26 March 2015

Birds of a Feather

I visited an old friend in Birmingham last weekend, by old I mean long standing, as she's younger than me and I don't consider myself old yet. We went to university together and shared a house with three other people who are all still close friends too. I suppose you do quite a bit of growing up together at that point in your life and there is a certain intensity sharing a home, and being part of each other's daily life. Those days were fast and long, slightly chaotic and exciting so you don't know if the people around you will always be in your life, in fact I don't think I considered it until it was time to leave. 

We watched the recent Madonna interview on catchup one of the evenings and she talked about how we are brought up to believe that family means blood, but actually we create new families for ourselves, people who won't judge, who you can trust, people who are loyal - that's family.  

15 March 2015

Back to Backs

Every so often I return to photographing people's backs. I like that we have to work a bit harder as viewers; fill in the blanks, imagine a face, an expression. You can't turn a photograph around, well not yet anyway. 

12 March 2015

Selfie Sticks & Other Devices

I'm just back from our college residential to Barcelona, which always leaves me inspired and thinking in new ways. This blog entry picks up where I left off exactly two years ago, observing the tourist feeding frenzy in Sagrada Familia. 

The original entry is here: 

My feelings are the same as then and without repeating myself too much the experience left me thinking about how we engage with 'culture' in the 21st century. Maybe we are losing the ability to actually look, see, think and respond to the physical world around us as we become obsessed with using our devices to record and share what's directly around us. We end up experiencing everything through a small screen and measuring its value in it's 'like'-ability. It actually makes an incredible spectacle in itself as people lose themselves in framing the world. In the intervening two years the selfie stick has added a whole new dimension to this performance as people throw shapes and pull faces for their loved ones possible hundreds or thousands of miles away. 

22 February 2015


I've a good friend who lives by the sea, you can sit in her first floor living room and look out over Morecambe Bay towards the horizon. Tilt your head left and squint, there's Blackpool Tower, tilt right and the mountains of the Lake District command the landscape. The light is constantly flickering and changing, colours appear and then they're gone, rain lashes in, moves on, the sun breaks through. Like sitting watching an open fire, it stirs something primal. I'd travelled to Morecambe with another friend and we both sat mesmerised trying to keep up with show, listening to the sound of waves through the open door.

I've photographed Morecambe itself many times. I'd love to see it rise again and be the bustling, stylish place it once was. If Blackpool was a person it would be Bet Lynch, whereas Morecambe once had higher aspirations and would've played a good Annie Walker. These days there are sparks of optimism and some interesting events and refurbishments, but there is a long way to go and lots of neglected, faded grandeur. It always makes a fascinating day out, especially if you pack a camera, and if more of us visited and contributed to it's economy it's in with more of a chance.

30 January 2015


New postcode
New light
New sounds
New routes
New sights
New thoughts
New people
New life

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...