MONOKROME MUTINEERS

I was recently asked to produce some publicity photographs for an interesting project in the works from these guys.. Meet Charlie and Kristian. Musical production collaborators and innovators.

After years of working in the field as employees of different companies servicing the independent record industry, both were becoming increasingly frustrated with the standard MO and status quo of this working landscape. They told me how things are routinely fragmented and inefficient in terms of the various aspects of production. A & R? Speak to this company. Distribution? Talk to that department. Photography? Maybe this, that or the other guy. Publicity? This company vs That department.. You get the picture. Kind of all over the place, with a lot of time and energy wasted in unnecessary meetings, negotiations and complications. They both took a deep breath... and quit their jobs.

Enter monoKrome music.

Their vision of a streamlined new blueprint for a refreshing way to work. Everything in-house, all aspects of the industry serviced from one place with an emphasis on efficiency and freedom from constraints. Sounds good to me, and I'm not even a musician.

The project is still in the early stages of development, but the guys wanted some images of themselves both together and individually to get the ball rolling.  

I look forward to the evolution of this exciting new company and to a continued working relationship going forward.

We had great fun working in the studio. Here are some of my favourites..


FUJI X-T1, XF56mm f/1.2R


MÉLISSA

Whilst I was in France a couple of weeks ago, I had a fun opportunity.

My dear friend Jonty was recently asked to start shooting the cover of a local Perpignan magazine. Assuming things go well it will be a monthly gig for him. Most excellent fellow that he is; knowing that I would welcome the chance of shooting with a model, he arranged for this to take place during my visit. 

Each month there will be a loose theme for the issue cover. This month, it being cherry season in the region, it was cherries and as he has worked with her before, Jon decided to use Mélissa.

Now, this was his shoot really so I tagged along as an impromptu assistant and had the opportunity to fire off some frames of my own. A few in 'pole position' but most from the alternative perspective of a second shooter. It was a lot of fun, and a little frustrating at times, mainly because I don't speak french! 

In the end there were various different locations. First and most obvious, we went out into a cherry orchard. After that, we used the temporarily empty and freshly white painted living room of his new house which made a fine studio space. We then went outside again and, almost as an after thought we drove to a field of wild flowers just a few minutes down the road because well, rude not to really :)

It was a lovely added dimension to an already good reason to be there. I think it might happen again from time to time..


FUJI X-T1 WITH XF 56MM F1.2 R


INSIDE

OUTSIDE

SIMPLE PLEASURES

My eldest son is here for a week. This makes me happy :)

Yesterday, the weather being beautiful, we decided to jump in the car and head for the coast. We settled on a part of Devon neither of us had been to before. North coast as opposed to south. Croyde, Putsborough, Woollacombe. 

We just drove to the beach and walked. With cameras. As I've said in a previous post, Louis is mid-way through an art degree at Edinburgh. He is learning various disciplines and mediums among which photography plays an important part. So he did his thing and I did mine, and man what a joy. The simple pleasure of shared experience between father and son, safe in the knowledge that neither person will become impatient with the other as we're both in the zone and have no fixed agenda. Just following our eyes and going where things lead.

Two or three hours wandering about, followed by a good meal in a pub and then home. There should be more days like these..


FUJI X-T1 + XF35MM f1.4 AND X-PRO1 + XF16MM f1.4


ONE ROLL. ONE HOUR.

Ok. Not an actual roll, this is digital. But here's what I mean..

I recently returned from a trip to France. On the morning of the last day, I went for a walk into town to pick up some bread, and I took my camera. Nothing special. Just a walk to the shops and back. I was out for about an hour. When I went through the pictures I shot, I realised there were 36. Hmm.. that's a roll of film. Which got me thinking..

As a photographer, I am often looking for simple exercises or constraints which can be used when one is uninspired or in a rut. One thing which is often suggested is to put yourself in a situation where you have one camera, one lens, one 'roll of film' and a set period of time. The aim being to get as many pictures as possible within those constraints regardless of the subject matter, or lack thereof. It can be a useful discipline and the results are often surprisingly rewarding.

Now, on the morning in question I was not thinking this way at the time. But afterwards it occurred to me that I had unwittingly done exactly that. I had gone out for an hour and shot 36 frames. This time I ended up with 20 I was happy with. Not a bad return :)

Here are the results.


FUJI X-T1 AND XF56MM f1.2R


 

 

PORTAL TO THE PAST

A few weeks back I was asked by Jack Price to shoot some production stills for the short film he is making as part of his Youth Cinema Foundation project.

The conversation went something like this:

"...We're shooting on location at Cothay Manor. Do you know it?"

"Umm.. No."

"Near Wellington. It's one of the most well preserved 15th century Manor Houses in the country. They shot Wolf Hall there. We've got it for the whole day. There'll be a bunch of teenagers dressed in period costume doing scenes for the film in various settings. What do you think? Is that something you could make time for?"

"Er.. YEP. OK."

No brainer. Not the sort of opportunity that comes knocking at the door every day.

I am a natural documentarian. One of my favourite things to do is to tell a story or portray an event using pictures, with the onus on attention to detail. I'm not fussy about the subject matter. It could be anything from the lowly and mundane to the most lavish and out of the ordinary - or anything in between. But I'll be honest: When it's something like this, it's a treat.

Working with Jack is always fun. He is a powerhouse of energy and creativity. His experience and enthusiasm are infectious, and he is adept at conjuring up scenarios you'd think would be next to impossible, out of nothing. His Youth Cinema Foundation is a fantastic opportunity for young people to gain rare experience and insight into an industry which would normally be shrouded in mystery for those of their age group. Instead of fetching and carrying and 'making the tea', these kids are learning to act, direct and to use camera and sound equipment. All hands on. Very little watching from the sidelines. It is a pleasing thing to witness.

For myself, I got to engage in one of the activities I like best, with the added bonus of being surrounded by the authentic trappings of a fascinating bygone era. You could say I had a good day.

The premier of the film 'Shaftesbury's End' will screened on June 26th at Hauser and Wirth Somerset.

Cothay Manor Shoot-100.jpg

SHOT WITH THE FUJI X-T1, X-PRO 1, X100 AND XF 35MM F1.4R + XF56MM F1.2R



A SPECTRE OF BLOFELD

I have just emerged from the first stretch of time which has proved to be an obstacle to my best blogging intentions.. Busy? Erm, just a bit. But for the first time in a few weeks I can breathe once again.

A while back I alluded to the possibility of a further post from my recent visit to Catalunya. Well, just so you know I wasn't making it up..

Once upon a time there was a hotel called Cap Sa Sal.

There is very little information out there on the history of this building but it was constructed in the late 1950s and early 60s during the reign of Franco as a large and swanky retreat for the rich and famous. Whilst it enjoyed a brief flourish of popularity, with actors and actresses of the time being seen to be seen, it was never quite as successful as intended and was eventually abandoned in the 1970s.

Yep. Abandoned. Lock, stock and barrel. 

Through coincidence, luck and opportunity, myself and a friend were able to sneak in for a quick explore. 

Woah. I wasn't expecting what we found..

Certain portions of the complex have been hived off as apartments and there IS a degree of human presence - Mail in a bank of pigeon holes, a janitor, CCTV. But large sections of the structure appear to have been untouched for forty years. Empty corridors and large chambers containing original furniture, fixtures and fittings. There is evidence of someone keeping the dust at bay but it was like stepping back in time onto a movie set reminiscent of a cross between The Shining and Dr No. 


SHOT WITH THE FUJI X-T1 AND XF 27MM F2.8


I have no idea what the future holds for this weird place, but I felt privileged to see what I saw. Sure, a small number of artefacts make it to the safe havens of museums yet so many genuine pieces of history in this world have been lost forever to the twin gods of Progress and Capitalism. Very occasionally one stumbles across a thing preserved in its natural habitat, still free of contrived curation. It feels fragile and special. 

May this, and the sprinkling of similar places around the world last as long as possible.

THE PROVEN CLICHÉ

Last weekend, I had one of those days.

It started with my attempt at mowing the lawn. I think I made it once up the length of the garden before I ran over the electric cable and cut straight through it. Great. Bang went my plans of quickly and efficiently cutting the grass and moving on to other things.. Literally. It tripped a fuse in the box which may have saved me from electrocution, but somehow caused a knock on effect which left the house without power and me tinkering around trying to fix it for a good couple of hours. It was about this time that Cosmo came back in. 

He had been out by himself for the first time (with a friend) to the woods nearby. It felt good. An initial spreading of wings. A step on the road to autonomous independence. Cool.. All good. And it is.

Except he fell out of a tree. 

Bless his fortitude, he walked all the way back to the house - the best part of a mile - and then sat on the sofa and cried. It took some time to persuade him that a trip to the hospital was a good idea. He was not impressed but we went. (By the way, y'know I said it was one of those days? Well, the car broke down on the way there. Uh-huh. For real). Several hours and an x-ray later it became clear he had broken his wrist. 

A few days later we went back to have a proper cast fitted. The consultant looked at his other wrist and.. 'Hmmm...' Another x-ray showed a little crack in that one too.

Blimey. (Click for full size view)


SHOT WITH THE FUJI X-T1 AND XF 35MM F1.4R



I myself have never broken a bone. Hell I don't even have a filling in my mouth, but somehow this feels like a rite of passage. For Cosmo obviously but also, curiously, me too. Can't explain it but there it is. Now the initial shock and pain have passed, it has also become a bit of a badge of honour.

And trying to get him to rest up, look after himself and maybe not take any risks for a few weeks? Yeah. 'Trying' is the operative word.

Boys will be boys.

CATALAN CONTRAST

I've just returned from a fleeting visit to Spain. Or more specifically, Catalunya. A region in the far north-east of the country just south of the Pyrenees. 

The main premise for the trip was to spend time with some dear friends who were getting married after many a year of cohabitation and making babies. Also to act as an official witness. I was there for a mere two days but it's amazing how much you can squeeze in when you know time is at a premium.

There are certain parts of the Spanish coast which, frankly, leave me slightly ashamed of being English. You probably know what I'm talking about. Nuff said. Catalunya is different. It is a special place. It has been attracting artists for a long time due to the nature of the landscape and the particular quality of light. Salvador Dalí lived and worked there, and many others such as Picasso, Tàpies and Miró to name but a few spent considerable time working in the area.

Having seen it first hand I can say there is something about the light. It's subtle; it doesn't smack you in the face, but it's as though there is a clarity to the air which allows the sun to penetrate deeply whatever it shines on, rendering colours more vividly and with more contrast than I am used to seeing. I'm sure there are other places in the world where this is also the case, but perhaps not many so close to home and it was a treat for me.

I photographed many different things, but for a while I got caught up in simply looking for Light and Shadow. Contrast. Silhouette. Detail. 

There may be future posts from this trip. But for now this. Just this. Enjoy.


SHOT WITH THE FUJI X-T1 AND XF 35MM F1.4 R