for the guys at the BBC, recording sessions with The School (another one of those bands I’ve built a great working relationship with) and I think Cut Ribbbons (but don’t quote me on that) before Samoans headed in for their session.
I’d been looking forward to doing this as soon as I found out about it, mainly because I thought it would be a great way to bookend my year, with sessions for Bethan by two of my favourite bands, having photographed Kutosis there earlier in the year, and with Samoans playing a gig the night before everyone was really up for it.
Photographing in this particular studio is a bit awkward- it’s a big room with lots of walls and lots of obstacles of varous colours so it’s not ideal for setting lights up anywhere, plus the drums are recorded in a small room within the room so the photos were a mix of some taken in just available light and (most with) flash.
The band played four songs, Catamaran, Secret Sixth and Brothers/ Blisters as well as an exclusive recording of their forthcoming single, Antlers. You can listen to the session live on Bethan’s show from 8 o’clock tonight on BBC Radio Wales, then go and buy Samoans debut EP, Elevated Reflections from http://samoanstheband.bandcamp.com/ or Spillers Records if you’re in/ around Cardiff.