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A week into 2013, here’s my 2012

January 6, 2013

A couple of weeks into December I decided it was time to start looking through my photos, readying myself to write this post. Here we are nearly a week into January and I’m still trying to put my year into words.

The last couple of years I’ve made big steps for someone who is absolutely terrible at selling himself. There have been some landmark moments for me in 2012.

I started off the year in January (like most people) with a live session (unlike most people) at the BBC Wales studios in Cardiff with Kutosis, who were recording a live session for Bethan Elfyn’s show on BBC Radio Wales. The band had released their debut album a couple of months before and 2012 was a great year for them, and deservedly so.

Kutosis at the BBC for Bethan Elfyn

Kutosis at the BBC for Bethan Elfyn

blog 2012 (8 of 91)

blog 2012 (5 of 91)

A couple of weeks later I was asked to do a photoshoot for the School, hopefully for use on their album cover. We did two two shoots over two days and were so pleased with the photos from the one venue that the band went with those for the front cover and inside sleeve.

Richard and Ivan, during photo sessions for the School album cover.

Richard and Ivan, during photo sessions for the School album cover.

The School, photo for inside album sleeve.

The School, photo for inside album sleeve.

In February I went to visit some friends and was greeted at the station by their dog, who was just on her way to an aquatherapy session!

Aquatherapy for dogs!

Aquatherapy for dogs!

February also saw Allo Darlin’ come back to Cardiff. The gig was fantastic, and I happened to take one of my favourite photos of the year of the singer from one of the supports bands- This Many Boyfriends- as he dived on the floor of Buffalo Bar.

blog 2012 (14 of 91)

Also this month I was asked by Buzz Magazine to accompany one of their editors, Gareth, for a behind the scenes piece on the BBC Wales programme, Scrum V. Being in the middle of the Six Nations tournament this was quite exciting, especially getting to meet Robert Jones and Jonathan Davies, two Welsh rugby heroes.

blog 2012 (11 of 91)

blog 2012 (12 of 91)

March saw the birth of my friends’ first child, who became affectionately known as #Bill on a certain social networking site. I’d never really taken photos of babies before, but #Bill is a fine young man: Very good looking and very well behaved.

blog 2012 (15 of 91)

March also saw the beginning of my project on local musicians. It’s still in progress and I’m hoping to get something out this year, with lots of shoots in the pipeline. Projects are something that are great for your development as a photographer, and this is one that has got me really excited.

Graf, Gindrinker

Graf, Gindrinker

Dan, Samoans

Dan, Samoans

Rosie, Totem Terrors

Rosie, Totem Terrors

The last couple of years I’ve become really interested in the International Space Station, and in April there were some great passes overhead. One weekend I managed to get to a friend’s house in the country where there was absolutely minimal light pollution. Such a treat.

blog 2012 (20 of 91)

May saw my return to photographing the Tiger Bay Brawlers after about 6 months at a few closed door bouts…

kid block

kid block

… and an engagement session for the forthcoming wedding of my friends, Emma and Toby, at the Electric Cinema in Birmingham- the oldest working cinema in Britain.

blog 2012 (23 of 91)

It was important that everything was well planned as we had less than two hours to get all the shots done, including setting everything up. Once edited, Emma and Toby put the photos into a beautiful guestbook for people to sign at their wedding.

blog 2012 (22 of 91)

Also in May, Kutosis did a little tour with Olympians, stopping by Undertone in Cardiff, and I took photos of The Temper Trap for Buzz Magazine in the beautiful Coal Exchange in Cardiff. I’d never really listened to the Temper Trap and wasn’t actually sure I’d enjoy them that much, but they were utterly brilliant, with a great light show too.

blog 2012 (24 of 91)

blog 2012 (27 of 91)

One of my most memorable days in June saw me going to photograph Gary Numan at the Coal Exchange with Polly (www.pollythomasphotography.co.uk), but not before I managed to book myself a hotel for 3 in Copenhagen for the same night. Whoops. Luckily that all got sorted fairly swiftly.

It was the third time I’d seen Gary Numan (if we don’t include his appearance with Nine Inch Nails at the 02 on their farewell tour), but I’d never had the chance to photograph him before. He is one of the best people I’ve photographed. The lighting was horrendous, but the shapes he pulled were great.

blog 2012 (29 of 91)

Also in June, I had the pleasure of going to Oldham with the Brawlers for their bout against the Rainy City Roller Girls. It was without doubt the most physical bout I’ve seen, at times resembling Rollerball rather than Roller Derby. Tiger Bay were beaten, both in terms of points and physically in what was an incredibly frustrating bout to watch!

Thrill Collins in a frustrating bout against Rainy City.

Thrill Collins in a frustrating bout against Rainy City.

Towards the end of the month I found myself going to The Moon (just the one in Cardiff unfortunately) for a couple of gigs- first for Right Hand Left Hand and Last Partisan, then a week later for Kutosis as we briefly popped in to see their set during Adam (of Last Partisan)’s leaving drinks before he popped off to Canada.

Right Hand Left Hand have been one of my favourite bands for a few years… such a good live band and Last Partisan are always good shouty, punky fun to watch. Kutosis just get better every time.

last partisan RHLH 065last partisan 23 june  -

RHLH 108rhlh 23 june  -

Jim of Kutosis, making some noise

Jim of Kutosis, making some noise

July was my favourite month of the year. Starting off with a trip to Denmark for the Roskilde Festival, we spent a couple of days wandering around Copenhagen after the festival. It’s the 5th time I’ve been to the festival and I plan to go again if I can drag people along with me. This year I made the decision to not take any photos of any bands, but that did change slightly. I did take more photos around the festival than I normally do, though.

blog 2012 (33 of 91)

blog 2012 (34 of 91)

blog 2012 (36 of 91)

blog 2012 (37 of 91)

Finally on the 21st it was my birthday, so it was really nice of Toby and Emma to organise the entertainment by having their wedding. I may not have known anyone there, but it was the best birthday I’ve ever had. Even better than that time I went to the cinema and watched Batman and Robin for my 19th birthday. SO many lovely photographic opportunities, with a stylish couple in a great setting!

blog 2012 (41 of 91)

blog 2012 (42 of 91)

I also had the chance to spend a couple of hours with a Canon 1DX which will mean nothing to a lot of people, but having had a good go of it, I don’t NEED a £6,000 camera. If anyone wants to get me one though, I definitely wouldn’t say no.

So with July being probably the best month I’ve ever had for anything in my life, August wasn’t far behind in the flippin’ brilliant stakes. I swore I’d never go to Reading again the last time I went as a paying customer, but that all changed when I got the opportunity to go with Samoans, who were playing the BBC Introducing stage in Reading on the Friday, then Leeds on the Saturday.

It was a fantastic couple of days documenting the band on their travels and something I’d love to do again. I met some great people and saw some absolutely awful bands. I also saw the Cure two nights on the trot, which I have absolutely no problem with.

Dan, Samoans

Dan, Samoans

Chris, Samoans

Chris, Samoans

blog 2012 samoans leeds (3 of 3)

Dan, Samoans

Dan, Samoans

Chris, Samoans

Chris, Samoans

Calvin doing the Calvatron after winning* two gold** medals. *buying **chocolate

Calvin doing the Calvatron after winning* two gold** medals. *buying **chocolate

As if all this excitement wasn’t enough, I got an email from NME asking if they could use one of my photos from the absolutely beautiful Perfume Genius gig at the Globe. Oh I suppose so. They didn’t want my favourite one though…

blog 2012 perfume genius (1 of 1)

September saw an amazing tour of the country by Africa Express, a collection of over 80 musicians from various parts of Africa, America and Britain. Various events happened around the city, but the gig in the Student’s Union was one of the best things I have ever witnessed.

blog 2012 (52 of 91)

blog 2012 (59 of 91)

blog 2012 (67 of 91)

After cycling success at the Olympics and the Tour de France, the Tour of Britain came to Caerphilly in September, and despite the no show from Bradley Wiggins (I think due to illness if I remember correctly) there was a massive crowd to greet the cyclists. It’s a great experience, despite only lasting seconds as they whizz past you.

blog 2012 (70 of 91)

blog 2012 (73 of 91)

Also in September, Hold Your Horse Is came to Cardiff for a nice loud show in Undertone. There’s something about Undertone that I like for photographing bands, especially with a little pop of flash when the band members go into the crowd.

Empire

Empire

As my wedding season was pretty much over by October I could concentrate on gigs, which is just as well, given how many are on at this time of year. After going to see Samoans launch their EP, the first gig I photographed in October was when The Jim Jones Revue came to Clwb Ifor Bach. After seeing them at Swn Festival last year there was no way I was turning this one down. The general consensus was that they weren’t as good as last time, but they were still one of the best things I’ve seen this year. So much energy, and so loud. A great, proper rock ‘n’ roll band!

Jim Jones Revue, Clwb Ifor Bach

Jim Jones Revue, Clwb Ifor Bach

Jim Jones Revue, view from the bar

Jim Jones Revue, view from the bar

Tiger Bay Brawlers A Team also faced Dolly Rockit Rollers All Stars and made light work of the bout, with a record win for the home team, 496-30. A fantastic performance. This year has seen me trying to find my own style within roller derby. There are so many good photographers around (not to mention people in the crowd with cameras) that it’s important to take photos that stand out. It is HARD, but I’m pleased with the way things are going.

Boba Fettish, Tiger Bay Brawlers

Boba Fettish, Tiger Bay Brawlers

The last week in October was all about the music, with a gig for the Welsh Music Prize, followed by four days of Swn Festival.
The Welsh Music Prize gig showcased most of the bands nominated for the award later won by Future of the Left, and what could have been a disaster of a night (HOW MANY BANDS DID YOU SAY ARE PLAYING?!) turned out to be a great night and an excellent way to expose yourself to new music.

Kelson, Truckers of Husk

Kelson, Truckers of Husk

Swn Festival continues to grow in size and reputation, and this year I decided I was going to try to absorb it all a bit and take it a bit slower than usual. I had my list of bands to cover for Buzz, but with the new rules Swn introduced stating that we should only be taking photos for the first song of support bands in smaller venues- a rule I fully support- there was no point in rushing to other venues after getting out after your first song, as the other bands would be well into their set. Admittedly the rule is hard to stick to, but if the photographers respect the paying customers I don’t see the problem with slightly bending the rules within reason. The problems come when you have either someone moving around for the duration of a set, with no sense of spatial awareness and their flash going off every couple of seconds. Unfortunately it did still happen at a couple of sets, but overall there was a massive improvement on previous years.

Highlights for me included The Cribs, Sweet Baboo, Kutosis, Scritti Politti and The School, and the queue for Bo Ningen at Dempsey’s. A special mention also has to go to the door staff there who had to put up with some persistent harrassment from a group of people playing the “Don’t you know who we are?” card because they had a stage in a nearby venue. Unfortunately for them, the “It doesn’t matter who you are” card beats the “Don’t you know who we are?” card quite substantially. Pretty embarrassing behaviour, well handled.

Gulp, Cardiff Solus, Swn Festival

Gulp, Cardiff Solus, Swn Festival

The Cribs, Cardiff University, Swn Festival

The Cribs, Cardiff University, Swn Festival

Islet, The Moon, Swn Festival 2012

Islet, The Moon, Swn Festival 2012

The Swn Festival also ended with the party of the year at Clwb Ifor Bach. This party of the year was followed by the worst two days of the year, featuring a massive hangover and being tagged in about a billion terrible photos on a certain popular social networking site.

Things died down a bit in November, though I did a couple of nice assisting jobs for local commercial photographer. I did manage to get to one gig- Europe, at the Coal Exchange. As much as I would have loved to have stayed, I had a job early in the morning and couldn’t face staying another two hours to hear the one hit!

blog 2012 europe (3 of 11)

December saw me visiting #Bill again, to have a catch up and take some photos of him now he’s six months old. Again he was so well behaved, but taking photos of kids is impossible. I have the utmost respect for those who do it for a job!

#Bill

#Bill

December 12th was one of those nights where you would have been happy spending money on any of the four main gigs going on in town, and I wasn’t disappointed with my choice to go to the Launch of Local Sports Team’s debut EP, with support from Gindrinker and Alex Dingley. It was a great night, only let down by the fact it didn’t get the crowd it would have had on any other night.

Gindrinker

Gindrinker

The year ended as it started, at the BBC with a band recording a live session for Bethan Elfyn. This time, fittingly, the band was Samoans. I say “fittingly” as I think my absolute highlight of the year was going to Reading and Leeds with them.

blog 2012 samoans (1 of 1)-2

blog 2012 samoans (1 of 1)-3

So, while I don’t feel I’ve achieved a massive amount, in reality I have achieved way more than I ever thought I would. Published in Wedding Ideas magazine, NME and the Guardian G2, plus an album cover and inlay sleeve, and a wedding most people would LOVE to be at as a guest or photographer, 2012 was an amazing year for me.

As I think about writing down my goals for 2013, the top of the list has to be to enjoy my achievements a bit more. I’ve always found it easier to pick holes in myself rather than singing my own praises and appreciating some of my better work. Having said that, this year I finally got some of my own photos printed to put around my room, so things are on the up!

Being a photographer is a great job, but it’s an amazing life. It’s time for me to start embracing this fact.

Have a brilliant 2013 everyone, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

And well done if you’ve read all this.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 23, 2013 12:16 am

    This evening I learnt who Jim Jones was and spent a long time researching the Jonestown suicides. But not as long as I spent trying to find your Jim Jones review picture on Facebook to comment on.

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