TRAVEL & PLACE | Caersws Magic

I hope you can forgive me, but when it comes to my home country I have a very soft heart, I seem to go all glossy eyed and romantic when I think of this beautiful piece of the world.

Wales, it rains a lot, but without that rain you wouldn’t have Wales. The smell of the earth, it’s life. No wonder there was so much industry in this little country, the ground on which we walk hides a wealth of minerals that seemed to keep the world moving forward at one stage. Now, Wales give’s great pleasure and relaxation to the millions who visit it every year to go walking it’s great peaks, and it caters for the hardier as well as the less hardy or merely the ones who want to lie on one of it’s outstanding coastal beaches if the thought of walking makes you come over all tired. On some days though you become witness to scenes like this and you can still believe your an explorer. You could also be forgiven in thinking you have seen the dragon of Wales silently glide from around that distant mountain and clear the mist just long enough to catch a glimpse but still not sure what you saw. It is true you know, if you stand still long enough you can hear the sounds of gurgling streams, the sound of sheep on the mountain sides depending on the time of year. But for me as a photographer it’s light that gets my creative juices flowing and on this day God was putting on one incredible show, after all this is His favourite country.

I was staying with my brother on one of my bi-annual visits from Australia. He lives in the small hamlet village of Carno, Powys in the Parish of Montgomeryshire, it’s one of those places you seem to pass through on your way to greater things. His cottage, I might add you can now hire for your next Welsh escape, lies alongside the main A470, the main road that takes from the south to the north but being so rural you wouldn’t think so. The name of the village is said to have derived from the welsh word for cairn (carnedd), as there are many ancient cairns on the hills surrounding the village. One claim to fame for this little place is the designer and entrepreneur Laura Ashley who is buried in the churchyard. Anyway. I woke one autumn morning to witness this beautiful show of weather moving down through the valley. Grabbing my camera I photographed some of these scenes from the bedroom window, until I couldn’t contain myself any more and just had to get out and soak up the best of Welsh mountain weather and we hadn’t even eaten breakfast as yet. It was early and very still with a quietness you can expect in such a beautiful piece of Wales, no cars, no walkers, just this peacefulness with a smell of earth. We drove up to the top of the mountain pulling into the side of the country lane just the once to let the local farmer through with his tractor, not quite at the top we pulled over to make more images, the valley of Caersws seemed to want to be photographed this day.

A beautiful Autumn morning in Carno, Wales as the mist drops down into the Cledan valley.

A beautiful Autumn morning in Carno, Wales as the mist drops down into the Cledan valley.

A beautiful Autumn morning in Carno, Wales as the mist drops down into the Cledan valley.

A beautiful Autumn morning in Carno, Wales as the mist drops down into the Cledan valley.

A beautiful Autumn morning in Carno, Wales as the mist drops down into the Cledan valley.

ARTS & CULTURE | Finding Inspiration

Have you noticed the art of photography has now been been regulated to the status of the enthusiast. Everybody makes pictures, But because its easy doesn’t mean its less difficult. Over the last couple of decades there has been an explosion in the photographic world, it’s cool to take photographs, anybody can copy trends or styles. But only a vision-that is what one must have.

Although Im a photographer I don’t look to other photographers for inspiration, unless it’s the greats like Walker Evans, Bill Brandt and Ernst Haas, then you cannot help but be inspired. But it’s painter’s that teach me more about light than any other creative. I mean take a close look at J. M. W. Turners work, now that man knew how to convey a feeling by just placing pigment on a canvas. But I’m a photographer and the only means I have to express whats in my head is to use a camera to record light. So its light I look to first, then when I feel I have that worked out I can make pictures.

This series of portraits of a talented artist friend of mine, Paul Macklin I approached with Rembrandt in my thinking. I love the way Rembrandt lights portraits, rich and full of depth. these where shot under Paul’s awning with one light fired through a honey comb grid and another fired back out of shot but angled just enough to catch the right amount of light fall off I needed under Paul’s right eye and cheek bone. I wanted richness and depth to this series and it appears I caught it.

CANT YOU SEE?

An artist makes his art through his head, heart and his hands. This is the idea behind my new set of pictures of Christopher Dewar.
My inspiration for the grid shots came from Bernd and Hilla Becher, a husband and wife photography team who taught photography in Germany. What the Bechers sought from their subjects was a way in which a single type of structure (watertower, blast furnace, etc.) varied wildly in its external appearance due to its specific historical, geographical context. So I looked at this grid system to explore the way we look at a person, by photographing Chris with the same light, same angle, it’s then you can start to explore with your eye and start to see the differences between each image. Forget about getting the soul of a person in a photograph, that’s just a load of old bull, when we make a picture of person we bring our own baggage with us and what we want to happen, so there is very little chance your going to see who they really are.

The idea behind the floating image is that sometimes we dream our art, we, the artist, can see the beauty in what we create, why can’t others. So in a dream state we float, hands out as though. Look! look what I have created for you. Cant you see?

 

The hands. This is what we use to create, communicate our creativeness to you. So we now  have the whole story of an artist. As told by another artist, art is again created and another story is told. But who’s, mine or Chris’s?

HANNALISE | Wind, Sand, Layers.

This series has been all about three working women who are also mums, and all showed signs of apprehension starting of in the shoot, but it didn’t take long to relax and have a good time. True the weather was not the best, but it did offer some wonderful light in all three stories.

The last mum, but not least was Hannalies’ turn in front of the camera. Making our way down the beach the wind was blowing fairly hard but I had a feeling it was working in my favour as Hannalise was wearing a light flowing material dress. The series I chose of her images I felt all offered a different look, from the soft to the high contrast that I felt Hannalise could carry off. As you can see she did it very well.

I have enjoyed this little project and it’s had more of an effect than I could have imagined, so thank you to all the ladies who gave me their trust and allowed me to make pictures of them. So glad you all like them.

Wind Swept Bec Shoot.

Part 2 of my story on women. Bec and myself went to a beach to create this series of images on a very windy day, with a short burst of rain, that lucky for us cleared the beach of other people so I didn’t have to worry about the odd person popping into the background. Bec is a working mum of two who described herself as one of the most awkward people on earth. Mmm! She never tried photographing Bob Hawke. As you can see by Bec’s images she was wrong, no awkwardness in these.

When I meet the sitter for the first time, their story and my story as the photographer come together, then it’s a collaboration, whether conscious or verbal but something happens, then if Im cautious and respectful I hope they will respond with a generous spirit so that the story can be seen, as it’s my job as artist to find their story and reveal it with my camera.

None of the images in my series are shot with any glamour in mind and very minimal photoshop, that is used to do a bit of dodging and burning.  This is about real people with real lives.

Jasmine | Mud Running Glam Chic.

How I came to start this series was with a question. What is it to live as a woman today, as well as, have women themselves changed? You could say this is my attempt to make images against the terror of perfection. Looking at a woman’s strength. Hoping to capture naked images and I don’t mean naked body parts, I mean show the camera who as a woman you really are, the natural beautiful person women are. My instruction to each person was simply be who you are and trust me to see and hopefully capture that truth. I didn’t want images that just appealed to men, some of whom see them as possessions. This, I hope is the first in a set of three. Three set’s of images of true stories. Three set’s of images of life. Indeed, of lives. A set of images to talk about what it means to be today’s woman.

This is the content of my photographs, dedicated to women. A narrative that questions not on the concept of women as much as on that of not one concept of femininity, but many. Not so much about their beauty but about their power, presence, personality and influence. As a photographer I am in some way responsible for reflecting of women in society, me personally I want that to be one of individuality.

When Jasmine said yes to helping me out she responded with… I am strong and healthy but a mum of 3. Mud running glam chic and I love horses … a bit of everything. My body image … I love that I am tall and try to carry myself confidently. But every girl has those things she doesn’t like. Perfect for the series. I said.

Thank you Jasmine.

CIRCUS DAYS. PART TWO | The People.

I would just like to say a massive thank you to all those at Webers Circus for allowing me free rein in moving around where I wanted too and the giving me of their precious time to make this series. I couldn’t have done it without any of you.

When I started this series I was hoping I didn’t get too caught up in making pictures that where cliched and easy to make. As circus acts are full of colour and fast action with lots going on, it would have been easy to concentrate on as it’s quite wonderful to watch. This series was to be about people.

A circus is not a circus without it’s talent and talent only comes from people who put in long hours of work, training and practicing their skills. The following portfolio of images was made over two days at the end of an evening’s show. I wanted each image to show the person and not be specific to any act, just a study. Not having anytime to pre-plan any of these shots I had to bite the bullet and wing it. I started off by shooting the ring master centre of the ring but it just wasn’t working, the image needed layering, I noticed this early as the camera was tethered to a computer giving me a much larger frame for the eye to explore and notice any problems, which it did, plus the subject can see what is working and what’s not, this helped with things like props and lipstick. Lighting was natural,   whatever was available in my space supplemented with a flash fired through a soft-box. ISO was set high to get as much detail as possible and I allowed light to bleed where it wanted so that I could get the cinematic effect I was chasing. Colour grading was done as much as possible in Capture One with things like curves, levels, dodging and burning done in Photoshop later.

This series has been a dream for me to shoot and I have enjoyed every last moment of it, it’s taken a very long time for the opportunity to come round and Im grateful to everybody. Thank you Webers Circus.

Wonita and Tim

Wonita and Tim

Webers Circus

Megan and Cody

Justin

Justin

Wonita

Wonita

Paul and Emma

Paul and Emma

Webers Circus

Dakota

Jake

Jake

Webers Circus

Wonona