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Trees and stuff

November 4, 2012

It has come to my attention that I haven’t blogged for quite a while, and as the weddings and gigs are winding up for the year I’ve been looking for some other things to point my camera at to keep me going.

Recently I’ve been trying to help my friend with her photography, but after seeing her first lot of photos it was evident she didn’t actually need much help. Some of the landscapes she took on a weekend away were fantastic, and honestly, better than any landscapes I feel I’ve taken. In fact, landscapes have always been a bit of  a problem for me- trying to turn a big inanimate scene into something dramatic or exciting (or even just nice to look at) had always proved to be a bit of a problem for me.

 

I took a Landscape photography course a couple of years ago and it helped me look at things in a totally different way. For me, landscape doesn’t have to be all big sweeping views and beaches and mountains- it doesn’t have to be about the bigger picture- and as a result, my coursework project concentrated on the minutiae that makes up the landscape at some bigger tourist locations in South Wales, whether that be a flower or a discarded cigarette or an empty packet of Quavers blowing around in the wind. The module helped my photography in other areas too, but since I finished my course I haven’t really done much similar- mainly taking photos of people- so when I was asked if I wanted to go to Westonbirt Arboretum a few weeks ago I jumped at the chance. How would I see things with my camera?

We may have been a week or so late to catch the autumn colours in their prime but there were some beautiful species on display and some lovely colours to capture.  I’m quite pleased with my results in many cases. It’s nice thinking more about composition and colours rather than the actual subject, but I think I’ve got a decent mix of both, overall.

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Thanks to Jenny and Jim for a great day out. Next time make sure I have a bigger coat.

Tour of Caerphilly

September 15, 2012

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I can’t believe it’s been a year since I went up Caerphilly Mountain to catch a glimpse of last year’s Tour of Britain- it feels like only a few months ago, but the time has finally come again to totally rearrange my working week in order to get up to the top in time.

After catching the train from Cardiff I started pacing up the hill, just as I noticed I’d had a text from my friend Caitlin saying there were rumours at the top that Bradley Wiggins had pulled out this morning. Nobody at the top had any internet connection on their phones, so I quickly loaded up a screen grab of the BBC page confirming the news to her and made my way up. As happened last year, somebody started talking to me on the way up, asking about the area. He’d come from Bristol and cycling runs in his family, having had two professional cyclists before him he grew up surrounded by it and now follows it wherever he can, and having previously spent 2 weeks following the Tour de France a couple of months ago he now found himself halfway up a windy mountain in Caerphilly. In fairness, it does have a lovely view.

As with last year the atmosphere was brilliant, with people cycling to the top before the race getting a big cheer (or in some cases heckled) by the crowd and strangers stopping and talking to each other on their way up. There was a fairly noticeable increase in numbers this year, with British cyclists having had such a successful year it was great to see such continued support. It would be great if this could carry on to the extent that more people would take up cycling, which could in turn lead to greater acceptance for cyclists and ultimately better cycle paths being provided in some areas.

I’d love to have a bike but ultimately, I don’t feel that safe on the road. And I can’t afford one. And I have nowhere to keep it…

Anyway, enough about me, today we got twice as much for our money compared to last year as they went up the hill twice! Bonus!

Unfortunately my lack of reception for ITV4 and my lack of anything other than some freeview channels means I’ve been quite out of the loop with cycling since about 1988 so I still don’t know many of the competitors, and I haven’t got round to even seeing who won, but if you don’t already know, you can just have  look yourself!

In the meantime, here are some photos…

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Africa Express comes to town…

September 12, 2012

When writing a blog post, I sometimes try to get things written down as soon after the event I’m writing about as possible, and anyone who knows me -or at least who has received an email from me (or read any of my previous blog posts)- knows I’m not one for keeping things brief.

After five days of thinking about it, it’s time to write something about the Cardiff leg of the Africa Express tour that traveled across the country last week. But what do I write that hasn’t already been said? How do I put into words an experience that left me sat down staring into space for nearly forty minutes when I got home?

I can’t. I’ve tried, I’ve deleted what I’ve written and tried again and again. I’ve given up and come back to it-  I just can’t come up with anything that would do it justice. So many highlights, from Marques Toliver’s rich, soulful voice and violin playing, plus being an absolutely lovely guy along with all the other musicians at the Spillers Records instore, to being about five feet away from Damon Albarn singing Tender with an eight piece female choir made up of various musicians from the tour, and actually being able to hear him, not through the PA or monitors, but HIM, ACTUALLY HIM, to the beautiful (hell, they were ALL beautiful) Fatoumata Diawara to just the feeling of immense joy I got every time I looked around and saw EVERYBODY wearing their biggest smile. Cardiff gigs rarely sell out, and they rarely have an amazing atmosphere, but this was just…  so special. It wasn’t about names or egos or anyone being bigger or better than anyone else, it was a celebration of music. This all sounds terribly cheesey, and before the gig I did wonder how or if it would actually work to the point of not being sure I even wanted to go, but being in such a privileged position as the photo pit for a gig like this is something that will take a lot of beating, and unusually, we were allowed to stay for the whole night rather than just the first 3 songs.

There are blogs and reviews of the whole tour all over the internet from The Line of Best Fit to The Guardian plus Polly Thomas’ own take on the Cardiff gig, where she has put it into words much better than I could, along with some lovely photos. http://pollythomas.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/africa-express-at-solus-cardiff-6th-september-2012/.

So I’ll say no more. I’m just going to leave you with a slideshow.

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Emma and Toby’s Big Day A.K.A Happy Birthday to me!

August 3, 2012

My regular reader may remember that back in May (I think) I took some photos for Emma and Toby at the Electric in Birmingham, for a kind of engagement session which was going to be made into a guestbook at their wedding on July 21st. Well, after what seems like no time at all, July 21st  was soon upon us, so I gathered my 25lbs camera bag (yep, I packed way too much again) and a bit of lighting kit and made my way to Birmingham with Polly, who thankfully said yes to assisting/ 2nd shooting with me.

We found our hotel then went on our way to meet Emma and Toby who were having a Chinese buffet not far from where we were staying. It’s a shame we didn’t get to stay an extra day because I wouldn’t have minded going there at some point, maybe next time!

After being woken up by a text an hour after my alarms didn’t go off – I’m still not used to setting alarms for specific days on my phone- the day started with a bit of a panic, so after an emergency cheese and onion pasty breakfast for two we headed over to the lovely Malmaison hotel to get to work on some photo taking while the happy couple were getting ready for the main event.

After moving between Emma and Toby’s rooms across the hall from each other for a couple of hours, we jumped in the car (belonging to Simon Clarke, the brilliant videographer) and headed over to the Old Library in Digbeth. I went there with Emma and Toby a few months ago as they were cleaning up after the night before and it looked like a  lovely place with loads of potential, but I didn’t expect to see what greeted us when we arrived. The room looked beautiful; naturally lit from the skylights and laid out with crockery and books, with cut out hearts scattered across the floor and tables, and the sound of cameras going off all around as the guests and even the registrar looked around in wonder. The amount of love that Emma and Toby poured into this wedding was easy to see.

The day went pretty much without a hitch (apart from the alarm not going off and the forgotten but not essential tripod) and as more guests arrived for the evening it’s clear to see from the photos that everyone had a great time.

Taken by Polly Thomas

Taken by Polly Thomas

 

 

  

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taken by Polly Thomas

I’ve been lucky to photograph weddings in some lovely venues in the last couple of years but considering there’s not a field, a tree or a beach in sight, this place was full of photographic possibilities, all within a minute or so of each other. It also helps that Emma and Toby have an amazing sense of style (as did their friends) to match their natural good looks.
 

Special thanks must go out to the registrars/ officiants who were easily the friendliest and most accomodating I’ve encountered, the venue staff for also being friendly with us, and Simon Clarke who didn’t mind us stealing a couple of his shot set ups (if he did, it didn’t show) and was a most splendid chap all day long.

Extra special thanks to Polly who did an amazing job having only ever been to one wedding before in her life, then had to get up at 5am to get back to do another job in Cardiff, after getting back to the hotel at 2am. I think we made a great team.

Last but not least, massive thanks to Mr and Mrs Marshall for choosing us to capture their beautiful day.  Definitely one to remember for all involved. Have a long and fantastic life together. x

links…

www.simonclarkevp.blogspot.com

www.pollythomasphotography.co.uk

Tusind tak.

July 12, 2012

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As ever, it’s been a busy few weeks and I’ve not had a great deal of time to write any blogs. Parents going on holiday and one of my best friends leaving the country for a few months meant a bit less photography and a bit more me time before going to Denmark for Roskilde Festival 2012.

 

Anyone who really know me knows how much I love Denmark. It’s an obsession that goes back to watching the 1986 World Cup in Mexico where the Danish team (and fans) left a massive imprint on my 8 year old heart. From the time I started buying the NME in the mid 90s and hearing about Roskilde I wanted to go, then reading about the tragic events during the Pearl Jam set of 2000 just drew me in further.

Finally I went with some friends in 2005 (some photos here for anyone interested  http://www.flickr.com/photos/simonayre/sets/72157600079110511/) and returned every year until 2008. After that, a combination of losing my job and not really having anyone else who wanted to go meant I stayed home, until this year I finally got to go back.

We got there on the Wednesday evening with tents already pitched for us, with the main arena opening and bands starting on the Thursday. My plan was to not take any photos of bands at all, but slowly my plans went a bit awry. I didn’t take the right lenses for it and didn’t have any photo pit access and I was doing really well to not think about taking photos, but then on the Saturday night we got into the pit for Bruce Springsteen. By this I don’t mean the photo pit; Roskilde has an excellent pit system where if you really want to see a band you have to queue up in advance to get into the pit which holds a few thousand people. Rather like the “Golden Circle” you often see at bigger stadium shows, only done out of health and safety concerns rather than financial gain.

The stewards at the festival are fantastic, often dancing along to the music and handing out never ending cups of water to the grateful crowds, and always smiling. The contrast between Roskilde and the bigger British Festivals is quite something, but I guess it actually comes down to the mentality of the people that populate Denmark. It’s not weird for people to come and talk to you, it’s the norm for people to check if someone lying on the floor in a drunken stupor is okay. There’s no sense of threat or discomfort like I’ve felt at British festivals. I spoke to a stall holder who happened to be English who was in his 16th year (I believe) working at the festival who said in all his time there he has never had one incident in his shop, while at British festivals you can expect a few over each weekend. British people could learn a lot from the Danish. Everyone could.

Anyway,  my plan was to photograph the goings on at the festival, but arriving on the Wednesday didn’t leave any time as the bands all started on Thursday, so I just grabbed a few chances as and when I could. After all, I was paying to see bands, not take photos!

The bands started with Django Django whose album I’d heard once and quite liked but not enough to buy, but I was well impressed with their live set. Great harmonies, great songs, terrible t shirts. Great reaction when the singer said he went to Uni in er… I’ve forgotten where, but somewhere nearby. After they finished I wandered around to where the Shins were, but it was pretty ful so I carried on in a circle until I got back to see Clock Opera, a band I’d heard of but didn’t know anything about. A great surprise. I didn’t know what to expect but thought it might be a bit too twee. Totally wrong, so I was. I shall be investigating further.

After a few appearances at European festivals over the last few years I’ve heard a few people have not a lot of great things to say about watching the Cure. I’ve always quite liked them (as in never bought their albums until I bought that one I never listened to a few years ago) so was cautiously willing to give them a try, hoping that my expectations wouldn’t be too high. Well all you naysayers… maybe you were unlucky, but I thought they were bloody brilliant. For 3 whole hours. Yes, they did a few songs I didn’t know (I was surprised how many I did actually know) and they probably could have chopped their set down a bit, but it was well worth staying for. I might listen to them now, actually, if I can find my one album.

I ran over to see Janelle Monae but couldn’t get in the tent because she was busting tunes like a one woman Outkast. Brilliant performance from what I could see from outside, but I had to get back to the Orange Stage for Apparatjik.

Now… a super group containing members of a-ha, Coldplay and Mew may not be considered “super” by many hep cats, but I had to see them. A-ha are one of my favourite bands of all time and I only got to see them twice, and I love Mew too, and I’m not bothered by Coldplay – I really don’t like their last album but the stuff before I didn’t mind if I’m honest. So it all started with some screens and some shadows of the band members playing and it was okay. Nothing amazing but I was glad to see them. I recommended them to everyone in our group and they went to see them for ten minutes and decided they were rubbish and went back to their tents. LOSERS. What followed was amazing. The band went off and the lights went down, nobody knew what was going on, then this DJ pops up in the middle of the big speakers in the field by the sound desk in this brightly lit up box and started playing this pumping dance music for 15- 20 minutes, while loads of characters came out from under the DJ box (from what I could see as there was quite a big crowd in my way) and wandered through the security pit. After this, all eyes and ears were back to the stage for a nice solo song from someone who had a great voice but I have no idea who she was, then the band came back on, then the guitarist came back on riding a big metal reindeer, then all the crowd chanted with the band, then all the funny ceatures were on stage dancing, then there was a massive explosion of confetti/ ticker tape, then I realised THIS IS IT! THIS IS MY FISCHERSPOONER AT COACHELLA MOMENT! It was like a mixture of Super Furry Animals, Flaming lips and a Fischerspooner gig all rolled into one. BLOODY BRILLIANT.  Then I went to bed and loads of bits of paper were everywhere in my tent. And my camera bag, my pocket, my passport is still full of them- I even had some stuck in my 35mm lens after taking this photo.

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As is always the way with festivals, we all got up the next day recalling what we’d seen separately the night before then went to get some food. The food stalls at Roskilde offer fantastic choice with the quality of food being of a very high standard, and with all establishments required to have at least one vegetarian dish it’s nice to know that wherever you go you are well catered for.

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There are all sorts of things going on all over the site, whether that be the themed camp sites or inside the main arena. There are demonstrations and attractions everywhere you look, none more stranger this year than the big house tent thing that was being suspended high up in the air by a crane. We couldn’t really see what it was all about, but hey, whatever. Obviously I had to take a photo of it.

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After seeing Jack White on the Orange stage we went for a wander around and ended up underneath the house tent thing… what a brilliant sight.

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Projecting light onto the white blocks underneath where people were sitting and/ or dancing depending on who you were looking at, it was one of my favourite experiences of the festival, along with seeing Jack White with his all female band. His drummer is absolutely amazing to watch. The whole band were amazing, as you’d expect from him, but I just couldn’t take my eyes off the drummer! Amazing.

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I left my friends to Niki and the Dove while I went to watch Daughter play to a packed out Gloria stage. I had the pleasure (and luck) to photograph her/ them do a short acoustic set at Swn at an even held by Bethan Elfyn and Adam Walton last year, so to see them play a full set in a packed out arena of roughly 1000 people going nuts for them was undoubtedly a highlight. I expected the tent to be fairly quiet, as it appeared so did they! It was lovely to see their reaction to the crowd’s reaction to them- it looked like it may have been pretty surreal to them. After Daughter I headed over to see Spleen United who I was particularly looking forward to, and they didn’t disappoint. Playing songs mainly off their new album with a sprinkling of older songs off their previous two albums, they came off stage at around 4 in the morning to rapturous applause.

There wasn’t a massive amount on the Saturday I was bothered about seeing, so I headed out to see Cerebral Ballzy to blow a few of the cobwebs away. They played a pretty raucous set of bratty punk before I spent the next few hours doing nothing! Alriiight!

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I then went to catch First Aid Kit who were absolutely lovely, but I was feeling pretty rough as the lack of sleep was catching up with me, so I got out from the outskirts of the hot tent and the massive crowd to have a wander around where I could still hear them, then went for a sit down for another couple of hours. I should have gone to see the Roots really, as I’ve always wanted to see them, but I went for some food and more rest before heading off to see the Low Anthem, who were excellent.

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We then went to get some food, having decided to miss out M83 in favour of seeing Bruce Springsteen from the pit. The queue was huge, but somehow we still managed to get in with plenty of time and room to spare. We got talking to two lovely people in the pit who were there just for the day, specifically to see the Boss. We also saw someone who previously asked who the people in the long queue were waiting for, and seemed totally oblivious to the fact Springsteen was even on the bill, judging by her reaction. Amazing, given his name was pretty much at the top of the poster AND IT WAS BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.

After 3 hours, we pretty much all decided that we’d just seen one of the best sets we are ever likely to see. I didn’t even like Bruce Springsteen 10 years ago. I didn’t get him at all until the Rising came out and I suddenly decided I liked him, but admittedly I was close to tears a few times on Saturday night, particularly during 10th Avenue Freeze Out when the song stopped for a beautiful montage of footage of Clarence Clemons. It’s still hard to believe the big man’s no longer with us, but his shoes have been filled by his nephew, Jake, who fitted in just perfectly. It’s nice to see him take as much of the spotlight as any of the other members, rather than blending into the shadows.

Particular highlights for me were Because the Night, Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, Born to Run, Born in the USA, Dancin’ in the Dark, Spirit in the Night, E Street Shuffle (featuring the Roots who played earlier in the day).. Ah hell, ALL of it was a highlight.

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I was particularly looking froward to seeing Mew again, but how could they possibly follow the set by Bruce Springsteen? Well, I’m glad I stayed out, because they were fantastic. It’s nice seeing bands that are little known over here but massive in Denmark. Mew are one of those bands, who, apart from supporting Nine Inch Nails a few years ago I’ve only really seen them advertised playing in Cardiff Barfly, which I massively regret not going to TWICE! Being surrounded by Danish people singing every word was an absolute joy, and another night ended on a high at 3am.  

Sunday was another day where I wasn’t bothered about who or what I saw. I started the day with a bit of Dr John, who was exactly as I expected (ie I used to really like him about 15 years ago but my tastes have since changed) but I’m glad I can tick him off my list, then I lost my programme and couldn’t remember who I wanted to see and where. I knew R Stevie Moore was playing somewhere but I couldn’t find his name on any of the stages, so I assumed I missed him. Little did I know I was sat right next to the stage he played on while he was playing. Then it was on for Friendly Fires who were great when they eventually came on after a few techinical hitches, followed by Santigold who was highly entertaining. Not someone I’m massively bothered with on record, I like some of her stuff and dislike some of her stuff in equal measure- a bit like I used to feel about Radiohead. Her dancers were utterly brilliant, and I’d highly recommend seeing her should you be of that musical persuasion.

Following Santigold was an announcement that it had been raining quite heavily during her set, so we went back to the tents to get some jackets which we didn’t end up needing before heading back in to catch Bjork. I find Bjork fascinating. I have a lot of respect for her while not being that into her music, but she was brilliant live and an amazing way to end the festival, along with the curry I had from Thai Lanna. All cooked freshly, it was one of the tastiest meals I’ll have this year. It’s not often you get to say that at a festival.

So, after packing everything away the next morning we headed into Copenhagen for a couple of nights to celebrate Andy’s Big Dirty Thirty as he was calling his birthday, and went to see some sights. We ate in a really nice burger and cocktails place called Cock’s and Cows, where we devoured probably a bit more than we should have, much to the amusement of the lovely waitress. Copenhagen is a lovely place, and despite this being my 5th visit, I’ve never really seen much of it. We recitfied this by going on an hour long boat trip, going to a little coffee shop, visiting the design museum (I think it was a museum anyway!) and a whistle stop tour of the History Museum. I also decided to try to take some street photos using a technique I’d never tried before, which basically involved not looking at what I was doing. I didn’t do a great job.

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The design museum is probably the best museum I’ve been to (genuinely accidental nod to Carlsberg ads there- possibly related to it being the drink of choice in the pubs we went to)- it’s amazing seeing what people are coming up with. And the history museum involved a massive silver cauldron, a couple of dead bodies found in bogs, a chariot thing, some weapons and some coins…. I really wish I had plenty of time to walk around there and take it all in, but we only had about 40 minutes before it closed. We ended the day with a trip to Tivoli Gardens and a pizza before getting up early the next day to fly back to disappointing old Britain.  Can I have a Groundhog Week please?

I’d better start saving for next year I guess.

The last week…

June 5, 2012

Well, the last week has been really tiring, but really great! It started with a wedding with Eleanor (www.eleanorjane.co.uk) on Saturday for a lovely couple in Cwmbran in absolutely scorching heat. I got up on Sunday and had lost about 5lbs in two days and decided I never wanted to carry my camera bag around ever again. The problem with my bag is that because it’s so big I can fit a lot in there. Because I can fit a lot in there, I put a lot in there, just in case. I think I need to stop doing it as it means I’m always swapping lenses! 

Anyway, on Sunday I went and photographed my friend Polly. We’d half mentioned the idea before but never got round to it, but as I hadn’t seen her for a while and she’d recently had her hair cut, (which is totally relevant!) it seemed as good a time as any. No prizes for guessing where the influence came from, and thanks again to Polly for being a willing subject. Any time I can return the favour give me a shout (she’s also an amazing photographer, by the way).

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This week also saw me photographing a drama workshop held by the Sherman Theatre at Moorland Road Primary School in Cardiff. Photographing kids is a challenge! It’s hard enough taking photos of them when they’re in a formal setting but when they’re in part of a drama class it’s nearly impossible. It was a fun afternoon though, and something I’ve never really done before, and I’m always willing to try new things photographically speaking. I think.

Saturday saw the arrival of Gary Numan at the Coal Exchange in Cardiff Bay. I bought a couple of tickets a month or so ago as I knew my brother would want to see him but wouldn’t go if he had nobody to go with. He ended up stood on his own throughout the gig anyway as I’d managed to get myself a photo pass, so by the time I got out of the pit after 3 songs I had no idea where he was.

I’ve been to some sweaty gigs in my time, but this was definitely up there! It wasn’t quite sold out I believe, but the crowd was in good form, as was Gary Numan himself. Officers were great support, but having their monitors in the photo pit meant I only got a couple of okay photos. Polly managed to squeeze through to the centre, but as my thigh is probably bigger than her there was no way I was getting through. Luckily they removed most of the monitors/ tables after their set, with just one table left near the middle.

This was the fourth time I’d seen Gary Numan in one way or another, first in 1996 when I probably only knew “Cars” and “Are Friends Electric” at V96, then he came on and did “Metal” and “Cars” with Nine Inch Nails at the O2 a couple of years ago which was amazing (look at Rob Sheridan’s amazing on stage video here! http://vimeo.com/6859938). A few years ago (maybe 2009) I went to see him with my friend Emma and accidentally got so shamefully drunk I don’t remember a thing- not one of my finest moments. So, finally I got the chance to photograph him AND enjoy the gig.

Opening with Berserker, Metal and the Fall, he was an absolute joy to photograph. We could have done with nicer lighting in some instances but in terms of the shapes he throws, he’s up there with the best of people I’ve had the luck to photograph. We got out of the pit fairly drenched but it was all worthwhile. We watched the rest of the gig from the side before moving a bit further back and I have to say, as someone who only vaguely knows some of his songs, I really enjoyed it. I knew it would be great, but was expecting as I don’t know a massive amount of his work that I might get a bit bored not knowing everything, which wasn’t the case. I also had that increasingly rare feeling of not feeling really old at a gig. Or I did, until Polly got that Sugababes song stuck in her head… but she had a point when she said that Are Friends Electric has one of the best synth lines in the history of music (or something like that).

Brilliant gig from start to finish.

Now I’ve got that Sugababes song in my head. Sorry if you do too.

 You can also view more at www.flickr.com/photos/simonayre/

Getting a New Photo Album.

May 22, 2012

No, not that sort of album. Last week (yes I’m a bit delayed with this) saw the release of the new album by The School, an eight piece band from Cardiff signed to Elefant Records.  “Reading Too Much Into Things Like Everything” features some dreamy vocals, lovely harmonies and has all sorts of influences from sixties girlpop and indie… well my writing about music isn’t too great, so feel free to listen to them yourself here http://elefant.com/en/disco/15350/Reading%20Too%20Much%20Into%20Things%20Like%20Everything 

They’re one of my favourite bands from Cardiff so it’s really nice to be asked to take promo photos for them (which I did towards the end of 2011), and then album photos too. We did two photoshoots on two rainy but great days in January and last week was the first time I got to see my photo on the actual  LP sleeve (there’s a beautiful bit of white vinyl inside too!). 

I’m really pleased with it, especially the photo on the inside! It’s the second album cover I’ve had, and while I will always love the first one for many reasons (A. It’s Future of the Left, B. It was my first album cover C. It’s a great album D, It’s Future of the Left…) I’m really pleased with this because of the fact it was an actual photoshoot where we got what we set out to do.

The Future of the Left album was a huge thing for me, but a by-product of me taking photos at one of their gigs in Clwb Ifor Bach. It’s kind of weird looking at that cd cover and making the connection that two of my photos are on what is essentially one of my favourite albums.

 

The thing I like most about this though, is seeing my photos on Spotify, Amazon, HMV.com  and in record shops like Spillers, and knowing that we went in with a plan for the School album cover makes it something I’m more proud of. It’s nice when a band you respect thinks enough of you to put you in that position. Let’s hope there are more to come (HELLO DURAN DURAN CAN YOU HEAR ME?) 

Catch them on tour with the Primitives now- there are still a few gigs left.   (The School, that is, not Duran Duran.)

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Emma and Toby at the Electric

May 12, 2012

Back last year I got asked to photograph the wedding of my friends, Emma and Toby, on July 21st this year. They are absolutely lovely people, and I knew straight away I wanted to do it. I want to photograph people like Emma and Toby; they have lots of personality and always look good, with  a great sense of style and you know there will be great attention to detail at their wedding, plus it’s on my birthday so I don’t have to arrange anything!

One of the things we wanted to do was a pre wedding/ engagement shoot, and I’ve only ever done one before so I was really excited (and nervous) about it. We’d had a couple of ideas, then recently I got an email from Emma saying they’d booked the Electric Cinema in Birmingham. I hadn’t heard of the place before, but I’ve ALWAYS wanted to take photos in a cinema! The Electric is a lovely place, as you can see here–> http://www.theelectric.co.uk/

I arrived the day before so we could have a catch up, and Toby cooked us some Fajitas and we watched some tv and a Maximo Park dvd, then after a nice night and a good sleep we headed off to the Electric for an hour, before seeing the wedding venues, having some sushi and getting my train back home. The best 24 hours I’ve had in a long while. 

 

 

It’s hard for …

April 1, 2012

It’s hard for me to believe but it’s been roughly 5 months since I last photographed a roller derby bout, so I’d been looking forward to last night for ages. It’s so easy to become absolutely obsessed with and when home bouts are quite rare I look at photos of other leagues/ bouts being added on facebook and get quite jealous that I’m missing out on the roller derby action. I’ve thought about contacting other leagues to take photos but when it came down to it, I couldn’t. Tiger Bay Brawlers is where it’s at for me. If I photographed anyone else I’d feel like I was cheating on them.

 I haven’t felt the need to do a lot of photography this year so far. I mean that in a good way, it’s all about the quality, not quantity. Capturing moments. I’ve done an unusually small amount of gigs this year (for me, at least) and when I have done them I’ve taken a lot less photos than I previously would. I’d like to do more but it’s about doing the right ones from now on. I’ve got a few weddings lined up assisting/ second shooting for Eleanor ( www.eleanorjane.co.uk ) which I can’t wait for, and we did our first one of the season on Friday in Oxwich Bay which was absolutely lovely. Barely a cloud in the sky and right next to the beach – we couldn’t ask for much more for the first wedding of the season!

Anyway, yesterday was finally bout day. Tiger Bay Brawlers vs London Rockin’ Rollers at Tal-y-Bont. We arrived just in time, after going to the pub down the road for some food and drinks and a catch up beforehand. I got off to a bit of a shaky start with my photos, but soon pulled myself together. Roller Derby is such a fast sport to photograph that it requires a slightly different technique to most of the stuff I do, and I always use two bodies with different lenses, both of which have slightly different methods of control. There were at least another four photographers yesterday too, so I really had to be on the ball. I don’t know about the other photographers, but I want to be the best in whatever situation I’m in. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to be, so I’m sure they’ll feel the same.

 Whatever the outcome with their photos, I’m really pleased with mine. I took less than half the amount of photos I’d taken at previous bouts and still came out with as many that I’d be pleased with. Less duplicates, more moments. There were a few that weren’t quite as good as I’d hoped, but I still feel I’ve made a massive amount of progress. I guess the way to judge will be the amount of Facebook comments and other feedback they get. In the meantime, all I can do is keep working at it.

As for the bout itself, Tiger Bay Brawlers were in control all the way, winning 254 -84. Standout performances (for me at least) came from Hello Reeshii, Bloxie Blackout and some killer hits from Kid Block, though it was a great performance all round.

Dear the next bout,

PLEASE HURRY UP,

Thanks,

Simon

 

 

 

 

Spring is sprung

March 24, 2012

Well, what a great couple of weeks I’ve had.

The last few months I’ve been feeling a bit like I need to get more inspired. I’ve had a quiet couple of months since Christmas, which has been my own choice, but it’s made me reflect a bit on where I am with my photography. Anyone who knows me knows I tend to beat myself up a bit over silly little things that mean nothing to other people. I  learn from these things every time, but it can take its toll. So I’ve been taking time to get inspired.

I’ve been wanting to start a project for ages but it’s just been a matter of waiting for one to come to me. I don’t think you can really force a project, and I’ve come up with one I’m really happy with and really interested in, and it kind of helps me keep in touch with the old me a bit. I won’t say what the project is just yet, but it’s underway and I’m excited about it and really pleased with some of my photos so far, so there will be more on that soon and maybe a seperate blog, or part of a website, or something.

I spent a day in London with two friends recently for a day of exhibitions and saw some absolutely brilliant stuff. The highlight was the Eve Arnold exhibition at Art Sensus. It features 100 photos, pretty much spanning her career and it’s massive, in a lovely space, and FREE.   http://www.timeout.com/london/art/event/255482/all-about-eve-the-photography-of-eve-arnold  – a little write up from Time Out which explains it far better than I could.

I’ve also been to FOCUS on Imaging at the Birmingham NEC, which is essentially a photography trade show, but there were plenty of great demonstrations and talks by Christian Hough, Damian Lovegrove and Lara Jade  which I managed to catch. Well, I only caught the very end of the Damien Lovegrove one actually. Literally, the last couple of words, but having seen him in action I know it would have been good. There was so much to learn though, the Christian Hough talks on the Bowens stand were great and the Lara Jade talk just gave everyone there something to aim for. She’s so young but has done so much!

On Wednesday 21st I was also woken up on my day off by a text from Helia Phoenix, which read “Yr photo is in the bloody guardian today!!!!! Well done!”

I’ve been helping with occasional photo jobs for We Are Cardiff for the last couple of years, along with a few other photographers, and got wind on Tuesday night of an article in the G2 supplement on Wednesday about hyperlocal blogging and how it’s taking off around the world. Initially there was no photo involved with the article on the website, but when it came out in print the following morning there was a photo I’d taken of Zoe Howerska, a lovely Cardiff based costume designer (and her brilliant Pug!) who recently had her story published on the We Are Cardiff blog. To be honest, I didn’t know how to feel about it personally. It’s a piece about We Are Cardiff, not about myself so I kind of feel like it’s not me that should be congratulated. You wouldn’t know that it was me who took it unless you were one of the few that knew or you were told, so I felt a bit like the texts, tweets and facebook messages were sent to the wrong person. That’s not to say I was ungrateful of it, just more undeserving of it. I retreated to the hills for the day to kind of forget about it. Now, on reflection…  I HAD A PHOTO ON THE COVER OF THE G2 IN THE GUARDIAN!

Front Cover, The Guardian/ G2, Wednesday 21st March 2012

I should say thanks at this point to We Are Cardiff and the other photographers (and contributors) who give up their time for them and are really supportive of each other. They all do great work in trying to spread a more positive word about Cardiff (in comparison to the Daily Mail’s constant barrage of “CARDIFF IN BINGE DRINKING CAPITAL OF THE WORLD HELL”).  It feels nice to have been the only one from the Cardiff blog to have a photo used.

To read some of the stories and see the accompanying photos go to www.wearecardiff.co.uk, and you can also donate to their documentary fund if you so desire.

So I can now add the G2 to my slowly growing list of things I’ve had a photo published in. If only I could find that old copy of Rock Sound.

Also, I have to say a special thanks to my photographer friends www.eleanorjane.co.uk www.pollythomasphotography.co.uk and www.AmyDavies.com  and to Jenny Moseley/ Jen-Clawed Van Slamme for their massive amounts of encouragement and nice words recently. I really do appreciate it!

Anyway, wedding season starts for me next week, 2nd shooting/ assisting Eleanor.  I’m really excited about working with her again and can’t wait to get into shooting weddings again.