Cops And Cars

Since my last post I’ve moved house (I’m now living in beautiful Bridgnorth, Shropshire again) but still very much based at my Strangetown Studio in Birmingham. So it’s been a very busy couple of months in many ways but I’m delighted by the way 2019 has gone so far.

It does mean, however, that I’ve badly neglected this website so it’s about time I got on with sharing some recent work with you. Much of my work can’t be published (at least not yet) due it’s sensitive commercial nature but here is a development that many (including myself) wouldn’t have imagined just a few months ago…

I organised a workshop. My first for over a year, and this time it was really for my own amusement and creative stimulation. I began by inviting only former FOTO-CLUB members but then opened this up to a couple of other great supporters of my previous workshops.

The concept for this shoot was inspired by spotting that my friend Nick had bought a beautiful 1966 Dodge Charger. Nick had previously supplied an original 60s Vespa GS scooter for a shoot quite a few years ago and so I had the idea of creating a shoot based around his new car and that kind of car’s role in certain American 60s movies such as “Bullitt” (starring Steve McQueen). Nick kindly agreed to take part and mentioned that his friend Simon might also be interested in bringing along his 1967 Pontiac Catalina Coupe.

Next came the models and I was keen to echo the Steve McQueen and Jacqueline Bisset roles to some extent. For the female role I approached the stunning Lottie Locke who I knew, as a skilled make-up artist, would be able to reproduce an authentic late 1960s look.  As she’d just started a new job, there was some doubt if she’d be available but I waited for her to try to get time off and was prepared to postpone the shoot if necessary because I was convinced she was the perfect model for the role. Once I knew Lottie was available and happened to have a fantastic wardrobe of suitable clothes, I approached boxer Ryan “Tank” Aston to play the role of the male cop. Ryan is a very good and cool-looking model with a genuine “tough guy” look. I bought a black polo-neck jumper from the Custard Factory vintage clothing market for him but discovered on the day that he had one of his own that was perfect.

The location was the backstreets of Digbeth in Birmingham and I chose an early start time on a Sunday morning to minimise traffic and intrusive pedestrians. Finally, Nick and Simon arrived looking like they’d just stepped out of one of the films that had inspired the shoot – and so were persuaded to play support roles in the shoot and were fantastic.

So this has been a very small selection of images from the shoot. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the morning and we all came away with shots we were happy with.

Many thanks to Lottie, Ryan, Nick and Simon (and to Keith for supplying the prop “weaponry”).

The team: Simon, Lottie, Ryan and Nick.

Henrietta Street Gym: Promotional Shoot

I’m doubly lucky in that I have not only been involved with photographing Henrietta Street Gym since it opened (and it’s predecessor, Fighting Fit City Gym before that) but I also happen to thoroughly enjoy every visit.

HSG is definitely the premier “heritage” boxing gym in the Midlands -and probably the UK, based as it is in a wonderfully stylish converted former industrial building near Birmingham’s St. Paul’s Square. It is often used by TV production companies (The Gadget Show were there recently) because of it’s photogenic qualities – and I get to shoot there regularly! Periodically, I go in to provide lots of images of a typical day at the gym for their various social media outlets (details below) and here are a few images from a recent visit in April. Hopefully, they capture something of the atmosphere that Neil Perkins and his team have created in this amazing venue.

Links…

Henrietta Street Gym Facebook

Henrietta Street Twitter

HSG Website

 

“Dawn Of A Pugilist” White Collar Boxing Show (Henrietta Street Gym)

I’ve photographed all (I think) of Henrietta Street Gym‘s (and Fighting Fit City Gym before that) white collar boxing shows, the most recent being the “Dawn of a Pugilist” show at Pryzm nightclub on Broad Street, Birmingham a few weeks ago.

These are always excellent shows with well-matched bouts, great crowd, and the safety of the competitors given maximum priority. For the client, I supply the images in vibrant full colour – and the excellent lighting means bright blues and reds of the opposing teams. However, for once I thought I’d do a few black and white edits for my own amusement…

Priory Park ABC at Baggeridge.

Sam Gwilt displaces his opponent’s gum-shield.

From a photographer’s point of view, the lighting in boxing venues is seldom ideal. and Baggeridge Sports & Social Club is less ideal than most with the only lighting available coming from the room’s fluorescent ceiling lights. In fact, when editing images from the many boxing shows I’ve photographed there, I’ve noticed that usually the audience are better lit than the fighters in the ring!  However, what it lacks in suitability for sports photography, it makes up for in atmosphere as Priory Park ABC‘s boxing shows here are ALWAYS full to capacity.

This month’s “open” show was no exception and showcased the club’s new talent as well as some of the more experienced boxers. Wherever Priory Park’s shows are, the standard of boxing is exceptional and Paul Gough has assembled a great team of trainers, referees, MC’s, etc that I feel I am now a part of.

A Priory Park boxer is lifted off his feet.

This shot shows how the audience are actually better lit than the boxers.

Poetry And Motion

I first spoke to Matt Windle, the Boxer-Poet on (fellow poet) Emma Purshouse‘s recommendation when I was hoping he’d come to provide a poem for the launch of my “Pride of the Black Country” exhibition a few years ago. That never came to pass but our paths have crossed many times since, both in his capacity as poet (he’s currently Birmingham’s Poet Laureate) and as boxer (I’ve supplied many of his promotional images as well as documenting his professional fights).

I was very flattered when Matt chose to include me in “Poetry with Punch“, a brilliant initiative that involves providing creative workshops in schools including a combination of poetry, music, boxing/boxercise, dance, and photography. It mightn’t come as a surprise to you that I supplied the photography bit.

We’ve done a few of these so far and the kids who’ve taken part have clearly loved it. Matt’s team of poets, musicians, and choreographers do a wonderful job of engaging the kids and stimulating their interest in so many areas in such a short space of time. I was fortunate to have watched (and photographed) as the other specialists led their various sections of the course.

Henrietta Street: Fixtures & Fittings

One look at me is enough to realise that I’m not a person who voluntarily spends much time in the gym. However, when a regular client (Fighting Fit City Gym) re-brands as Henrietta Street Gym and moves to a specially-designed new premises and needs photos, I’m there.

Owner Neil Perkins had been keeping me up to date with the re-fit of this former industrial building in Brum’s Jewellery Quarter but I was still hugely impressed when I finally set foot in the gym a week or so after it’s launch. Neil and his architects have cut no corners and have managed to retain the building’s “heritage” feel while making it an inspiring and comfortably modern place to train.

Retaining and re-using some of the building’s character features (like old machinery, exposed brickwork and parts from the goods lift) and augmenting those with well-sourced suitably period furniture (like old theatre/cinema seating and historic pugilist artwork)  gives the gym the feeling of a film set.

Even the changing rooms and showers have been carefully planned and laid out with exposed pipework, reclaimed ceramic sinks but state-of-the-art shower fittings.

Even I, whose motto is “no pain…” (that’s it, just “no pain”) can feel a little inspired in a gym like this. Neil and his team have created what must be the most stylish boxing gym in the Midlands (at least!).