The Camel Coat

Literally a year ago I bought my first camel coat, which quickly became one of my go to winter staples, but unfortunately (or fortunately) by the time I pulled out my winter wardrobe, last years coat from H&M was too big. So this obviously meant a trip out shopping for a new one! Yay!!!

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It seems that most places are favouring a narrow or in some cases even no lapel this season, whereas I was hoping for something a bit wider this time around. I ended up with a double breasted, which feels super warm when buttoned up, but when open I feel it adds a little something extra over a single breasted. 

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My favourite colours as we get closer to winter are currently berry and tan... must be all those falling leaves influencing me! 🍁  

Can you believe that until this week I’d never owned a pair of chelsea boots??? Trying to make sure I have all the menswear classics in my wardrobe, so I picked up this cheap pair to see if I like the overall style and feel before splashing out on something for the long term. 

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It’s Remembrance Day this weekend, so wearing a poppy. Usually get through several of the paper poppies, so these new enamel pins are far more ‘Jay proof’. 

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 Wearing: Hat by H&M; Overcoat by Marks & Spencer; T-Shirt by H&M; Jeans by New Look; Chelsea Boots by H&M; Breifcase by Zara; Eyewear by H&M; Enamel Poppy Pin by The Royal British LegionPhoto credit: Carlos Costa

Guess who’s back!

Literally have Eminem in my head after writing that heading! Although whilst I don’t think I’m ‘shady’, I’m definitely a lot slimmer than I was when I last blogged.... but more on that in another post! 

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Anywho.... welcome to my new old blog. Apparently I haven’t blogged since 2013, so it’s been a while, but I’ve decided to revisit the idea of my own platform to share a bit of my life, some of my thoughts, and just generally create a little bit of an online journal again.

I’ve managed to dig out my old blog archive and upload it to my current site, so at least I have some content already as a base to work from. Gonna be interesting to see how blogging in 2017 will compare to when I used to do it. Being in photos wasn’t really a thing back then, so that’s already one noticeable difference. 

Watch this space!

 

Wearing: Hat by River Island; Sunglasses by Trussardi; T-shirt and Rucksack by Topman; Watch by Timex; Jeans by Uniqlo; Shoes by H&M; Camera by OlympusPhoto credit: Stylonylon 

Rio De Janeiro

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As a photographer, I'm extremely lucky to travel. I've got to go to some amazing places and for that I am really thankful. My latest jaunt was last week to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Now before I left, I obviously did a bit of research into the trip and things to look out for. One of the things that I was made aware of is that shiny expensive cameras are highly sought after by thieves and undesirables. Obviously the last thing I'd want is to be parted from my Olympus OM-D, so I set about making it appear rather more undesirable.

Olympus OM-D

To a lot of people, the OM-D looks like a vintage 35mm camera anyway, so I already had a good starting point. A quick trip to my local hardware store gave me the tools I needed to commence 'Project: Stealth'!

Gaffer tape and Rubawrap

As you can see below, rather than look all shiny and new, it looks old and tired, bordering on 'shabby chic', haha!

Rio-proofed OM-D

So, with my stealth camera sorted, I set off on my travels. My flight to Rio was from Heathrow via a change in Amsterdam. For some reason this was cheaper than a direct flight, despite flying back over the top of Heathrow. The plus side is that I flew over my East London flat, which was nice.

Whilst killing time in Amsterdam, I figured I'd get myself a much needed massage. This also randomly involved having eucalyptus scented oxygen blown up my nose while I waited. Anyway, I was soon on board my KLM flight to Rio De Janeiro, and after flying over London, we headed south to my destination.

I was staying in a favela whilst in Rio, which ordinarily wouldn't be a good idea, however, this particular one is now safe, not least because the Brazilian 'super police' are based there. The beauty of staying in a favela, apart from the awesome character they possess, is that due to being built up the hills, they all have epic views!

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As well as taking my usual digital photography paraphernalia (camera, memory card, laptop hard drives etc), I also packed an old 1970's Olympus PEN half frame camera to have a play with some 35mm film.

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The trip itself was epic! I got to see pretty much all the main sights, and a few more unexpected things, like a sloth hanging from a tree half way up to Corcovado.

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Rio is an awesome city, that's so full of character. I definitely recommend a trip there. As far as food goes, Brazilians are definitely up there when it comes to the art of barbecuing meat. They also have a whole load of restaurants than charge you for your food 'by weight', which is genius! I ate a lot! Only thing I probably wouldn't want to eat was Yucca. Yes, as in the plant. I had a few varieties of Yucca inspired dish, and it's definitely not going to be going on my last supper menu. You gotta try these things though, but I'll be sticking to barbecued meat on a stick next time, even if there is a strange dragon thing in the corner staring at me the entire time!

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In terms of sights, I started by going up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. This involved two cable cars, but it's one ticket and definitely worth doing as it's one of the most iconic mountains of the world.

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After coming back down the mountain, we grabbed a Churro from a street vendor (mine was filled with dulce du leche), and then headed off to Copacabana for a Caipirinha on the beach in the hazy afternoon sun.

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You can't go to one famous beach and not the other, so as well as Copacabana, I also took a trip to Ipanema to see if I could find me a girl from there, but alas, no luck!

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Yet another iconic landmark on Rio's horizon is Christ the Redeemer. Perched high above the city, it watches over the people below, and has the best view in all of Rio. We took a taxi up there, stopping at a few places en-route. It was half way up that we saw the sloth. I deliberately avoided doing the obligatory Christ pose for a photo, and then got amused at how many people do the arms 'wrong' despite being stood directly under the statue!

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I couldn't stay in a favela without going for a wander and taking some photos. This is definitely where my stealth camera proved it's worth! Favela's are truly wondrous places! They're technically illegal, and none of the buildings conform to any sort of regulation. As such, you'll often see buildings wider at the top than at the bottom. The electrical arrangements need to be seen to be believed, and the amount of narrow passages and steps make it easy to get lost if you don't know where you're going.

But you know what? It all works! As far as I'm aware, none of them have ever fallen down (other than after a landslide which is a lack of ground underneath), so it kinda makes you wonder if some regulations are a little over the top!

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Supposedly one of the top buildings to see before you die, I also took a boat over the water to see the Museu de Arte Contemporânea in Niterói. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer and completed in 1996, the museum sits on the side of a hill slope like a flying saucer out of a 60's B-Movie.

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In total, I was in Rio for 5 days, and at no point did I get bored. The weather for the most part was between 27-30ºC. It did, however, rain on the morning before we headed up to Corcovado to see Christ the Redeemer. This was a good thing in a way as it meant there were far less people up there.

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So that was my trip to Rio. Here's the rest of the photos I took around the city, and on the way home...

Olympus trip to Berlin

Ich bin ein Berliner!

So on thursday I got whisked away by Olympus to Berlin for the launch of their new 'Photographer's Playground'. Situated in Opernwerkstaetten, a workshop building in the old East Berlin where backdrops were created for the Berlin opera, the playground features a vast array of art installations all begging to be both appreciated and photographed. From a corridor filled with cardboard boxes, each one with it's own spinning wooden ball bouncing to create a truly unique cacophony, to the sealed ecosystem filled with mould, there was easily enough to keep peoples attention. Of course there were drinks and nibbles, as well as plenty of cameras to play with if you didn't have your own, making it easy for everyone to have a play!

Another subtle touch was the small photographic quotes dotted around the walls. I think I may have been one of the few people to notice them, but then I do love a good quote!

The following day, I was able to go out wandering with a couple of the others to see a few of the sights around Berlin. Obviously I wanted to see the Brandenburg Gate, which is now bustling with activity and street performers. A far cry from 25 years ago before the wall came down! I also managed to maintain my record of buying items based on the German city I'm in (Hamburger in Hambug, Frankfurter in Frankfurt, Aftershave in Cologne), by having a Berliner in Berlin!

An unexpected bonus of the trip was that it was sweltering! I kind of expected the weather to be something more akin to London, but it was beautifully hot and sunny!

There's a few things I would have liked to have done that I didn't get time to do. I didn't see Checkpoint Charlie, or any of the Wall memorials. Another thing I would love to go back and see is the worlds biggest dinosaur skeleton in the Museum für Naturkunde, but then there's always next time!

Here's a visual diary of the rest of my trip...

The OM-D Photography Playground is open daily form 26 April to 24 May 2013 at Opernwerkstaetten Berlin, between 11am and 7pm. Admission is free and visitors can rent an OM-D from Olympus at no charge to discover the playground.

It finally happened!

Framed Prints

It finally happened! After the best part of a year agonising over which photos to put on my wall, I actually have pictures in frames!!!

I'm one of the biggest procrastinators. Not because I waste time and put things off, but because I like to get things right first time. Unfortunately, this can often be at the expense of doing something at all! Check out my blog on the perfect copper coin tin to see what I mean!

Anyway, I digress. So yesterday I was at Focus on Imaging at the NEC, giving a seminar presentation for Hasselblad. Before I went, I was reminded that Epson have a stand and often do free prints to showcase their printers and paper. I suddenly had to make a decision on which images to take! I put up a little blog with a very cut down selection from my original post, to try and get some opinions. I also asked a few friends and managed to get 4 images that would work well enough together on my kitchen wall.

So I set off for Birmingham with a USB stick with some high res TIF's on, and shortly after finishing my seminar, I went over to the Epson stand to see if they could help out with some prints.

The Epson stand at Focus

As well as the images for my kitchen, I also took the image files I'd chosen for my bedroom, although I didn't want to take the piss, so stuck with just the ones for the kitchen... after all, they are the biggest! haha

Rather large Epson Printer

Epson had there entire offering of printers on display, including this rather mammoth sized Stylus Pro 7890 SpectroProofer, and samples of their inkjet paper range. My prints were printed onto their new 260gsm Premium Luster Photo Paper which is a really awesome paper that really delivers amazing results.

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It's always nice to stand there and see your images coming our of a printer. We live in an age where not enough photographs ever make it onto a hard copy, which is a shame. There's always something about holding a photo in your hands that gives it an extra value... it becomes far more special!

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And there we have it, finally, my kitchen wall is no longer some sort of strange conceptual art installation. It actually features some of my work! In time I will probably change them for newer images. I'm almost certainly going to play around with the order of them, but at least I've filled the frames!

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Addendum

Since putting pictures up in the kitchen, I've now also filled the rest of the frames around my flat!

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Picture frames redux

Photo Frames

Many moons ago, I blogged about filling the empty picture frames adorning the walls of my East London flat. Well I still haven't filled them! However, tomorrow I shall be going to Focus on Imaging at the NEC to give a talk for Hasselblad, and there will be undoubtedly stands there offering free prints in order to showcase the latest printers. This to me seems like a golden opportunity to fill at least a few of the blank spaces that stare at me on a daily basis!

So it's back to the initial problem... What do I put in the frames? Well I think I've got a bit closer to making a decision...

First up is a set of 3 frames that run along the wall of my bedroom. I've decided to put images from my travels around the world. Question is, which three from the ones below do you think would best go together?

Directly opposite the set of 3 frames, is a single frame on it's own. I've made this decision (hurrah!), it's an image from Jasper Conran's AW13 show at London Fashion Week.

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Next up is a single landscape image next to my bedroom door. I need to choose from these 2 images...

Finally, and this is still the hardest part. The 4 large frames in the kitchen (pictured at the top of this blog). They're the first thing you see when walking into my flat, so I want to show my work, and what I do. I've narrowed it down to these...

I'd appreciate any suggestions or comments, although I do feel like this is the copper coin tin all over again!

Procrastination and the problem of the perfect tin

Copper Coin Tin

It's funny how sometimes a small thing can trigger a dramatic change in how you live your life. It all started when I decided to clear my desk. I'm generally a tidy person, provided things have a place. As long as something has a place, I will always put it in that place. Unfortunately, if something is yet to be given a place, it will end up in a pile, with other placeless things, until such time as I find them a home, or through the whole lot in the bin.

So basically I had loads of piles of copper coins lying around my flat. The vast majority of them were on my desk. I hate carrying copper coins. They're no good for anything, so I always leave them at home, collecting in stacks, often getting knocked over. I knew I needed to do something with them, not least because they bugged me whenever I looked at them, so I went out to get a tin to put them in. Trouble is, as with everything I do, I wanted it to be done right. I blame my parents. From an early age, I remember phrases like 'if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well', and such like. I hate having to go back and redo things over and over, so will often take more time over things to make sure I don't have to. The net result of this is that I ended up stressing about finding the perfect copper coin tin!

So out I went, to the place I thought was bound to have what I wanted, but no. Sure they had tins... lots of tins, but none were anything like what I had in my head. Not that I really had much of a clue what that actually looked like! But then, out of nowhere, I had a eureka moment... It's just a fucking tin!!! Seriously!!! I really can't believe how much time I waste worrying about such trivial matters!

So I bought the first tin I saw. It's not what was in my head. It's probably not the most masculine tin at all, but you know what? It's fine! It does the job! It's solved my copper coin problem for now, and if I see a better tin I'll replace it. But for now it works. In fact, I'll probably end up keeping it for 20 years or so, and over time it'll probably become the 'perfect tin', simply by living on my shelf and giving a home to all the annoying copper coins that would otherwise irritate me by sitting on my desk.

So that was my life changing moment... It's all very well trying to be a perfectionist, or finding the perfect thingbut not if it gets in the way of actually doing the thing at all. Next up, is to actually put some pictures on my wall!

Going old skool

Radionic Photographic Kit

Although I grew up before cameras went digital, many people are surprised to hear that I've never actually developed my own prints. To be honest, as a child all my photos went off to Truprint or Boots to be processed, but even when I was at art college and we had my only formal photographic training, in the form of a 2 week module, I didn't actually venture into the dark room. If the truth be told, back then I really didn't care much for the chemical smell emanating from the airlock style doors.

As a photographer, this lack of experience has always kinda bugged me. I mean sure, I understand the basic steps for photo developing, but I'm a big fan of learning through doing. I'm also a big advocate of learning old practices as they help with the modern photographic process.

Despite this nagging feeling in the back of my mind to develop and print my own photographs, I never bothered to pursue it with that much vigour. So when I popped into the newsagent a few doors from my East London flat to discover that part of their closing down clear-out had unearthed some vintage 1970's board games and toys, including a 'Radionic Photographic Kit', I couldn't help myself!

To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure what I had bought until I got it home.

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Although slightly battered, the kit was still sealed inside, and contained a basic camera (and by basic I mean reeeeeeeeeally basic!) along with photographic paper, developer, fixer, and a few assorted bits and pieces for the developing process.

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I had kind of expected the chemicals to be rather expired. After about 40 years of sitting in the attic of a shop, the fixer had obviously got bored and tried to make a break for it!

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First task was to build the camera. As I said before, it's extremely basic. Basically a box with a single lens in the front. Aperture is controlled by fitting different sized openings to the front of the lens. There's no shutter button, mainly because there's no shutter. To start taking a photograph, you have to remove the lens cap. To finish, you replace the lens cap. Focusing on the lens is achieved purely by pulling the lens out or pushing it back in... and it's quite stiff so that it doesn't leak any light in!

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Rather than a viewfinder, you focus using a matte screen which you attach to the back of the camera body. Because it's in line with the film plane, the image is upside down and reversed, much like the human eye.

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So, with everything put together, I went out and picked up some fresh developer and fixer from the Pro Centre. Probably got more than I need, but it's not overly expensive.

Ilford Multigrade Developer Ilford Rapid Fixer

Next I needed a subject. I opted for my plate of fruit on my kitchen worktop, and after focussing the camera, I was ready to start taking a photo.

Now here's the fun part...

Once you've focussed, you need to mark where the camera was and which direction it was pointing, because once the camera is loaded with paper, you can't see anything through the lens.

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Inside the kit is a changing bag. This is basically a big black bag with two sleeves. You put the camera inside, along with the paper tray and the envelope of film paper. Inside the bag is complete darkness, so you can load the paper into the camera without exposing it to any unwanted light.

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Then it was a case of putting the camera back, and taking a photograph. The exposure calculations given in the instructions are all for outside in daylight, so I had to use a combination of maths and guesswork. One of the main problems was that the paper was 40 years old, so I didn't even know if it would even work. Secondly, it's sensitivity was likely to have gone way down.

Working on the assumption that the camera was around f/16 or thereabouts, and that the paper sensitivity was around ISO 2, I went for an exposure of 4 minutes.

During that time, I mixed up my chemicals. Both the developer and the fixer needed 1:10 ratios, so using the syringe provided, I measured everything out.

Radionic Photographic KitNow the cool thing about this kit, is that the camera actually has it's own built in developing tank! That means no dark room is needed. You literally squirt the developer into the back of the camera, rock it back and forth to make sure it's covering the entire surface of the paper for 2 minutes and then drain out.

Radionic Photographic KitYou then put in the same amount of water to rinse, and then after draining, squirt in the fixer. After another 2 minutes of gentle rocking back and forth, it's time to drain the fluid out one last time.

Radionic Photographic KitThen, the moment of truth! After removing paper tray from the camera, there it is, in all it's glory... an extremely contrasty image of some clementines haha.

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I'm not entirely sure what happened to give a random squiggle on the bottom half. My initial thought was that my exposure time was off, but actually, the white of my kitchen worktop is definitely white, and if I exposed for any longer, the highlights on the clementines would be blown out even further. I'm putting this down to 40 year old paper. Either way, this is the first photograph that I have developed by hand. It isn't much, but I have a slightly smug feeling inside me.

At some point I may try and get some new paper. Before then I think I might do some more experiments with this old stuff, keeping in mind how contrasty it is.

I know one thing... photography is fun!

Simple Saturday pleasures

Brunchfast to go!

One of the things I love about living where I do, is that within walking distance of my flat, I have access to so much good produce. I'm a big advocate of supporting local business and trade, and I genuinely believe that you get a far superior product! Granted, I'm still waiting for someone to open a good butcher, but despite that, Saturday mornings have now become my regular weekly food shop.In addition to buying all my fresh fruit and veg, one of my favourite things on a saturday morning is to stop by OFM at the Roman Road market for a proper sausage and egg muffin. These things are seriously good. The guys there offer sparkling chat on even the coldest of days, and then serve up a 'brunchfast' that's full of tasty local goodness!

I'm serious when I say if you're ever in the East End on a saturday, grab a muffin from OFM... Your mouth will love you forever!

Hand crafted

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Maybe it's a sign that I'm getting old, but lately I've been trying to work out ways of using technology less. I know that probably sounds odd, especially as you're reading this on the internet, using some sort of computer, smart phone or tablet, but it's true. When I was growing up in the 80's, everything was about the future. We had the Space Shuttle, Star Wars, Back to the Future, and the dawn of the computer game era. Back then, and indeed much into my teens and twenties, I've always been into the new thing. I've got no end of Apple products, I have a smart tv, and blu-ray. Everything you'd expect to find in a 'man pad'. But as much as I love some of the things we have available to us today, I do feel that things are getting a bit too much, to the detriment of our nature as human brings and individuals. If you follow me on twitter, you'll probably notice that I've currently got about 45000 tweets under my belt. That's quite a lot, and even I'm not entirely sure how I managed to clock up that many, but things like twitter and facebook can be extremely easy distractions. They're always there. My phone often chirps up at me at random points inviting me to stop whatever I'm doing and waste time on the often less important. Having recently sat on a plane for nearly 11 hours without that constant social media temptation there, I've actually found myself somewhat liberated.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a rant about how we should renounce all technology, far from it! Technology rules! Social media is awesome! I do, however, think there are certain things that have suffered significantly in recent years though. Number 1 on my list has got to be my handwriting. There was a time when I had quite nice handwriting. Okay, so it wasn't overly Dickensian, with flourishes and calligraphic accents, but it was far from scruffy. Well because everything's electronic nowadays, I hardly ever write. The net result of which is that my handwriting has suffered. But not everything needs to be electronic! I'm a big fan of postcards from around the world. No one sends them anymore, but how awesome is it to receive something in the post from a friend on the other side of the world? People definitely need to send more postcards! Next, instead of emailing people to say thank you, why not just send a hand written note? Isn't that far more personal? We often pay a premium for things these days because they say 'handmade'. So many of the luxury brands and products pride themselves on the way that everything they do was crafted using human hands, and not mindless machines. As a photographer, I often hear others harping on about how it's the person behind the camera that creates the photograph. It's ourselves, and our individuality that separates us, and yet in the modern digital age that craves speed, it's often at the expense of that individuality. There's also something far more organic about putting pen to paper when trying to generate ideas. It's far more fluid, and often quicker to get the ideas out.

Anyway, with all this in mind, I went out and got myself a new fountain pen today. There's a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, before getting on my flight to San Francisco before Christmas, I was killing time in the airport terminal and happened to wander into Mont Blanc. They had some truly beautiful pens, all completely out of my price bracket, but it started a mini obsession. The second reason, is that when I was at school, we started learning to write with a pencil, because you could rub out mistakes, then once your spelling was good enough, you would move onto using a fountain pen. Biros and ballpoint pens weren't allowed. It had to be a fountain pen! So I figure if I want to learn how to write nicely again, go back to basics and the way I learned as a child.

The pen I went for was the relatively inexpensive 'Bailey' from Cross, which I bought from The Pen Shop in Liverpool Street Station. I didn't want to break the bank - this is the first fountain pen I've used in around 25 years! I need time to prove that I'm worth a Mont Blanc.

Along with the pen, I also got some ink cartridges, and then popped into Snap Store in East London to get a couple of notebooks. I bought 2... The first is a simple ruled notebook, so I can practice my handwriting - yes I really am going to do this! The second, is a small plain book that I plan to use as a scrap and ideas book. I want to jot down ideas, stick in things I've seen or things that inspire me. This will help my creativity and my work.

Of course I'm still a techno junkie, and love some of my creature comforts, but I've learned that it can all get a bit much, and sometimes it's important to switch off the electronics, and strip back to the bare essentials. Only then can the ideas and creativity really flow.

Olympus PEN Video Tutorials

Aaaaaaand action!

So back in the summer, I get a text message off Mark at Olympus UK saying "how would you like to be a movie star?" Well it caught my attention, so I said sure, why not! Turns out he was putting me forward to Olympus Europe for a series of three web tutorial videos for their new Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 camera.

After several emails, phone conversations with Olympus in Germany and Skype conversations with the production company, we were go! About a month before the shoot, I was able to meet up with Olympus Europe whilst at Photokina for Hasselblad. This was handy because it meant that we could have a proper face to face chat so they could get to know me, and they could also give me the new camera to play with ahead of the video shoot. I also got a sneaky invite to their party!

So fast forward to October 2012... About a week before the shoot, I managed to get a throat infection, which causes me to get all manner of voice issues. Not ideal, however, I just about manage to get my voice in check before heading to the airport... phew! First thing in the morning, I fly out to Hamburg, Germany, home of Olympus Europe, and location for the videos. The flight itself was uneventful, although the Lufthansa pilot was obviously in a hurry to land, because our rapid descent caused my ears to pop... and quite painfully! Because of my throat, I had loads of Strepsils with me, so I was sucking on them and yawning profusely to try and un-pop my ears before filming the next day.

After collecting my luggage, I grabbed a taxi to the hotel, setup my stuff before heading into the centre of Hamburg for a pre-production meeting. Now by this point I'd managed to un-pop one of my ears, but I was basically deaf in the other. This wouldn't have been too much of a problem (albeit an annoying one), except it transpired during the meeting that we were going to film one of the scenes as soon as we'd finished the planning! Doh!

This was my first time talking to camera, and having only landed a couple of hours earlier and completely deaf in one ear, I have to say I wasn't exactly ready for it! Nothing like a baptism of fire though! Before my first speaking part (on a bridge in the cold, talking about blurring car headlights), I was put on a bike (that was actually too big for me), and told to ride up and down the road a bit. The basic idea for the videos was that a professional photographer was riding around and stopping to take photos using the Olympus PEN, to illustrate the features, and that the camera produces results comparable to any professional camera. The videos were split into three... Creativity, which showcased the various art filters and creative functions of the camera; Image Quality, which demonstrated the dynamic range and high sensitivity of the micro four thirds sensor; and finally a video featuring the endless lens and accessory options in the PEN range. I had been given a rough outline of each of the scenes. The shots and locations I was demonstrating were pre-chosen by the production company, and I was given certain terms to use, however, the videos themselves were un-scripted. A couple of scenes did give me a chance to flex my own photographic muscles, but I still had to stick within the original plan. All images were shot JPEG and un-edited though to show exactly how the camera performs.

Filming took place Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday. Apparently German's don't work on Sundays, so I had the day to myself to do some sightseeing around Hamburg. As usually happens when I travel, it rained... a lot! Thankfully, I managed to find plenty of places to dry off whilst gorging myself on German sausage, and ice cream! By this point, my ear had un-popped, so with my massive headphones on and my iPod Shuffle up loud, I got to see pretty much everything Hamburg has to offer within the short time available.

Monday saw the end of filming before I headed back to the airport to fly home. It was quite an intense few days, and I definitely learned some new skills in terms of talking to camera. I definitely relaxed a lot more as the time went on! I'd definitely be up for doing some more video work, although not sure I'm ready for Hollywood... and definitely not ready for live TV!

I suppose I should probably mention the camera... The Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 is a stunning bit of kit! It takes many of the features from the Olympus OM-D. The focussing is lightning quick, the sensor produces awesome results, even at high ISO. It feels nice in the hand, and if you like to customise and make things your own, you can replace the hand grip with a multitude of different styles. It really is an awesome camera!

So here's the three videos. They're a bit cheesy, but I'd love to know what you guys think!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPv2KxgNih0&w=600&h=338]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5uJvjk-Cew&w=600&h=338]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJfIII3Hkn4&w=600&h=338]

Of course, these videos are for all of Olympus' European subsidiaries, so I'm subtitled in loads of different languages, that is except French. Apparently the French don't do subtitles, so I've been overdubbed...

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9WUpjDXZTg&w=600&h=338]

And as ever, here's a complete photographic diary of the entire trip...

'Beyond the Velvet Rope' Editorial for HotHot

Beyond the Velvet Rope

Photographer: Jay McLaughlin Styling: Rivkie Baum Make up & Hair: Amy Brandon Model: Katerina @ Strike Model Management Assistant: Jason Dear Location: No.5 Cavendish Square

In and out of San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge

Just before Christmas I picked up a new client for a very nice job in San Francisco. It was a very short trip though! I left London on December 21st, shot at lunchtime on the 22nd, edited in the afternoon, then flew back the following day. 21 hours flying in a couple of days! Good job I love to travel! Hehe

Firstly, I'm really loving this whole electronic check-in via my iPhone malarky. It's the future, I tell thee! So after arriving in the US, and having a conversation with immigration about the pros and cons of digital vs film, I jumped in a cab and headed off to the hotel. After checking in and dropping my bag off in the hotel room, I went out for some much needed sustenance. On a recommendation from the awesome beatnik concierge, I ate at Tommy's Joynt. I'm still not entirely sure what I ate exactly. The people in the queue before me ordered something that looked amazing, so I had what they had! It was basically a roasted ham of some sort with mashed potato. It was epic though! After food, I went for a quick wander before heading back to the hotel to make sure I was fresh for my photoshoot in the morning.

I started the day by filling up on pancakes with bacon and syrup. It was the kind of breakfast I imagine they serve in heaven! After washing it down with a glass of fresh OJ, I jumped in a cab and headed off to do what I was there for. The shoot was nice and straight forward, and I was able to fulfil the client's brief fairly easily. We even did some extra shots over by the Golden Gate Bridge, which meant I could tick that particular sight off my list. Once finished, I returned to the hotel via Walmart to pick up some munch. I originally just went in to get something to drink while I edited, but then figured I'd stock up on the various sweet treats that you can't get in the UK. I did have to draw the line at breakfast cereal though. Cocoa Pebbles are my favourite cereal in the whole wide world, but on the basis that I'd also have to buy, milk, a bowl, and a spoon, it seemed a little indulgent for a single morning's breakfast! Editing was nice and quick, and I sent a contact sheet back to the UK before getting an early night. Although there's an 8 hour time difference, because I was only there for a day and a half, I was determined to avoid jet lag, so did my best to stay roughly on British time.

Next morning, I woke up early, packed my stuff and then headed down to check out. My flight home wasn't till the afternoon, so I had a very very wet morning in San Francisco to see as much of the city as I could before leaving. So fuelled with more pancakes, I set off in the rain to see what I could!

I started by riding the cable car from Union Square up to Lombard Street (The worlds 'crookedest street'), before heading down the hill to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. By this time I was already pretty wet, so I stopped in Boudins for some Sourdough French Toast, with cinnamon and syrup... it was awesome! You can't go to Pier 39 without seeing the Sea Lions, so braving the weather (and the smell), I paid them a visit. I didn't have time to do Alcatraz this time. Thankfully I did that on my last trip 15 years ago, because the weather was so bad the boat trip would have been nauseous! Next to the WW2 submarine, the USS Pampanito, is a cool little arcade museum called 'Musee Mecanique', which is home to a whole range of vintage machines. It had everything from photo booths, to space invaders and old Wurlitzer pianos. I love a bit of nostalgia!

By this point I was dripping wet, so I jumped back on the Cable Car, and went back to Union Square. I feel like I ate my way around San Francisco, because my next stop was The Cheesecake Factory at the top of Macy's. I love cheesecake! I'm still on the hunt for the best New York cheesecake in London. Anyway, accompanied by a rather large Oreo milkshake, this cheesecake ticked all the right boxes (as you'd expect from The Cheesecake Factory!). It was about that time, so after getting a 'Free Hug' outside Macy's, I went back to the Hotel to dry off next to the fire whilst waiting for the airport shuttle bus.

The flight back was packed! I suppose because I was getting back on the morning of the 24th, I was surrounded by everyone rushing to be back for Christmas. It wasn't the best of flights. The guy next to me had one of those annoying tendencies to want his elbows to inside my ribs, which meant that uninterrupted sleep wasn't gonna happen. Combined with severe turbulence for much of the flight, and the fact that I was sat in damp clothes from my sightseeing adventure, I was glad when we touched down in London.

Anyway, here's everything I've written about, in photographic form...

2012 retrospective, and looking ahead

Olympus OM-D Events Workshop BTSWell here we are, another year ends, and another begins, and wow, what a year! I often find myself feeling like I'm not moving ahead, but when I take the time to stop and look around at where I've come from, I really am moving, and at a pretty good rate!

So what happened in 2012? I got a whole host of new clients, as well as maintaining my existing ones. I did a lot of soul searching about what makes me tick, and what I'm aiming to achieve in my work. A landmark event was moving to East London, into my own flat (although I still can't decide which photos to put on the walls!). I've always said, that one of my goals is to be paid to travel the world taking photographs, and two trips to Germany and one to San Francisco were certainly highlights! I also taught my first photography workshop for Olympus, which was extremely well received!

So what of 2013? More of the same please! I want to expand my list of clients. I want to do a few more workshops and I definitely want to travel more!

One of my big goals is to establish more relationships with more creatives. The best ideas come when you surround yourself with positive, creative people, so this year I plan to collaborate and network and build relationships and friendships with lots of like minded people.

As far as personal work goes, I want to work on and actually complete at least 3 projects. I've started too many in the past that haven't had a finite end, so I definitely want to change that. I'd also like to put together some sort of exhibition towards the end of the year too, possibly showcasing one of the aforementioned projects.

Other than that, the rest of my resolutions are the usual ones, of eat more healthily, do more exercise and win the lottery! So here's to a new year! Lets hope its full of awesomeness!

Here's a small selection of work from 2012...