The stories behind the photographs

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The stories for the images are way down at the bottom below this gallery.

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I expect you’ve been in some posh places for a drink? Well this is as posh as it gets.
It’s a work of art everywhere you look, but the locals seem to take it all with a touch of nonchalance.
You would be forgiven for being a little apprehensive when it comes to settling your bill.
If you’ve been restrained; the cost of a coffee and cake is very reasonable.
If you’ve been taken giddy by your surroundings and pushed the boat out…well after you’ve picked yourself up from the floor I’m sure you’ll think it was worth every forint.
Oh and while you are laid out on the floor remember to check the ceiling out…. it’s amazing.

This photograph was taken in Wharf Chambers Cooperative Club, Leeds. It’s a bar, music venue, meeting place set up as an alternative to the corporate drinking chains springing up all through the city.
Membership is exactly one pound.
At one time it was a butchers shop and the original fitments are still in evidence. It attracts a quaint mix of all kinds of people – exactly what any decent drinking establishment should do. These two girls fitted this unpredictable place perfectly.

This is how I knew Hull at the time -make the most of what you have.
Smoke your roll ups right to the tip, drain your glass of all its beer, stay in the pub ’till the Landlord slings you out. Enjoy every pleasure you can, while you can, because Sunny Jim, there’s not a lot of it about – and maybe not a lot of time left, if the cross in the wood next to him is any kind of a clue.
Hull was always a city that seemed to face tough times and only brief rewards, but the trick was – always dress smart.

As a perfectly useless art student I took a camera and some Kodak film out to photograph the river Hull early one misty morning in 1971.
I didn’t know what I was doing.
I couldn’t figure the Weston light meter, or the camera controls, so I kept it very simple.
Forty years later four of these photographs featured in a one man exhibition at HIP – Hull International Photography Gallery.
Someone said I’d managed to make Hull look like the Venice of the North.
I’ll settle for that.

I was made in Hull, if you are from the city and want to see more work and stories about the town and it’s people you can visit these pages on my website:

mustThe Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth is a truly wonderful place to be, no matter what age you are.
I was lucky enough to meet Peter Jay the owner on a visit to the Circus. He allowed me access backstage to photograph the performers as they went about the daily routines of exercising and preparation for their performances.
This has now turned into a substantial body of work that can be seen on my website.
Backstage can be a difficult place to do photography, apart from trying not to get into anyone’s way, the light can be really challenging… or atmospheric.

The massive drum horse is legendary in the British Army. This is an infrared photograph from the Horse Guards annual visit to Norfolk for training during the summer months.
They have an open day weekend when you can see them in action, it’s a good day out for all the family. Check out their Facebook page for details, and see the Cavalry visit in the top menu bar.
A Drum Horse in the British Army holds the rank of Major, and when in full regalia, must be saluted.
Tell the kids… and show them how to salute!

This image of Mr Sly The coffin maker won me the title of Professional Photographer of the Year. I’d heard that he lived in the next village to me in the Cotswolds and was from a third or fourth generation of carpenters still working from their original workshop. The village carpenter always made the coffins for the village.
When I turned up he was carrying out repairs on the workshop roof, he was eighty three years old.
I positioned him under the skylight he’d been repairing and asked him if he wouldn’t mind posing with one of his tools, as if he was working. He seemed a little perturbed.
He said “What do you mean, fakin’ it?”
He came from a generation where you worked or you didn’t, you certainly didn’t fake it.
I thought the pose looked contrived and awkward.
The judges didn’t agree, they liked the honesty of the man.

This young girl entered Wharf Chambers a Community bar in The Calls in Leeds . She was small and clutching a bottle of booze; I thought this is a portrait.
I was quite shocked by her direct and uncompromising stare. With portraits you are never sure how people will react to the camera. The look someone gives the lens changes very subtly over a few shots. Some photographers try to plant an emotion or a thought into the subjects mind, so that something registers in the eyes.

No need to try that here, this young lady was engaged with the camera and mastered it immediately.

We couldn’t for the life of us think what to call this photograph, so I’m waiting for some suggestions. Jo & Callum may organise a competition through The Red Lion website, or Kate may organise something through
The Garden House Gallery.
But for the moment, it can stay like it is, an orphan awaiting a name.
I’m not in a hurry, maybe it stays Untitled.

An elegant place Milan, where they do things in style, everything is just so, everything ordered and ranked with military precision. Just look at those lines of coffee cups and teapots. The day must have been quite a battle; they look like they have reached the limit. But Italian waiters never make you feel like you should be gone so they can shut up shop and go home.
Just old fashioned politeness really.

Tori is not only Tattoo artwork she is also a Tattoo Artist.
We were never sure about this pose.
I have some photographs of her taken with. an infrared camera which I love, along with a black and white study of her sat at the table with a glass.
Jo and Callum wanted more surprising or little seen work for this exhibition, which is great from my point of view, because it makes me go back through old images and re-asses them.
Your appreciation of images changes with the passage of time and you suddenly realise you can get more out of them by printing them in different way.
If you think this one was worth the effort, please leave your thoughts on The Lion Facebook page.

This is Louis Tanoto a dancer working with the choreographer Maresa von Stockert.
A choreographer from Norwich asked me if I wanted to photograph dancers working on the beach at Cromer, he said, they did weird stuff.
I thought, I’m not sure, in a studio, yes definitely, but with their heads stuck in the sands on the beach, I’m not sure….

These three photographs of Louise were taken on an infrared camera. Infrared photography captures colours that the eye cannot see, it is a magical and disturbing world, some people love it, others hate it. My problem was, I’d borrowed the infrared camera and didn’t know how to use it.
I sat on the beach in frustration fiddling with the camera settings, as Louise prepared to start her dance sequence. 
Then all of a sudden I captured an image that wasn’t all crazy colours, I was all set to go. I looked up and saw Louise was about to start her dance…

As Louise started her dance sequence I couldn’t figure out what was happening. Then I thought, she’s not going to dance her way into the aquarium is she?
She was.
And she did.
When I looked at what I’d captured I was amazed at how the infrared had captured unexpected tones in Louise’s skin. Her skin is luminous, almost like a statue. And I had captured the entire dance sequence. 
There is a framed print with the sequence in one to the bedrooms of The Red Lion, it’s a one of my best series of images.

Taken backstage at the Hippodrome Circus Gt Yarmouth
I only expected to take a few portraits of the dancers, but they gave their time wonderfully. They moved around easily and interestingly, I didn’t have to direct them, they seemed to know instinctively what I was looking for. I photographed them in colour and infrared, the infrared are not everyone’s cup of tea… I like ’em.

I have a whole body of work dedicate to the Hippodrome Circus which you can view on my website:                     
The Hippodrome Circus

These are the straight forward shots I took of Louise on the beach. I preferred the infrared versions, but printing them up for this exhibition I think these two make a good set of images.

The images of the girl who danced into an aquarium have a definite effect on people, especially women.
Older women can find the images disturbing especially this one. Whereas you women tend to find them ‘cool’.

We booked a cheap room at a big rambling hotel that had seen better days a few streets from the railway station in Naples.

Edward Hopper would have approved; a vast mortuary of a room with a wrist slitting ambience, it held a huge angular bed whose wafer thin blankets offered not a shred of comfort.

If you booked in here feeling depressed, you wouldn’t make daybreak.

Outside on the streets it  teamed with rain. It felt like the opening frames of Blade Runner.

It was fantastic – in the true sense of that overused word.

Abject poverty, dark alleyways, an air of menace, rubbing shoulders with stunning architecture and some of the friendliest people in Europe.

Neopolitans you feel, have life by the throat.

These Italians cross their roads at any point of their choosing with the casual air of ‘you dare and try and run me over’, while their drivers respond with, ‘thanks, I think I will’.

An infrared camera caught the mood of what we saw. Everywhere you looked there was a photograph, either waiting to be taken, or about to happen.

I’m going back

They were called public houses for a reason, it’s where everyone went to meet, talk, brag, celebrate, drown sorrows, make a friend, cause a fight. It was a distant age when face to face conversation with other human beings was king. Anything was said, so anything could happen.

A Cromer man was out on the cliff top taking photographs of what he called a ‘Snow Moon’. Apparently it was an unusual event, but he was all prepared for it.
I went and got my camera.
But when I was working on the image, I thought I need something more dramatic, a better interpretation of the event.
So I changed it.
Well that’s what painters are allowed to do, aren’t they?
Below is the real colour of the moon.
You can make your own mind up if I made the right decision.

Cromer apparently has regulations for how its beach huts should be painted. I think it’s just primary colours, red, green, blue etc. As can see everyone cheerfully ignores the rules.
Not so the French, they are a stickler for style and their colour schemes are rigorously followed.
I decided on a high key interpretation of what I’d seen.

Further along the Normandy coast from the white beach huts, this little town had opted for ice cream colours as the style for the beach. As you can see, unlike Cromer everyone stuck to what they were supposed to.

I found this stretch of the Normandy coast fascinating.
Each town had a corporate look, which made for a photographer’s paradise.
The French know how to do things in style, and the English… well we do things our own way.

A client asked me to look at providing him with images of Norfolk churches, perhaps in early morning mist or at the end of the day.
This got me thinking.
I have a large body of work called ‘Barlife’ – a study of the places people go to meet others or be alone’. I saw a connexion; both places provide sanctuary and comfort from the trials of life. A chance to confess and redeem your soul through a friendly sympathetic ear. Perhaps the redemption in one place is only temporary, perhaps in the other it is eternal.
So I’m embarking on a project loosely called
‘Portraits in churches’.
We are all spiritual beings, if not believers in orthodox religion. I want to photograph people who have an interesting face and an interesting spiritual journey.

If you know someone with a good face and an interesting take on spirituality please get touch. Can’t guarantee I’ll take an eternal image but I am hoping for something long lasting.

Accordion Content

Brighton Street Hull.
You had a duffel coat as a kid and then you had one as a teenager.
We were told at college to go out and photograph kids in the street because they made good natural, candid subjects for photography. Nowadays photographing children in the street is a ‘no no’; it invites suspicion, aggression and the police.
It does my head in.
Such a tragic loss, not being able to engage in conversation with children anymore and capture something of their world.
When these photographs appeared in the Hull Daily Mail, someone called Harry Potterer emailed in to say ‘That’s me on Brighton Street!’
And someone called Dundoir said ‘That’s me dad!!’.
Strange things happen with the unfolding of time.

This is the bay at Holkham sands. It’s very shallow and needs an exceptionally high tide to fill the bay.
A friendly Cromer fisherman checked his tide tables and told me the best date to head out to the sands.

It is 9 o’clock on a clear May night. The tide crept in for all the world like quicksilver, spilling round and rolling over the sands, forming patterns and shapes as it moved silently forward. 
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night.