May 2020

A Big Adventure With John Byrne

I have always loved the work of artist John Byrne. I had his painting on the sleeves of the Steelers Wheel ‘Ferguslie Park’ LP record at my mum and dads house in Johnstone. I was so delighted to be asked to cover the opening of John Patrick Byrne – A Big Adventure. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has put together a new exhibition charting his illustrious career. A Big Adventure is the first retrospective of the Paisley born artist, playwright, and theatre maker for more than 20 years. He was lovely to photograph, so gentle and unassuming. I have photographed him before at the Tramway many years ago. It was amazing to see the artworks at their full scale size. The one that did it for me was the big paining of Billy Connolly. I photographed Martin Craig, curator of Art post 1945 beside the huge almost life-size painting. Billy is pointing at his banjo but it looks as if he is pointing to Martin.

A Dinosaur in the Gym Hall

Cycling For Mary’s Meals

I met an amazing lady up at the University of Stirling. Great grandmother Ellison Hudson, from Bridge of Allan, was celebrating her 84th birthday by cycling 84 miles around the University’s  racetrack. She was helping to raise money to help feed some of the world’s poorest children with Mary’s Meals. She has been a fundraiser for the charity for many years. She gave me shot of her tricycle. It’s an electric one and  takes a bit of skill to use it. It nearly took off with me, until I got the hang of controlling it.

Something To Get My Teeth Into

Being a bit of a scaredy cat and not liking horror films, I wondered about my latest assignment at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow. A descendent of Dracula author Bram Stoker was visiting the Theatre Royal, Glasgow while in Scotland marking the 125th anniversary of the popular gothic novel. Dacre Stoker, the great grandnephew of the famous writer, called at The Grand Old Lady of Hope Street too see where his great uncle worked with Henry Irvine and The Lyceum Company in Faust which was the theatre’s opening performance.  He was in Scotland to mark the 125th anniversary of Dracula and he will be checking into landmarks, which were thought to the be inspiration for the tale with the partnership of Visit Scotland. He was so friendly and chatty. A delight too photograph and not scary at all.

April 2022

On a Bus with The Four Seasons

Some days you gets photo calls where all your favourite things all happen at the one time. I am a fan of a bus tour, I like the theatre and I like a visit to the Baby Grand. I had the good fortune to be asked to cover the photo call for the production of the Oliver Award-winning Jersey Boys production as it returned  to The King’s Theatre in Glasgow for a three-week run.  The musical tells the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons as they rose to fame from the streets New Jersey. I thought I would enjoy the show but did not realise how good it would be. It was really brilliant. I was never a Frankie Valli fan and didn’t know much about them. Being more into heavy rock, etc I didn’t think this music was on my radar. So no one was more surprised than me that I knew almost every song.

Who Doesn’t Love a Kilt

I spent a lovely day at the Moss O’Balloch Park covering the finish of the Kiltwalk 2022 with the Kiltwalkers from the National Autistic Society. What a great bunch they were, so enthusiastic and I was fortunate to be close by when some of them met up with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon when she came in through the finish line. She was so nice with the walkers. The good thing was no-one was out of breath, however I was puffing and panting running up and down the finish line. It was so warm and the sun shone practically all day.

Reading Is Caring

I was asked to shoot some photographs for the Scottish Book Trust for their new programme Reading is Caring. It is such a good idea. More and more people are living with dementia in Scotland. The Reading is Caring program will help both people living with dementia and those who care for them to use reading and sensory experiences to create special moments and spark memories. I photographed two groups of people who were reading together and it was great to watch the interaction between them. As a photographer the picture is often made watching the interactions of people together.

Hamilton School for the Deaf Write JoJo Gnome Character

I was invited along to the Hamilton School for the Deaf to help my better half and writer of the JoJo Gnome Books, Jo Hall, who was working with the pupils to produce a new character for her much loved Jojo Gnome Story Podcast. Jo had worked with the pupils to come up with the character Ella the Elf who is deaf and has cochlear implants to help her hear and enjoy music. It was amazing how all the kids and teachers all communicated with sign language. It was me that was the odd one out and how they had to keep me up to speed with what was going on.  The youngsters as well as coming up with the ideas for Jo’s story also made a film about how they made the character. The JoJo Gnome project was funded by Creative Scotland and is available online. The Hamilton Advertiser gave is a great show in the paper and online.

Check out the pupil’s film here too.

March 2022

Bright Sparks

I met some total bright sparks this month. The youngsters at the new IntoUniversity facility based at The Maryhill Hub in in the Wyndford, Glasgow. The new centre, along with IntoUniversity Govan, Glasgow and intoUniversity Craigmillar, Edinburgh are part of ground breaking collaboration between the University of Glasgow, the University of Edinburgh and education charity IntoUniversity to provide additional educational support to those aged 7-18. They all arrived straight after school and were so please to meet me and get their pictures taken. I believe that after the picture appeared in The Herald & Glasgow Times they have had so many more enquiries to join in.

Hope Floats with Skylark IX

I had my first visit in ages to the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine this month. I was down to see Skylark IX Recovery Project’s exhibition ‘Hope Floats’, which has been curated by the project.  I got a great shot of Community Boatbuilding Co-ordinator Rebecca MacAskill and Volunteer Trainee Ronnie Mckechnie as they celebrated the achievements of the past two years, made possible through funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  In the picture they got up close and personal with the Dunkirk ‘Little Ship’ Skylark IX . The Dumbarton based Skylark IX Recovery Project cares for the former pleasure boat, which served in Operation Dynamo, and uses Skylark’s story of hope and resilience to help people recovering from addictions through boatbuilding training. The Project hopes to begin fundraising to build the Spirit of Skylark Centre in Dumbarton soon. The new heritage experience, community hub and boatbuilding workshop will give Skylark IX a permanent home and enable to the Project to support a growing number of people across West Dunbartonshire.

Princess Smiles

 I have had a few visits to the TS Queen Mary berthed beneath the Glasgow Science Centre tower. This time I had the pleasure of photographing a royal visitor. The HRH The Princess Royal was announcing that the iconic and much loved steamer will sail on the Clyde once again. The Friends of TS Queen Mary charity, tasked with the restoration, has been overwhelmed by the generosity of corporate donors and individuals. Great news for fans of sailing ‘doon the watter’

Gaspard’s Foxtrot

I love a good story and if it is put to music all the better. BBC broadcaster and author Zeb Soanes joined the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) for live performances of Gaspard’s Foxtrot, as part of the RSNO’s latest National Schools Concert Programme. Playing at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall it was so good to watch the and listen. Sometimes I worry I will watch too much and forget to take pictures. The kids loved it. Throughout March over 8,500 children will attend concerts across Scotland and a further 40,000 have signed up to use the digital resources. I know its a story for kids but I loved it. The good thing was I got to see it twice. Morning and afternoon performances.

The Glasgow Taxi Cup is Back

It was great to have the Glasgow Taxi Cup back this year after the break due to the pandemic. Glasgow University were crowned winners of Scotland’s largest student varsity sporting competition, for the first time since 2018 after edging out city rivals Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian. The competition, saw over 800 students participating across 21 different sporting disciplines including athletics, badminton, hockey and netball in a day of intense competition before coming to a conclusion at Scotstoun Sports Campus. 

February 2022

You Never Know Who You Will See at the Bus Stop

I was never a huge Osmonds fan. Probably Donny & Marie were more my age group. I was photographing Jay Osmond who was at The Kings Theatre in Glasgow to launch his show ‘The Osmonds : A New Musical’. Written by Jay it tells the story of him and his brothers who became superstars in the 1970s. He was with the cast members of the show and was so up for posing at the bus stop outside the stage door on Bath Street. He was such good fun. There was even a group of fans waiting for him when he arrived. I did go home and start to stream some of their old hits. Pretty good they were too. Crazy Horses was quite rocky. 

Wasps’ Creative Hub in Inverness

I got a nice trip north to visit the Highlands’ first creative hub opened its doors to the north of Scotland’s cultural and business communities following a four year, £6m conversion of former Inverness Royal Academy. Inverness Creative Academy provides working accommodation for visual and applied artists as well as office space for the creative industries, social enterprise and charity sectors. Managed by Wasps, Scotland’s national provider of creative spaces, the project has revived the former Inverness Royal Academy buildings in the heart of the city, and over the past four years has sensitively restored the Grade B listed Victorian properties. It was great to meet the artists  also Kate Hooper and Donald MacLean of StrategyStory who were the first tenants to move into the newly completed section of the building. We managed to position the artists on the stairs of the building and I could not help thinking of the hundreds of kids that used to come down these stairs in years gone by.

Sleeping Under the Stars

I love camping and long ago but I decided a hard floor was too much on my old bones and bought a caravan. After many years as a caravan owner and much to the jesting of my pals I left that world behind. I did still go to the Camping & Caravan Show at the SECC as my camping fix. I was delighted to meet Julie Brown with her fleet of very cool VW Campervans. Julie,  founder of Staycation Scotland has now expanded her luxury camper van fleet to cope with demand and high bookings for third year running. As a VW driver myself I was really taken with them. Julie has a really cool staff . They all looked brilliant in their company dungarees.

A Cold Day for a Swim

The weather has been pretty wild lately. At a photo call for the Glasgow Taxis Cup 2022, which is now is back in its original format after two years due to Covid 19. I managed to persuade the swimmer, Glasgow University student Will Strachan, to hold the stunning Glasgow Taxis Cup while being watched by University Sports presidents Tabitha Nyariki ( Glasgow Caledonian), Kirsty Bannatyne (Strathclyde), Jessica Woodcock (Glasgow University) in a very cool Glasgow electric taxi. I had my thick coat on and an umbrella to protect the cameras while poor Will just stood unflinching against the cold. Oh the blessing of youth.

Shop Until You Drop

I was through at Livingston Designer Outlet to meet fashion model and influencer Hayley Daines  who was opening Cancer Research Shop at the shopping mall. She was good fun. The photo shoot went really well and I was amazed at the quality of the merchandise on display. After the opening ceremony and cutting the ribbon we found some cool stuff in the store, then it was round to Starbucks for some coffee and picture editing.

A New Library for Strathblane

I am not a fan of demolishing buildings willy nilly but sometimes there is a time for moving on to something better. The old Strathblane library, which has been up for over 50 years is really a big portacabin. It has lasted well but now work has begun on delivering the community owned Thomas Graham Library. Strathblane Community Development Trust’s wholly owned subsidiary Thomas Graham Library Ltd started the work on the 1st of February. Scheduled to open in November 2022. The building has been funded entirely through personal and charitable donations, making it the first community-owned public library to be built in Scotland in living memory. A total of 275 local people donated to a library crowdfunding appeal that raised over £1M. Roughly one third of households in the community of Strathblane have donated. 

It is named after Professor Thomas Graham, the great-uncle of Angus Graham, a local landowner and businessman who is principal donor. Professor Graham was a Glasgow-born chemist who pioneered the science of diffusion and became a leading British scientist in the mid-19th century. The building has been designed by Thomas Robinson Architects from Croftamie and the main contractor is Fleming from Lenzie. The new library will be owned and operated by Thomas Graham Library Ltd and the Library service will be continue to be provided by Stirling Council.

Margaret Vass, chair of the development trust is pictured in the demolition digger and there is a short video of the start of the demolition work.

Have a look at the Video of the first stages of demolition here.

January 2022

A Year In Pictures

I spent some time going through my favourite pictures from 2021. I was worried that I might not have as many pictures to choose from, as we had spent so much of the year in covid restrictions and the lockdown of the first three months of 2021. When I put together my slide show I was really pleased with it. Every year I make a selection but I was really glad to get this one together as it was so nice to be working again. Also it was getting really busy especially around COP26.

Flying Haggis

I love seeing new works of art in real life. Its never the same on a computer screen or in a book. When you actually stand beside it and see the detail close up and in scale it is great. However imagine getting inside the artwork. A new artwork by the Scottish artist David Mach for the University of Glasgow celebrating the global reach of the Burns Supper and Scotland’s national bard was launched in virtual reality on Burns Night. The artwork called ‘The Flying Haggis’ was commissioned by the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies to mark the end of a two-year project, researching the history of Burns Suppers and mapping these events in the 21st century.

Artist David was so nice and a good subject for my camera. We had a bit of fun with Dr Paul Malgrati a Research Assistant on The Burns Supper in History and Today project at the University of Glasgow wearing the virtual reality headset. 

Looking Good at The Theatre Royal

I had a great afternoon with stars of Eastenders Adam Woodyatt and Laurie Brett who were reunited at Theatre Royal to star in Peter James’ Looking Good Dead. The show opened in January and was the first production to tread the boards at Theatre Royal as the restrictions on indoor events started to ease again. They were great fun and it was good to see they were as enthusiastic to get their pictures taken as I was to take them.

Down Town Glasgow Stateside

It was strange seeing one of my favourite old camera shops that I used to visit as a student, Quiggs Camera shop then Merchant City Cameras, become Gotham Image Lab on the set of Batgirl, which was filming on Parnie Street, Glasgow.  I was down for a look to see the filming and if something was happening that might make a picture. It looked amazing with all the huge American cars and shop fronts with dollar prices in the window. I used to park my Ford Cortina there when I was working in the bar of the Tron Theatre in the late 1980s. I still love to pop in for a coffee.

Sunset In The Herald

It is still nice to see a lovely sunset picture and to see it published in The Herald. I was coming back through Callander from a trip to Killin Perthshire. It had been a pretty grey day all day and as the sun was going down about 4pm the red sun just lit up the clouds and the beautiful Lake of Menteith. With my laptop beside me I had a look at the picture on screen and within 15 minutes it was sitting on the picture desk.

My Healthy Option

As most people will know I am not always a fan of the healthy option although that changed back in May when I was photographing the opening of the Juicy superfood and health bar on Byres Road. I was delighted to be asked along to cover the opening of the new second site at Silverburn. It was great to see Fallon Carberry with so much enthusiasm. Once again the food was pretty fantastic.

December 2021

Glasgow Basket Brigade Appeal Starts the Christmas Season

I met a great bunch of people at their new offices on Bath Street. The Nine Twenty Recruitment team, instead of  participating in their Secret Santa, were supporting the Glasgow Basket Brigade Christmas Appeal. The team all  created and donated Christmas Gift Baskets. The Glasgow Basket Brigade is now in its third year.  The appeal was launched by Rangers star Alfredo Morelos. Some of the charities that benefited from the donations include  Glasgow Women’s Aid, Glasgow’s Golden Generation, Fareshare, Baby Loss Retreat ,Glasgow SE Foodbank and  HomeStart Glasgow South. I did love how everyone had worn their Christmas jumpers for the picture and were delighted to do The Beatles Abbey Road style picture walking across Bath Street in Glasgow.

Elf School

I love the film Elf, I watch it every year and would probably watch it in July if it came on TV. I was invited along to the first class of the new Elf School at Princess Square in Glasgow. The elf class teacher was called Snowflake.  I watched how the kids all learned elf skills. Not an easy job by all accounts. I learned a few things too. Afterwards everyone got to meet Santa. I left them to it and went for a Christmas coffee. It was nice to see the pictures making the papers and news websites.

Cinderella Finally Gets to the Ball

Last year I was lucky enough to get to see a pantomime when the Pavilion Theatre filmed the show, which was to be released for free on You Tube on Christmas Eve. It was one of the best working days of last winter. I was delighted to be asked along this year to take  the production photographs for this year’s performance. The cast were hilarious as always. Grado from Scot Squad and Stephen Purdon, Shellsuit Bob from River City, are a great double act. We get on well and the patter is second to none.

Merry Christmas

It’s been another strange year and we are certainly not over this pandemic anytime soon and with new variants coming along we still need to be careful. However as more and more of us are getting vaccinated and there are more treatments coming along we have some cause for optimism. So on that note I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

November 2021

COP 26

November was such a busy month. I really didn’t think I would be having much to do with COP26. All the reports had been to stay away from the city and I thought let’s hope all my jobs are outside Glasgow. However all that quickly changed. I ended up working for an English, a Canadian and the United Arab Emirates clients for the rest of the two weeks.

It was an amazing scene with all the people from all round the world. We had an amazing day on UAE stand where Bill Gates and Senator John Kerry joined Dr Sultan Al Jabber. The picture made the The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi.

The article can be read here in this link.

The people were all lovely and the talks were all really interesting and eye opening. We had the Brazil stand across from us and they had some really colourful visitors. We met the guy at the top of the page who looked amazing. He did make it into the pages of a few newspapers.

City of Glasgow College Graduations

It was so nice to see more graduations at my old college The City of Glasgow College. We were back in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. I met some cool students who had some colourful hairstyles. The venue looked amazing as it was all dressed for the event.

Windswept & Interesting

I was so delighted when I got a call from Billy Connolly’s publisher regarding his new book Windswept & Interesting. They wanted to use my picture of Billy with the giant mural of the John Byrne painting in Glasgow near the King Street Car Park. They sent me a copy of the book, which I am reading at the moment.

October 2021

Getting a lift to the Usher Hall in James Bond’s Aston Martin

I am a fan of old cool cars. I have always loved the look and shape of them. I once, pre-children,  had an old MGB which was a bit of an old banger with no heater, a leaky cloth roof and smelt vaguely of petrol and oil. So imagine my delight when I was asked to come along and photograph RSNO musicians Dávur Juul Magnussen and Emily Nenniger at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh who were arriving in style after hitching a lift in James Bond’s iconic Aston Martin DB5. They were there to promote the RSNO who were  performing classic Bond movie tunes for an evening, which celebrated the the new James Bond film coming to cinemas and a return to live music at concert halls. The car worth over a million was stunning. I would have been too scared to drive it round the busy Edinburgh streets.

Time For a Cuppa at COP26

With everything gearing up for COP26 I was down at the Glasgow Science Centre, which was known as the Green Zone for a picture with Ewan Reid M.D of top coffee guys Matthew Algie. They were supplying the coffee to be served  to delegates attending the COP 26 summit. 

Thirty cases of triple certified Darwin coffee were supplied ensuring world leaders and delegates can enjoy 25,000 cups during the two weeks of the summit.  I photographed Ewan with one of his trusty baristas against the brilliant backdrop of the  IMAX cinema with its new green planted exterior. The bamboo and blue sky really gave it that tropical feel.

As someone who was at COP26  every day of the fortnight I was very grateful for my cups of coffee to keep me going.

A Bat Out of Hell

I visited the Hard Rock Cafe in Glasgow recently, although having been in Hard Rock restaurants in other countries I had never been in our local one. I am still off the chips, so had to settle for a lovely coffee. Four  of the cast, of Bat Out of Hell the  musical, were performing some of the songs from the show at the venue. What a performance, they really got the lunch time crowd going. I photographed them outside with iconic Buchanan Street in the background. The cast were such good fun.

COP26 Dram

I had the pleasure of photographing The COP26 limited edition Scotch Whisky created by the Scotch Whisky Industry. It had been blended and bottled just a stones throw from the COP26 site in Glasgow and was comprised of whiskies produced at 26 distilleries across Scotland’s five Whisky regions. The 900 hand crafted bottles had been produced using sustainable materials. The bottle is made of recycled glass, stoppered with a cork made of an innovative, fully recyclable mix of wood and cork dust. The label is made from recycled plant fibres, including barley, with the carton produced from 100% recycled materials. 

September 2021

A Show For Normal People

I was at The Theatre Royal in Glasgow to photograph Grayson Perry recently. During lockdown we had watched his Art Club programme on Channel 4, it was quite an emotional show and summed up a lot about how art helped people overcome the restrictions of the pandemic. We went outside to take some pictures with the theatre in the background before his show started and he was happy to pose for selfies with the Glasgow crowd. Award-winning artist Grayson was the first act to tread the boards at The Theatre Royal as it reopened its doors to audiences after 540 days. In the show,  “A Show For Normal People”, he delighted the full house and took the audience through an enlightening and eye-watering evening where existentialism descended from worthiness to silliness.

The Scotts on TV

I spent some time over the summer on the set of the the new comedy show The Scotts. The series was written by Iain Connell and Robert Florence, of Burnistoun fame.

The show from The Comedy Unit, which had its pilot before the pandemic, went down really well. I have been watching it over the last few weeks and even skipped ahead to see the upcoming ones on the BBC iPlayer. It is hilarious. I did enjoy the jokes during filming, but its when you watch the finished production you really see all the full hilarious results. I loved the piece in The Herald Magazine this month written by Susan Swarbrick. She really captured them. Have a read at the article

Wee Big Yin on Sale

Last month I spent a day with Wee Big Yin lego mini-figures on a fantastic campaign to raise funds for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity. The miniature Billy Connolly Lego sets which were to go on sale in Scotland for one day only. Well that day came and I arrived at the Galleries for 8am. I was not sure how much interest there would be. I knew they would all sell out, but probably over the course of the day. I looked out to the Buchanan Street entrance and there was no one there. I though ok that’s fine we can take our time. Then I was asked to look up to the entrance at the concert hall. I nearly dropped my camera. The queue was huge. Down Buchanan Street, along Bath Street and up West Nile St. People had been queuing from 4am. The atmosphere was really good in the queue. I think people are still delighted to be getting out and chatting to strangers. I think there were a few good friendships made on that morning.

All the figures sold out pretty quickly and after a few days we got the grand total of £9766. William McGowan of Glasgow Childrens Hospital Charity and  Clare Livingston of Buchanan Galleries posed with the total written in lego … what else!

Birds Eye View

I was asked to come along and photograph the The City of Glasgow College 2021 graduation ceremony at the Glasgow Cathedral. It was brilliant to see all the students in their robes. It was so rubbish last year that none of the students, who had all worked so hard, didn’t get a graduation ceremony. This year was different. There was a reduced number in the Cathedral with masks on but the event was broadcast back in the college and all over the world. Many of the nautical students are from overseas and many working on ships already. All the names were read out to applause from the congregation.  I had super view from up in the organist platform.

You Don’t see This Every Day

I had a visit to the Forth and Clyde canal at Applecross Basin to launch the Glasgow Canal Days Out. It was part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21 celebrations. I met Skateboarder Fraser McIlroy and cyclist Omar Murray meeting a Caribbean mythical bird from Carnival Arts.This is something you don’t see everyday.

August 2021

Mirrors on Loch Lomond

I love working with creative people. It’s great to have conversations and see ideas come to life in front of my eyes. One such talent is Creative producer Guy Veale at the launch of Ùrlar, an experimental theatre production commissioned by National Trust for Scotland, which will take place at the conservation charity’s Ben Lomond site. We were working with performers Dougie Strang and Darla Eno using mirrors to illustrate the strange sights and sounds of the event.

Wee Jake & Frends

I got to try out my new Canon R6 with my fairly new R5 on a job this week with some of my neighbours. Meet Lottie & Mickey. Lottie is a Shetland Pony and  Mickey is a donkey. I met them with stablemate Shetland Pony Jake who is featured in the latest JoJo Gnome story podcast out this week. They were very interested in my new cameras.For my picture of Wee Jake I thought  the black and white did make him look like a film star. Check out the JoJo Gnome story podcast here to hear more about Jake and his pals.

The Wee Big Yin

I have been working with the Buchanan Galleries on a fantastic campaign to raise funds for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity. They had miniature Billy Connolly Lego sets which went on sale in Scotland for one day only as part of a big charity fundraising effort.

“Wee Big Yin” Lego figures of the Scot celebrated the much-loved comedian through five different stages of his career. The shoppers could buy figures including the Biker Yin, the Actor Yin, the Artist Yin Musician Yin and the Funny Yin.

My job was to take the figures around Glasgow and take photos of them in front of iconic Glasgow landmarks including the Peoples Palace, The Pavilion Theatre, Billy’s portrait by artist John Byrne and the Buchanan Galleries too of course. I did get a lot of enquiries from passersby about what I was doing and admiring looks at the figures.