A look back over the last year, and moving on…

So far, so good! Setting up a business during the recession was always going to be tough, It hasn’t come without challenges … However I had wanted to make a go of this for years… The excitement of developing prints at Art School, and years spent practicing digital photography alongside working in architects offices had given me an urge to do what I had thought about for a long time. Looking back over the year, has given me a chance to reflect on what I have achieved and where I would like to be next year. It’s amazing how time consuming trying to make a living out of photography is, but as most freelancers know it is well worth keeping options open and having other skills to rely on as and when opportunities arise… As my practice develops I hope to continue supporting my photography with skills picked up during time working in architecture offices, cultural planning & Urban Regeneration, creative practice and written work .

various projects over the last year -click to zoom and scroll full size image

Documenting the changes at play in Govan, Glasgow has been an eye opening experience for me. A fantastic journey continues there through the combined effort of many practitioners and local people who have sought to create a shared vision to enhance the cultural, community, and commercial vibrancy of this historic and culturally rich area. Featuring in the Glasgow International Art Festival, Matt Baker’s and t s Bealls artist led event  ‘Nothing About Us Without Us Is For Us’ focused attention on the the significance of the area and its attachment to the River Clyde. I look forward to being involved where I can with future projects.

So, I guess getting set up relied around having a website for starters – and words like marketing, web presence, search engine optimization etc all required attention. WordPress was definitely a good choice for having a website that I can easily update. Although initially taking a lot of time to learn, my friend Aleks Bochniak gave me invaluable help in getting started, and the support for my Graph Paper Press theme has been efficient and quick when needed.

So then came the fun bit – getting jobs coming in and getting out and about with my camera. This was what it is all about, that ongoing search for the elusive ultimate image, the satisfaction of capturing that image in your head, and sometimes the images that surprise you along the way… After years of  attachment I upgraded from my trusty Nikon D200 to the 36MP full frame capabilities of a Nikon D800E; and using wide angle and tilt shift lenses, was ready  to get clients the shots they were looking for.

Learning the technical aspects of photography is  a journey that has no end…  and there are always new directions and avenues to explore… Looking at past masters of the art is inspiring and am currently reading ‘The Negative‘ by Ansel Adams – his techniques on exposure and ‘the zone system’ as relevant as ever with digital photography, despite digital sensors sometimes requiring an inversion of his methodology, where exposing for highlights rather than shadow ensures detail is not lost in the image. Looking forward I’m hoping to invest in additional lenses, and to start shooting tethered with a lap-top or ipad connected to camera for enhanced compositions. Photography can be an expensive undertaking!

It’s been great to make new acquaintances and friends over the year and after years of continuous employment it has been both rewarding and challenging not knowing what you will be working on next, and being flexible to work in new areas, and to build new relationships.

One of the most interesting commissions from last year was working with Loretto Housing Association to produce a series of images documenting their supported housing projects and social care provision over the last thirty years. Although concentrating on the buildings, initially I produced a series of images of residents whose lives have been transformed by safe and secure homes, and besides really enjoying the photography, it was a good insight into the level of care that the housing association provides.

Sitting within the back court constraints of a Glasgow tenement city block, the Fore Street housing project picked up various awards last year and I was pleased to see a building I had photographed doing well in awards, in fact I started to lose count of the awards Hypostyle Architects picked up for the project after winning categories in the Scottish Design Awards, Saltire Housing and RIAS awards which described the scheme as ‘bright, welcoming and ingeniously woven into the existing fabric of the city, these new homes are a useful model for the future’.

A fun part of photography is getting to locations that one wouldn’t normally get the chance to visit, such as inside the old Transport Museum for a shoot for CHRISTIE HQ productions and many other locations around Glasgow last year, with a few jobs in the pipeline slightly further afield planned over the coming year… and hopefully some time to continue with a few personal projects and some artwork projects I’ve been working on.

Anyway look out for more updates to my blog and please be in touch to discuss any commissions or how I may assist a project you have in mind…


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