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2011. Gone in a flash.

January 1, 2012

Pretty much every other day this year I’ve thought to myself that this year is speeding by way too quickly. Here I am at 20:50 on New Year’s Eve writing my blog o’ the year- while everyone else is getting pretty tanked- I’m coming to terms with the fact that actually, I have progressed with my photography. I think.

Every year I start with some vague goals to reach by the end of it, rather than a proper outline of where I want to go with my photography in terms of turning it into a career. At the end of every year I feel no closer than I was at the beginning. It’s my own doing. The problem is not negativity as such, more a lack of confidence. I’m confident in my ability, but I’m absolutely terrible at selling myself. I’m always trying to be the best I can be and if I don’t feel my work is 100% perfect then I have a problem telling someone else that it is. I feel dishonest about it. I know what I need to do in terms of business and the sort of market I want to aim for. I’ve turned down plenty of things this year because I don’t want to get caught in a circle of referrals to the wrong market. People have questioned my thinking, but to me it’s simple: there are certain people I want to take photos of and for. People that share the same ideals as me, have the same interests and people who interest me. I want clients who want me for my photos and my personality, not because I’m just somebody who takes photos so I find myself in the tricky situation of needing to build a portfolio of sorts while not getting into any situations that I don’t want to get into.

Luckily for me, I’ve found myself being able to do this a bit more, thanks to Eleanor ( who has allowed me to assist her at a few of her weddings this year. I’ve been following her for nearly two years on Twitter  after a tip off from my friend Sian ( while I was planning and  researching to photograph her wedding nearly two years ago. After a few tweets back and forth I got a message back in April or May asking me to send her some of my wedding work. I’d only done two at the time so was a bit nervous about what she’d think. I was secretly hoping she’d ask me to assist her,  we met up and got on really well. The resulting wedding was recently featured in Wedding Ideas magazine and was absolutely amazing. Assisting Eleanor has been an absolute joy this year and I hope to be able to do more in 2012, so if you’re planning a nice wedding with plenty of DIY ideas and something a bit different, get in touch with her!

Outside of weddings this year I’ve been to some great gigs and taken a step further with that, photographing gigs in bigger venues for Buzz magazine. I’d done a few things for Buzz in the last couple of years, then back in January they asked if I’d be willing to cover the NME Tour at the University. I’d been to a few NME Tours in the last ten years (and wanted to go to many more before) and was aware of how big some of the bands playing them had become. Bands such as Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs (hmm… I’m not really selling it am I?) have all played the tour in the last ten years or so and occasionally there’s an interesting thing where the band at the bottom of the bill seemed to become the biggest (IT IS INTERESTING!) while the bands headlining disappear into obscurity. Anyway, this year saw Everything Everything, The Vaccines, Magnetic Man and Crystal Castles arrive at Cardiff University Great Hall. Not necessarily the sort of stuff I’d listen to – I’d photographed Crystal Castles and Everything Everything before but only in the now dead Barfly and the thankfully still alive and kicking Clwb Ifor Bach. This was a really big thing for me, despite being an absolute nightmare in terms of lighting, being on the side of the stage for Crystal Castles was something I won’t forget in a hurry. A few days later saw the Duke Spirit come to Clwb Ifor Bach. That was defintiely more to my taste!

Crystal Castles, NME Tour, Cardiff University

Magnetic Man, NME Tour, Cardiff University

Duke Spirit, Clwb Ifor Bach

Towards the end of February I also covered the Go! Team at the also now closed Millennium Music Hall, where the challenging conditions included terrible lighting and not being able to get out of the photo pit due to a fight between two bouncers and a homeless chap who’d blagged his way in and crept into the band’s room to steal all their booze. He didn’t give up too easily, especially considering the two bouncers were probably twice his size.

The Go! Team Millennium Music Hall

March saw my first Arena gig for Buzz. It would have been my second arena gig but some swine nicked my LCD Soundsystem pass a few months before. This time, Elbow were in town. I’ve always quite liked them without being a particularly big fan, but this gig was something really special. The general feeling in the crowd (from the reaction on twitter at least) seemed to be that despite the size and cold surroundings of the arena, it was as close to an intimate gig as you’ll get in a venue that size. Everyone left that night feeling they’d seen something pretty special.

Guy Garvey, Elbow, Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

Also this month… DRAINS AT UNDERTONE!

Drains, Undertone, Cardiff

April saw the return of Record Store Day around the world, and Spillers Records put on a great day involving lots of records (obviously), dj’s and bands, ending with Future of the Left at Clwb Ifor Bach. I’ve taken photos of FOTL a lot of times over the last few years, but the one photo that stuck out for me from this gig wasn’t of anyone in the band…

Crowd, Future of the Left, Record Store Day, Clwb Ifor Bach.

May saw the start of me assisting Eleanor, with a bit of practice at Sue and Andrew’s big day the day before. Also, Fucked Up visited Cardiff again for a matinee performance with support from Black Lungs and er… some other band whose name I appear to have forgetten to write down. That was one sweaty, noisy gig. A few of us also had the pleasure of meeting Damian (their frontman) after the gig. What an absolutely lovely guy. I should have asked him for a photo.

Sue and Andrew first dance

Black Lungs supporting Fucked Up, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

Fucked Up, Clwb Ifor Bach

June involved a lot of travelling around and a lot of spare time, so I went on a family holiday to the Isle of Wight, visited friends in Leicester, went for some chips at Barry Island (and everywhere was closed!) and went to take photos of Kitty, Daisy and Lewis and Battles. It’s quality, not quantity. Also, June saw the wedding of my friends Leigh and Helen. What an amazing day.


Battles, Cardiff University

Barry Island

Isle of Wight

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, Clwb Ifor Bach

Leigh and Helen first dance

July was quiet again for me with gigs, but the highlights included one of my heroes, Evan Dando, and the Tom Tom Club, support by Love Parry III. Two of my favourite gigs of the year right there. Also a photoshoot for Among Brothers on a lovely sunny Saturday at Roath park. Lovely guys, and I’m so pleased I took the time to research the band. I’d heard of them and knew a bit about them, but I didn’t realise there were six members so I spent the evening before looking at photos of them and learning their names. ALWAYS LEARN THEIR NAMES!

Evan Dando, The Globe

Evan Dando at The Globe, Cardiff

Love Parry III with Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of Tom Tom Club, post gig, Clwb Ifor Bach

Among Brothers, Roath Park

The first full weekend of August always sees the end of the Cardiff Festival with the Admiral Big Weekend. Another mixed and eclectic line up, and a soaking as the pool that gathered on the canopy above the stage managed to totally soak me and a few other photographers. It’s all part of the fun though, as long as nothing gets damaged. August also saw a couple of lovely weddings with Eleanor in Brecon and near Bridgend.

Funeral For a Friend, Admiral Big Weekend, Cardiff

Ty Taylor, Vintage Trouble, Admiral Big Weekend, Cardiff

Nerina Pallot, Admiral Big Weekend, Cardiff

The Feeling, Admiral Big Weekend, Cardiff

Finally in September I had a proper wedding of my own to do in Abergavenny- . I definitely need to learn to drive if there’s going to be more of this wedding malarkey! It went really well, and definitely gave me more confidence. If you need to get the DJ to turn his  red and green LEDs off for the cake cutting, do it. The couple may not notice when you deliver the photos, but they WOULD notice if there were lots of red and green dots over their faces and the lovely expensive clothes they’ve bought specially for their big day!

Also in September, the regret of not trying to get a photo pass for Public Enemy, and the decision to go to the UltraSound Festival in Tamworth instead of Merthyr Rocks. I met a lot of interesting people that day. It’s interesting how some photographers will tell you one thing (“don’t bother there’s no money in it”), then as soon as some good looking girls flutter their eyelashes it’s a totally different story (“I can earn £112,00 in 13 weeks”)! Given the nature of the music at the event there was a mix of music photographers and local press photographers and paps and it was interesting to hear the difference in the frequency of the shutter use between different people.

Last Partisan, Undertone, Cardiff

The Saturdays, UltraSound Festival, Tamworth

Tinie Tempah, UltraSound Festival, Tamworth

NDubz, UltraSound Festival in Tamworth

September also saw the final tour of one of my favourite bands, the Bluetones, who finally split after something like 17 years together. I’m so glad I got back into them in the last few years- I even quite enjoyed having to say my name was Simon Hair when I picked up my photopass. This month also saw me take one of my favourite music photos of the year with a gig featuring Last Partisan, Gindrinker and Totem Terrors, and a photoshoot for a really great local band called Samoans.

The Bluetones final UK gig, Shepherds Bush Empire

Samoans photoshoot


Also in September I was introduced to the Tiger Bay Brawlers. I’ve been looking to get into photographing some sports for a while and I’ve finally found the perfect one in roller derby. I’ve given up on the dream of photographing NBA games, mainly due to it being slightly impractical for my current situation!

October was BUSY! Art Brut! The Lovely Eggs! Totem Terrors! The Pierces! Swn Festival! The Specials! Gregg and Alida’s lovely wedding! So much to do!

Eddie Argos/ Art Brut, Clwb Ifor Bach

Art Brut, Clwb Ifor Bach

The Lovely Eggs, Clwb Ifor Bach

Swn Festival worker

Charlotte Church/ Banded Puma, last minute secret addition to the Swn festival line up

Jim Jones Revue, Swn Festival, Clwb Ifor Bach

Among Brothers, Undertone, Swn Festival

The Pierces, Glee Club, Cardiff

The Specials, Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

Gregg and Alida's big day, Wenvoe

November was nearly winding down time, knowing I had lots of photos to edit and a couple more weddings left I only went to a handful of gigs, including the bands Los Campesinos! Strange News from Another Star and John Mouse , Throwing Muses and a Kutosis album launch. Their album is brilliant by the way so search it out and have a listen then buy it. The highlight of the month was definitely Polly and James’ bonfire night wedding. An amazing day.

Polly and James, Tetbury

Polly and James, first dance

Mark Foley, SNFAS, The Globe, Cardiff

Los Campesinos! at The Globe, Cardiff

Finally, December. One last roller derby and my last wedding of the year, near Leicester, for my old friend Simon and his new wife Katie. So much fun and in the beautiful surroundings of Beaumanor Hall. The camera had one last outing the week before Christmas with a portrait session for Jess. I managed to lose half the bits from my light stand, but I think the pictures were worth it. She looked great with very little effort and I’m really hoping I’ll get to do more portraits in 2012.

Tiger Bay Brawlers, Newport Centre

Kid Block, Tiger Bay Brawlers

B.B. Bombshell

Boba Fettish, Tiger Bay Brawlers

Jess portrait session, Roath Park

Jess, portrait session, Roath Park

So, here we are. A new year with new challenges all with the same result in mind: Be a better photographer. Be a better person. Have a great 2012 everybody!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. bienjamu permalink
    January 4, 2012 11:50 am

    good. work. shamone.

    nervous girl in the crowd is priceless.

    • January 5, 2012 11:47 pm

      Thanks Ben, it took me ages to appreciate that photo. I didn’t really think much of it at first, it was only when someone mentioned it on Flickr I started thinking about it more. Now I really like it!

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