Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wigtown Book Festival is here again

2 years ago I was artist in residence at the Wigtown Book Festival. Over the 10 days I took 173 photos of authors, visitors and locals all staring intensely into the camera. I printed them out and stuck them around the walls of the studio so anyone coming in had the experience of 346 eyes staring at them. Not for the faint-hearted.

Last year I returned to Wigtown with a new mission - to photograph authors as literary characters. These photos have now been made into a 2014 calendar to help raise funds for the festival.

You can find the full set of images in one of my Facebook albums, here:

Some of them I'm really pleased with, and others I can see where I didn't have the clarity of thought and purpose when the photos were taken, and so don't have the level of impact I'd have liked.

However, one of the great things about doing this was it made me start thinking in a different way about my photography. Up until then head shots was my main thing. And it still is in many ways - I do love faces and I can't see that going away any time soon. But photographing people as someone entirely different meant I had to start thinking about costumes, props and location. Most of the photos required a fair bit of advanced planning and an awful lot of problem solving.

This is leading me in the direction of looking to create images with stronger narrative content and higher production values - an example being the one I took of Anne Lindsay for her book, The Undefended Hour

This year, I'm back at the Wigtown Book Festival to see if I can find more authors who might be up for being photographed as literary characters. Photo shoots will then be done across the winter so the images will be ready for the Festival to use publicity and promotion for next year.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Photographer's Anxiety Dream

An opportunity to photograph birds of prey. Without hesitation, I make sure I have the big lens on the camera. But when I arrive, everything is happening in a confined space.

It not a telephoto, but a wide-angle lens I need!


The bed soaked in sweat, I wake up with my heart pounding...

Two very different lenses

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Yahs

The Yahs are a loud, rocking, entertaining local band. Front-man, Grant, struts his stuff like Freddy Mercury, Mick Jagger and James Brown rolled into one, while the superb musicianship of Dave, Ali and Fergus ensure the drive and rhythm never disappoint.

As well as just being foot-stompingly good fun to watch and listen to, one of the things I love about them is it makes no difference whether they are playing to a packed venue or a handful of grannies who were expecting a primary school choir - they always throw themselves completely into it.

I met up with them at the weekend to discuss a photo shoot, which if it goes ahead should also be a great deal of fun.

Getting them all together in one place isn't always easy, unless they happen to be playing a gig, so I caught up with them at the House O Hill "Rock The Hoose Beer & Music Festival".

And as I had the camera with me, it would have seemed silly not to take advantage of a front-row seat...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Videoing the Environmental Art Festival Scotland

The photographs taken by me and fellow photographer, Colin Hattersley, for the Environmental Art Festival Scotland are now all up online and can be found on their website and their facebook page here:

EAFS Website
EAFS Facebook

More than the photography, though, I was asked if I could do some video shots too, to help give a sense of what it was actually like for the visitors to various events.

The camera I use - a Canon 7D - has a pretty good video capability, and with good lenses on the picture quality can be rather tasty in the right light.

The difficulty when doing photography at the same time, though, is switching the head between entirely different modes. Yes I am using the same piece of equipment, but there's a huge difference between creating a static image and a moving one.

And then the editing requires an entirely different skill set too.

However, I threw myself into it wholeheartedly and below is the final result.

The soundtrack comprises of voiceover artist, Innes Smith, who did the station idents for a radio broadcast - "The Dark Outside FM" - during the festival, and a remixing of a Scruffy Buzzards tune, "Four Hundred"

Hope you enjoy it.

EAFS Video from EAF Scotland on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

A Rogan Shaped Gap...

Taking my son, Rogan, off to University yesterday was full of mixed emotions.

We are immensely proud of him: he's going to study physics at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. Our hearts also ache at him flying the nest. For 18 years we have raised him from a tiny, helpless baby - I can still remember holding him in the hospital for the first time - through to a strapping adult with a 7-inch Mohawk and a laid back self assurance.

Rogan holding a flash unit, while I operated it remotely from my camera

He'll be back during the breaks, no doubt with a semester's worth of dirty laundry, but it will be on different terms. At the moment, we have never been apart from him for more than 7 consecutive days since he was born, and that was for a school skiing trip a few years ago. Not just physically, but psychologically he will make that separation over the next few months as he learns to live independently from us.

Of course this is what we have been working towards. The role of parents is to try and raise the child to a point where they can leave home and be unlikely to end up killed by their own ignorance or stupidity. And I think he's off to a good start. He's bright, sociable, and has a warm heart. And he's certainly a great deal more together than either his mother or I were at his age.

I would be lying if I said there wasn't more than a touch of wistful envy too. he's heading off to a place full of potential, with interesting people to meet and experiences ahead, at a time when he doesn't have the responsibilities of housing, car repayments or dependants. Although he will be saddled with tens of thousands of pounds of student loan debts by the time he leaves.

For him, we are excited and pleased. But for us... well, there's a great big Rogan-shaped hole in the house and our hearts just at the moment.