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Wednesday 31 January 2018

Horses for Courses

This month's edition of BBC CountryFile Magazine carries a story I worked on last summer, with local Kendal based journalist Karen Lloyd, looking at a dying breed. Lakeland fell ponies are a rare breed of fell pony that are only kept by a handful of enthusiastic breeders, quite distinct from other similar looking breeds and said to be one of the toughest animals in the British Isles.

The assignment had it's moments; tracking down the ponies in the first place wasn't easy; these are wild fell ponies after all. "They could be anywhere" I was told, before mounting the back of the quad bike with an over-packed rucksack of camera kit and hanging on for dear life as we shot up the side of the fell in search of the elusive beasts. Not too elusive as it turned out. And really quite approachable, for a wild animal. Fortunately I've done a lot of horse riding in my time and I'm not really worried about them, but you never know - wild is wild.

On the second visit, to a different location and a different breeder, I found myself greeting a real character who I last photographed 25 years ago on a story about charcoal burning in the Lake District. Walter Lloyd was a proper old school back-to-nature craftsman/woodsman/gypsy, call him what you like - he was an encyclopaedia of forgotten old-ways knowledge. Scraping a living but living a full life, Walter made traditional hooped gypsy caravans by hand, taught woodland crafts and charcoal burning in workshops and lived a life on the road full of adventure and surprise. And here he was again, with his son Tom, breeding rare fell ponies - of course he was. he loved horses and the horse drawn life of the gypsy traveller so what could be more natural. He looked strong and full of vigour despite a heavy bout of flu recently but sadly he was not as strong as he looked, at aged 90 something, he passed away recently. He will be missed by everyone who came into contact with him and especially by his family and friends; a true original and a proper character.

His son Tom, equally passionate about the things that were important to Walter will doubtless continue the family tradition and hopefully keep the Lakeland fell pony tradition alive. That's what all those pack horse bridges all over the fells were built for after all.

Wednesday 24 January 2018

I do love a cover...

This month I get the cover on Lakeland Walker magazine with another winter shot of my trusty model/mountain guide Paddy Cave ( We did this shoot some time ago when the Lakes still got winter snow - oh, hang on, I'm looking out the window and would you believe it, 2018 actually has some snow again!

It's time to get back out on the hill and shoot winter covers for next year. Helvellyn and the Red Tarn bowel are pretty reliable for holding the snow and giving you great backgrounds but the real trick to a successful cover shot is a red jacket - never go out without one.

Actually I did a bit better than just the cover - the full pager on the gear section is also Paddy - different location, different jacket, but the principle's the same - make the figure stand out from the background.

Saturday 14 October 2017

Lakes International Comic Arts Festival

It's that time of year again - LICAF!

Remarkably, a small and grey market town on the edge of the Lake District (yes, Kendal) has become home to not only the internationally famous Mountain Film Festival but now the worlds biggest comic arts festival. Weird eh?

I grew up on 2000AD comic so I'm all over Judge Dread and Nemisis the Warlock, or at least I was when I was appropriately young.

So I was a wee bit intrigued when I was asked to photograph the artist responsible, Bryan Talbot at Kendal College's Box theatre.

It's always interesting meeting the actual face behind the name, if you know what I mean. Bryan is not quite what I expected - quietly spoken, slightly intense, a professional artist with wide ranging interests that have taken him a long way from predictable story lines and imagery of DC comics. Not your average geeky comic guy!

I shot these images with a Fuji X-T10, aperture priority mode, f4.5 hand held at 1/30th second iso 1250, which would be boring geeky info normally but I've just acquired this camera so I'm interested in how it performed under duress...looks pretty good to me. Love this little camera - I think I'll be using this a lot in the future.

Monday 18 September 2017

Back to School...

It's September, so of course school's back and for those of us who work in education it's a whole new sea of fresh faces eager to learn. I always look forward to welcoming my new group of part-time evening class enthusiasts on the Level 2 and Level 3 photography course, which I've been running now for 14 years.

Now that we are under the UAL (University of the Arts, London) umbrella, the course has so much more scope for students to develop their own personal photography projects and get their teeth into more creative projects. But what should a personal photography look like?

Let's take travel photography for example. Most of us love to travel with our camera and try and shoot something better than a holiday snapshot. We'd like to think we can communicate a sense of place, create some atmosphere or capture a more realistic sense of real life and community on our travels. That can be hard when you're competing with the demands of family and friends and the next round of ice creams on the beach. Everyone will find their own solution; for me it's taking an hour out to roam free and explore the back alleys and quieter places, away from the crowds.

My aim is to do "Street" photography, just as I would at home, to try and avoid the cliche postcard views. By setting myself a genre and a theme, I hope to stay focused and produce a set of images that say something a little different about where I've been and what I've seen. Essentially, that's what I'm going to teach my students. Set yourself a project theme, in a genre of photography that you enjoy or want to be challenged by, and stay focused on the subject, don't get too sidetracked by "pretty" pictures. Photography should be be about communicating
something real, not just for decoration.

If you live in the South Lakes area of Cumbria and you fancy coming along to one of our photography courses at Kendal College, check out the college website part time courses at

Friday 3 February 2017

I've been working with the world's leading specialist Mercedes-Benz Unimog refurbishers, Atkinson Vos, who recently launched their new website at

The company have undergone a complete re-branding with Lancaster based design agency, Hotfoot Design at


So finally, the website is up and running with the images that we produced over a 6 month period of carefully managed photo-shoots on location.
These amazing vehicles will go anywhere/do anything so we needed to create a portfolio of images to visualise this message to customers and reinforce the idea that a Unimog vehicle is the right solution for extreme purposes.

The key to creating these images has been the use of off-camera lighting and out-of-the-box thinking to find ways to make the Unimogs stand out in their environment. 
Speed lights where used with remote triggers to light under, around and inside the 'Mogs to highlight detail and create contrast. 
We didn't let the famously inclement northern weather get in the way either - stormy skies played right into our hands, with drama and mood. 

Charlie and Guy at Hotfoot have done a great job turning my images into a complete re-brand for web, print and mobile and I'm looking forward to working with them again on future projects.

Friday 20 March 2015

Stardate: 9.30am, 20th March 2015 Solar Eclipse

Well, here's my effort. Shot with a Sony NEX 3 and the kit 18-55 Sony lens without filters etc, and pushed through Lightroom. Not too bad really. What was your's like? Did you even get to see it!!??

Thursday 5 March 2015

We Are The Chiltern Conser-vation So-ci-ety (apologies to the Italian Job!)

The Self Preservation Society might not have been a bad title actually, with this lot of die-hard (ooh, another film link!) photographers. A bitterly cold, windy and sometimes rainy weekend in the Chilterns is not normally the recipe for a successful photo-workshop weekend but what we lacked in weather we made up for with enthusiasm I guess.