Monday, 17 July 2017

F16s and Piebald Cobs ..

Just in case you needed to know what my weekend involved ..

A very nice Wedding Day at Hollin Hall Hotel .. replete with Chocolate Lab and Piebald Cob .. and my annual pilgrimage to all that is air-based and smells of jet fuel .. the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford. The horse behaved, the dog did its best to behave and the weather 'darn sarf' behaved until 5.20pm .. so all in all a damned fine weekend ..

Just the 1,479 images to edit now ..

Friday, 14 July 2017

Keepers ..

Well, bugger me, I've only gone and found it! There's something to be said for going through all your old stuff before moving house. Look what's turned up from May 21st 1994 ..

Yes, way back in the mists of time I got an exclusive photo-shoot with Sir Alex Ferguson after Manchester United had won the Treble. That's the FA Cup, The Premiership and the Charity Shield. I can't remember if I set up at the Old Trafford Museum or The Cliff - the team's old training ground - (It looks like the Museum) but I was the only photographer given access for the shot. It was used in the Manchester Evening News and then sold to The Sun for their next day's paper and, by the way, it's not your eyes .. the register was out during the printing so it looks like a poor 3D attempt!..

But why the excitement? Well, I never got a print of the picture to include in my portfolio, and then the MEN very stupidly threw away all our negatives during a move from their Deansgate offices. I thought the shot was gone forever ..

Speaking of The Cliff, there's another belter that turned up during my tidy-up .. Roy Keane's signing for Man U there in July 1993. I was the only photographer allowed in for this shot, too, and I remember shaking his hand and wishing him well after the shoot. (I think he did ok after my chirpy encouragement!) Blimey, he was 21 then, and he sold for a "staggering" £3.75m !! ..

You'll notice I said I was "going through" all my old stuff, as opposed to "throwing out" all my old stuff. Oh yes, you can be sure .. this stuff is for keeps! ..   


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Plane crazy ..

Heading home on Ryanair and yes, believe it or not, both these shots were taken on the same small 90 minute flight back from France to Manchester. No prizes for guessing which shot is Manchester. In fact, one little girl behind me asked her Mum "Why is it not sunny at England?"..

I've always loved aircraft, and taking photographs of aircraft, and just plain old standing and gawping at aircraft. As a lad I used to catch the number 500 bus to Ringway Airport, as Manchester was then called, just to stand on the roofs of the termini for a couple of hours watching and snapping the jets. And yes, you were allowed to stand on them in 'the old days' - right above the gates and mere feet from the jet-fuel smell and the screeching engines. It was great ..

Thing is, I never got to go on a jet until I was 18. My parents simply couldn't afford to take us anywhere. And I know that plane-spotting isn't everybody's cup of tea but when I left for France last week I saw the saddest sight I've seen in a long time. Ok, keep it in context but ..

.. as I was at the gate, waiting to board, I was back to being 15 and excitedly watching all the aircraft taxiing past me. A plane I didn't immediately recognise was identified for me by an app on my phone, and I was delighted to realise I was looking at my first Airbus A350. I strained my neck to watch it disappear around the corner then looked down to see .. a boy of about ten, with his back to the jets, playing games on a tablet. I almost threw up on him ..

Anyway, gotta go dust off my 500mm mirror lens. I'm off to the International Air Tattoo this Sunday..

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

What a buzz ..

I'm back from four days in France. Sunshine, fields of sunflowers, great days out and lovely food. That's what I'd have loved. Instead I spent all my time repointing a stone wall in our house. Four solid days of dust, heat and a ton of graft, that's what I got. (Aw!) It's been so bloody rewarding though, made all the more so because of this shot. I was using an outside tap to mix my mortar and, as the thermometer hit 100 degrees I started to notice these wasps, zipping in for a drink every time I turned it off. Well, you know me, so the mortar got put to one side and I started to take shots as the stripey slurpers zoomed in. This was my reward. The even more amazing thing? It was shot on my phone!..

Ok, I did manage some time with my 'real' camera too .. and I'll post some shots on Instagram later on today .. but I just had to show you this picture. It gave me such a buzz ..

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Car Insurance .. a crash-course!

It's been an interesting start to my day ..

I needed to renew my car insurance, so rang for a chat with the company who currently insure me. A new policy, they said, would be £205 more than it was last year.  "What?" .. I said, er .. politely "How come?" ..

"Well .." said the lovely chap in the call centre "It seems that, last year, your insurance was underwritten by the Co-op, and they don't seem to want you any more!" When I asked why not he said it could be because of my job.
"My job?" .. I said, protectively.
"Well, yes .." he said "They've probably seen 'Freelance Photographer' and lumped you in with all the "Lady Di paparazzi" types! Your occupation is right up there with the most risky types like .. journalists!"
"What?" I gasped "Not that crazy bastard loony driver bunch. No way .."

He chuckled and I heard his keyboard tapping again "There's something else .." he said, and I gulped."You have the highest risk car on the entire list!"

(At this point he must have felt a bit sorry for me, as he added "You're not having much luck here, are you?")

"What do you mean, the highest risk car?" I asked.
"Well .." he said "You have your Ford Ka kind of thing .. that's down at level one for risk. A BMW 5 Series is at level 50. Your car .." he said, building up the tension " .. is level 61 !!!"

I thanked him for his time and went to an online comparison site, putting in exactly the same details as he had on the old policy. I've got a great new policy now, for £10 less than I paid last year.

It's with .. the Co-op! 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Back at ya ..

 I pulled a muscle in my back last week, causing pain sufficient for me to go to the doctor. Nothing, though, has been able to wipe the smile from my face these past few days. Firstly because I've had another great weekend .. with two fun family portrait shoots, and a 'Shoot 'n Tutor' photography workshop on Saturday afternoon. Thing is, all the sessions had an extra glow about them as I'd had some great news beforehand ..

The first piece of news was that I've had a Wedding enquiry .. for St Tropez!! .. and the second was that another of my clients has said that - once I've moved to France - they'd be happy for me to return to the UK to shoot their bigger events. It's so reassuring to know that my PR work won't cease once I move abroad ..

I've had some fantastic feedback from Weddings and portrait shoots, too. "Gorgeous" was the verdict from one young Mum on her daughter's photographs and "He was lovely and everyone commented on how great he was, and how funny he was" was from another of "my brides ..

Sorry if this blog sounds a bit "braggy' .. 

My back still hurts, if that's any consolation! ..

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

All at sea ..

It's all getting very real! Our move to France has stepped up a gear now that we've started getting quotes from removal companies to ship all our gear across the Channel. Another two months and all our worldly goods will be boxed, packed, wrapped and on a big lorry heading for South-West France.

This, of course, brings up the big question of what exactly we take over with us. Do I really need that old copy of the NME from 1985? Yes, of course, it's got The Smiths on the cover. And that advertising brochure for the Nikon FE2 from '83? Naturally! That's part of my photographic history. And so it goes on. I have managed to throw out one or two things. There are only so many copies of The Face and Spin magazine that a man needs but, apart from that, I'm finding it very, very hard to part with any of my past. Perhaps I might start thinking differently once the quotes start coming in ..