04 January 2015

A New Normal

My life has been turned upside down of late and I've not been able to make photographs. Today I walked and talked, observed the world and pointed my camera. I started to think about my new normal, a fresh start for a new year.

20 November 2014

For One Day Only

Once a year, and after a few primer lessons, we throw our first year photography students in at the deep end asking them to be street photographers for a day. Today was that day, with the three staff leading from the front, we spread out over Manchester, meeting regularly to check technique and review shots. The photography gods were with us and the winter sun was strong, casting long seductive shadows across Mancunian faces and surfaces.

So here are some of my own favourites from the day: 

 You can see a previous years pictures here too:

12 October 2014

09 October 2014

Spring In My Step

The last 24 hours have been so enjoyable. I attended the Blog North Awards last night with no thought of winning, but hey guess what, I won! It has surprised me how much it has put a spring in my step to receive this metaphorical pat on the back, especially as the quality of the shortlisted blogs was so high. I was lucky enough to share the stage with the talented Emmeline Pidgen as there were two winners in our category - Best Arts & Culture Blog. 

It was actually a really good evening, with readings from some of the shortlisted bloggers, and a newly commissioned piece for the Manchester Literature Festival, of which this is all a part. During the evening I started to think about the strange, touching nature of the event as most bloggers work away on their own at home, pouring their hearts into a computer keyboard never expecting any response to their musing. One of the bloggers doing a reading last night General Lucifer described the act of blogging as "shouting into a black hole" which really struck a chord with me. 

To top it off I've been spoilt at work today, with flowers, a card and a posh lunch, plus lots of people expressing genuine happiness for me. 

A huge thanks to all the people out there who voted for me, it feels less like a black hole now, and please keep on visiting. 

05 October 2014


My life as a grower and my photography practice seem to be converging, happily. I spent the morning attempting to tame the wilder elements of my allotment. The brambles creeping through from the wasteland next door are now so big that they tower over me by several feet. I've been waiting to pick the last of the blackberries before hacking them back. 

It was a beautiful autumn day with strong, low sun that helped draw attention to the incredible colour palette all around me, very different even to a few weeks ago. So along with my harvest of apples, tomatoes, raspberries and the last of the wild blackberries I snipped a few of the leaves and blooms of the non edibles. The afternoon was then spent experimenting with these on the floor of my box room, lit by the same light that had illuminated my morning work. 

Fingers crossed for this coming Wednesday as it's the Blog North Awards, where this very blog is shortlisted in the Arts & Culture category. If you fancy joining me at the event it's taking place at The Deaf Institute in Manchester from 7.30pm. I'm hoping they have some green-fingered judges...

25 September 2014


It's unsettling to think that everything is temporary so I prefer to believe that life is cyclical. These flowers were a gift and looked stunning for a week or so before they started to wilt. Now they are off to the compost heap for a year, maybe two after which time their remains will feed another plant, which will look stunning for a week or so...

Anyway I'm back working in the daylight studio or box room as it's more commonly known, scrabbling around on the floor thinking about colour. There are some earlier blog posts with my other experiments made in this way if you'd care to look:

There is still time to vote for this blog in the Blog North Awards if you'd be so kind! Big thanks.

23 September 2014

Skinny Yellow Legs

One of the perks of being a photography lecturer is that I get to go out making pictures with the students. Today was the annual typology shoot, tapping into the collector in each of us, deciding on a subject and then hunting it down in urban Manchester. After a few false starts I decided to go for these skinny yellow legs that are all over town. I like that scaffolding at ground level has to be 'dressed' these days in a dapper outfit to avoid confused passers by marching straight into it. It does add a graphic edge to the streetscape. It also looks like the recession might be over as there is a huge amount of building and refurbishment going on in this neck of the woods. 

Just a little reminder that there is less than a week left if you'd like to vote for this blog in the Blog North Awards - I'm really chuffed to be shortlisted and overwhelmed by all the positive messages and support, many thanks!


19 September 2014


I saw this scene down the corridor this morning as I rushed to get ready for work and thought - yes that's exactly how I feel, squeezed.

It's been a hectic week but the highlight was discovering this very blog has been shortlisted for a Blog North Award! I'm in the Arts & Culture category, if you fancy voting for me I'd be honoured.

05 September 2014

Welsh Sea Monsters

I keep seeing monsters...

These three were spotted emerging from the sea at Llandudno having just clambered over the fence designed to keep them out.

If you missed my previous encounter you can find it here: 

30 August 2014


I much prefer the word oblong to rectangle, it sounds more descriptive and less technical. 

I'm always pleased when something emerges through my photography that has been bouncing around in my head and these two pictures from a trip to Llandudno yesterday are a case in point. I've been thinking about height and width, shape, composition, framing, in short the canvas size that we all have to consider when making pictures.  I imagine that most photographers happily stick to the shape of the picture forced on them by the maker of their camera, this usually being based on the proportions of the sensor and reflected by the shape of the viewfinder or screen. Although it's possible to change this in the menu or to crop the image later on in post-production, I wonder how many people do this on a regular basis. 

One of the reasons I struggled with digital photography for some time was the shape of the final picture. Most contemporary cameras adopt the proportions of a 35mm film frame - 3:2, which I've never loved. I've always preferred the proportions of 5x4 from large format or 6x7 from medium format, so struggled to embrace the shape provided to frame the world. This is no minor detail, it seems to be such a fundamentally important aspect that I'm surprised camera manufacturers don't make different shaped sensors in the way there were always many film formats. I think a square sensor camera would be really popular. 

I'm not a fan of talking too much about camera equipment on my blog as I want the emphasis to be on ideas and creativity, but it is important for me to have a camera that I love and enjoy using. I discovered Olympus and the FourThirds sensor a few years ago and this helped me embrace digital picture making.  I don't crop my pictures so this format provides me with 4:3 proportions that feel very comfortable and the viewfinder reflects this shape. My perfect oblong.