Thursday, February 28, 2008

Inner-city blues

One of the frustrating parts of being freelance is the ebb and flow of work. It is naturally unpredictable and therefore slow weeks leave you feeling very cut off from your surroundings. I have many friends who went straight from uni into well paid city jobs, or into careers that offered long climbs but interesting and challenging stimulation along the way. In some ways photography is frustrating in that there are no set paths, even if you end up very successful in your game the work can still dry up (so I've been told). There is no security, no supporting team to strive forward with or fall back on, no Christmas parties, no paid holiday, no sick leave. It's a mixed blessing because when things are good it can be a great feeling, but when things are slow, it becomes easy to feel like you're drowning and being left behind and it can be tremendously lonely. I think all my photographer friends know this feeling. I guess it hit me more so today after I had finished a meeting with a client in the city and I stood and watched people hustle and bustle through their days, always rushing from one task to the next. I'm not sure their lives are any easier or more rewarding, but it's hard to know for sure when you've never been part of it. I find people envying my job as much as I sometimes envy theirs. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


...A few days later and the other end of the country; Brighton. Shot of Elliott 'Ells' Andrews, drummer for the female UK artist Kate Nash.


A portrait of a friend of mine on the coast in Tynemouth just outside of Newcastle.

Friday, February 22, 2008

SKIN - New Thinktank photo product released

The good people at Thinktank photo have just announced the release of another innovative and well made product that will no doubt leave me with a grin on my face but another hole in my wallet. The SKIN system takes its cue very much from the newswear pouches that I'm very fond of. Newswear are well respected and well used by photojournalists and their products are simple but effective, they always had one up (in my opinion) on the thinktank systems because they pack flat and can be used for a variety of products because they are not rigidly designed. Therefore I was always in two minds and used both newswear and thinktank products. (left photo; Carmen Valino, right photo; Danfung Dennis)

For me the newsear gear and a couple of problems, one being that when worn on the chest vest system they could look slightly suspect - and sometimes in some situation you wouldn't want to take that chance. NOT running around in the Middle East with one of these things on should probably be on the safety instructions. However plenty of people never seemed to have a problem with that and the new SKIN system still looks pretty similar when all worn together. (picture below is of the newswear chest vest courtesy of their website)

The other problem I did have with newswear, although it was a minor problem, was that sometime the Velcro they used became a pain during in events where silence and subtlety were needed. Nothing more is more distracting than a massive tearing sound coming from the sheepish looking photographer during the father of the brides emotional ode to his soon to be married daughter. Thinktank seem to have tackled this with their dramatic sounding 'Silencer flap' which allows the Velcro to be an optionally tucked away when not needed. The photos below show just how similar the products appear. The one at the top is the thinktank SKIN 50 and the one below is the newswear small press pouch (which I currently own)

The SKIN system employs a number of ingenious modifications such a rain cover, internal dividers, bungee cord access, pockets etc. And if their other products are anything to go by the quality will be top notch. I'm unable to say when the new system will be available in the UK, but snapperstuff sell both thinktank and newswear gear whilst Jacobs and Fixation (London) also sell both products. I currently own the thinktank lens changer 25 and the whip it out. I'd recommend both, but then again I'd be very tempted to swap them both for this new SKIN system when it hits the UK.


For those of you who are interested in professional photographers who work in advertising, editorial and fine art photography you might be interested in checking out the online FSTOP magazine. The FSTOP, run by the photographer Zack Seckler, is published every two weeks and always has a least four articles and interviews which offer a great insight into the craft. The current issue has a very interesting interview with Olaf Blecker, a German based editorial photographer well known for his gritty and uncompromising portraits. He has some intriguing nuggets of information about his technique and also about the business in general. This website is something I check out regularly, usually with my breakfast bowl in hand.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tammam - 'Fashmob'

So last week here in London was Fashion Week and I found myself involved in a 'fashmob'. Basically a fashmob is like a 'flash mob' but for fashion, using impromptu catwalks etc. This one in particular was for the label Tammam which is an ethical fair trade label run by an old friend of mine. It took place all round in different areas of London and made the news section of the Marie Claire website.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I love Google analytics...

Since launching the new website I've been keen to keep an eye on hits and traffic to see where they're coming from and what people look at the most. When I had work on the BBC website last year my hits sawed so much that I got charged for bandwith usage. It made me realise and appreciate how useful external links are, and therefore when you find that you been getting hits from a referral site I'm always inquisitive. The beauty with google analytics is that it breaks down or sorts of data about your website but it also means you can follow up on these referrals. Anyway let me introduce a guy called Alastair Humphreys who sounds pretty much like half man half machine, and has spent close to the last ten years it seems on a wanderlust's dream wandering the world by bike and sail. And we're not talking a jolly little cycle ride, this guy has literally cycled round the world...46 000 miles round the world. That kind of statistic makes me wonder if I'm even the same species. It's simply a super-human feat. So anyway to find my work appearing on his blog the other day with a link to my website was a great feeling. I have no idea how he came across my work and why he felt compelled to blog it, but that's one of the things I love about the web, it has opened access to more information than could ever previously be imagined. Total strangers lives become intertwined and we can owe a lot to people we'll probably never even meet. But anyway, if you are reading this Alastair, thank you very much for the link...and keep pedaling I guess.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

New Website Online

Some of you imaginary readers may have noticed that the blog has had a face-lift well this is because I have a whole new website and therefore have overhauled the blog and other affiliated pages. Focus52 Photography is no more, and the new website is called simply

I owe a great deal to my friend and fellow photographer Naresh Verlander who made the dream a reality by working long hours to sort out the coding to many haphazard designs. The blog can now be read actually within the website (under the 'News' section) and the website itself has a complete overhaul with new content in some of the galleries. Soon to come are a travel gallery and hopefully a multimedia gallery so watch this space.

I hope that in the future the blog will be kept updated more regularly and with more useful links and articles related to photography and thus resource as well a being a record of my comings, goings, and general ramblings.

Please feel free to leave any feedback that you may have on the new website.