Britpop United: Second Shoot

Here’s my second shoot with the excellent “Britpop United” in and around my very own Strangetown Studio. Their first shoot included a fifth member who later left the band and so new images were needed to reflect the new line-up. I have to say there seemed to be a better “vibe” about  the band this time around, with lots of banter and wind-ups.

I do enjoy band/musician shoots although it’s hard to avoid the cliches so it helps when the band already have a few ideas of their own and are aware of how their images are going to be used.  It also helps when the band come fully prepared with instruments and have discussed outfits in advance. Being a lovely bunch of guys is a bonus too.

I’m fortunate to have seen Britpop United (with this line-up) performing at a local scooter rally not long after they became a four-piece and thoroughly enjoyed their set.

You might be interested to have a look at Britpop United’s website, where you’ll find more photos plus videos and gig information.

Up Close And Personal: The Beat Goes Bang

Here’s a couple of images of The Beat (Goes Bang) that I shot during their rehearsal at Madhouse Studio in Birmingham. This was a bit of a deam shoot for me. Although I’d photographed a couple of the band members before, this was the first time I’d shot (for example) the Beat’s original and extremely photogenic drummer, the brilliant Everett Morton. This legend of the Two Tone era has the most distinctive drumming style and seeing him play close up reminds one just how much his style influenced the sound of the Beat on their recorded material.

Everett Morton of the Beat

Everett Morton of the Beat

More images of the rest of the band to follow. Eventually.

The Beat Goes Bang

Another “6 degrees of separation” chain of coincidences and connections. Sean Williams is an old friend of mine from the days when we played in a couple of bands together. He has modelled for a couple of workshops for me and also happens to be the cousin of Pete Williams of Dexys (who I’d met through the same bands) and so Pete kindly asked me to shoot some promo pictures for him a couple of years ago. Now Sean is playing with The Beat Goes Bang, a band consisting of members of original 2-Tone band, The Beat. Sean put my name forward to photograph this band too and so I was delighted to go along to their rehearsal in Birmingham last week to take some promo photos of them too.

I took along a couple of speedlites and took a lot more more images than I’d expected to, both inside and outside the studio. Here is one of the group shots from outside…

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

Sax In The City

I’ve been in a couple of bands with saxophonist Sean Williams (who is currently playing with Rudie & The Revolvers and ska legends The Beat) and so when I was thinking of musicians to pose for my group on the “Portfolio Booster” course, Sean immediately came to mind. The saxophone is, to my mind, a very photogenic instrument and Sean’s a photogenic guy so I was happy when he agreed. Here’s the first image from that shoot…


A Moving Photoshoot

When I was asked whether I would shoot some video for a singer/songwriter/guitarist I initially replied that I didn’t really have the kit. But then I realised that my humble Nikon D7100 had a supposedly pretty good video function that I’d never even used! As this was a “straightforward” add-on to a planned promo stills shoot, I decided to give it a go.

Behind-the-scenes phone shot of Andrew Morton's video shoot.

Behind-the-scenes phone shot of Andrew Morton’s video shoot.

I’ve photographed Andrew before when he was in a band but this was the first time I’d seen/heard his solo work. He gives Jacques Brel and Scott Walker amongst his influences and that was certainly apparent in his excellent original material.

I shot the video on my 50mm f1.4 lens at f2 using a single spotlight provided by the modelling light on one of my Bowens flash heads. The background was grey, lit to be almost (but not quite) black.

Andy sang live to a prepared backing track and this mixed audio was fed straight to my Nikon. This meant that Andy was creating the music as we filmed but this proved to be no problem at all with very little need for re-takes.

And the result? I was AMAZED at the quality of the video and sound. This has definitely given me the taste for further exploiting the video function on my D7100 and I’m now dreaming up some video projects (I did a fair bit of moving image as part of my MA Fine Art but the quality was never as good as those delivered by my Nikon).

I’ll share some edited video as soon as Andy publishes it.

My First “Published” Photograph..?

During a very rare office tidy-up this afternoon, I stumbled (almost literally) upon this…


It’s a Mod fanzine – or “Modzine” I suppose – from Summer 1984, when I was a fresh-faced 19 year-old hipster who took my beloved SLR along with me everywhere I went, including a gig upstairs at the less-than-salubrious Sandwell Hotel is West Bromwich.

The band was a local combo that I’d seen quite a few times and was on chatting terms with a couple of the members, including bass player Martin “Mart” Blunt (soon to the considerably more successful outfit, join The Charlatans).

I took lots of photos and gave the band copies (that was how we did things in pre-digital days, children). Someone (named as “N. Joel”) wrote this review and used my image. It’s a pretty dreadful picture, admittedly, and not even the best one from the gig (I remember there were others of Mart smashing up his bass, Townsend-style).

Kit? This was shot on a Praktica MTL-5 with the then “kit” lens – a 50mm f1.8 – on cheap colour film. And I also remember that the light meter didn’t work. And that it weighed a ton even with the 50mm lens fitted (I have long suspected that Prakticas were recycled Russian tanks). Anyway, it was the start of a lifetime of photography and now, almost 30 years on, I remember this gig like it was yesterday.


From The Archives: “Thought Parade”

In the process of clearing out some old CD’s I found lots of images that I’d forgotten I’d even taken. Usually, six months after taking an image, I’m already bored of it, or in some cases even embarrassed by it (anyone else feel this way?).

However, these images from 2006 of the Worcester-based band “Thought Parade” were a pleasant surprise. I’m actually still quite pleased with them, even though I seemed to have been deeply immersed in the wonders of Photoshop duo-tones at the time. In my defence, these images were intended for their website and CD covers and this was a look they wanted and, as I remember, were very pleased with (I even recieved a bottle of wine and a “thank you” card from the parents of Rich Blunt, the band’s mega-talented singer/guitarist/songwriter).

Thought Parade. Photographed in a small studio in Willenhall.

Thought Parade. Photographed in a small studio in Willenhall.

Thought Parade on the Wolverhampton canal-side.

Thought Parade on the Wolverhampton canal-side.

Thought Parade in Wolverhampton.

Thought Parade in Wolverhampton.

At this time, I was also doing some music promotion under the name “Reaction Music Promotions” and Thought Parade was one of the bands that emerged as being a major talent – a great live band as well as producing some excellent recording before Rich moved to Cardiff and formed another band.

I’ll be revisiting the archives again in future posts as I have literally THOUSANDS of negatives and transparencies from twenty-odd years of photography.

PS. I’ve just discovered Richard is now an AMAZING fine artist based in Cardiff –