On A Knife’s Edge

Or more accurately a knife’s edge on a river’s edge. Meet Tim who hand makes knives from reclaimed steel in his workshop on Lots Ait on the river Thames in Brentford. Tim’s a trained chef, and like all chefs he has a fascination with knives, but he’s taken it a step further and decided to make them himself.

What could be more fun than making your own high temperature oven out of an old gas cylinder, heating bits of steel up to over 1000 degrees C inside it, and then bashing the steel repeatedly with a big hammer until you have a knife? Okay there’s a lot more to it than that, including the amount of time spent making it razor sharp. Tim also hand makes the handles which he traditionally made from wood but has started making recycled plastic handles from plastic found in the Thames. All this in a 12′ x 12′ workshop in an old boatyard – to create these pictures we had to take the window out!

Check out Tim’s videos of him slicing an onion with one of his knives on his Instagram page. Remarkably Tim still has all his fingers!

:DK

Pacy Portraits

Guess what I did over the summer? Yep I shot 175 Portraits in two days – mad but true. It was Chertsey Agricultural Association’s 175th Annual Show so they asked me to shoot 175 portraits of people at this years show, one for each year. Obviously wandering around a field asking a load of strangers if I could photograph them was right up my street (or field may be a better word)!

To emphasise the history of the show we gave the show images an aged treatment and you can see all the characters here (okay there are some of kids cuddling dogs but come on I had to shoot a portrait every 4 minutes!)

Some of them were too good to not to take a second look at in colour, so I’ve selected some of my personal favourites and uploaded them here – just click them to see the gallery images..

With it being an agricultural show, when I had completed my 175th portrait I obviously had to enjoy a pint of cider…

 

The AOP At 50

The Association Of Photographers (AOP), of which I am a member, is 50 years old this year and to commemorate they are holding an exhibition of images by past and current members from the 50 years of it’s existence. The AOP50 exhibition has been curated by editor and consultant Zelda Cheatle and includes images by Brian Duffy, Terence Donovan, Anderson & Lowe, Simon Norfolk and Nadav Kander amongst many others. Wow! Where can you see this? Well the exhibition is currently on show with some big prints in the reception area of One Canada Square, Canary Wharf. And best of all – it’s free!

But wait there’s more; you can see an exhibition of current members work at the same venue on a screen in the reception area too, including my image called Sandbags On Portobello Beach (that’s Edinburgh if you don’t know), which even more fantastically is available as a limited edition print – get in touch for details or have a browse at what else is available here.

The exhibition runs until June 1st so don’t hang around…

Sandbags on Portobello Beach

The Kingfisher And I

When you think of Oxford you are probably more inclined to think of the University, the city of dreaming spires, punts on the river, the Radcliffe Camera, Inspector Morse, and you may have even stayed in the old prison which is now a Malmaison hotel.

You would be forgiven if graffiti wasn’t the first thing that comes to mind though, but, as I discovered during a recent reccé, there are some fabulous street art focused projects taking place in Oxford, most notably the Oxford Canal Mural Project initiated by local residents and the Oxford Canal and River Trust, which includes the fabulous Kingfisher mural below created by artist Richard Wilson.

Inspired by all this artwork I decided to use it as the basis for a recent portrait photo shoot in Oxford including some of the canal side murals and down the Cowley Road in Oxford City. It wasn’t without it’s challenges though as we got “boat-o-bombed” on the canal (see below)!

Whilst I think the initiative and the art in particular is fantastic, I’m not sure Morse would have agreed…

 

Oddly – Beer in the Thames

Or to be more precise beer made in the Thames – well, on an island in the Thames; Platt’s Eyot, a former boat builders yard that also made torpedo boats during the second world war.

Oddly is an independent brewery that operates out of one of the old boat yard buildings. Dilapidated and cold when he first moved in but home to this new and growing brewery.

Brian, the head brewer, moved in last year to set up a permanent home for Oddly on this fabulous island, access to which is via a small suspension bridge just large enough to take a narrow van, which led to Brian’s first challenge; how to get the barrels from the delivery point on the shore to his brewery. A job that took 10 minutes previously now took two and a half days!

As an independent brewer “Dry January” isn’t one of his favourite months, however the independents have responded with Tryanuary, a nationwide campaign to support independent brewers by encouraging people try different beers.

It was a great shoot and I’ve always been a fan of the odd beer, but now I am definitely a fan of the Oddly beer…

Platt’s Eyot island

The tasting zone

Brian in the brewery

Platt’s Eyot island

The Oddly bar

Printagram

Printagram? What’s this? Well it’s not Instagram but something less instant; a magazine that I have published, consisting of work, both commissioned and personal. What’s it look like? Well here’s the front cover:

And where can you get this sought after new publication? Well, it’s available as a PDF here. It’s best viewed as a 2 page layout, which if you’re using Preview on a Mac can be set here:

If you’re all modern and funky there is also an ebook version available from here.

Enjoy it and if it’s given you any ideas that I might be able to help with get in touch!

 

Binary People

How much detail is too much? Modern digital cameras capture a huge amount of information, and with a seemingly endless search for more Megapixels (Phase One make a 100MP camera back which produces a 300MB image!) I decided to go back to basics; no, not film but binary which is the basis of all digital systems including cameras. What is binary? Well it means there are only two states – on/off, yes/no, black/white, true/false or 0/1 in computing terms. As an example a simple light switch is binary as it is either on or it’s off (dimmers don’t count).

Binary people is an ongoing personal project where I create portraits, mostly in profile, but solely in black and white, and take that term literally; there are no shades of grey, just black or white!

Despite these images being described by only 2 states the people in them are clearly very individual and clearly recognisable as the people (and dogs!) they are.

Shooting A Shoot

When I was commissioned to photograph a pheasant shoot in North Wales, I had mixed feelings about it; I grew up in the countryside so knew about these things as well as some of the people involved, but I am also aware of people’s sensitivities towards this subject.

I was allowed to shoot some behind the scenes imagery with the head gamekeeper, which was an eye-opening experience and I was struck by how integral to the local economy this shoot was. The village pub’s survival was based on it and many local people worked on the shoot in various capacities outside of the shoot days.

There was an odd contradiction in the way the gamekeepers would spend months looking after the pheasants and their habitat, feeding them and providing clean water regularly, as well as protecting them from predators such as foxes and rats. The pheasants are given free rein in a large wood which is fenced off using wire netting, and again the ‘keepers patrol the fence daily to ensure that there are no breaches that would mean a fox may have got in to the wood. They would lay traps to catch rats and grey squirrels which eat the food that they put out for the birds, and to keep crows away who can eat the young birds (as well as attack lambs). The effects of the ‘keepers efforts generally help the survival of other non-game bird species, as well as helping lamb farmers protect their flock.

Although it’s not my job to judge things I certainly came away with an alternative perspective,  but I still wouldn’t want to be a pheasant….

 

Sunday Times Gig

No, not a job shooting for the Sunday Times, but a profile of little ol’ me in the Sunday Times – in the business section don’t you know. It was for a piece about the self-employed, or more specifically the effects of the gig economy on the rights and benefits of workers, or lack thereof in reality.

It can be summed up nicely by a conversation I had with another photographer a while ago when he asked me if I missed anything about my previous job (I was employed in sales travelling all over Europe for a FTSE100 company in case you didn’t know). “Apart from the regular salary, company car, paid holiday, sick pay, pension, company expenses, company laptop and mobile phone, there is one thing I miss and that’s the best feeling in the world – taking off my suit at the end of the day and pulling on a pair of jeans as it signified that I’d finished work”.

And that’s the biggest difference for me now – knowing when to stop, as there is always something to do – shooting new work, editing, processing, estimating, marketing and promotion, admin (grrrr!!!), VAT returns (double grrr!!!!) archiving, sorting out IT problems (too much time), oh and chasing unpaid invoices. Luckily I don’t have too many issues on that last point, although when I do have to chase an accounts department I like to remind them that only one of us is being paid for my time spent chasing payment, and it ain’t me!

There are lots of challenges and many uncertainties but would I change it? Not a chance! Why? Well this year I’ve been shooting on boats, beaches, planes, rivers, canals, as well as the streets of London, Oxford, Hastings, Berlin, Brighton, Nottingham. I’ve had jobs in London, Surrey, Sussex, Herefordshire, Wales, Shropshire, Merseyside, Staffordshire and Cornwall. I’ve been in kitchens, offices, breweries, boathouses, factories, building sites, as well as photo studios.

Put simply – every day is different and I get to meet some fabulous and interesting people along the way – what’s not to love?

You can see the lens being turned on me and read the full Sunday Times article here.

I Saw On The Seashore

I love the seaside – almost regardless of the weather, which has been just as well this summer! There’s something in the air, apart from salt and the smell of seaweed. People seem to change when they are at the seaside; they become more relaxed and develop a sense of play.

I visited several beaches on the South Coast to try and capture that sense of play. It was a tough job visiting beaches on sunny days but I had to take it on. Taking some inspiration from JS Lowry I created images where the people were small and indistinguishable but their sense of involvement with the sea was clear.

Now if I could just sell my prints for the same price as Lowry…