Saturday, November 29, 2014

Unconnected...

The internet connection is appallingly sporadic. Mostly it isn't there, then it appears for a few seconds - enough for an email to pop through - but then it disappears again before you can open it.

I've set aside the day to respond to a backlog of emails, but after unplugging and plugging back in the router several times and attempting to contact my broadband provider (which prefers me to email, or use online chat rather than call - pretty useless when my internet connection isn't working), I give up and decide to work on something else instead.

I've been meaning to update the front page of my website, perhaps I could...

Damn!

I know, I could learn how to use that video editing software I downloaded.

Crap! The instruction manual is online.

Never mind, I'll use tutorials on YouTube...

Bugger!

Right. I'll get round to making that book of photos I've been meaning to do for about a year, using the Blurb software. Hmm... why can't I find it on my computer? It seems last time I created a book it was using my old laptop.

I'll have to go to blurb.com and download the latest...

[insert long line of expletives...]

Sod it - I'll go and watch a movie. There should be something on Netflix I've been meaning to catch up on...

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gift Vouchers for Photo Sessions

Would you like a photo shoot gift voucher with 50% added on for free?

After various requests this year, I've decided to offer gift vouchers as an option to put towards photo sessions - from headshots to families to full on epic fantasy shoots.



Because this is new and I need to test the system, for a limited time I'm going to add 50% extra to the value of any vouchers bought through my website:
http://kimayres.co.uk/voucher.htm

For example, buy a £100 voucher I will increase the value to £150 towards a photo session. All you need to do is email or call me to let me know how easy it was or any problems you might have run into.

Get a little extra for your Christmas spend this year

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Photographing for Dumfries and Galloway Life

"Gorgeous girls to photo" was the subject line of a message I received from Andrea Thompson, commissioning editor for Dumfries and Galloway Life magazine. With an invite like that, how could I refuse?

And so it was on a wild, stormy Sunday afternoon in October I found myself in a house with hairdresser, Nicola McMinn, makeup artist, Hannah Mason, and their models, Aline and Kayleigh, doing a photo shoot for the Christmas edition of the magazine.


Hannah and Nicola

Sometimes it's a tough life being a photographer.

A range of photos were needed. Nicola was being featured in the "Inspiring Entrepreneur" section with her business "Curl up and Dye," while Hannah had been asked to provide 3 different make-up looks for the festive season. Additionally, Andrea was hoping we might get a cover shot.

At this point, thanks need to go to Lindsey Mason, Hannah's mother, for putting up with us filling her house and moving her furniture.

A few days later, Andrea came round to my studio and we went through all the photos together, and it was a fascinating experience. I'm in little doubt that had I been choosing the photos to edit and send to her on my own, I would have picked a different selection - some overlap, but not all.

While there were various photos I was pleased with from a photographer's viewpoint, Andrea was, of course, looking at them with an editors eye. This meant there were images we both liked, but they just weren't D&G Life photos so were dropped from the selection.

However, in the end about a dozen of my images were used, including the front cover, featuring Nicola.


Nicola makes the front cover


Nicola with Kayleigh in the Inspiring Entrepreneurs section


Group shot of all 4 for the start of the Christmas section of the magazine







And I think this might just be their first cover girl with tattoos and piercings...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Jacquies Beauty

Jacquies Beauty is a salon in Dumfries offering a wide range of beauty treatments including facials, hair removal, nail care, toning treatments and many more girly things that, being a man, I didn't know existed.

Although having said that, apparently male grooming and treatments are a growing sector.

With an attention to detail and customer service, Jacquies Beauty has become a multi-award winning salon. And it was for the winning of the Guinot Crown Award for Excellence - for the 4th year in a row - I was asked to come and take a photo.



Jacquie had shown me a couple of basic press photos - everyone standing in a line with her holding the award - and felt they were uninspired. But with a press release deadline of only a few days away, there wasn't time for us to set up something like a trek out to a waterfall to photograph Jacquie washing her hair in it while her treatment therapists were dipping their feet in a pool of water.

Instead we set up inside the salon with Jacquie herself on one of the beds with the rest of the team around her.


Left to right: Jacquie, Karen, Iona, Hayley and Kerry

It's not uncommon in a situation such as this - where the boss is wanting a group shot - the team members all look distinctly uncomfortable and trying to get them to relax can be difficult. They are there because they feel they have little choice, and it shows.

However, to my delight and relief, on this occasion everyone was up for it. Banter was easy, smiles were unforced and the general atmosphere was one of playful fun rather than dutiful chore.

Rightly proud of her achievements, Jacquie also wanted an image of her holding the award aloft, and for this an outside shot was called for. Although the sun had disappeared by now, we went up onto the old Devorgilla Bridge, which crosses the River Nith, and photographed her with the lights of Dumfries behind her.


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Seasons of Galloway

Every now and again I post photos on this blog that are not of people.

Although portraiture, performances and events are how I make my living, it's not unknown for me to point my camera at a leaf hanging off a twig, or sunlight hitting a mossy branch.

Over the past couple of years I've built a collection of images I really like, but have had no idea what to do with them. Whenever I have posted such images here I've always received comments or messages from people asking if they are available as prints, but the practicalities of printing, packaging and posting has been something of an obstacle.

However, last month I created a site on Zenfolio to allow owners who stable their horses at James Ewart Racing to purchase prints of the photos I take there. The advantage of setting this up via Zenfolio is there are fulfilment options - meaning people can order various size prints and they are printed, packaged and posted out directly from their suppliers and to a high standard.

With the site already there it seemed an ideal opportunity to put up my collection of non-people photographs too.

Below are a couple of examples from the collection, but to view the full set, head over to http://kimayres.zenfolio.com/seasons







http://kimayres.zenfolio.com/seasons


Saturday, November 01, 2014

Remembering Mike Charlton

I first met Mike Charlton 22 years ago at The Coffee House - an open mic session at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. I was on that side of the Atlantic as an exchange student exchange from Dundee University in Scotland, where I was studying philosophy.

The vast majority of the open mic sessions were taken up with a succession of students playing the guitar singing something mellow and probably about lost love if you were listening to the lyrics.

Then Mike appeared - this big bear of a man who, with the exception of his bottle-bottom glasses, looked to me like I'd always imagined a Canadian lumberjack/wild woodsman to look like. He had a guitar, and boomed out a handful of folk songs. He wasn't shouting - his performance was tuneful and nuanced - but his presence filled the room. He just completely dominated the space.

I'd taken my mandolin across to Canada with me and a friend I was with insisted on taking me over to Mike to introduce me to him. I felt a bit reluctant, not least because he appeared quite intimidating.

And yet, as soon as he said hello and offered a huge paw to shake hands, I liked him. Instantly I saw past this larger-than-life exterior to a warm and friendly guy. We became good friends and over the rest of my year in Canada we played together many, many times.

At that time he was more popularly known as "Morg" - I think it was a nickname he'd had for several years and, if memory serves me right, it had come about when he'd used to wear a cap with "Morgan" on it and the last 2 letters had come off.

Despite the difference in size, we were both round of face and bearded so sometimes he would joke I was his long lost half-twin separated at birth. Up on stage at pretty much every gig he would usually boom at some point, "There are 3 kinds of people in this world - Friends of Morg, Enemies of Morg, and Morg!" After a while, he started adding, "and Kim is the only other person I've met who appears to fall into the last category..."

Truth be told, I think his big gruff exterior led to him being misunderstood by many people who couldn't see past the surface. When he was upset about something he could shout and curse in a number of languages - and with a voice that would reverberate through your chest, the instincts honed by our evolutionary ancestors would want to run for cover. And yet he would just be expressing his frustration at the universe in general - he wouldn't have harmed a soul and would have been surprised if anyone had felt intimidated.

I always saw him as a sensitive, vulnerable and kind soul. The fact he ended up as an elementary school teacher surprised many, but made me smile.

He wasn't a great communicator via email, so I was glad when he joined Facebook and I was able to follow his occasional postings.

I'd picked up hints of something not right with his health over the summer, but not enough to think anything was too serious. Then suddenly today, in my Facebook newsfeed, a mutual friend posted about his passing.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement.

I find it almost impossible to believe it's over 21 years since I left Canada and I've not been back. I always knew I would return, and that would mean meeting up with Mike again and playing music together. We both knew this would happen - it was just a matter of when.

And that when should have been next year. Our mutual friend is getting married and I'm doing my best to try and get over there for the wedding.

We would meet, make silly comments about each other's appearances, he would squeeze me in a bear hug and we would fall into a conversation we left off two decades ago.

But now it's not going to happen.

I'm grieving and it hurts.


Me and Mike playing in Canada


Here he is just singing to camera unaccompanied. Gives a sense of his voice, but it was much better live...