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.

July 2021

A Sight for Sore Eyes

What a treat to get away on holiday. Our trip to Tiree was cancelled last year and held over to this year. I was getting worried we would not make it. However we did and it was super. As always I had my camera with me. You never know if an assignment will present itself.  We had and evening drive to try and catch a sunset.  Ballevullin beach is a good surfing beach but it always has the best sunsets. This picture was taken at 11pm at night. The Scottish Daily Mail spotted it and used it in their feature on the glorious sunshine that Scotland had been basking in.

Brooch In A Box

My better half makes some lovely silk stitched brooches in a lovely metal box. She had made some in the unique colour of the island. What better a place to show off each colours than on a beach. Check out her shop.

Coll Harbour

We had a stop over on the Island of Coll for a couple of days. Another glorious Scottish Island. It is a very small place with one hotel and one cafe. I had a walk down to the jetty near the hotel. I loved the colours of all the lobster pots. This picture made The Herald’s Picture of the Day on the letters page.

Chatting Over a Cuppa

Photography work has been starting to come back now. I had the pleasure of a visit the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther to see their iconic ‘Fifie’ Reaper sailing boat. I met 95 year old Coull Deas MBE, former long-time skipper, and Boat Club volunteer Jim Wilson, who were taking a break after  a day working on the £1million conservation job. What a laugh that pair had during the photocall.

June 2021

Trip To The Borders

During lockdown I was missing travel and now it’s such a pleasure to get a wee run in the car, especially if its a place I have never been to before. I was visiting the stunning Marchmont Estate in the Scottish Borders to meet two visual artists have won opportunities to practice their craft at Marchmont House, one of The Borders’ most culturally important estates. This is a partnership between Scotland’s national provider of studios, Wasps, and Marchmont Estates. The two artists who take nature as inspiration, textile specialist Laura Derby and painter Helen Flockhart, will join the growing artistic community at Marchmont in August in fully funded residencies. What a lovely place to live and work.

A Drone to Catch a Drone

I met an inspiring young man who after the cancellation of flights at London’s Gatwick Airport following reports of drone sightings close to the runway in 2018 decided to do something about it. The airport was closed for 30 hours, disrupting 1,000 flights and more than 140,000 passengers. As an affected passenger he began to give the whole episode some thought. Three years later Joe Gibson has developed a counter-drone project and set up his own business to take this further. His company, Gibson Robotics, pitched the project to Gabriel Investments, a Scottish business syndicate. The drone, which Joe is holding watched by Gill MacAulay and  Lynn Ross of Gabriel Investments was photographed at The University of Strathclyde’s Technology & Innovation building. The drone physically captures other drones in a net after being launched by a catapult and monitored by a human operator. Amazing!

Tea & Biscuits on Board the TS Queen Mary

After last months nautical theme I was back on the high seas, well Princes’s Dock in Govan Glasgow for a new training initiative between City of Glasgow College and the TS Queen MaryThe college and the Friends of TS Queen Mary, the charity behind the restoration of the historic steamship  will provide training and employment opportunities on board the ship for students wishing to enter the hospitality industry. I photographed Paul Little, Principal and Chief Executive of City of Glasgow College and Iain Sim, Chair of Friends of TS Queen Mary with a couple of the college students. Afterwards we went down below deck and into the Queens Restaurant, which in its day would have been the last word in luxury. I thought a picture of the students Alex Dick and Robbie Maitland in the soon to be refurbished space brought together the past and future. The tea and biscuits tasted great too.

The Cedar Room Where it All Began

I love history, it fascinates me. I was assigned to photograph the National Trust for Scotland’s Chief Executive Phil Long in the Cedar Room in Pollok House. The name rang a bell in my head. The room in Pollok House was where the National Trust all began, back in 1931. The discussions for the founding of the National Trust for Scotland took place inside Pollok’s cedar-panelled smoking room.  Mind you, it was not the easiest room to light as the shutters are closed to protect the wood and paintings from the sunlight. The staff were kind enough to open them up to allow some light in this dark dark rooms just for a moment. Phil was a delight to work with too. The picture appeared in the following weekend edition of The Herald on Sunday.

Cleartech In Glass

I do love business assignments and when I get a call for a picture for The Herald business pages I always look forward to it as you get to meet and photograph a wide range of people doing very different jobs. I met the good natured and easy going Jim McGuigan MD of the Cleartech Group based at Blantyre Industrial Estate just a short hop out of Glasgow. I always like to see a nice glass panel with a company logo on it. It always looks great when you light it up with a flash.

May 2021

Dunkirk Little Ship

I was down to visiting the Scottish Maritime Museum in Dumbarton recently. The Skylark IX Recovery Trust had announced their ambitious plans  for a bright future for the much loved Skylark IX ‘Dunkirk Little Ship’ at a new immersive heritage experience and boatbuilding training centre. The proposed £3 million centre will create a permanent home for Skylark IX, which is listed on the National Historic Ships Register and believed to be one of only two ‘Dunkirk Little Ships’ from the World War 2 Operation Dynamo surviving in Scotland. The lifebuoy always makes a good frame for photographing the subjects and keeps everyone nice and socially distanced.

The Healthy Option

I am not usually a fan of healthy foods, although over this last year with Covid I have been changing my diet with less saturated salt and fats. I find  sometimes with these ingredients it does not always taste as good. When I went down for the opening of the new Juicy Superfood Health Bar opening on Byres Rd. I did have a coffee but I was not initially tempted to try anything. After the shoot I was persuaded. It was delicious. The melon drink I had was amazing. Then a lovely pasta dish. I didn’t need my roll and sausage after that. Fallon Carberry and her staff were brilliant. So bubbly and full of enthusiasm.

Music To My Ears

I was lucky enough to have had another visit to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to watch award-winning pianist Benjamin Grosvenor performing with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor Elim Chan. They were involved in a digital performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No1. As Benjamin is in the centre of the performance area I have to use my huge 300mm I use for football. The picture from up ‘in the gods’ looks pretty cool too.

Wee Quackers

I was asked to visit Tannoch Loch in Milngavie where I know the best fed ducks in the area are.These wee chicks were paddling around where we were sat. They really are wee balls of cuteness.

April 2021

Green Fingers

I love gardening and it was great to get these two young gardeners planting flowers at North Kelvinside Meadow in Glasgow’s West End to launch The Incorporation of Gardeners  ‘Let Glasgow Flourish Garden Awards 2021’.  

The awards are open to everyone within Glasgow and the surrounding area.  There are three categories – Best Garden, Best Community Garden and Best Young Gardener. This year early April does not have a huge amount of flowers blooming but the daffodils really lifted the colours especially with the girls bright red dungarees.

Walking & Creativity

I’ve become a convert to walking over the last year. I try to walk at least two miles a day, and I don’t mean to the chip shop. Recently I was working on a new research project that explores experiences of walking and creativity during COVID-19

The University of Glasgow led project is to explore people’s experience of walking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Professor Deirdre Heddon of the University of Glasgow, who is leading the Covid Walking Project, is pictured with family and friend’s dog Rafa as they painted pebbles in Queens Park. Art and creativity was one of my savours during lockdown. I had my Five Mile Smiles slideshow of pictures that appeared in The Herald Magazine last year showing some of the photographs I took while out walking around the Campsie Fells.

Flying High in Inverness

A day’s work was like going on holiday this month. I had a trip to Inverness as the University of the Highlands and Islands graduates are to feature in an art exhibition hosted at Inverness Airport.

The new exhibition, Highland Creatives, opens with works by Inverness College UHI alumni Louise Innes, Yelena Visemirska and Evija Laivina. They are all current practitioners at Wasps’ Inverness Creative Academy. It felt good being back in an airport building again after so long. 

The launch of Highland Creatives is in preparation for an increase in national travel and recommencement of international travel, expected later this year, while providing an opportunity for local emerging artists to showcase their work in a public space. I forgot how traveling a  couple of hundred miles north is that bit colder than in the central belt. The day after, Inverness had snow and I was lucky enough to see a herd of reindeer in the Cairngorm National Park. 

Lunch at Rouen Glen Park

Sometimes out on an assignment something surprising happens that’s nothing to do with what you’re photographing. I was working in Rouen Glen park in East Renfrewshire when a giant heron swooped down. It gave all around a bit of a start. The heron stopped and ignored everyone watching it, as it had its eye on a prize under some rocks. Then the big bird springs out with a huge eel in its mouth. The heron was there for the next half hour devouring its meal. All that was missing was the port and cigars.

March 2021

Nicola Benedetti with the RSNO at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

What an amazing trip out for my new silent Canon R5 camera this month. I had to be as quiet as a mouse to photograph award-winning violinist Nicola Benedetti as she performed Polish master Karol Szymanowski’s dazzling First Violin Concerto, part of the new RSNO Digital Season, which starts streaming from Friday 16th of  April. The concert was conducted by Thomas Søndergård. I have often said on this blog that I have really missed live music and to be back in one of my favourite venues the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall was great. You get into the music even more when you are taking pictures. Following expressions and hand positions on the instrument really adds to the experience and the photographs.

Red Sky at Night

I am always watching the sky. It changes all the time, clouds, light and colour. One evening while washing the dishes I noticed the sky getting redder and redder. I grabbed my camera and popped outside. This is the picture as I took it with no increase of saturation or photoshop tricks to make it look more red than it was. The thing with a good sky picture is to get something in the foreground to give a shape against the colour. I only had this big tree. I would have loved to have one of Glasgow’s old buildings as my shape. My favourite would have to be the towers of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

Portraits For Business

I met an interesting young entrepreneur who runs Repairel CIC,  a social enterprise that aims to set up a shoe repair lab in the North West of Glasgow to test various shoe-waste reducing solutions & facilitate change. Glasgow based social entrepreneur Petra Baiba Olehno who founded Repairel was in her workshop at home when I did the photos for The Herald Business pages. It was a lovely big windowed room which was so easy to light up. Mind you we had to close the curtains as it was so bright outside, the sun shining in was dazzling. I always like to take my subjects outside away from their place of work too and I really liked the two types of pictures that came out of the assignment. I love the west end tenements in the background of the outside shots.

Head Shots

I often find with smartphones and selfies all the rage just now, people often forget about getting goods quality headshots portraits done. They are so good for business CV’s, LinkedIn profiles and even for Facebook and Twitter. My son Mark was needing some done and as a photographer himself he knows the value of a good picture and getting appropriately dressed for it.  A good contact sheet lets the subject see all the pictures on the one page and it allows them to compare the images side by side.

February 2021

Super Soaps

With all the hand washing over the last year because of Coronavirus my hands have never been so clean.  My selection and choice of soaps has never been as varied. When The Herald business department asked me to visit to take a picture for The Herald’s Entrepreneur campaign of a soap maker I was delighted. Especially when they have a soap called Gin & Tonic. I met founder Ashley Paton who started the company in 2015, with her partner Sean. We had a tight deadline to take the picture, which as a newspaper person I though was due to an editorial deadline. In actual fact Ashley was due to give birth within a couple of days. I was delighted to see that baby Oisin was born just a few days later. 

Brooch in a Box

With another selection of the popular ‘Brooches in a Box’ I had the opportunity to get out my close up 100mm macro lens. Its perfect for product photography as well as portraits. Sometimes its nice to move away from the studio environment to outside locations. Natural moss growing in a garden is a lovely backdrop. So nice and natural with lots of detail in the texture of its surface … the texture of the brooches showed up well too. Mind you not the best job when it’s raining.

What a Change in the Weather

On Stage with Sydney Devine

I was really saddened to hear of the passing of legendary singer Sydney Devine. Watching the news interviews with the fans who loved him was quite something. I remember Rikki Fulton sketches poking fun at him singing Tiny Bubbles. The sketch featuring the Phantom of the Opera even had Syd at the end of the sketch singing his famous song. The folk at the Pavilion Theatre in Glasgow really felt it as it was almost his stage home. Many people were laying flowers outside the theatre. Ian Gordon the theatre manger and good friend of Sydney, brought the flowers inside laid them on the stage floor and put a microphone with pictures. The stage was set, lights and spotlights were added as if he was about to perform. I was asked to come in and photograph the stage. Every time I am in the Pavilion I always think of all the performances over the years on that stage. If only it could talk.

Young Traditional Musician of the Year

I was delighted to see the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of 2021 named as Michael Biggins. The pianist from Glasgow won at the socially distant event in BBC’s Pacific Quay building. I loved listening to the performances on the programme Travelling Folk. I had a really lovely day photographing all the finalists and listening to them perform. I really miss live music and this was a delight to hear. I must say I thought they were all brilliant.

January 2021

Happy New Year & A New Dawn

With the Covid lockdown still in force my annual trip out in a speedboat to photograph the Loch Lomond Water Ski Club fancy dress charity water ski had been cancelled. For the last seven of eight years I have been speeding over the waves of Loch Lomond with a Santa, Captain America, a kilted highlander or table waiter in top hat and tails. This year we had an early start climbing the Campsie Fells. It didn’t seem right to have the first day of 2021 sitting on the couch. Along with everyone else in the world, I was glad to see the back of 2020.

Scot Squad Back On TV

This month has seen the hilarious comedy show Scot Squad back on our screens. Just before lockdown, back in March, I was working on scenes with Chief Cameron Miekelson and Police Constables Sarah Fletcher and Jack McLaren. It was nice reminder of busier and more relaxed days. With the show on the BBC iPlayer I was delighted to see all my pictures again. Great memories. I will be so looking forward to the next series filming.

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Poster

One of my assignments a few month ago was given the privilege of listening to and photographing the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the Glasgow City Halls for Proms for BBC Radio. I was delighted to see my picture, of the hugely talented conductor Alpesh Chauhan, being used for the poster for the SSO digital concerts. I still really miss live music at this time. Thank goodness for radio.

One of my assignments a few month ago was given the privilege of listening to and photographing the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the Glasgow City Halls for Proms for BBC Radio. I was delighted to see my picture, of the hugely talented conductor Alpesh Chauhan, being used for the poster for the SSO digital concerts. I still really miss live music at this time. Thank goodness for radio.

Life In Close Up

I do love my close up macro lens. I was doing some photographs of my better half’s cool earrings, which are now being sold in the Mugdock Makkers craft shop at Mugdock Country Park. The detail in close up photography really shows the texture of objects.

Woodys Back

I am still a fan of watching the bird life out in the back garden. I was took part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. It’s an hour of your day sitting with binoculars and a pad and pencil to take a note of what birds visit the garden. It was so nice to see our woodpecker visiting to add to our collection on the day.

Feeling The Cold

This January was one of the coldest January’s on record this year. It made our walks stunning to see the frost on the grass and bushes. Also we had a visit into Glasgow (for an essential visit) so we managed to justify a walk round the Botanic Gardens. I loved the low cold winter light coming through the roof of the Kibble Palace.

December 2020

Feeling A Bit Like Christmas

Christmas pantomime is one of the many things that this awful pandemic has brought to a halt. It is also one of my favourite assignments of the festive season. The Pavilion Theatre Glasgow decided to film this year’s show, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, with the cast in a bubble for the all the rehearsals. The show was available on YouTube on Christmas Eve. It proved so popular the run was extended to the 10th of January. All the regular cast : Stephen Purdon, Grado, Liam Dolan,  Nicola Park, Joyce Falconer, James McAnerney & Mori Christian with dancers and musicians, made it a great watch and I had one of the best days in ages. I did walk through a booth, which misted me all over with a fine spray of disinfectant, I got my temperature taken and put on hand sanitiser and was shown to my seat where I had a row to myself. It was so good watching the filming. It felt like the most ‘normal day’ in ages. The pater of River City’s Stephen Purdon and Scot Squad’s Grado was brilliant.

Glasgow’s Amazing People & Buildings

I love Glasgow’s old buildings. It’s true that they will never be built like that again. I have been privileged to be inside many of Glasgow’s architectural gems and meet some really interesting people. I visited The Clyde Port Authority building on the Broomilaw recently. It’s one of the few original buildings in that part of town. When you see old film footage of the Clydeside its always there with all the horses and carts driving past. I had to meet Tom Allison, chairman of Peel Ports Ltd.  Tom was chief executive at Clydeport before it was taken over by Peel Holdings in 2003. What he doesn’t know about the Clyde Port building is not worth knowing. We spent nearly an hour chatting about the building and its history before we started taking any pictures. Tom, who is also a non executive director at Celtic FC has been given a CBE in this year’s new years honours list for his services to Scottish Business and charities. It was a really dull December day outside, so I am glad I had my big studio lights with me. I loved the staircase with the painting of Sir Nathanial Dunlop the longest serving chairman of the Clyde Navigation Trust whose eyes followed you as you walked down the stairs. 

Happy Deliveries

I met lottery winner Sandra Devine when she collected her win back in November. It was a double treat, as she lives round the corner from my old house in Johnstone and her postman husband Martin was a couple of years below me in school. She was delivering personalised Christmas items, cards and Christmas puddings from National Lottery winners to charity Glasgow’s Golden Generation based at the David Cargil Centre in Langside. My grandpa was in David Cargil House old folks home. It really felt things were coming full circle.

Science Will Get Us Out Of This

Another fascinating person I met lately was Harper VanSteenhouse, president of BioClavis who are based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus. BioClavis, was set up in 2017 as a spin-off from California-based life science firm, BioSpyder Technologies. I met Harper in the science labs where the company have developed, in collaboration with BioSpyder, the BioClavis Test which detects the Coronavirus virus using biological barcoding. I was puzzled, even with my O Level in Biology, it had to be put in laymen’s terms for me. “So it’s like scanning your shopping?, I asked” Harper was very kind with his reply and he didn’t laugh. I didn’t mention that I failed my higher biology. The good news about the biological barcode testing is that it will be able to test 100,000 samples by the end of January. The story appeared widely in the media and I even saw a piece from as far away as the San Diago Metropolitan. How cool is that.

Bad Moon Rising

Always have a camera at the ready I always say. Driving home I saw the moon popping up from behind the Campsie fells. I knew I had minutes before it went too high and the huge size caused by the curvature of the earth was lost. I put on my 300mm with a 1.4 convertor and using the car window to steady myself managed to get a few frames off. Fortunately there was still some sunlight coming through to put some light on the snowy hillside. The picture was one of my most popular with 470 likes and 54 re tweets on twitter. Instagram had over 150 likes with 248 on Facebook.