The Barents Sea

As a child looking through copies of the National Geographic I was always drawn to stories about the Arctic with its remoteness, challenging weather and rapid seasonal change and sunlight. One of the areas that looked particularly distant from my teenage years in Stevenage was the Barents Sea, with its currents allowing prosperous trading routes between Tsarist Russia and western sovereignties and then providing a perfect propaganda tool and strategic military playground during the Cold War.

As a photographer, I’ve been lucky to visit the Arctic, both in Canada and Europe, yet the Barents Sea has eluded me - until this year. One of the lovely outcomes from the publication of my Generation Geilo: Portrait of a Community was a request to join a 9 week assignment to produce a multi media package for Visit Varanger to promote the Varanger Peninsula’s rugged beauty. Split into 3 parts, the project is capturing the feel & look of summer, autumn and the long winter to best reflect the transitions in light, abundant flora & fauna and, of course, the epic coastline.

My role is to create a portrait series highlighting noteworthy people that are passionate about what Varanger offers. Although born and raised in the region, many of the people have sort further education and young careers away from the north and have then returned to forge new business ventures, from king grab fishing and husky tours to running guest houses and providing bespoke bird watching experiences. Joining Sven-Erik Knoff and Jørgen Hjelmsøy producing video & aerial imagery, I’m also capturing landscapes, details and of the beguiling, yet calm and peaceful vibe of Varanger.

Varanger is located in East Finnmark, an expansive area of wild terrain running along the Russian border from Grense Jakobselv in the north east down to Pasvikdalen on the tri-border of Norway, Finland & Russia, up to the mainland via Tana and Varangerbotn, branching out to Vardø and Hammingberg at 30º East to Kongsfjord and Berlevåg sitting comfortably above 70ºN.

Local, cross border relations with Russia are very positive, with communities straddling the border proud of their trading heritage and mutually beneficial migration, resulting in the Norwegian town of Kirkenes boasting a permanent native speaking Russian population of over 10%, with official dual language signs everywhere.

I type this post towards the end of stage 2, with the rapid autumnal shift in the Arctic over within just 2 weeks! The project is generating quite a lot of interest as this distant region of Norway normally plays second fiddle to the Instagram friendly topography of Troms, Nordland and the Lofoten archipelago in the west (see another essay I made called 68º 69º Parallel North). This interest has caught the attention of national TV broadcaster TV2 with the project being featured live on their popular show ‘God morgen Norge’ today. You can watch and catch up here.

My aim in making the photographs in Varanger is to convey the sense of peace and calmness emitted across the land and seascapes and running through the small communities dotted across the region. Completing the assignment in March 2019, here are a few teasers from summer and autumn shoots. Click any to view large. Enjoy 😎

Charlotte Prodger nominated for Turner Prize 2018

Congratulations to Charlotte Prodger, who's just been nominated for this year's prestigious Turner Prize.

I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing her in Glasgow last autumn for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, as she was a recipient of their equally valued award - Awards for Artists. Charlotte has a beguiling presence and was a joy to work with.

Our afternoon together was fun, yet augmented with mysterious explosive sounds and strange wedding venues, which made for much bewilderment and amusement. You can discover Charlotte in my Creative Forces gallery.

Torridon Three Ways

During a recent road trip through North West Scotland a night's camping and rest in Torridon was had before heading into the mountains around Beinn Eighe and on to Gairloch. 

Rising early under the dazzlingly sandstone giant Liathach, the light was just magical as it rose over the jagged local highland horizons. As the light intensified, it reflected some incredible coloured rays of the brown, deforested Glen Torridon ground. The next 3 photographs were taken in succession over a brief 15 minute period. Scotland, you were kind to me 📷 Click any frame to enlarge.

Location A Torridon's bus stop - surely Scotland's most awesome bus stop? #busstopgoals

Location B Texture alert!

Location C Stuc a Choire Dhuibh Bhig's shining in its commanding and timeless authority

Crinkle Crags Cloudy Hues

Gladstone Knott shot from The Band 

Rocking up in the UK's Lake District National Park during late March and early April one has to expect rain and lots of it. I recently dropped into The Lakes for a couple of days' hiking on my way to the North West of Scotland. As ever, one thing the Lake District guarantees is a dynamic range of greens, reds and blues all reflecting off every variation of precipitation and sun breaking through the clouds and boy, it delivered a moody landscape during my brief visit.

After a night of torrential rain, I unzipped the tent on the second day and was delighted to discover a lovely sprinkling of snow across the higher ground. With near clear skies, I woofed down breakfast and hit The Band as soon as I could. Rising fast out of Great Langdale, The Band offers supreme views of Great Knott and Gladstone Knott and with minimal sun burning off the morning mist, I spent the next 12 hours mooching around Bow Fell, Crinkle Crags, Great Knott and Cold Pike - stopping occasionally to snap some of the amazing hues created by the passing sun, ascending cloud and light snow fall. Photographs show in the post were shot on a mix of Fuji X100T and Phase One XF 📷 Click any frame to enlarge.

Crossing some ground around Three Tarns

Looking down Mickle Door 

All hail the #Kellycaster

In recent months you may have noticed one of the most extraordinary instruments ever developed, the Kellycaster, gaining serious traction across social media. 

Played brilliantly by disabled musician, actor and active campaigner for disability rights John Kelly (aka Rockinpaddy) the #Kellycaster took 2 years to develop by a dedicated team of coders and ethical hackers who responded to John's visionary design for a bespoke instrument that circumnavigated the access barriers he had faced as an aspiring guitarist.

Born out of Drake Music's 'skunks works' DM Lab and led by the music technologist & sound artist Gawain Hewitt, the team went through many prototypes until a sweet balance of sound, playability and reliability was achieved. Full details of its technological merits and analysis of the guitar's software and bespoke hardware can be found in an in-depth article written by Ashley Elsdon on the influential cdm creative technology platform.  

Designed and constructed from the ground up, the Kellycaster is now being played by John in numerous live music environments and whilst tweaks and smaller improvements are being tasked, the initial development period has paid off handsomely. 

On a personal note, I was privileged to be document the very first prototype back in June 2015 at the Web Want Want showcase at the Southbank Centre in London (you can read my Journal entry from that experience called Algorithmic Complexities Meet Creative Arts) so it was a pleasure to follow the design's progress and then be commissioned to stage a formal portrait of John and the core team comprising of John, Gawain and Charles Matthews

The portrait was shot on location inside the main performance space of London's Graeae, a radical theatre that challenges the preconceptions of disability by boldly placing D/deaf and disabled actors centre stage.

All hail the Kellycaster!

(L to R) Charles Matthews, John Kelly and Gawain Hewitt inside Graeae, London. 

Solar Lunar

After showboating a Big Ass Selfie, I thought I'd share a few more photographs from my 10th Ice Music Festival in Norway. Instead of focusing on the extraordinary ice instruments and live performance (of which you can see many of my photographs in this gallery) I have decided to shine the light on some gorgeous hues, tones and textures that were created during the construction of the festival venue. 

Headed up by Professor Peter Bergerud, a team of 14 students from the Faulty, Art & Design at the University of Bergen employed an ingenious construction method to create the Ice Music Festival venue in Finse. They inflated very large balloons (precisley pre-cut and taped together and tested in a warehouse in Bergen) at the chosen venue location, after which they dropped a fine mesh over the balloons. Once in place and tethered, water is sprayed onto the mesh repeatedly until the frozen layers build into a very strong structure - safe enough to house an audience of up to 100 people, audio & lighting equipment and, of course the musicians. Once the freezing process is complete, the balloons are deflated and removed, resulting in the most intricate and organic ice structures, walls and rooms. 

Coupled with the amazingly soft, near shadow free, low lying winter light cast over Finsevatnet, I found capturing the merging of snow, persons and materials subtly surreal, with a resulting painterly effect. Click any image to view large.

As night crept in, guided by a particularly bright moon, I observed the the opposite visual effect - hard light, with deep lunar shadows. Throw in some 3" to 30" exposures and the venue transformed, chameleon-like, into a other worldly zone on the frozen shore of Finsevatnet.

Big Ass Selfie

The -27ºC wind free hues of freezing sunset light and heavenly colour made me create a big ass selfie to celebrate my 10th year as part of wondrous Ice Music Festival family. You can learn more about the subzero sonic vibes over at where you can also see my pictures and news posts, as I author the site too. Enjoy.

The -27ºC hues of light and colour were heavenly, so I couldn't help making a big ass selfie. 

Esquire Magazine Russia

With Alexa moving into our work places, regulation in spasm with the rapid advance of autonomous vehicles and machine learning shifting through debt laden post graduates' CVs - where can we hide? 

I made a trip into an 10,000 square mile area offering respite from this watershed of connectivity and made a photo story and BBC Radio 4 series called Welcome to the Quiet Zone and I'm really pleased that photo editor Tatiana Meidman made contact and published a selection of the work to feature in Esquire Russia's Photo Journal.

If you would like to see more images and listen to the BBC Radio 4 five part series, then head over to Welcome to the Quiet Zone. Enjoy. 

Colourful Perspectives

This month I finished photographing 100 days of the EFG London Jazz Festival. Yes, 10 years x 10 days per year capturing the festival across all London boroughs in all types of venue. I've had extraordinary *access all areas* and privilege to witness some extraordinary musicians rising from the burgeoning UK scene and flying in from around the world to perform - often riding the peak of their power.

Each year, a week or so after the close of festival, I grab a chance to reflect on my personal highlights and post my two pennies worth into the webby blogosphere - sharing both musical recommendations and some colorful perspectives I eked out. Here's a snippet from the 40+ events I covered in 2017 - the festival's 25th year.

Jaga Jazzist promised a stunning light show to close the festival in the Royal Festival Hall and Ninja Tune's Norwegian sound merchants didn't disappoint, akin to Blade Runner 2049 marrying Sony's Bravia TV adverts circa 2006. Their lighting designer Kyrre Heldal Karlsen achieved dizzy heights with some LEDs and a set of strobes. 

The Clore Ballroom sits directly under the large Royal Festival Hall stage and offers a great space for music lovers with many free gigs throughout the two festive weekends. However 4 huge support pillars create mayham for photographers by heavily restricting the angles one can shot from without disturbing the crowd's view.

So this year I embraced the pillars' collective mass and played with composition to see if any of the acts during BBC Radio 3 Jazz Line Up broadcast would create a few nice frames. Luckily my plan worked with James Francies the keyboardist wizard from NYC, peeking through 2 of the giants. James was playing with Chris Potter's Quartet (with Eric Harland on drums - the audience were blown away and it was for free!).

The next pillar beating moment came when guitarist Rob Luft played his latest release 'Riser' during Jazz Line Up - a near triptych in one frame, with Joe Webb anchoring the left of the photograph. Riser can be found over at Edition Records, a mighty label who are amassing one hell of a sonic library of artists...

Moving into the festival's numerous club spaces, KNOWER pretty well demolished Scala. Yep, a sweatbox lit by mobile phones and drenched in pinks and yellows I reckon they smuggled in from Los Angeles where the band's architects Louis Cole & Genevieve Artadi are based. Fierce sound lapped up by fiercely loyal fans. They're back touring the UK in March 2018.

Robert Glasper first performed in the festival back in the mid noughties and he's been a regular ever since - showcasing new projects and an ever increasing entourage of who's who on the US scene. He did two shows this month - the first in the Barbican with special guests on vocals including Brendan ReillyVula Malinga and Bilal (Bilal will feature a little further along this article). 

The last guest was Laura Mvula who duetted at the keys with Glasper. She sung a stripped back, 10+ minute long version of her song Bread and drew pretty well everyone in the hall into a trance. Incredible. Barbican Hall is big with a stage that often loses the acts visually, so my eye is always scanning for a decent composition to frame the artists and then, with fingers crossed, hope they offer moments of magic to create a memorable vignette. BAM, just before they started the first tune, they mirrored each other for a split second...perfect. 

If you point a lens at stage lights at particular angle at a low aperture, strange but lovely flares and distortions occur. Without wishing to reinvent a gig space, deploying such aberrations occasionally (just occasionally) can reap rewards and turn a regular artist / audience shoot into something a little more noteworthy.

I've had the pleasure of photographing (and of course listening) to Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah  (Christian Scott) many times over the years and his choice of signature horns and general 'get-up' is a joy to photograph - the man knows how to present to the cameras. This particular gig was in the Electric Ballroom on Camden High Street.

Have you heard Bilal live? If not, you should with a reasonable degree of urgency. His recorded work is good and well received but it is the live environment where his near spiritual magic is sown. Accompanying Glasper at the Barbican and then a 'pop up ' late night gig at the Rich Mix in Shoreditch, Bilal soared.

The next 2 shots are balcony views of the Royal Festival Hall.

First up is Marcus Miller, who supplied exactly what his fans wanted - some serious bass technique (coupled with the longest version of Papa Was a Rollin' Stone I've ever heard). Marcus wears essentially the same look and employs the same central equipment set-up, so finding a fresh perspective is tricky. I lurked for a while and noticed one particular spot light making the brightest reflection off his guitar. I moved higher and higher to max out the angle of max brightness - I was duly rewarded.

The second is Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya receiving a standing ovation for a truly sublime, interval free 90 minutes. Probably one of the quietest gigs I've heard, Abdullah's playing was so intricate and deployed such a huge dynamic range, one forgot his 83 years! His life history is immense and well documented and it seems to seep into every note of his playing.

Back to the free gigs - so often the most surprising of the festival. The Next Generation Takeover has proved very popular in recent years, with a whole afternoon dedicated up & coming bands and musicians studying at various music schools across the UK. One young 3 piece called 'Morpher' from Leeds unleashed some heavily disjointed grooves to a surprised / shocked audience. They sounded great and with a phone signal suddenly interfering with the bassist Frazer's pedalboard mid-set, they took the problem in their stride and improvised with it...and I swear the crowd thought the sound was part of they set!

There was a strong Nordic vibe throughout the closing day of the festival, with artists from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland represented. One of the highlights was a superb set from the Verneri Pohjola Group from Finland (Edition Records strike again). Their drummer Mika Kallio had a particularly fierce look going on, both in attire and drum kit and I couldn't help grab a few frames. Verneri Pohjola himself anchored the whole set with his near-trademark red beanie and some serious trumpet.

I shall now take you full circle and highlight an artist that was part of a double bill with Jaga Jazzist - one of Norway's finest story tellers, Sinikka Langeland. She's currently touring with her latest ECM release, The Magical Forest - a darkly observed folk classic in the making. Sinikka's words cut through the eerie atmosphere of the Royal Albert Hall like a knife. Her mastery kantele playing matched by giants of the Scandinavian scene and ECM label mates - Arve HenriksenTrygve Seim and Trio Mediæval.

I hope you've enjoyed some of my observations and discovered some new sounds. If you would like to see more of my 10 year EFG London Festival image library, head over to my gallery here. Enjoy.

Awards for Artists 2017

I'm excited to share a new portrait commission featuring the 10 recipients of 2017's prestigious Awards for Artists by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation - awarded to a lovely mix of 5 visual artists and 5 composers, whose names were announced at a reception in November 9th 2017, presented by Jarvis Cocker.

Shot in locations across the length and breadth of the UK earlier this autumn, I met and photographed each recipient in their creative spaces and favourite places. My time spent with each person was fruitful, resulting in a number of successful set-ups and ideas. However for this Journal entry, I've selected just one frame from each session (frankly impossible but worth a go). I'll share more in time. Enjoy..

I want to extend my warmest gratitude to all the artists and composers for their time - your collective work is utterly inspiring! Congratulations Linder Sterling, Serafina Steer, Peter Kennard, John Burton, Mary Hampton, Steven Claydon, Rehana Zaman, Charlotte Prodger, Laurence Crane and Byron Wallen. It was a pleasure meeting and photographing you all :-) 

Updated 5th December - you can now view many more portraits from this series in my gallery 'Creative Forces'.

For more details about Awards for Artists please head over to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation's mini site 

Visual Artist Linda Sterling

Visual Artist Peter Kennard

Composer John Burton aka Leaf Cutter John

Composer Mary Hampton

Visual Artist Steven Claydon

Visual Artist Rehana Zaman

Visual Artist Charlotte Prodger

Composer Byron Wallen

Awards for Artists Recipients 2017

10 Years Photographing the EFG London Jazz Festival

On Friday 10th November 2017 I will commence photographing my 10th annual EFG London Jazz Festival and by the festival's close on Sunday 19th, I will have shot over 100 days of extraordinary music over the course of a decade. And 'wow' it has been a thrill to capture of some of finest live jazz *scrubb that* some of the finest live music anywhere in the world.

The festival is also celebrating a special anniversary too, as it is 25 years since its humble beginning in North London and transformation into the capital's largest music festival, trail blazing pretty well all of London's key arts spaces and venues. 

My aim as EFG London Jazz Festival’s official photographer is to try and distill the vibe and very essence of the festival into mini vignettes that convey a sense of the performance spaces and artist intensity. For me, its not just capturing the artist on stage but to also envelop that artist in their live environment and audience engagement - whether performed in a sell out 2000+ people show or hunkered down in an intimate experimental zone with 100 dedicated listeners. 

Embracing the richness of colour, variety of stage backdrops and instrument types has allowed me to capture countless artistic high points in large scale productions at the Barbican and the Royal Festival Hall through to late night jams at Ronnie Scott's and masterclass workshops across the city. I've also had the pleasure of meeting some of the true titans of jazz from Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman and Wayne Shorter to many of the new masters of the modern era including the likes of Shabaka Hutchings and Robert Glasper.

I have logged a number of Journal posts over the years detailing different aspects of the festival and my approach to photographing it. If you would like to read them, check out these 8 entires to start *Kaleidoscope of Jazz* + *Think 'Jazz' >> Think Again...* + *Spooky Happening at the EFG London Jazz Festival* + *EFG London Jazz Festival 2014* + *EFG London Jazz Festival 2013 In Colour!* + *Jazz Voice* & *#thisismyjazz* Enjoy!

Emile Holba

If you would like to view larger versions of the images grouped in this post, then head over to my dedicated EFG London Jazz Festival galley. 

I shall be darting all over 2017's festival, so if you see me - please come and say hello! Look for the hair (minus the horns!). 

FRB 121102

Rising 485 feet out of the deep linear valleys of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) facilitates over 6,500 hours of astronomical observations per year - contributing to our understanding of the cosmos on a mind boggling scale. The GBT's raw statistics detailing the structure's dimensions and ability to receive radio waves with unprecedented accuracy is also tricky to comprehend. For example - the 2.3 acres of the telescope's collecting area is perfectly smooth because 2000+ 'queen bed sized' panels adjust the surface to an accuracy of just 260 micros (5 human hairs). Pretty amazing for a structure weighing over 17 millions pounds! 

I became fascinated in the Green Bank Observatory when I visited the facility to make a joint BBC Radio 4 and photographic series called *Welcome to the Quiet Zone* to investigate the community that live and work in the now infamous National Radio Quiet Zone, created in 1958 to protect the Green Bank Observatory's naturally low electromagnetic environment.

Ever since my encounter with the GBT's metallic colossus, I've kept up to date with its activities and a recently published report about 'FRB 121102' caught my eye and prompted me to share a few more close up images of the telescope's more hidden mechanisms.

It is worth noting that I explored and photographed the structure on 3 occasions during the GBT's weekly servicing schedule. Access is extremely limited and very rarely granted outside of a small, dedicated team of service engineers and a small posse of scientists who apply to view their research structure up close and personal.

The GBT's 24/7 movements regularly make headlines for astronomical discoveries in the dedicated science community but seldom breaks out into the general media (who clearly struggle with the concept of whether science is sexy). However one particular set of observations has the story 'hook' that popular reporting requires and that hook is potential evidence of intelligent alien existence.

Breakthrough Listen is an initiative founded 2 years ago by cosmologist Stephen Hawking & internet investor Yuri Milner to find signs of intelligent life in the universe. One of the areas the initiative concentrates on is evidence of 'Fast Radio Bursts' from objects in deep space. FRBs are some of the universe’s strangest phenomena - creating brief, bright pulses of radio emission from distant galaxies and are attributed to everything from black holes to extraterrestrial intelligence. However FRBs have never emitted from their source origin more than once, until now. Utilising newly installed specialist receiving equipment on the GBT, a team of scientists have discovered a previously detected FRB repeating itself with 15 radio emission bursts from the same location.

*FRB 121102: Detection at 4 - 8 GHz band with Breakthrough Listen backend at Green Bank* is the official announcement on the Astronomer's Telegram on August 29th 2017. News outlets jumped on this journal headline with extra terrestrial reports filed in The Guardian, National Geographic, FOX News. The Times of India even profiled Dr. Vishal Gajjar, the UC Berkeley Postdoctoral Researcher (born in Gujarat, western India) who made the discovery after analysing over 400TB of data gathered over a 5 hour period in late August. 

Located in a dwarf galaxy 3 billion light years away, FRB 121102 was first detected with the Parkes Telescope in Australia on Nov 2nd 2012 (hence the name) and although many other FRBs have been observed by several radio telescopes around the world, none have repeated their emissions. The GBT's unique ability to detect such a broad and high frequency range means that the resolution accuracy allows for far more detailed research into FRBs' origins and with FRB 112102 repeating its emissions, some in society secretly hope that extra terrestrial life is indeed trying to communicate with us!

Who says science isn't sexy?

 Housed in a floating platform suspended from the 64-foot high feed arm on the GBT is this *cable maze* engulfing one of the telescope's 8 receivers covering a frequency range from 100 MHz to 100 GHz. To ensure that the electronics' signals don't interfere with the ultra sensitive radio waves been fed down the feeder horns, the receiver is cryogenically supercooled. The chirping sound of the cryogenic pump is constant and deafening. 

Housed in a floating platform suspended from the 64-foot high feed arm on the GBT is this *cable maze* engulfing one of the telescope's 8 receivers covering a frequency range from 100 MHz to 100 GHz. To ensure that the electronics' signals don't interfere with the ultra sensitive radio waves been fed down the feeder horns, the receiver is cryogenically supercooled. The chirping sound of the cryogenic pump is constant and deafening. 

When I was making Welcome to the Quiet Zone, the contentious issue of funding the Green Bank Observatory loomed large on the local community's mind, as federal financial support was rumoured to be withdrawn. In short, the observatory's future was at stake - along with many support jobs the community provides.

Although government funding has since been largely cut and associated NRAO administration dropped in late 2016, the observatory is now able to attract private funding and research opportunities, so the recent headline grabbing success of the Breakthrough Listen experiments, their new business model will hopefully secure long time security for the GBT and the observatory's other telescopes. I wish the Green Bank Observatroy a bright future!

2000+ panels (around the size of a queen sized bed) complete the GBT antenna's 2.3 acre area. Each panel has a series of actuators attached to move them individually - resulting in a surface accuracy of 260 microns! 

The most important key chain on the entire structure of the GBT. Every person ascending the structure from this point has to add their padlock to prevent the telescope being moved whilst a person is on it. Afterall, the GBT is the world's largest man made moveable object!

This image shows to tops of the receivers' feeder horns on top of the receiver room high above the GBT's dish. 'Other World' comes to mind. 

Armed with only my iPhone, I made a little panorama whilst standing in the centre of the receiving dish.

You can keep up to date with the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope's activities and observation schedules on Twitter @grnbnktelescope

'MyISMis' Campaign 2017

Pippa Reid-Foster

This summer I reunited with the ISM (Incorporated Society of Musicians) to make a fresh series of portraits to enhance their highly successful and award winning #MyISMis membership recruitment campaign - a campaign that I shot during 2015 / 2016 following a branding brief from the talented Cog Design agency in London.

Travelling by car, train and plane, I photographed and video interviewed another five ISM members drawn from a myriad of genres - embracing classical, jazz, rock fusion, world and folk. Pippa Reid-Foster, Kit Downes, Bushra El Turk, James Mainwaring and Georgia Hannant shared their professional experience, superb musicianship and offered time to support ISM's vision.

 Georgia Hannant

Georgia Hannant

To coincide with the new portrait series, Cog Design also updated the visual asthetic of the branding message - destined for magazine advertising, pop up banners, web usage, exhibition backdrops, leaflets and social media engagement. Below are a few examples of the fresh typography and layout.

For someone who loves music but has never played an instrument, I'm in awe working with musicians and composers of such high calibre. I know that photo sessions are certainly not their first creative priority and are often rather shy in front of the camera (especially outside of the big pop industry spotlight) so I am very grateful when their natural creative genes kick-in, adapt to my lighting and composition, and respond well to my direction :-)

 James Mainwaring

James Mainwaring

If you would like to read more about the original series I shot, including adapting an old church in Peckham into a mini recording studio and choosing a £12,000 microphone (as a prop) in Mark Knopfler's recording studio, then check out *Transient Asylum Studio* & *The £12,000 Microphone* in my Journal blog.

You can also view a full sized gallery of the ISM portraits here

Bushra El-Turk

Finally, thank you to Jean Wong over at Greenhouse Archives for the video editing.

Jazzwise Cover

I'm chuffed to have shot the front cover of September 2017's edition of Jazzwise, the UK's leading  jazz magazine.

Featuring the talented Arun Ghosh, he and I spent a brilliant afternoon a few weeks ago in South London capturing a series of portraits to celebrate the release of his new and ambitious album, that's dropping this autumn. Inside the magazine, you'll also see a couple more shots from our session, including a double page spread detailing a glimpse into Arun's creative space - come studio, come musical shrine, come life story archive.

Really looking forward to hearing the new music - *Transnational Overgorund* indeed!

UNESCO's Man Made Lake District

View of Langdale Boulders resting under the protective gaze of the Langdale Pikes stripped bare by sheep grazing.

I recently escaped to the Lake District National Park in Cumbria for a 4 day break. Just me, my trusty tent, associated cooking & hiking gear and, of course, a camera.

Since I was a teenager I've regularly enjoyed running away into the mountains, be it within the UK or further afield in the Alps, Rockies or some of the more remote outposts across Europe. Whether arid, temperate or snow filled, I love the beguiling weather that accompanies the exquisite light and solitude that flows over mountain topography. The Lake District offers these qualities in abundance but they are coupled with a serious 'gotcha'.

Although the aforementioned mountain regions offer starkly different flora & fauna, physical geology and developmental history, they do share one prevalent visual trope (the gotcha) that is often not spoken about in landscape photography; evidence of human activity. An abundant and deeply rooted human activity that is millennia-refined, found on each of the world's continents and largely grouped into 3 main categories: 1) relentless extraction of stone, minerals and ore 2) an ever growing demand for power, mostly generated via hydroelectric & wind infrastructure and 3) highly intensive systems employed by industrialised agriculture - designed primarily for grazing sheep and cows to facilitate meat, milk and clothing production.

Elterwater quarry tucked away, out of sight (and not advertised) in Chapel Stile.

This particular trip to the Lakes was my first since the English Lake District was awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO in July 2017.

Much praise was posted online and across traditional media oulets and it was certainly a huge commercial gain for the 25 organisations of the Lake District National Park Partnership that structured a bid championing the area's cultural heritage, a heritage mostly created during the Romanticism movement 170+ years ago and flourishes well in the 21st century. An earlier application by the LDNPP for *natural* world heritage status was dismissed by UNESCO on the grounds of excessive human activities, so it was decided to restructure the bid and repackage those perennial Lake District best sellers; Wordsworth, Potter, Wainwright et al., in order to succeed. 

As much as I adore the Lake District, I was personally troubled by the award as it reinforces a distorted, misconceived vision of natural beauty which ignores (and excuses) man made environmental damages. Luckily, writer George Monbiot provided a clear and authoritative voice against the UNESCO award, carefully detailed in his article The Lie of the Land (which was also published in The Guardian). I tweeted support for his article here.

Old managed estate woodland collapsing into the roadside boundary to the Blawith Fells.

One always takes a chance dodging wet weather in Lake District (the hamlet of Seathwaite is England's wettest inhabited place) and even during the 'drier' month of July, the risk of a good soaking remains resolutely high. So yep, you guessed it, the skies opened and rain poured down persistently, making my hikes across the higher fells rather tiresome. To have a fairer chance of making new photographs, I decided to drop down into the lower valleys for the last day, to see if a break in the weather would provide me with some UNESCO man made landscape vistas to photograph. Inspired by George Monbiot's article, I used the welcome rain-free time to piece together a scrapbook of images to build the foundation for a future personal project.

Staying within the south western corner of the Lakes, I drove around looking for signatures of man's imprint on the landscape. Within the "Beatrix Potter-themed sheep museum" (Monbiot's description of the Lake District's fresh UNESCO status) landscapes formed by extraction, agriculture and land management could be viewed from just about every bend in the road and turn on the forest trail. In fact, it is nearly impossible to find just 1 of the Lake District National Park's 583,747 acre area that hasn't been shaped by human needs!

I've featured 3 photographs from that scrapbook - detailing extraction, agriculture and land management. Although I feel they offer subjective beauty and intrigue, they are far from natural - with all having mankind's influence running throughout their content. 

Sonia Boyce RA Magazine

Really pleased that RA Magazine (Royal Academy of Arts) have chosen my portrait of the artist Sonia Boyce to accompany their 'As I See It' series of interviews with leading visual artists.

Interviewed by Anna Coatman, Sonia offers her thoughts and details a few experiences that shape her work. I particularly warm to Sonia's closing statement "Human beings are inventive. If we can go to Mars, we can send more kids to art school."

I have included a couple of other photographs from our brief time together, captured on location in one of her student break out rooms in the Chelsea School of Art to celebrate her receiving a PHF Award for Artists award.

Thank you Robert Heath at RA Magazine for reaching out. Enjoy.

You can also view some of Sonia's work at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017.

Emma Hart: Mamma Mia!

Acclaimed visual artist Emma Hart unveils her a new installation Mamma Mia! today at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. The commissioned work forms the sixth edition of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, which awarded Emma a 6 month Italian residency split across Milan, Todi and Faenza. 

I had the pleasure of photographing Emma as a recipient of the esteemed Awards for Artists given by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Whilst setting up lights and composing a suitable frame, Emma and I proceeded rapidly into a rather insightful philosophical conversation about the advent of 'digital', serving as a seismic disruptor of society's cognitive apparatus a generation ago. Our mutual Generation X age(s) allowed us the privilege of exchanging memories of a life experienced before our collective move online.

Emma's body of work disrupts the seamlessness of our image (digital) led culture and with inspiration born from autobiographical experiences, coupled with observing Milan Systems Approach - a therapy focusing on spaces rather than individuals, I'm looking forward to viewing how Emma has distilled real world anxieties and emotions into her refined ceramics. 

Mamma Mia! is open from 12 July – 3 September 2017 and is entry is free.  

 Emma Hart, I ,I, I (2017) Copyright Emma Hart.

Emma Hart, I ,I, I (2017) Copyright Emma Hart.

You can read more about another Awards for Artists recipient - the artist Rachel Reupke - in another Journal entry titled The Twin Presence of Rachel Reupke 

The World's No. 1 Doctor Who fan?

Although my best memories of Doctor Who are grounded in an era when Tom Baker rightfully commanded the UK's weekend teatime family viewing (broadcast in 4:3 aspect ratio of course) - it has been incredible to witness the reincarnation of Time Lord's adventures for a new generation, largely kick started by David Tennant back in the mid noughties. 

Now a truly worldwide phenomenon with countless fanzines, online debate and endless merchandise options to quench the thirst for DW fans, Doctor Who has embraced the social media age as successfully as Gallifrey's best known export regenerates (the series 10 finale of Doctor Who screens on BBC One at 18:30 today).

One of the most rewarding highlights of my work as a photographer is the amazing diversity of people that I meet, share experience and collaborate with. So it was with much joy that I stumbled upon a treasure throve of Doctor Who fandom - Paul's bedroom. 

Click Doctor Who to view large...

I met Paul whilst on assignment with Dimensions - who are one of the country’s largest not-for-profits supporting people with learning disabilities, autism, challenging behaviour, complex needs. My brief was to create multiple 'day-in-the-life' case studies to faithfully represent the complexities of their support work around England.

In one particular location (a residential home for 7 persons requiring nursing and personal care to accommodate for their various learning disabilities) I met Paul during breakfast and soon started a lovely rapport over a cup of strong tea. I then proceeded to document Paul and 5 of his fellow house friends for the rest of the day - photographing their engagement with a wide range of activities from church prayer & tenpin bowling to pet therapy. 

Towards the end of the day, during a staff shift change over, a manager asked whether I had seen Paul's bedroom? I hadn't and was immediately intrigued by the sparkle in her eye. Within moments, Paul proudly welcomed me into his bedroom - a richly detailed shrine to 12 Time Lords and their numerous assistants. In fact the sole object in his room and bathroom that wasn't Doctor Who themed was a fantastic red leather armchair. I learnt that Paul has viewed every episode made and, for most, can recite the script verbatim. Don't be deceived by the size of the Dalek in the portrait too - it is actually a full sized 3D replica model that levitates near his bed. Paul loves Doctor Who.

I asked whether he would allow me to capture his passion more formally and he agreed with enthusiasm. After directing him into his luxurious chair, he relaxed and proceeded to watch an episode of Doctor Who. Thank you Paul.

I know exactly what Paul will be watching at 18:30 this afternoon - a series finale where Peter Capaldi will end his tenure in charge of the TARDIS.


Earlier this year I had the pleasure of working with the esteemed Nuffield Trust, creating new staff portraits and photographing their annual Health Policy Summit.

The Nuffield Trust is an independent health charity founded in 1940. Set up to coordinate the activities of all hospitals operating outside London, the Nuffield Trust helped inspire the creation of the National Health Service, with one of its early surveys being utilised as a key reference document in the establishment of the NHS. The founding principles of providing evidence-based research and policy analysis remain core to the trust's values.

[In light of the seemingly constant electoral instability gripping the UK, I've chosen to offer a few personal views and thoughts to accompany examples of photography in this post]

The last few years have seen a well co-ordinated rise in paleoconservative populism on both sides of the Atlantic, with reasoned voices being increasingly drowned out by a largely unfounded soundbite designed solely to propagate click bait, reinforce echo chambers and foster a silo mentality void of meaningful fact checking. This new politick spilled over into mainstream consciousness with the advent of the EU referendum and, unsurprisingly, NHS funding became one of the key campaign battlegrounds for parties and ideologues of all political flavours. 

I was becoming increasingly disheartened with this new political landscape and trying to navigate daily news cycles and associated social media was leaving little room for optimism, so the timing of working with the Nuffield Trust was very welcome indeed, as it was refreshing to engage in conversation with a group of experts striving to improve the quality of health care in the UK. I'm interested in an expert's view point as experts hone their skills, understand variables, encourage nuanced conversation and help society in far reaching ways - often posing a qualified threat to the aforementioned populist agenda.

John Appleby: Director of Research and Chief Economist for the Nuffield Trust

After creating a fresh set of staff portraits (a small selection featured in this post) in the trust's Marylebone HQ, I headed into deep dark Surrey to photograph their annual Health Policy Summit in Wotton House. Staged over 2 days, the summit hosted 28 guest speakers and over 160 leaders of organisations and companies representing the majority of the health and social care system in the UK, with additional input from interests in the USA and mainland Europe.

Wow. Beginning with a powerful opening keynote from Professor Sir Harry Burns (Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde) titled 'Building a better public health landscape' and a hugely insightful discussion 'Should we spend more on health and social care?' led by John Appleby, Director of Research & Chief Economist, Nuffield Trust, the summit continued eagerly with well informed facts, opinion and debate.

The summit was well represented from all sides of the UK's political spectrum, yet was refreshingly free of rhetoric and bluster often witnessed on news comment and debate programmes on television and radio. Furthermore - despite detailing the serious concerns and complexities of funding (public vs private vs blended funding) health care in an ageing population, I discovered an underlying and resolutely positive drive amongst the delegates to construct truly viable fiscal and practical long term solutions for healthcare in the UK - solutions that will benefit all of our society's needs.

I left my time with the Nuffield Trust with a more optimistic mid-term political view and a trust that there are indeed many people in positions of influence working behind the scenes, not only imparting their expert knowledge but also marrying that knowledge with sound emotional intelligence too.

The recent snap election called on more experts than ever to try and decipher politicians' claims and it was super to see the Nuffield Trust's clear and balanced social media narrative ramped up to offer much needed clarity. Follow @NuffieldTrust and see what the team is saying about Brexit and the NHS 

I also encourage you to watch / listen to Sir Harry Burns's brilliant keynote speech - trust me, the 43 engrossing minutes will fly by. Scroll down to the end of this post for the video. 

The Nuffield Trust are in year 2 of a 5 year strategy. Please click the screengrab below for further reading. From their website: 

'There are limits to what policy-makers can do, as many of the solutions required to deliver the more extensive changes in service delivery need clinicians and managers to lead the way. Our strategy recognises this – we are more grounded in the practical implications of policy-making, working closely with clinicians and managers to help improve policy and practice. We focus our activities on five main areas in which we can most add value.'