Tuesday, 9 November 2010

I wish I had a camera

Here's the scene.

Looking up a steep residential road. Late in the afternoon. Cloudy day from rain clouds which had graced us with a light smattering or rain. Through the grey clouds and the city dirt, the sun began to burn through the clouds, right at the top of the street, causing a very warm yellow-orange glow which fought to spread across the sky.

Then, over the crest of the hill, through the glow and the haze, a sleek high performance sports car eases into view (BMW M3 if you must know), blue-white xenon headlights blazing. With the bright sun behind causing the eyes to adjust, the contrast of the darkened road and buildings, and the car cutting a sharp sleek dark shadow with those blue-white eyes across the high peak was truly spectacular. It was like a scene from a James Cameron film.

There was just one problem. I was observing this scene unfold in the space of about 1 second, through my rear view mirror as I drove down said road.

If there was ever a time when I wish I was a) clairvoyant and b) had my camera, that was the time!!!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Natural Lounge - Afro hair and a child that didn't cheat. Promise! :-)

Natural afro hair. Natural afro hair education. ... It was great!

A past client, and good friend of mine put on her very first event to solidify her position as a premier UK source of information for natural afro hair. The Natural Lounge was set up to give a relaxed friendly environment for people to learn about natural afro hair and to dispel many worries.

The very first Natural Lounge event was a great success. Tickets were sold out. I always arrive early to a job, but there were some women arriving up to 45 mins early which I thought showed an amazing level of interest. By the start time, the venue was bubbling.

The energy was great. People were open, honest and very welcoming. It was a great first event...

...Even when during the raffle, the first person who had the honour to put her hand in the jar and take a ticket was a uber-cute child. She reached as far into the jar as her little arm could, gave it a swirl and picked out a ticket.

"And the winner is......!"

Her Mum! Lol!!!

I thought this was hilarious. Some thought it was a fix. But as you can see here, she definitely wasn't looking. Like the event, it was honest, and great fun.


Monday, 11 October 2010

Chinese whispers

Technology is an amazing thing. Just the other day I took my HTC Desire out of my pocket, pulled up Google Maps, quickly checked directions to where my friends were eating, then walked on. To have the worlds roads in your pocket, when you think about it, is absolutely amazing.

I read about a guy at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) who mixed a regular webcam with a mirror and some inventive programming, and made a mirror that can detect and read a person's pulse. Now that is amazing.

Just over a week ago I had to update my storage system because I was running out of space to put the new images. I won't bore you with technical details, but needless to say, I have more space and a new backup system. And in the process, I'll have a new media server to dish up the music wherever I happen to be.

Technology is amazing.

However the instructions to this amazing technology, was no so amazing.

"The xxxx is capable for 16 backup version control."

Huh? Ooooh, you mean xxxx can hold 16 backups!

"Clicking on Apply after firmed with desired schedule"

What? Not even a full stop after that sentence?!

It's like a game of Chinese Whispers. Except this game has taken me about a week to get to grips with! Grrrrrrrrr!

Yes people, translation technology is not quite up there with cool phones or mirrors that read our vital stats.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The different sides to strength in women

I was thinking of some images that I would like to create, what story I'd like to tell. I've had a few ideas for projects that I'm in various stages of. Some still only exist in my mind and it's about time to get them started.

After thinking up a view in my mind's eye, I called up a good friend who I thought would suit this image, right down to the concerned expression. We talked over the project concept and decided on poses. On a perfectly sunny and cloudy day in Oxford, we set to work creating stories.

I've had the idea of doing a few ongoing project. Ongoing because I will add to them as and when I can, but I'm not sure they will have a defined end point. One of the projects I came up with was about strong women. I wanted to do a series of portraits of women owning their space and commanding their destiny.

However, I didn't want to limit it to overt displays of strength, or the stereotypical masculine images of strength. You can be strong, do the hard but correct thing, and feel terrible while doing it. Or like leaving a long relationship that you realised was weakening you slowly like a disease, you did the strong thing but you still think about what you left and where you are going.

Because of these nuances, I wanted to start the series with a set of images of a lady on her journey. The decision has been made to go, to leave. The hard part is done. But questions still remain.


Friday, 24 September 2010


Damn, what a few weeks. I've been working hard on some corporate imagery. I've been working hard on a wedding album. I've been working hard on some portraits. I've been working hard on some plans that I really want to get running, too. Some exciting projects that I'm eager to make moves with. I've even been trying to figure out how to use an app on my Android phone that  thought could help me jot down some ideas and save me time in organizing thoughts and plans. Except, I really can't figure out how to use it. It's like a Mensa-made jot pad. I'm obviously not part of the group. :-(

Although the most interesting thing that happened to me was when I was scheduled to have a meeting to discuss important top secret business. It got canceled on the day. One of the main attendees forgot it was his birthday.

Yeah, seriously!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

I [insert expletive] love it!!!

You can't really ask for a better response to your hard work.

Every piece is special. Some are more special. After nurturing the birth of the idea, I had yet to find out a) if the image was suitable and b) if the image would turn out to be too big. What on earth am I talking about?! Ah yes, I have sort of started in the middle. So we'll take if from the top. Quickly.

Client comes to me with a request. "Angus, I'd like something different." Excellent!

We sat. We chatted. I had a laugh with her husband. If I was the art director on this piece, you could say he ended up being the logistics manager. So what did she want?

A panorama. A cityscape panorama.

I thought for quite a while. Then, like suddenly opening your eyes to light rain, the idea dawned on me. However I should be clear that what I thought of was not an image. No, the excitement was the method of taking the image rather than the buildings in the image itself. You see, the problem with London panoramas is that most of the angles of the London skyline have been photographed a million times over. So what you need is a new angle or a new paintbrush with which to paint the same features.

I didn't have my personal helicopter to take me around. It was having an MOT. :-(

After a few research trips and a few test images, and a few chronic duds, I realised how this can be done. I have to say it is one of my proudest pieces to date. After getting it printed, I can honestly say I was sad for two reasons: 1. I have to give it away. 2. Very few people will see it in it's full glory. Two and a half meters wide! I really do urge people to get more things printed. A good print can invoke so much more feeling.

But for those who never got to see it, here's the next best thing. Hope you like it!


Saturday, 21 August 2010

You're Beautiful, Woman event. I didn't get to shop. :-(

To be chosen for a job is a blessing. To get asked back by a previous client, is a blessing on a blessing. So when I was asked back to cover the You're Beautiful, Woman (YBW) event, I was very happy.

The event is aims at a nice relaxed environment to celebrate the beauty of black women in all it's forms while offering health, beauty and business advice. The organisers once again put on a great show and ran a tight ship.

They was a market place with many people showing their fantastic products. If I wasn't working, I would have gone shopping!

Then there were the seminars. They were very educational while keeping it light hearted. For some of the discussions, I would have loved to throw in a couple of comments! :-) But again, I was stopped by the fact that I was working. On the other hand, if I wasn't working, I wouldn't have had the privilege to event hear the discussions. Oh the balance of the universe!

For a photographer that doesn't normally do events, I had great fun. Many of the speakers were great. I managed to chat to a few of them after their talks, and they really did seem like great people rather than your average sales person just selling. I would definitely like to keep in contact.

So to everyone I met on that day, it was an absolute pleasure!

You're Beautiful, Woman images
You're Beautiful, Woman website

Friday, 20 August 2010

Oh no they didn't! Damn. They did.

Hello all,

A quick apology. Some of you may have found that parts of my website were unavailable recently. For this I apologise. As it turns out, some deviant miscreants decided to attack the group that hold some of my pages. A denial of service (DoS) attack if you're seeking detail. What this means is that while the website was actually still functioning, an overload of traffic meant it could not be reached - kinda like very bad rush hour bringing roads to a standstill.

Now the website is up and running. I have employed the Shadow Minister to investigate the technological criminality.
A rare image of the Shadow Minister

For you, dear reader, normal service resumes!

Sunday, 1 August 2010


Listening to the amazing 30 Seconds To Mars reinterpretation of Kanye West's Stronger (BBC Live Lounge), apart from being totally bowled over, I was reminded of how the same words can take on a completely different meaning by virtue of presentation.

Along the same lines, I am going through a phase of changing around my blog and website. Starting with the colour scheme. I would say check it out after the refurbishment, but to be honest, I plan to refurbish at least once a year. Probably twice. So just check it out to see what's changed!

The first thing that's changed is the email subscription over on the right. Now, if you subscribe by email, you will get notified of blog entries. It makes it easier for me to keep you informed and for you to save time. Though I'm sure you were checking out the latest and greatest imagery on my site anyway. :-)

Oh, and all comments welcome! Shoot me a line. I can't promise to please everyone, but I can promise to listen.

I reserve the right to come up with a new idea!

Sometimes looking again gives you a different idea about presentation.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Magazine Magic

First, a slap on the wrist for going a whole two weeks two days without a word. I did try to keep it to at least one post a week of updates. In my defence, I have been working really hard on the biggest image I have ever done, another photoshoot and the christening of my nephew. The other two I will talk about in a future post when they are fully wrapped up, but the photoshoot is definitely a fun place to start.

Sometimes the best feeling you can get from a photoshoot is feeling like you are getting to know someone. Angel came to me with a design brief. She needed some images for a magazine feature and for a great blog she has started - The Natural Lounge. After searching for hair care information for natural afro hair, she was just a little bit disappointed to find out most help and information was US based for US people. So she did something about it!

The shoot funnily enough came about because the scheduled future date was cancelled and we spontaneously had an earlier date free. Unfortunately for me, that date was the day we found out we had to cancel. As in "Shoot, we have to cancel. Are you free today?!" Now... like most professionals, I like to plan. I like to do my research, come up with ideas, then flow on the day. Smoooooooth. Ish. Unplanned shoots are like when people ask me what do I prefer, weddings or portraits? I love both for completely different reasons! An unplanned shoot makes you make the best of what you have and think creatively under pressure with often not very much around.

I came with my ideas. Angel came with her ideas. We chucked them in the idea generator, and ran with it. And after a number of mad facial poses and some cracking up, we came up with some magazine magic...

Well, some may have been magic, but maybe not for the same magazine article!
Thanks Angel. I had a great time!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

What's the score?

It's an amazing journey. With joy and nerves you agree to one of the biggest steps in your life. You both go through the headaches, the energy and expectation of organising your wedding. The venue, the chosen people, the catering, the photographer. All take time and more time to select. You do this possibly over a year in advance as you know the best choices will go as summer is a prime wedding time.

Everything is sorted. All invites are out. Only thing left (ideally) is to get yourself ready. Then, as the day approaches, the inescapable truth hits home. You shouldn't be getting married. Not on that day. Why? What's wrong?? What nerves or superstitions have thrown you into chaos???

It's the World Cup.

Or worse, it's the finals. Suddenly the people that you invited are starting to make excuses to either not come or leave early. It's a terrible moment for anyone to realise that you have organised something during the World Cup. I hear that even in hospitals, the phones go quiet when a game is playing. They go absolutely silent when England is playing.

I did hear of a funeral that went on during a previous World Cup. As soon as the burial had finished, a group walked off, in tears, back to their cars. They seemed to group around one car in particular. Maybe just saying their goodbyes. A couple walked over a little later to the group. There wasn't much discussion going on. The couple walked up to the person sitting behind the wheel at the center of the group. Through red, welled up eyes, arm around his partner, he stared at the driver blankly and said,

"What's the score?"

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The birth of an idea

Completely unexpectedly, I start writing this listening to Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror on radio. His music is truly amazing.

Anyway, I just completed a test shot for a client.

I was given a very broad idea of what they would like. My job is to put the idea into print. While lying in my bed at 1am, letting the mind drift, I had been casually thinking of what image to create. With the design brief I had, it was evident that the idea had been covered many many times, so the challenge for once wasn't actually where to take the picture, but how to differentiate it from the many others out there.

Suddenly but gently, an idea dropped into my sleepy cranium. Then it got refined. And complicated. What I thought of creating would probably stretch me quite a bit. I smiled with the prospect, then slept.

Morning came. I was excited. I had to wait a few days to get the right conditions for the image. I went to The Spot, about 30 images and 3 hours later, I was in my car driving home wondering if many of the problems I encountered would completely wreck the image. Either way, I said to my lovely partner who came along, it has educated me no ends.

I drove with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.

The following morning, I began to do a quick draft to see if either I or my trusty computer could handle what I was trying to do. (My old computer caught fire when I pushed it too much!) I completed all the pieces and the computer was left to put them together before I went back to tailor the image. I clicked "Process". The phone rang. I was glad for the distraction.

The CPU started getting hot from processing the numbers. The screen flickered fragmented images up then went black repeatedly. I tried not to notice. For trying to complete something you have never done before, this was like waiting to hear if your cat was going to live!

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the final process bar reaching 100%... Still on the phone I turned to the computer, preloading a touch of disappointment to try to balance my nerves. It didn't work.

The image flashed up. Immediately I knew... IT HAD WORKED!!! The phone flew out of my hand as I jumped from my seat as if England had just won against the Germans. I did my little rain dance of happiness. Sat back down. Stared at the computer. Felt good. I had been vindicated. Of sorts. :-)

And this was only a proof of principle!

A sample of the draft. I can't show the full version until the client gets the final. But stay tuned!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Sometimes you love your passion inside out. Sometimes you just want some sleep.

Once I was doing some exercise and someone said to me "you must really love doing your exercise." Loosely translated, that meant "you must really love doing [some] exercise [relative to my none]." I thought about that for a second. Apart from the occasional thought that people that don't exercise are actually the smart ones, did I really love exercising?

I can't say that I do. In fact, I can't remember the last time I started exercising with a smile.

But I do love the benefits that I get not just after exercise, but the benefits from the whole process of doing exercise.

This is kinda how I felt on Sunday morning, when I was driving around looking for a place to shoot. And when I say Sunday morning, I mean 03.30 on Sunday morning. The worst thing is I didn't even get to shoot what I had intended! I was out to do some test shots and the location was not at all suitable. The second location was more promising but the lighting was not correct. I almost felt like a landscape photographer who are known to wake up before the crack of dawn, and go to the same spot day after day waiting for the right conditions. To catch the crack of dawn involves being out around 04.00. Hence the time I was driving.

Believe me, I would rather have been in bed. I may love photography, but I don't love waking up for the summer sunrise in the summer. But then, what benefit would I get from sleeping instead of potentially taking a great image? You have to love potential.

A sunrise that I always remember in 2007 from my hotel in Greece.

Monday, 14 June 2010

"I really like Harry Potter..."

I was asked by someone who I previously did a portrait for, to do another one with a group. "Not a problem" I said.

"I really like Harry Potter..." she said.

This is the time that I would raise an eyebrow, crack a smile, and start getting really interested in what the person has in mind. It turns out she had been interested in a vision of her own Harry Potter style poster. We had spoken about it previously but it was more on her love for the movies. Maybe I should have picked up the signs! But, to be honest, it was great the way it happened. All players were in the same place at the same time (which is very rare), everyone was up for a laugh, and in no time at all, we had the basis of the final image. You should see the outtakes!

I was really proud to be asked. To trust someone to take your artistic idea, flesh it out, and transition it into reality is no small thing. In this industry, the real currency is not money, it's trust.


Tuesday, 1 June 2010

And so it begins...

A very warm welcome to my inaugural blog posting. It's really something that has been a long time coming. I'm sure many that know me will say "Angus?! Blog?!" Yes, it is I. Blogging it!

As I've been active but not sharing some of the work, I am going to try to be much more informative. Though to be honest, if I said this is going to be purely business, I'd be lying. I will be airing my various thoughts and musings on life and things in general.

I'll keep this post short and sweet. Things will no doubt change as ideas come and go. Flexibility is the key for progress. Even if I don't get quite as many followers as the superstars Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher (who apparently have around 5 million Twitter followers each), it will be fun and therapeutic to see where this goes.

Stay tuned. See you soon.