Printing, and more printing

Last weekend, I was having a frustrating time trying to get 50 A3 prints done for the gallery in the USA. One week later and I’m relieved to report that they are nearly finished. I enjoy printing (except when big orders with deadlines arrive during an already busy time!); there’s something really special about printing your work on beautiful fine art paper. The ephemeral becomes tangible, a tactile artefact rather than a collection of pixels on a screen.

Some of the 50 print order destined for Sohn Fine Art Gallery in USA

The joy of printing was very much in evidence on Monday and Tuesday, when we finally managed to run our two-day printing workshop. We’ve had to postpone this workshop 3 times, thanks to COVID, so it felt extra good to be able to meet face-to face (with the proper precautions, of course). Day one is classroom learning, all about colour management, calibration, profiling etc. The second day is my favourite of all the classroom workshops we run, as we work with the clients on editing and printing their work. By the end of the workshop, the classroom is strewn with beautiful prints and there’s an amazing buzz in the air. My colleague, Adrian Beasley, and I are blessed with lovely clients – they encourage each other so much. Eight clients, 60 prints, and a whole lot of fun and learning later, I’m exhausted, but in a really good way.

I am grateful to Fotospeed for their printing support

As the workshop finished and everyone else headed home, I logged in to Zoom to give a presentation to Wymondham Photographic Society. I enjoy presenting, although I admit that it’s more fun in person than online. When the pandemic hit, I found the transition to Zoom quite easy but I miss the face-to-face feedback you get when presenting in person. ‘Never present to your slides’ was always a mantra and now it’s exactly what I have to do! Wymondham is a small club and it was one of the smallest audiences I’ve ever had but they didn’t quibble at paying a proper fee. That’s so refreshing when a lot of clubs with four times as many members expect a professional to give up several hours of their time (when you factor in the endless emails beforehand and the preparation time), for considerably less than you’d pay a plumber. I value my time and I won’t present to those clubs. Wymondham’s audience may have been small but it was fully engaged and asked a lot of really good questions – a pleasure.

Some pictures from Ghost in the Shell

The rest of the week was devoted to online 1-2-1 sessions with clients, a lengthy meeting at the HQ of a potential sponsor and completing a written interview for The Phoblographer. This is the first interview I’ve had about my Ghost in the Shell series and it was good to have some different questions to answer. ‘Ghost in the Shell’ is probably the body of work I’ve enjoyed most since I created ‘Sirens’. The pictures are quiet and don’t demand the sort of instant attention garnered by my more well-known portfolio, so I’m happy to see them having some recognition. I’ll post a link here when the interview is live.

So, a busy week and one in which I found no time at all to create new photos. I’ve diarised some photography time for next week and am excited to get back out onto the shore.

Not another retrospective

My title’s slightly cheeky as I actually enjoy the flurry of retrospectives from photographers at this time of year; it gives me a chance to catch up on photographs I may have missed or simply to enjoy again old favourites. But, after having had to do a lot of self-promotion this Autumn, I expect folk are a bit bored of me (I am bored of myself!) so, like last year, I thought that I’d mention instead a few of the folk who’ve inspired me this year.

Simon Baxter (and Meg)

I don’t have time to watch a lot of You Tube vlogs but I make an exception for Simon’s. His photography is superb; I have nothing but respect for a photographer who can make compelling compositions out of tangled woodland and Simon makes it look easy. I also like the way he presents his shows; they are quiet, understated and uplifting. If that’s not enough to persuade you, Meg the dog is an absolute superstar. If you haven’t watched any of Simon’s vlogs, a good place to start would be this episode.

Simon

Colin Bell, ‘Healing’

As mentioned last time, I like to buy photobooks and this year has not helped me kick the habit! I have bought so many I have literally lost count. I can’t list them all here so I’m just going to mention one. Colin’s book is a tour de force. His photographs are simple, evocative, emotional. The poetry of Dom Conlon, written for the book, compliments the images beautifully. The presentation reflects the incredible care and attention Colin lavished on this project from beginning to end. It’s a book that rewards repeated visits and I am very glad to own a copy.

colin bell

The Togcast

The Togcast is a series of fortnightly, free podcasts about landscape and travel photography, created by Sam Gregory and Paul Sanders. Sam and Paul are very nice chaps and they do a great job. Most episodes feature an interview with a well-known photographer but Sam and Paul have cleverly managed to direct and adapt each interview to give variety. There is never a sense of there being a standard list of questions and I think that must mean there’s a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes. I like to download episodes so that I can listen to them in the car.

togcast

Fleeting Reflections

As usual, I went to a lot of superb exhibitions this year, including Valda Bailey’s beautiful Fragile at The Bosham Gallery and the powerful Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, still on at the Natural History Museum. In September, I headed up to Greenwich for Mike Curry’s Fleeting Reflections. Mike’s work is very strong and his book shows it off beautifully but it was even better to see large prints of the series on the simple, white walls of the Greenwich Gallery. I was also mesmerised by the video Mike had on a loop – I could have watched it for hours. It was very good to meet Mike there and to hear some behind the scenes stories.

mike curry

The ‘Ninja’ Togs

Landscape photography can be quite a solitary occupation. Mostly, I’m happy with that, but it is also nice to connect with others who share this enthusiasm. In September, I enjoyed a long weekend in Anglesey with a group of landscape photographers. We took a lot of photos, laughed a great deal (nobody mention the chilli!) and, I think it’s fair to say, we also inspired each other. I’m not sure I brought home any ‘keepers’ but it was one of the highlights of my year. Verity Milligan, Helen Isles, Claire Zaffin, Sarah Medway, Lorraine Heaysman, Jenifer Bunnett, you’re all awesome. Thank you so much! I’m looking forward to the next weekend.

Newborough I

No pictures please, this is Iceland

I spent 4 weeks of the last year in Iceland. I love it there. That’s hardly surprising for a photographer who shoots the coast – Iceland’s coast is … well … no superlative is adequate. But it’s so very much photographed. And there lies a potential problem. I find it hard to dim in my mind’s eye the beautiful images of others. Chips of ice on black sand – done, and done, and done. Mini icebergs floating in still water on the edge of a glacier… also done. Aerial views of colourful deltas that look like the most beautiful abstract art – so very done. Moody, misty receding mountains – well, you can guess what comes next. So, it’s not surprising that relatively few images from my trips to Iceland, so far, have made it to my website. Still, I’ll go back, probably more than once, even if I bring home no keepers at all, and here’s why.

In September, I spent a week in the WestFjords area. It’s relatively quiet, compared with the south coast, and we rarely encountered other photographers. But it’s also a frustrating place because, while the coast is stunning, and there’s lots of it with all those inlets, it’s hard to find anywhere to pull over. Time and time again we drove through the most incredible scenery without being able to stop. There was this one drive, however, along the shore towards Patreksfjord, that has stayed with me.  It was pouring with rain and there was nowhere to pull over on our sliver of road, sandwiched between mountain and ocean. But I was listening to some great tunes and looking out of the window at mountains soaring straight from the sea, shore grass billowing in the wind and foam-topped waves silvering the curves of the strand. It was an ineffably wild place, so very different from anywhere closer to home. Uncompromising and uncompromised. Then, as we swung round a corner, something magical happened; a hawk shot out of nowhere, no doubt surprised by our van, and sailed above us before melting into the mist. An ordinary enough thing, I suppose, but that moment has lodged itself in my mind’s eye.  When we got to our motel and my companions sensibly had a rest before dinner, I walked along the shore for an hour in the pouring rain. I had to – I didn’t want the magic to end. I made no photographs at that place, not one. But it has informed every picture I’ve made since, in Iceland or closer to home.

So this is why I travel. I often say that the secret to making strong images lies in shooting close to home, in going to places to which we can return, again and again. We relax in the knowledge that we’ll be back and this means we’re not afraid to spend time taking risks, trying new compositions that might not work at all. We can move on from the obvious and seek difference, the things that mean something to us as individuals. That’s what art should communicate, in my opinion. But that doesn’t mean I dismiss the value of travel. Far from it. I will continue to travel, even if my hit rate of images is lower than when I’m at home. I will continue to do it, with enthusiasm, as often as I can afford. For moments like this.

Time spent developing our own connection with the landscape, on nurturing that spark inside us that makes us want to make beautiful photographs, is just as valuable as time spent actually making them. I think it’s fair to say that most landscape photographers do it because they love the landscape; there’s not enough money in it these days to make it a pragmatic career choice. Time spent feeding that love is time well spent. Put most simply, that fleeting encounter with a wild thing on a dismal day in Iceland made me happy.

Worth it.

fairy falls

Not a picture from the journey in this blog, because I didn’t make one (that’s the point), but Iceland nonetheless.

Not a retrospective

It has become customary for photographers to do a year-end retrospective of their images and plaudits but I thought I might try something different. I’d like, instead, to introduce other photographers and artists whose work I have enjoyed this year and who have inspired me. I am a voracious consumer of visual art as I think it profoundly influences and improves my own work as well as being a very nice way to spend time. In no particular order, here are a few of my favourites from 2016.

Brian Kosoff

I was first introduced to this photographer’s portfolio at the end of last year and I’ve been back many times since. I am a fan of the cinematic crop and I think his beautifully composed black and white images are powerfully resonant.

screenshot-2016-12-23-13-48-16

Valda Bailey

I bought a copy of Valda’s book, Fragile, earlier this year and it’s fast become one of my favourites. Her style couldn’t be more different from my own but I really enjoy the gentle, ethereal nature of the images she has collected in this book.

screenshot-2016-12-23-13-52-13

Kozu Books

I have a bit of a photo book habit. I don’t try to control it. This year I’ve been indulging in a collection of small-but-beautifully-formed books from Kozu Books called Landscape Editions. It began with a beautiful book featuring the work of long-time-favourite, David Baker and, since then, I’ve bought every one. Last week, the latest three dropped onto my doormat, two lovely collections of forest imagery by Lee Acaster and Damian Ward and an arrestingly fine collection of black and white images by Matt Botwood. I like it that each book comes with a print that I can add to the inspiration wall in my studio.

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Susan Burnstine

More black and white, but it’s so good! Burnstine’s moody, grungy, square photographs of New York almost seem to vibrate with quiet power. Just me, perhaps, but do have a look – worth it.

screenshot-2016-12-23-14-03-14

Jonathan Chritchley

I have benefitted enormously from Jonathan’s advice this year. He’s probably best known in the UK for his photography holidays, which are some of the most well-organised around. An inveterate globe-trotter and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Jonathan is an accomplished fine art photographer. If you like well-crafted, black and white, mostly-square photographs, click through to his website – you won’t be sorry.

screenshot-2016-12-23-14-20-25

Maggi Hambling

I was introduced to Hambling’s sea-paintings this Autumn during a trip to Suffolk and bought a copy of her book, The Sea (there’s that book habit again). Abstract and strangely unsettling at times, her paintings have inspired me to continue developing my wave photography. I’m not going to say any more about that, for now…

screenshot-2016-12-23-14-37-29

Outdoor Photography magazine

My favourite photography magazine and the only one to which I subscribe. It’s a nice mix of imagery, news, technical and artistic information and thought-provoking opinions.

screenshot-2016-12-23-14-25-38

That’s it. There are lots more I could mention but then this blog would be too long and no-one would read it! In the meantime, if you wanted to add in the comments below a photographer, publication or something else that has inspired you this year, I’d be delighted.

Tides and Tempests

I had a great time at Patchings Art Festival earlier this month.  I had been asked by Outdoor Photography Magazine to give a talk. The Festival clashed with my prior commitment to Surrey Artists Open Studios so I could only make the last day, but I am glad I made the effort.  It was a lovely event, despite the relentless rain (where has summer gone?). I wasn’t nervous about talking as I am accustomed to giving presentations but I did wonder if anyone would bother to attend. I needn’t have worried – it was standing room only!  I have now published the introductory slideshow from my talk on YouTube and it can be viewed below or here.

I would like to thank Crywolf for giving me permission to use his epic music and Outdoor Photography Magazine for inviting me to talk.

 

 

 

Back to normal

spotlight

After all the excitement of Surrey Artists Open Studios and my talk at Patchings Festival last weekend, it’s been good to get back to the normal business of fulfilling print orders, organising workshops and, last but most definitely not least, a couple of much-needed coastal trips. The light wasn’t especially awesome this week, certainly nothing as dramatic as I had on my last trip before Open Studios (above) but, as I said at my talk on Sunday, even if you come home with nothing very special on your memory card, a day by the sea is never wasted. Psychological batteries recharged.

Below are a couple of pictures of our studio in action.

Open Studio event

It’s been a while since my last blog post, but I haven’t been idle. Among the many projects on the go, this coming week sees me participating in Surrey Artists’ Open Studios for the first time. Together with my friend, Jenifer Bunnett, I am opening my studio to the public. The Open Studios project offers the public access to artists and makers by visiting studios, meeting artists and makers, browsing completed works and learning about their method and work in progress.  Our first open day is tomorrow, Sunday 5th June, and our studio is ready and waiting.  In addition to sharing our printed work, there’s a slideshow of other photographs, a demonstration of the on-camera filter system we both use, and drinks and homemade cake served in my courtyard garden (weather permitting!).  If you are able to make it, you will be very welcome. Dates and opening times in the flyer below.

SAOS flyer

About Waves and Imogen

wave

Poseidon Rising

Last month I published a collection of ‘wave monsters’. I have been down to the South Coast almost every week all through the winter, working mainly on fast-shutter captures of high seas. That’s a round trip of 140 miles at least once every week, usually getting down there in time for dawn. Often, my efforts have been rewarded with poor light or even driving rain. But it has still been one of my most exhilarating projects so far. Finally, my patience paid off, when Storm Imogen hit the coast earlier this month. Epic surf met great light, and I was one very happy, wave-obsessed photographer. So, I hope you will forgive me for one more surf-orientated post.  If, like me, you are addicted to seascapes, there are more on my website.

wave

Raptor

wave

Leviathan

wave

Thetis

wave

Panther

wave

Kraken

wave

Methuselah

wave

Landfall

A new year, yet another new start

When I first started this blog, back in April 2012, I had a particular reason.  An injury meant that I was not able to get out with my camera to make new images.  Blogging gave me an outlet for my frustrated creativity and a new lease of life for images I had already taken.  Nearly 4 years later and the injury is still troublesome, but I have learned to live with it.  The brain is amazingly good at learning to live with things, even pain. The problem no longer stops me doing what I want and what I want hasn’t changed – I still love (am obsessed with) photography.

misty minimal picture from Venice

‘Five’: Venice

As I slowly returned to making new images, this blog became more and more sporadic. In the end, I will always choose to go out with my camera rather than spend time at the computer.  That is not going to change, but I would like to see if I can combine the two more effectively.  So I have signed up for Blogging 101 with good intentions.

Norwegian landsape

Still morning, Hamnøya, Lofoten Islands

Perhaps paradoxically, since starting a photography blog, I have obtained a Masters Degree in Victorian Literature and Art from the University of London. Yes, I like to read and write! Accordingly, I never intended Focused Moments to be a picture-of-the-day kind of blog. (Nothing wrong with those, by the way, just not what I intended.) Looking back at the early days, I see the posts that were most enthusiastically received usually had plenty of words as well as images.  A good example is my article about the relationship between photography and mindfulness.  So I plan to make time for more posts like that. I am also interested in exploring how the literature I enjoy and have studied may influence the images I make.

seascape

Tempest

Standard blogging advice is to write about oneself, to ‘make it personal’. I am not so sure about that. I am quite a private person and this is a public blog. The images will always be the heart of Focused Moments; I hope they are more interesting than me! Nonetheless, there are aspects of my photographic life that might merit more exploration. I enjoy exhibiting and have already written about some of my experiences in that area. Some readers want to know more about other things, my role as a camera club judge, for example, or what it is like to lead photography workshops. More on those, and other ‘stories’, will follow.

wey navigation

Frost on the Wey

2015 was an epic year for me photographically. I hope that 2016 will be equally exciting and, if any of you share at least part of the adventure with me here at Focused Moments, this blog will have succeeded. It is up to me, now, to make it worth your time.

norway

Aurora over Skagsanden

 

Focused Moments, the exhibition

A5 flyer side 1

It is a year and 5 exhibitions since I decided to shift the focus of my photography towards the fine art side of things.  This time last year I was exhibiting a series of Surrey landscapes in a joint exhibition with my shooting buddy, Jenifer Bunnett, at The Lightbox in Woking. Then, in March, we showed some of the images from that exhibition alongside new local landscapes in ‘A Certain Slant of Light’ at the Guildford Institute. In August, I hung a panel in ‘Light on the Land’ at the Mall Galleries, and in September, five black and white pictures in ‘Mistresses of Light’ at the Oxo Tower.  It was a lot of work, and the learning curve was steep, but it was also great fun.  However, the climax of all this has to be my first solo exhibition, ‘Focused Moments’, currently showing at Arté Gallery in Weybridge.

exhibition bio

I needed a lot of images for this exhibition and I wanted to make sure I could offer something for all budgets and also remain true to my own style.  I must have spent a small fortune (I daren’t add it up!) trying different papers and framing options.  In the end, I went with three fine art papers in simple black frames and a few prints on aluminium.  I also decided to have two special books made for visitors to browse.  On the advice of the gallery owners, I have made these available as limited editions, and they seem to be going down well.

arte exhibition space

There is something really rewarding about filling a gallery. I have hung 60 images of which most are new pictures, taken in the last year, but there are some going back as far as 2009.  When planning the hanging in this intriguing space with several different surfaces, it helped to create groups of images that worked together and then it was relatively easy to decide the order of the groups so that the exhibition flowed.  I say easy – it still took us two full days to finish hanging the show!

arte exhibition pv

Of course, there had to be a party.  Many thanks to local lettings agents, Martin & Wheatley for sponsoring the opening.  In a bout of last-minute nerves, I worried that no-one would come, but I needn’t have fretted. In the end, the event was buzzing, and we sold seven prints and two of my limited edition books during the course of the evening. Phew!

PV

I think it’s important to be present at an exhibition as much as possible; people like to be able to talk to the exhibitor.  I have had many interesting conversations at the gallery this week, some with old friends and some with new. And today I got to show my Dad around, which was really special.

arte 1

If you have ever thought of trying something like this, I heartily recommend it.  The experience has been amazing – exhausting, but amazing.  It’s nice to sell, but even if I had sold nothing, it would still have been worth it.  Many thanks to Mike and Sally at Arté Gallery for allowing me to bring my work into their lovely space, to my friend, Sam, for all the fetching, carrying and coffee and to my daughter, Maggie, for her excellent work as server and photographer at the private view.  I couldn’t have done it without you!