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.

Rapid Descent

Every time I’m doing a Photoshop demo for my students, I like to dig out an image I haven’t used before if possible, just to keep it a bit “fresh” for me as much as anything. This week, I trawled one old hard drive and found a very static image of the lovely Bethanie Stokes which I’d taken during a workshop in Digbeth, Birmingham, a couple of years ago.

I used this image to briefly demonstrate the “quick selection” tool and a couple of the motion filters, settling on the “motion blur” filter to give an impression that Beth was rushing down the steps, sliding the hands down the handrails as I used to do as a  kid. All done in about four minutes so not the finest piece of editing I’ve ever done but for once, I decided to save the image at the end of the session rather than delete it. I kinda like it.

A Swift Harp

I’ve photographed the multi-talented Fran “Poppy Harp” Barsby quite a few times over the last couple of years and last week I had the opportunity to see the performing “harpist” and “event organiser” aspect of her very diverse range of talents.

Fran had organised a harp music event in Digbeth, Birmingham entitled Hidden Gem by The Future Blend Project and I (along with a couple of intrepid members of FOTO-CLUB) went along to record the event photographically.

The guys who arrived early were able to get some great shots of the setting up of the event as well as non-performers trying out some of the fantastic range of harps that were being prepared for the show.

However,  I arrived rather later (don’t ask) but was in plenty of time for the start of the show. What I hadn’t reckoned on, however, was that the concert was being recorded too which meant that our noisy DSLR shutters were messing up the sound recordings even from some distance away. This meant that I didn’t get as many shots of the performance as I would have liked but it was a very enjoyable evening and we were treated to some simply beautiful new compositions and performances. Here are a few shots from the event…

The lady herself - Fran Barsby

The lady herself – Fran Barsby

Stretching In The City

A while back I photographed harpist/author/teacher/designer Fran Barsby for her ever-growing Poppy Harp brand. A couple of other shoots later and I’m out on the windy chilly streets of Digbeth, Birmingham, an area renowned for it’s amazing graffiti, to take some illustration images for Fran’s new book on stretching and warm-up routines for musicians. The location was Fran’s choice, wanting some urban grit and graffiti as an interesting counterpoint to her various stretching positions. Ably assisted by partner Elliott, they stretched while I shot (& shivered – it was freezing!). Here are a few images from the shoot…

Phew! I was exhausted just watching. But here’s Elliott’s shot of me barely breaking sweat…

To find out more about Fran and Poppy Harp, click here to be directed to her website.

Physical Novel

You’re very honoured. You know that, don’t you? I’m about to share a few straight-out-of-camera and behind-the-scenes images with you. There, don’t say i don’t spoil you.

One of my regular and, I have to say, more fun clients is designer Ricky Simpson and his Birmingham-based unisex fashion company Physical Novel. Ricky has a particular look in mind from the shoots – studio shots are on white backgrounds as you would expect for an online business (although Physical Novel also have a boutique at Birmingham’s Custard Factory) and have to be the same angled views plus a few more creative poses. Here’s a clip from their webpage with images by me…

And more…

This is from their "lookbooks" section. Pictures by me.

This is from their “lookbooks” section. Pictures by me.

And a behind-the-scenes shot of Ricky straightening (a lot of this happens)….

Ricky "straightening".

Ricky “straightening”.

A couple of shots lifted straight from Physical Novel's "Lookbooks"

A couple of shots lifted straight from Physical Novel’s “Lookbooks”

And a couple of images straight from the camera, taken at Key Hill cemetery, with two of the models trying not to look terrified (quite an achievement)…


And speaking of models, Ricky has an uncanny knack of finding and selecting great models for his designs. I’ve taken the liberty of stealing a few for Fotofilia events.

Find out more about Physical Novel at and on Instagram as @physicalnovel