Monday, 31 October 2011


I love the way this pumpkin's been carved into the image of the late, great Robin Day and the.. oh, it is the late, great Robin Day, picking his nose during our photoshoot! The funny thing about this session was that my lastolite reflector was actually being held by Paddy Ashdown, who was appearing on the same episode of Question Time when it was being broadcast from Manchester.

Speaking of portraits, I was busy photographing that dinner with John Sergeant as speaker the other evening, when a chap came up to me in the foyer of the hotel. "Take a portrait of me and the wife.." he ordered "Come and see us later, we're on table such and such.." I looked at him blankly. "Do us a canvas.." he continued "We can put it up in the dining room for Christmas!"

Yeah, right! 500 guests in a dark and crowded function room, with waiters whizzing everywhere, 13 award presentations to get through, all the sponsors to photograph, dry ice fogging everywhere up nicely .. and this guy wants a professional portrait shooting there and then! "Here's my card, sir.." I said "I charge £100 for portraits and you can call me any time you like to make an appointment!"

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Dear Jim..

Now then, dear old Jimmy Savile hung up his running shoes yesterday, and we'll never see his like again! I photographed him in Manchester years ago, at the beginning of one of his marathon runs for charity. What a character he was! I never wrote in to Jim'll fix it, but I used to watch it avidly every week, squirming with envy at the things some of the kids got up to. God bless ya, Jimmy!

As it 'appens, I met another great couple yesterday morning, and they've booked me for their Wedding next May at the lovely Belle Epoque restaurant in Knutsford. It's been a year or more since I was last there, so I'm really looking forward to shooting there again!

I'm trying to ignore the fact that the clocks have gone back and summer is now officially over, but I can't wait to shoot my forthcoming winter Weddings, all frost and snow and tinsel.

Dear Jim, please can you fix it for me to get some great shots in the next couple of months...

Friday, 28 October 2011

Strictly come speaking...

John Sergeant was the guest speaker at an Awards Dinner I shot last night, and Neil and Christine Hamilton were the hosts. It was the annual EN Magazine Entrepreneur of the year 'bash' with almost 500 guests at Mere Golf Country Club - or The Mere, as it's rebranding itself! Well, a good time was had by all, as they say, and I'm sloshing my way through 520 images this morning! The whole lot will be on EN's Facebook page very soon, and I'll pop the link up when that happens.

So, a quiet weekend beckons (For once!) .. I'm meeting a bride and groom in the morning to chat about their plans, and then I'm a free man until Monday! Well, I say 'man' .. I've just answered the phone to a cold-caller who, when I said my name as I always do, asked if he was speaking to Mr or Mrs O'Neill..!

Well, I was speechless....

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Gordon Bennett!....

Well, you can't keep a good man down, and no sooner does Gordon Burns retire from the Beeb than he pops up as head of a new PR Consultancy! 
I did the publicity shots of Gordon and his new partners, including my old editor at the Manchester Evening News, on Tuesday morning, and the news of the launch has just been announced today. I'll have my PR head on again tonight, too, as I'm the photographer at the North-West Entrepreneur of the Year awards, staged at the Mere Golf and Country Club, near Knutsford.

Ah, I can hear my old Dad now.. "Put a tie on, Martin!"....

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Happy Families....

I went to Ikea yesterday, completely forgetting it was half-term! Eeek, there were kids everywhere although thankfully Ikea, thinking of everything, had most of 'em corralled up in a play area by the front of the store! Anway, that's my way of introducing another shot from my archive! I must have shot this around 1980, and I seem to remember it was in a park in Irlam, near Manchester. It hits home on quite a few levels, the first one obviously being the fact that I could randomly photograph a Dad and his kids, without asking, in a public park. I'd be swinging from the nearest tree if I did that these days! And I love the fact that it portrays such simple pleasures. It's not a play-area, used to keep kids quiet whilst parents shop; it's not a commercial 'theme' park, designed to sell associated espensive products, it's just a normal park, with a normal family .. having fun! 

The reason I like it most, though, is because you can see it's been shot right at the begining of a roll of film. I'd seen the shot, but obviously needed to reload my camera, so I'd got the film just about on the spool when I took the picture! Ah! Simple pleasures!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Blatant plug...

I've had a think about my Wedding pricing, and I've come up with a fantastic offer. So, guess how much it now costs for me to shoot your whole Wedding Day? Correct! £650, and that includes bridal preparations, a password-protected on-line gallery, a CD of all your images - all SmartPhone & Facebook friendly and ready to show to the world - plus a spiral-bound proof book of all your photographs.
Tasty, or what? Form an orderly queue, you darlings!

So, great portrait session this morning with the one and only Gordon Burns. I'll drop a shot online when they're cleared by the client. He's a lovely guy, who well deserves his popularity! (And he laughed at my corny jokes, which always works for me!)

Ok! That's it! Laters, guys!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Portrait of the ...

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist. This was on the hoardings outside all the building work around Manchester Town Hall, and a very kind passer-by used one of my other cameras to get this 'snap' of me before I started work on Saturday's Wedding! Oh, Saturday's Wedding! What a blast that was! It was the civil ceremony of Chris and Fred, at the aforementioned Town Hall, and it was a really great day all round. 600 shots later and their Wedding is good to go!

Speaking of going, no sooner do I put a song by Edmundo Ros on my new Wedding video, when he goes and dies at the age of 100! God bless, Edmundo! Great tune, by the way!

So, I'll skip smartly along from yesterday's Manchester derby score, and let you know about a new project I'm getting involved in. Actually, I can't tell anything about it yet, but I shoot it tomorrow and I'm very excited! I've got another big awards ceremony to shoot on Thursday, too. I believe there are going to be about 700 guests at this shindig! Now that's a lot of people to put in the picture...

Saturday, 22 October 2011

I shudda been in movies...

Oooh, get me with my selective colour! I'll be shooting through brandy glasses next! Anyway, just a quickie as I've got to shoot off to today's Wedding in a mo.. Fred and Chris at Manchester Town Hall. Pix to follow, naturally.... Just wanted to let you know that my new YouTube Wedding Video is up and running, and it's looking pretty good. Check it out! All feedback appreciated! Ok, to the batmobile....

Friday, 21 October 2011

Life goes on...

So, Gaddafi fell, and look where I was!...
No, not there! I was at the Imperial War Museum of the North, where this sign is on the wall. So Gaddafi spent yesterday getting shot in the head, whereas I was laughing so much I couldn't see through my viewfinder! No, I wasn't laughing at him, I was laughing at a Cabaret act called 'Spanner in the Works', the entertainment at an Awards Ceremony I was shooting (Oops!) at the museum last night. Man, they are so funny! They start out as sneaky little comedy waiters - collecting only forks from tables, etc - and then they build up to having the whole room standing and singing Bohemian Rhapsody to an out-of-tune trombone!

Fantastic, and if there was ever an image to sum up that old cliche "Life goes on" it was in that room last night. The backdrop to the room was a 'sculpture' of twisted metal girders from the Twin Towers.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Should have gone to...

K, V, T, F, Y .. No problems. Sixth line down and all's looking good at the optician's yesterday. Jeezo! This is easy! "Hm! Read this now.." says the optician, shoving a white card under my nose. There is but a fuzzy whirl in front of my eyes! Er........  

Mr Specsaver drops in his killer line. "Ah!.." he says "That's pretty normal at your time of life!.."

Eeeek! I'm officially old! The optician's just as good as told me! I've joined the ranks of the 'lift up yer specs to read close-ups' brigade! It must have snuck up on me whilst I wasn't looking (Ho ho!) and now I can't even remember how long I've been shoving my glasses on top of my head to change my camera settings! (Maybe I've got dementia, too?) Oh, well... at least I saved £300 on my car insurance this year. I've joined SAGA, the Over-50's organisation. Just got to get the tennis elbow sorted now.....

The photograph? My brother James, all togged up for a fancy dress party in 1977, the year of the Queen's Jubilee. Can I have my glasses back now please, James?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Hit me!...

Did I mention I'd gone to see Wilko Johnson the other week? Hm! Must have forgotten, what with blathering on about photography all the time! Anyway I did and, fab as he was, I'm afraid I just couldn't take my eyes off "Wilko's secret weapon" - the bass player Norman Watt-Roy. (He used to play in the Blockheads, with Ian Dury, if you want an inkling of his fab bass riffs. Think 'Hit me with your rhythm stick'!) Man! The guy is absolutely amazing! I have never seen anyone sweat from their elbows before!
I hate the expression 110 percent.. but that's what he gives when he goes on stage. Awesome! Anyway, I don't really shoot music photography these days, but I couldn't resist at this gig, and dropped the speed on my little compact and spun it round to emulate Norman's movement for this shot from the front of the stage. See, I knew I'd get the subject round to photography again!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A weak cough...

Ah! Just back from a quick week off (See what I did, there?) in the sun and happy to report that all went well, and there were no travel trip-ups like this shot I got once in Manchester! Oh, apart from an eight hour delay at the airport, 2 days of totally torrential rain, and a hotel full of people who seemed hell-bent on smoking themselves to death!

I hate smoking! How on earth did we manage to socialise in the 'old days', when you'd come home stinking of cigarettes after a few jars in the pub? Well, that's what it's been like all this past week, with nowhere to escape the sick, saddo, smelly sucking of the grey-faced, wrinkly death-wish desperates...       Ah! I feel so chilled after my holiday!

Let's get back to photography, eh?
My next Wedding? Saturday, and after two weeks without one, I'm gonna be smokin'...!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Give thanks to the Wedding God...

Fantastic! What a busy day I had yesterday! I was shooting the Wedding of Faye and Chris at Statham Lodge, in Lymm, and it more or less rained all day! I had to more or less shoot all the family poses indoors. Then, just as the guests were being called in for their meal .. it stopped raining! More or less!  I grabbed the opportunity to invite everybody to come outside (Read: Practically pushed 'em out the door..) and got my big group shot just before it started to hammer down again! Thank you, Oh Wedding God!

I just love this shot, though! He's mine! I've got 'im!!..

Anyway, brief interlude now whilst I take a little (well-deserved) break.. Catch you soon!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Give us a kiss..

Whaddya think? This is the new image on the home page of my website, although I'm starting to think that Tamara, the bride who quoted that great line, will want to charge me for using it in my advertising soon!

Anyway, another great Wedding in prospect today, although the weather doesn't seem to be playing its part! (Again!) Let's just call it Autumnal, eh, and go with soft light and muted colours! I'm down at Statham Lodge, in Lymm, for Faye and Chris. It's a venue with some lovely gardens and backdrops.. if you can use them! Hey, ho! Off to find me wellies... speak to you tomorrow!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Solar Panels..

Yes! That's what I'd meant to tell you about .. solar panels! I had my PR head on again this week, shooting solar panels on a house in the Peak District, but with the wind being as strong as it's been I actually thought I was going to photograph solar panels being ripped off the roof and flung into the street! However, all went well, and another happy client describes my work as "Fab"..  By the way, one of 'my brides' came back off honeymoon this week, and says she's looked at her Wedding photographs online and thinks they're "wonderful !!!!" (Yes, four exclamation marks!!!!)

Anyway, I'm gearing up for tomorrow's Wedding now, at the delicious little Statham Lodge, in Lymm. Bridal preparations until First Dance again, and all shots on CD. Seems to be a very popular package these days!
I just hope that flippin' wind dies down .. exclamation mark!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Mine's an Apple, Mac..

I was going to write about Graham Nash today, but Steve Jobs died overnight so I thought I'd say a word in his honour. I love Apple, and I've never used or owned a PC. In fact, I'm typing this on an Imac, listening to music on my Ipod! Yep, I'm a Mac man through and through, and all because of Steve Jobs' genius! RIP Steve!
Now, on the subject of technology a good pal of mine, a reporter who I began to work with way back in 1980, is the IT writer on the FT in SF - the Financial Times in San Francisco. I dug out this photograph of Chris, on the left, in the early days of his hi-tech research -ie: drinking bitter and playing Space Invaders in a Manchester disco! At the time it seemed we were all just idling away our evenings getting drunk and playing computer games, but now I like to think that myself and John, the other pal in the picture, were pivotal in helping Chris get on the ladder of success!
Actually, I will write about Graham Nash. You know? As in Graham Nash of The Hollies, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. That Graham Nash! I met him last night at the opening of his new photographic exhibition in Manchester. I won't say what I think of his work, other than to say he does a lot better job as a musician, but I will say what I thought of his attitude. I was telling him I'd met Mike Batt and Feargal Sharkey earlier in the week. Guess what.. he's never heard of either of them! What? Never heard of..    "I was too busy doing my own thing, man!" he said. Well, 'scuse us all for breathing, Graham!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

New foundations...

So, it's time for the Tories to 'up sticks' today and buzz off from our quaint Northern town again. I heard at least one of 'em talking about how surprised he was to see the sun shining in Manchester! Oh, how we laughed! Grrrr! And I love the fact that David Cameron will today tell us to "pay off our credit cards" So how does he expect...

Ooops! Got a bit distracted there! Anyway, after Sunday's little TUC demo, here's another dip into my archive and a look at a more pleasant march through our 'town'. That lad will be nudging forty years old by now, I reckon, and look at the old Marks and Spencer building behind him. Remember that? Pre-bomb? Well, I once stood right at the bottom of the huge hole they dug when they knocked down the damaged building. Some 'big-wig' had come up from M&S to ceremonially dig the first spadeful of the new store. I excitedly asked just what would be on this exact spot when the new building went up. "Oh, nowt.." said the gaffer "This is just the foundation for the crane!"..

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

My perfect cousin...

Feargal Sharkey, and Mike Batt... in the same room! (As well as Martyn Lewis, Eric Pickles and erm, Lord somebody or other...!) I was covering an intimate little soiree last night in Cloud 23, the Bar up on the 23rd floor of Manchester's Hilton Hotel, as part of the Conservative Party Conference, and who should be hosting it but one of my all-time punk heroes (And Feargal Sharkey was there, too.. ho, ho!)
What a lovely man he is! Mike Batt, I mean, not Feargal! He sang a couple of little ditties at the old Joanna, and then still had time for a few shots and a chat with me before he buzzed off for dinner. I then spent the rest of the night trying to get rid of a weird re-mix in my head ..  'Remember you're a Womble v Mars Bar.." and if you don't know those songs then you are YOUNG!!

Any road up.. WOW! A massive thank you to everyone that read my Blog yesterday. All records smashed (Speaking of old music! Ha ha!) as I had almost 200 hits on the page yesterday, courtesy of some generous tweeting and a concerted email effort. I just hope one or two of you stay with it as I travel the road of a professional photographer! Now then, must go say Hi to Madame Cholet!...

Monday, 3 October 2011

Cool as..

I just love this photograph of a groom and best man before a Wedding ceremony! How calm are they? They sent out for sandwiches, sat at the back of the Wedding room and scoffed the lot! It's funny, because I quite often meet grooms at their Wedding who'll show no sign of nerves at all. They'll be fine until the guests start to arrive, when then one of them will invariably ask "Do you feel nervous?".. and off they'll go with the shaky hands and knocking knees!
Sadly, there wasn't much knocking on the door of the Wedding Fayre at the V and A hotel in Manchester yesterday, all courtesy of Messrs Cameron and co.. The Tory Party conference is on this week in Manchester, and the City's in lock-down, with blocked roads and diversions all over the place. As if that wasn't enough, the TUC decided a good-old protest march through the middle of town would be the perfect way to stop prospective brides and grooms from coming to see me! Oh, and it rained!
Apart from that.. met some great couples with some fab ideas, and really do hope that some of them take me on board as their Wedding Photographer! PS: Spot the old Mamiya 645 on my tripod. Cool!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

It's all about ME!...

"Martin shooting my favorite shot" That's what this photograph has been entitled! How nice is that? (I'll excuse the American spelling but then Tamara is from South Carolina!) I just got sent it in the mail today. It's a picture from the Civil ceremony of Tamara and Julia, which took place at Manchester Registry Office last summer. She's written to say she "loves the way I capture love.." What a compliment! Many thanks, T! I love that line and it's gone straight onto my home-page! You can check out the shots I was getting by clicking here! Actually, whilst I'm at it.. I received another email today, from a pal of mine who reads the blog in New Zealand. (Hi Simes!) He wrote to say "Your blogs are great, funny & I would miss them if they didn't show up every day!" Fantastic! Just how big is my head getting? What a great ego-boosting start to October! It's just so nice to get feedback! Oh, sod it, I'm on a roll now! A chap in Holland emailed last night to say he 'loves my photos.." as he's just seen my Joy Division pictures online and, last but not least, a company I shot some PR for last week mailed to say they thought I'd supplied some "excellent snaps which we are delighted with!" Snaps? Oh, well.. I can live with that!
Happy October, everybody!!