Photography studio, gallery and training complex

Archive for July, 2012

S.O.S. – Save Our Silvershotz!

Today I recieved some very bad news.

It came in the form of an email from Clive Waring-Flood, the editor of the superb Silvershotz magazine, which I have been subscribed to for the last 3 years or so.

Regular visitors to this page (and I flatter myself to think there may be at least one) will be aware of my enthusiasm for this publication, which I have reviewed here, and from where I have pilfered more than a few photographers that have been brought to my attention from its pages. A high volume of consistent, independent, quality, international contemporary photography coupled with the bare minimum of advertising has made this, for my money, the very best photography magazine on the market.

Or at least it WAS on the market. The email that I, and other subscribers, recieved today was to notify us of the dire financial straits the magazine finds itself in. This is what the email says…

Firstly my apologies to all of you who have been waiting so patiently for your Edition 3. I need to explain the big picture first. Silvershotz has managed to stay afloat since the 2008 GFC crisis, unlike some iconic newspapers and magazines around the world who collapsed in a short time frame. We did this because we have never relied on advertising as a revenue stream. Our two income streams are bookstores and subscriptions. In the last 12 months a staggering 850 of the 1400 stores we sold through in 17 countries have closed, the biggest of course was Borders. On July 1st our accountants advised that we were spending $3.00 for every $1.00 of income. Unsustainable. So as of July 1st you will no longer find Silvershotz in any bookstore.
Our only income stream is now you!! We have literally run out of money and I fully accept how furious many of you will be at the prospect of having spent money in good faith and not receiving everything promised. I have invested ALL my pension to keep the company afloat but this has now been used up. I am prepared to work for the next 6 months for nothing if you help.
The business rescue plan is simple. We are listed on a crowdfunding site and all we need is for all our subscribers and supporters to donate $20.00,€20.00 or £20.00. The Pozible funding company will only release funds to us if we reach our financial goal, if we do not reach our goal then NOTHING happens and we close.It’s only a small amount of money, but if everyone helps we can do two things. Number 1, all of you with iphones and ipads will be able to download a FREE copy of the 2008,2009,2010,2011 and 2012 Folio. Number 2, all current subscribers will receive Edition 3/4/5 and 6 PLUS the 2012 Folio as a gift for supporting us. Edition 3 has been sitting at the printers for 7 weeks waiting for release and Edition 4 is nearly ready and the 2012 Folio has received the most submissions ever in its 5 year history. The fate of this iconic journal is in your hands. Please help and spread the word.     –  Clive Waring-Flood. 

Well, I wasn’t “furious” at all, just very very sad. I’ve met Clive a couple of times at Focus and it has always been apparent that this magazine was the product of pure passion. The photographic community needs magazines like this: pure, ground-breaking, merit-based, unbiased by sponsors’ input (the only sponsor of Silvershotz is the reader, and that’s how it should be). It is no exaggeration to say that this magazine has greatly influenced my own photography – it was here I was first forced to accept the validity of phone-based photography, for example. If, like me, you care about quality independent photography publications, then please join me in supporting Silvershotz in it’s hour of need.


A couple of pages from my beloved Silvershotz

Everything from high-end digital to wet plate collodion is covered in Silvershotz



Batteries Included

Back in February (at Focus on Imaging, in fact) I bought a couple of new Bowens 400 studio flash heads along with two battery packs. The kit came with a single battery but I thought that as I would be using these partly for group shoots, it might be an idea to get a 2nd battery, just to be on the safe side.

Having given the lights and batteries a test in the studio first, I finally arranged a suitable run-out – the “Urban Location Model Shoot“, which was held on Sunday evening. A small group of participants plus my assistant Simon, regular Fotofilia model Michelle Grice ( and myself walked to at our first location, a local multi-storey car park (most of the gear being lugged by poor Simon). It’s worth pointing out at this point that despite my best efforts, I hadn’t secured any permission to be shooting there but as it was a Sunday evening, there was no one around and very few cars, especially on the upper levels.

Participant Mark photographs Michelle (before security arrive)

Starting with a single light fitted with a square softbox, we began photographing Michelle. As expected, the quality and power of the light was just as if the head had been plugged into the mains. We made the most of the fading ambient light by setting shutter speeds at 1/30 or 1/60. Then we added a second light trained on the background and fitted with a spill-kill and blue gel. This added a whole new dimension to the shots, the blue-tinged second light helping the background to “recede”. With two lights now being powered by the battery, one at almost full power, the recycling time was around 5-6 seconds, something that took a little getting used to when you’ve developed a “rapid fire” habit that comes of constant studio shooting. I wondered how the battery was coping but was reassured to see that all 4 power lights were still lit, indicating 100% charge even after an hour of shooting.

Michelle Grice, shot with a single Bowens light

Michelle Grice lit by two Bowens lights powered by the battery pack

Eventually, and inevitably, a white van appeared containing two bemused security guards. After a few questions, they left us to it but we had finished with this location by that time and quickly packed away (while Michelle changed) to move to the 2nd location just a few hundred yards away.

Using a simlar two light combination we began shooting again and once again the power and convenience of the Bowens kit was wonderful. I’ve shot in this location many times but have never had the luxury of such great lighting to play with.

Overall, we were lucky we didnt have to haul this kit across muddy fields or through torrential rain (we were given a heaven-sent reprieve from that for a whole day) because, though portable, it isnt light, especially when accompanied by an additonal battery, an assembled softbox and the two stands. I’d also been careful to select the softbox rather than umbrellas as there was a strong breeze when I left home and didn’t want to be flying Poppins-stylee over the rooftops of Hockley. As it turns out, the second battery was completely un-necessary: even after a good couple of hours of shooting with two lights, the battery was still showing 100% charge. I’m very impressed with this kit and look forward to using it again soon. Here’s some more of my shots from the evening…

Michelle goes “Librarian Tourist”

And with a bit of a cross-processed look…



Reality At Last

Having just spent most of the week making graduates look like… er …graduates, and then photographing them, it’s nice to be back at Fotofilia where normality has been resumed. Normality and reality.

“Reality: What once was, to what is now and everything in between” is the natty title of the new exhibition at Fotofilia’s gallery. Curated by our own David Shepherd, it features the work of four recent graduates from The University of Northampton: Stephen Dean, Suzanne Delaney, Michelle Williams & Sally Wyman.

This is our first exhibition for a few weeks. Since the last one, there’s been one Jubilee, a couple of Bank Holidays and a great deal of sanding, filling and painting on the part of Mr Shepherd. But it’s definitely been worth the wait. This is a very slick little show, with a diverse but cohesive range of work.

Suzanne Delaney’s work, beautifully presented on square aluminium, explores the emotional fall-out of a bereavement (her father). The devastation is evident in these dark but exquisite images of the objects, the traces that remain.

By kind permission of Suzanne Delaney

Regular visitors might have seen one of Michelle Williams’ images at Fotofilia before, as part of the Fujicolour awards exhibition. This time, the many images that make up the “Lost Property” project are seen in a number of collages. Again, the theme revolves around human traces – objects discarded, overlooked, and photographed where they fall.

By kind permission of Michelle Williams

How Michelle Williams’ work looks on the wall

Sally Wyman’s images, mainly domestic tableaux, appear to depict the everyday, but with a slightly sinister undercurrent a la Crewdson, Mann or Wall.

A quick iphone shot of Sally Wyman’s work at Fotofilia

Finally, Stephen Dean’s work is a single collage of seascapes that stretches almost the whole length of our corridor. Separate images, with varying exposures and perspectives are laid out next to each other so that the horizon (the sea) remains the only constant, from one end to the other, as it encompasses various symbols of the British seaside. Continuity through change. To complete the installation, Stephen has thoughtfully left sticks of seaside rock for visitors. Thankfully no cockles though.

Stephen Dean’s seascape collage.

Exhibition runs from 13th July – 5th August 2012. Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:30-3:30.

Suzanne Delaney:!/pages/Suzanne-Delaney-Photography/216870898340574

Michelle Williams:

Stephen Dean:

From The Back Of The Sofa

During my weekly office tidy-up – okay, annual office tidy-up – I came across some old 120 negatives that I shot with my Holga many months ago, negatives that I haven’t even really looked at since having them developed. A bit dusty perhaps, a bit random certainly. But worth scanning, I thought.

So I asked my assistant Simon to scan them while I was teaching at the Botanical Gardens. Some of them were so underexposed (as I thought they would be) that neither the scanner nor Simon could tell where one frame ended and the next one began.

Nevertheless, there were a few “interesting” images among them. I did a very small amount of retouching on them (levels and cropping, mainly) and present them here for your amusement…

Even a Holga can’t hide the radiance of Emilie Walt

Birmingham Botanical gardens


My favourite. A purposely (honestly) under-exposed shot of my (blind) dad in happier, healthier days.

Katie-May looking decidedly retro.

As you can see, I didn’t even remove the dust. I’m a total maverick, I really am.