A Lifestyle Portrait, Keeping The Ambience The Dark Art Of Weaving The Withy

A Lifestyle Portrait, Keeping The Ambience The Dark Art Of Weaving The Withy

While on a shoot capturing some images for my personal project Life In A Somerset Landscape at Withy growers P.H Coates I came across this very dark but atmospheric room.
In it three guys where busy working in the dim light and plenty of banter was being exchanged in their strong Somerset accents especially when I was introduced to them followed by the words photographing you where mentioned!

It wasn’t a Landscape… but the room had a rustic historic charm and bags of atmosphere and I could visualize the final lifestyle portrait image complete with Matthew Godfrey one of the guys who skillfully weaved wicker fences in the room.
The image was going to be a tricky one to attempt to capture in one frame due to the dim light and the fact there were elements I wanted to be visible to help tell the story without over lighting and killing the whole ambience of the place.
It’s one of those moments when seeing the final image and having extensive knowledge of photo retouching techniques allowed me to harvest all the images I would need then combine them in post-production without a huge amount of system time.

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Wooden Horse & Treacherous Tides

Wooden Horse & Treacherous Tides

 

The Bristol Channel can be a treacherous place.
For starters it has the second-highest tidal range in the world, the first is the Bay of Fundy in Canada.
So if that does not catch you out then there is the mud to contend with which claims many a tourist’s cars during the summer months.

I’ve lived along this coast for a large part of my life so I know to give it a lot of respect.
So it was partly this that intrigued me about the Mud Horse Fishermen who go onto the dangerous mudflats to retrieve fish from their nets.

They can only do this as they know the area and tides very well and also have their sledges known as Wooden Horses that keep them from sinking waist deep or more into the concrete like mud.
I had 20 years previous captured an environmental portrait of another of the fishermen but now only 2 survive and I decided to call Adrian Sellick to see if I might be able to capture him for my project Life In A Somerset Landscape
A time was arranged and I met up with Adrian a week later and also his father Brendan who was busy mending nets just a stone’s throw from the beach.

To my amazement, Adrian said he would drive us part of the mile or so out to where his Horse was anchored in his small 4×4 and I have to say I was pretty nervous about that after seeing so many vehicles devoured!
Thankfully I had nothing to worry about and with Adrian’s advise I managed to avoid stepping on the wrong type of mud and being swallowed up and got the shots I wanted before the tide turned.
The final image shows Adrian with his Wooden Horse with Hinkley Point Power Station in the background.

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The 1943 Harley & D-Day Despatch Rider

Inspired by some very old musty prints and tales from my Mum and Dad about living and working through WW2 I set out to shoot some images that represented that era.
Through some research I managed to find a guy called Manny who had collection of WW2 memorbillia (and that’s a huge understatement !) who was also located not far from me.
I also thought Manny would be a great addition to my Life In A Somerset Landscape Project so I gave him a call.

As expected Manny was very passionate about the era and travelled to many of the re-enactments both here and abroad during the summer months.
During our telephone chat he mentioned the authentic 750cc 1943 Harley Davidson he had and a U.S infantryman’s uniform as worn in the D-Day invasion.

At that point the image came together at least in my head
We decided that we create a story where a U.S Army Despatch Rider from headquarters company is delivering messages to and from various units.
The setting would be a forest in northern France and so my next job was to find the location and arrange the logistics of getting Manny and his bike there.

A week later the pre production was finalised and the shoot day arranged.
Manny was a dream to work with bringing authentic maps,rifles,etc giving us plenty of options for many variations I may want to try.

As my work is about quiet moments I worked around the narrative of the rider taking a rest from riding on his dangerous assignment.

Trec A Lifestyle Portrait, Venice Beach 1992

Trec A Lifestyle Portrait, Venice Beach 1992

While touring America as a younger man! my last stop was Venice Beach in L.A.

I found Venice beach to be everything I had anticipated it to be including some very interesting people for capturing lifestyle portraits.

It was while enjoying the beach that I saw this guy working Brooks Tower (lifeguard station) and I knew I couldn’t depart California without capturing an iconic lifeguard made famous by Baywatch!

After chatting for a short while I discovered that the gentlemen’s name was Trec and he informed me he was approaching 40 years old and had been a lifeguard for many years in Venice Beach.

Not wanting to distract him long for obvious reasons I quickly captured several frames of film of him with thanks and left him to keep everyone safe around Brooks Tower.

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Lifestyle Portrait Of Venice Beach Lifeguard California

Trec Vencie Beach Life Guard 1992

Mimecast Advertising Campaign

Back in the summer, I had the opportunity to work once again with creative director and good friend Stuart Lowe in Central London.

I had the good fortune of working on a contract for Trader Media Group and Stuart for several years shooting exotic cars on location all over the UK.

Stuart who is now Creative Director at Mimecast a software service company specializing in email archiving amongst other things contacted me to shoot a campaign they were looking to run to help promote their Cloud storage services.

The images were all captured in a few hours at Mimecast’s offices in central London and retouched by us.

 

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Proper Somerset Photography, Remembering Gordon

Proper Somerset Photography, Remembering Gordon

It’s been a busy week here at Monks Yard researching locations and contacting people for several shoots we have ideas for.
For the last 18 months or more we have been working on a project titled “Life in A Somerset Landscape”

The title pretty much speaks for itself but the concept is basically to photograph well known or iconic Somerset landscapes with either people or animals in them.

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Withy weaver PH Coates Withy growers Somerst

Of course in line with my style of imagery these images are often composited scenes made up from sometimes many elements to create the idyllic and quiet moments that make up my vision.
When I first started on my career some 25 or so years ago I would often shoot for the Somerset Tourism Departments and met some wonderful & colourful characters including a guy called Gordon Rich.
Gordon was a Somerset Cider Maker and owner of Richies Cider Farm and was Somerset as they come!

Maybe it was because I was young and just starting out with my somerset photography business but he was always very accommodating whenever I turned up to photograph him and always had some fantastic stories to tell.
Unfortunately, he’s no longer with us but the Cider Farm still continues to thrive under the families management.
The project just had to feature Cidermaking at some point as it’s what Somerset is best known for. After a quick chat with Gordon’s family and showing the images captured in the project so far they were happy for me to go ahead with my idea.

Today we did a recce of one of their oldest Cider Orchards which is currently brimming with apples ready to be harvested for cider making.
This time of year is perfect timing for the trees being full of apples but bad timings for the guys as they are very very busy harvesting and pressing the apples. Due to this, we plan to return at dawn when the weather is favourable to capture the orchards and return when this year’s busy harvest period is over to photograph some of the guys and composite the two images in post-production …how things have moved on since my days shooting Gordon on my old 6×6 film camera!

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Lifestyle Portrait From Beach Babes To Toilet Attendants

Lifestyle Portrait From Beach Babes To Toilet Attendants

I’ve photographed a lot of people over the years including my fair share of lifestyle photos of bikini-clad models.
Although models on beaches are always fun to shoot my favourite people to capture are those that ooze character.
I spotted this chap who was a Toilet Attendant whilst looking for a toilet (you never know where they will pop up) in the resort of Yalikavak Turkey.
When I spot someone like this gentleman I find it very hard to walk by without asking if I can take lifestyle portrait of them and In Turkey at least I can’t remember ever being refused to date.

The image is a great addition to my travel photography portfolio

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