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June 24, 2010

Well I’m obviously not very good at this blogging thing. Oh well, nothing more to say on that subject so we’ll carry on.

I finally finished my photography coursebook- it was a bit late but there wasn’t actually a deadline for it, I just wanted to get it done a lot longer ago. I was quite pleased with it but there are always things you think of later that you’ve forgotten or you realise how you could have done them better. I’m just glad to get it out of the way so I can carry on with the second module I’m doing, which is more digital stuff- image manipulation and photoshop. The kind of thing I’ve done so far I don’t really see that I’ll ever realistically use, but saying that, I know that some of the things I’ve learned on the way will definitely be very useful. I guess it’s more showing me how to do things in photoshop that I’ve wondered about, by getting me to do things like photomontage, HDR (HD euuuurgh!) and other manipulation that I’d never really use in the way I’m doing them but it’s handy to have the skills.

I haven’t really done a great deal of photography recently because I’ve finally decided that I can’t keep on taking photos of bands that I don’t want to see! Well, there’s more to it than that. I’ve seen so many great bands and I’m really grateful to all the promoters in Cardiff who have let me in to take photos, but now I’m getting up at 6a.m. three days a week I can’t keep doing it. Also, if it’s assumed that you’ll do it for free then you’ve automatically put yourself in a position where you’ll get taken advantage of. It doesn’t happen all the time, but one or two promoters seem to get offended if you don’t go to their gigs after they’ve offered to let you in for free. What a lot of these people don’t understand is that it’s not just going to a gig and taking photos, it’s transfering them to your computer, doing any post processing,  converting to jpegs then uploading or emailing them. It’s rare that anything comes from it financially. I blame my marketing and PR staff. I’ll have to sack them. I guess when I first started taking my camera to gigs it was exciting, but when you do 90 in a year then you do go through phases of feeling a bit underappreciated. Again, totally my own fault for putting myself in that situation.

So where am I now? Well, I still love taking photos, and I feel like I’ve found my own style where I’m comfortable, especially with the gig photos, though that’ll surely change again. But I want to get out and do other things, portraits, band photos/ promo shots… I love taking photos of people mainly, and I guess I prefer to take gigs (and sport- not that I’ve done it for years) partly because you don’t have to boss people about and you can create images as things unfold in front of you, but I need to get out there and do more. I need to force myself to do it, otherwise how else will I get anywhere? I may as well give up and get another full time job.

Thankfully, I’ve had a bit of interest recently for a couple of weddings, whether anything will come of this I don’t yet know, I hope so as I’ve really enjoyed doing the ones I’ve done so far. I’ve really studied wedding photography the last year and a half after being asked to do my first one a year ago (anniversary on Saturday I believe), so I’ve learned a lot. Not a day has gone by since then that I haven’t read or looked at something to do with wedding photography, and I’ve seen from this that there are a lot of people out there who are BAD at photography and are charging ridiculous amounts for wedding photos. And it’s pretty amazing the people who can make an average photo worse by their poor use of photo editing. We all do it at some point, but when people are paying you… well I guess you get what you pay for. Most of the time.

Anyway, I’ve rambled long enough. There’s more football to be watched…

Holidaze

May 20, 2010

It’s been a week now since I got back from my holiday in Rhodes, what a lovely place. I’m glad I went there early in the season though, first week in fact. To me it was just the right side of really hot, and it was only 30 degrees or so at the most. I say only, it was averaging 7 degrees or something back home.

It was quite hard for me to switch off the first couple of days I was there, knowing I had photos to send from Laura and David’s most excellent wedding party (sorry I watched Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure the other day and it still hasn’t worn off) and other photos from gigs and loads of other stuff to sort out, plus the fact I hadn’t been paid for my part time job which took me four hours to sort out. Then there was that flipping ash cloud… but we got there and once I got used to it I loved it. The thing I’d been most looking forward to was taking photos and while I was there I was quite disappointed with how things were going, but on reflection, I really like what I came back with. I didn’t want to take the usual tourist photos, that was what my parents were there for, and I didn’t want to take family photos- I have enough of them, but what I didn’t expect to be taking photos of was cats.

Tonnes of them.

It’s a fairly well known fact I’ve never particularly liked them. I think that’s because the cats I generally see are overfed and lazy, and we were more of a dog family if anything. But these cats had something to them that I found interesting, I think it was the fact that they were far more ‘street’ than cats over here. People feed strays over here, then they go to another place, they get fed again and they move on to the next place. These cats were gnarly. They had some attitude.

Even at the top of the Acropolis in Lindos, there was one there lazing in the shade. I could forgive it having a lie down given how far up it had to walk to get there.

Anyway, I kind of became obsessed with taking photos of cats and had to snap out of it, after all there are many other things to take photos of.  Like the sky.

and the insects, at 6am on my very early morning stroll…

But the thing I took most photos of while I was there was my two year old neice. As if I didn’t have enough of them. I don’t really want to go putting photos of my family on the internet, especially without their permission, and I kind of feel like family photos are just that. People look at photos from parties, gigs, weddings… whatever… but as soon as family photos come out it’s quite often welcome to Yawnsville, population 1.  I guess this is because they are so formulaic, normally a parent or someone telling the subject to “smile for the camera” in a situation where they are forced to do something they don’t want to do. A mundane sense of “here we go again” through gritted teeth. Somebody being forced to look at a photo of someone being forced to have their photo taken. Nobody wins.

So I’m just going to post my favourite. No recognisable faces, just a father and daughter having fun. If you don’t want to look, you don’t have to…

And if anyone sees my brother tomorrow, wish him a happy birthday.

It’s been HOW LONG?

April 19, 2010

Wow it’s been far too long since the last post here, I certainly intended to keep it more up to date. I kind of feel like I haven’t done much recently, but thinking about it, I haven’t stopped. Firstly, there’s been my coursework. Although I’ve had problems writing it, the research has been pretty inspiring. Looking at the photos of Walker Evans and the FSA, Eugene Atget, August Sander, Martin Parr, David Bailey, Anton Corbijn,  Diane Arbus, Irving Penn… the list is endless, but inspiring nonetheless. The differences in technology used and the social circumstances of each photographer really helps to raise the appreciation of their work too, whether they are contemporary or past masters. Unfortunately I got myself into such a mess with my coursework I had to start it again.

As well as the academic side, I’ve been taking quite a lot of photos too, much to the dismay of my computer. That’s possibly the first thing I’m going to upgrade when I get the chance,  in the mean time, more external hard drives will be my friends. In the last few weeks I’ve had a photo session with the band Circa Regna Tonat, a really great band from Cardiff, and quite a few gigs… CRT included… along with Little My’s awesome last gig, billed as Little My’s Wake with the beautiful songs of  The Gentle Good in support, a triumphant show by The School (www.myspace.com/theschoolband) for the launch of their lovely album “Loveless Unbeliever”  (the tracks “All I Wanna Do” and “Shoulder” have been regularly popping up on my mp3 player for some time now- perfect pop), and… oh I don’t know, loads of other gigs. Not as many as previous years probably, but I’m a lot busier these days.

I also took photos for Laura and David  (http://ilikemakingthings.blogspot.com/ and http://bloggydavesblog.blogspot.com/ respectively) in preparation for the wedding party.  Dave’s a brilliant photographer so I felt a more pressure than usual, but I’m really pleased with the results, and they’ve told me they are too. Lots of great comments from friends and relatives at their party on Saturday night actually, so that made me feel even better about them. It’s nice to know that people with a background or experience in photography think I’m doing a good job. Being my own harshest critic serves me well, but can sometimes get in the way of me progressing, so when people tell me how much they like my photos it means a lot, especially when I know they’re not just saying it to be polite and they actually mean it.

Last week I did my first event (hopefully of many) for Save The Children, at Crabtree and Evelyn on the Hayes/St David’s 2 in Cardiff. It was a bit nerve wracking but I got into the swing of it quite quickly and hopefully the results may be in Cardiff Life in a couple of weeks. Along with the free food and drink, the staff were offering free demonstrations and samples while being really enthusiastic about their products in a really good way. It was a long day for them (the event started after the shop closed and ended over two hours later, then they had to put the shop back ready for trade on Wednesday) and their work was much appreciated. The treatment and products went down really well with the girls/ customers (there were a few men there but I think they just turned up for the food…)  and they helped to raise a few hundred pounds for Save the Children, so well done to all involved –  the people who put in a lot of their time and effort, and those who spent money too. It was a very nice evening.

The working week ended with a wedding/business/photography seminar from skillset and Damien Lovegrove. He’s one of the top wedding photographers in Britain and I had to jump at the chance to listen to what he had to say, especially for £20. It was well worth it. I wish I’d said hello and thanks in person but there was a lot of packing up to do and a few people milling around, plus I had to get home to meet my friends who were visiting, but the seminar pretty much confirmed that I’ve mentally got everything right in theory regarding the business side of photography, I just need to start the ball rolling now.  The event took place at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay and it was fairly packed. It was a great opportunity to learn from one of the best and also meet other photographers, plus the food was fantastic.

The end of the seminar was the beginning of one of the busiest weekends I think I’ve ever had, and as a result I now have to go and do some work! I’ll be back in a few days with tales of Brecon, David and Laura’s  wedding party and an exhibition from a local artist…

phew!

“My Wife and I…” Sian and Andy Regan, Friday 22nd January 2010

February 2, 2010

Well it’s been ages since I’ve been on here with things being a bit stressful over the last few months, and I’d been meaning to write about the prospect of doing Sian and Andy’s wedding since they asked me last year and here we are a week and a half after the event.

I’ve known Andy and Sian for about 3 years now, first meeting at a gig in Dempsey’s in Cardiff Andy and I both played. He was just moving to Cardiff at the time when we met and he fit nicely into the rather large social circle we became part of, being into music as he is, and being the all round nice chap he is.  We’d often see each other out at gigs or in the pub, and we’ve always got on well, but I suppose I didn’t really know much about him or Sian. Then we bumped into each other one Saturday in September 2009 and went for a drink and had a really nice chat, and I found out what a great pair of people they really are, as individuals and a couple, and they probably learned quite a bit about me. It was one of those conversations that elevates people above others in your mind. I have a lot of respect for people who devote their time to help others and Andy and Sian have done that and continue to do it (Sian recently working to raise awareness for Cardiac Risk in the Young), and if my memory’s correct, that’s one of the reasons they got to know each other so well. 

Anyway, a month after that Saturday evening I got a message   from Andy telling me they were getting married and that they’d like me to photograph it for them.  I’d only done one (and a half) wedding(s) before, and I knew how much work I needed to put in to do it, but there was no way I didn’t want to do it. I’ve been reading up on wedding photography pretty much obsessively almost out of habit since our other friends Gareth and Nicola asked me to do their wedding last year, and there is so much to learn, as there is with photography in general- it really is never ending and there is always room to improve no matter how good you are.  So while I found it daunting, I think it’s quite an honour for friends to have the confidence in me at the level I’m at, especially when Sian is such a great photographer herself.

So after 3 months of research, practice and last minute (week, really) panic over a second camera the time had come. On the Thursday I went to City Hall with Andy to find out where I’d be standing, what I was and wasn’t allowed to do and take a few test shots and decide which lenses would be best on which camera, then in the evening we went to the Gate for them to set everything up for the afternoon/evening and for me to test the lighting conditions. Everything was fine- there was nothing left for me to do except panic.

The day arrived and I went to the Park Plaza hotel to meet Sian and take photos of her and the birdesmaids, and generally try to stay out of the way, which is sort of hard when you’re my size, but I think I managed it, just. The bridesmaids looked great in their teal dresses and Sian looked fantastic in her ivory dress. So after a few photos I headed over to City Hall ahead of them and they arrived in the lovebug!

The ceremony went well despite the attempts from Ada, Laura and Dave’s baby to stop it from going ahead. It was a hairy moment for everyone there, but it was decided that a baby needing changing (possibly!) wasn’t enough reason to stop them getting married. Nice try Ada.

So after the formals we all toddled off to the Gate. It’s such a nice venue and the table arrangements were genius.  The jars of sweets on every table were a really nice touch, but the idea of having a 7inch single with a custom label on one side with your name on it was a really nice touch and a great conversation starter. For those interested, mine was the Weezer single, We Are All on Drugs (from the album Make Believe), which just so happens to be one of my favourite Weezer songs. Coincidence? Or do they know my musical tastes that well?   Talking of taste, the food was reet good.

And then came the evening and I have to say, the DJ did a great job (the DJ being a playlist Andy had prepared in advance on his Mac). I’ve rarely been to a wedding where there were people dancing all night, but that’s what happened, from beginning to end. There was plenty of room for people to sit down and talk and plenty of room to dance, which is just as well considering some of the moves that were going on! Highlights included Weezer’s Buddy Holly, some Jackson 5 stuff, some guests doing the locomotion to something that wasn’t the locomotion, (maybe something by battles?) Andy er… crowdsurfing (to Andrew WK I think), and the final dance, Bowie’s Life on Mars where everyone joined into a big circle and charged in and out during the chorus, then Andy pulling Sian into the middle at the end of the song as if to say “yeah everyone’s here, but tonight’s about us,” then everyone running in to hug them. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

I don’t even think it rained.

October 23, 2009

I’ve just written a massive blog and accidentally deleted it. Oh dear. All I was saying was… blah blah blah had a really good week…. blah blah blah sold my first print… blah blah blah loads of photoshoots…. blah blah blah shoots for Buzz Magazine and Kruger Mag… Awesome.

I’ve sold my first photo print too. It’s nice to think that a year after seeing it somebody was still thinking of a photo I took, and they’ll soon have it displayed in an 18×12 print. I never thought I’d have that feeling when I first got into taking photos. And to think I needed to be talked into using that photo because there were a couple of others I preferred. I have Chill and Cat at Clwb Ifor Bach to thank for that.

Here’s a link to the original…

http://www.flickr.com/photos/simonayre/2818852688/in/set-72157607057443006/

I was going to try to embed it but I don’t know how. So if it does embed it I’m going to look stupid. Oh well.

Next week I start my course so hopefully I’ll be a better photographer in a few months.

I’m tired. I’m off to bed.