Cycling With Cake
I am no stranger to a cake or two as many of my photographic colleagues will testify. I was down at Quarriers Village near Houston to photograph Nichola, Gillian and Linsey of The Three Sisters Bake as they celebrate the installation of new bike rack facilities at their Three Sisters Bake countryside café. The sisters had sponsored a mile of the local cycle path in an effort to encourage customers to leave the car at home and travel to the café by bike. Everyone including myself was in shorts as it was in the middle of the really hot weather. It was an occasion for me as I have never worn shorts to work before.
Sleep In The Park
I met the delightful and low key Josh Littlejohn, co founder of Social Bite at Princess Street Gardens in Edinburgh. Such a quiet guy and yet he must have such a drive to get all his projects off the ground. It was the launch of Sleep in the Park 2018, the world’s biggest simultaneous multi-city sleep out, which will take place on the night of December 8 in Scotland’s four largest cities.The first one last year saw 8,000 people sleep under the stars on the coldest night of the year in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens. It became the world’s largest ever sleep out. This year it returns to Edinburgh’s Princes St Gardens, as well as simultaneous events in Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow. I really like it when people like Josh take the time to give all the photographers what they need for a picture then move on to the writers and then telephone interviews. When I left he was still at it.
Up a Ladder
Occasionally I do need to keep my fear of hights in check. Even going up a rather tall ladder gives me some concern. I was on top of such a ladder in front of over 250 City of Glasgow College students in the cloistered gardens at The Riverside Campus. The students from all across the globe, together with their fellow students from SUNY Maritime College in New York, were all getting ready for their graduation ceremony in Glasgow Cathedral. As I explained in a loud voice for them all to look at the front and not to laugh at my discomfort my phone went off. All of them to a man and a woman burst out laughing. It’s nice to make everyone smile.
The University of Glasgow Settlement Exhibition
I was delighted to be asked to do some photographs for The University of Glasgow Settlement exhibition which on at The Wolfson Medical Building just now. The University of Glasgow Settlement Exhibition tells the stories of different forms of student social action. It is organised in partnership with the University of Glasgow Archive Services. The whole history of The Settlement is an interesting read. Here is a link to the web page http://gusettlement.org I was so impressed with it all but I was amazed at the size of the exhibition boards with my pictures on them. They really looked great. So much so I wondered if I took them. When you see a picture on a computer screen its easy to forget how a photograph can look really good as a hard copy print. When a picture is blown right up to poster size it is easy to see all the flaws. Soft focus and pixilation really stand out. Big is beautiful but it can bare all.
A Full Moon
One of the most amazing things I had to photograph this year has to be the extraordinary art installation, called ‘Museum of the Moon’. It made its debut in Scotland at the Mackintosh Queen’s Cross Church in Garscube Road, Glasgow. It was part of the Take Me Somewhere Festival and also for this year’s celebrations for Mackintosh 150 – the 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birth. The Museum of the Moon is a touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. Measuring seven metres in diameter, the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface. To show the moon’s scale in the church I had Stuart Robertson, Director of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society standing in the centre looking up as I shot the picture on a 15mm fish-eye lens.
Harry Benson at Pollok House
I was invited along to the opening evening of Scottish born photo-journalist Harry Benson’s new exhibition at Pollok House in Glasgow. Harry worked alongside some of my old Evening Times and Daily Express pals. I have met him more than a few times over the years and a couple of times in The Press Bar. I took this picture of Harry signing copies of his new book. Harry went over to America with the Beatles in 1964 and has photographed every U.S. President from Eisenhower to Donald Trump. Unbelievably he was just feet away from Bobby Kennedy the night he was assassinated. Harry has done pretty much everything and his back catalogue of pictures is something else. I have a couple of his books, but this new exhibition also featured some of his less well known works. It is certainly worth a visit. Harry Benson: From Glasgow to America runs until December.
Celebrations With Fizz
The Prince & Princess of Wales Brick by Brick Appeal hit their £21m target this month to create a new purpose-built facility in Bellahouston Park. Lord Provost Eva Bollander popped open the champagne at the Hospice’s base in Carlton Place to celebrate the fantastic news. The hospice launched the appeal in 2012 to find the money and after six years of epic fundraising from individuals, groups and corporate hospice supporters all across the country the incredible figure of £21m has been reached.
Champagne spraying up with everyone cheering always looks an easy picture to do, but it is not. Quite the opposite in fact. You have to be careful that the spray does not cover any faces, the cork doesn’t go the wrong way and hit someone also you don’t stand too close and get covered, which is not good for the cameras. Also another tip is always have another bottle to try it again.
The Bigger Picture
Glasgow based painter Annette Edgar has put herself under starter’s orders to find a new home for a huge painting of a running man, which she created in the 1990s. The painting, called Spirit, measures six feet by four feet and was created as part of a series of paintings of runners.
Due to the pressure of space in her home she has decided to sell the work. I didn’t realise how big it was until I got there. We only just got it out the door for the photograph and then very nearly didn’t get it back in again. Any offers?
Brigadoon Comes to Edinburgh.
I had the pleasure of photographing the wife of Hollywood legend Gene Kelly, Patricia Ward Kelly, who was being treated to a dressing by one of Scotland’s most celebrated contemporary kilt makers Howie Nicholsby of 21st Century Kilts. They were doing a press launch for ‘Gene Kelly-A Life In Music’ with the RSNO at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Gene Kelly visited Scotland in 1952 to scout locations for the filming of the 1954 classic Brigadoon, a movie about two American tourists who visit Scotland on a hunting trip and discover a magical village that appears only once every one-hundred years. The Edinburgh cobbled street was the perfect location and they both broke into a highland dance along the road with no instruction from me.
Painting The Town Radisson RED
Once and a while a really cool new place opens up. I spent a day at the opening if the new Radisson RED hotel beside the SEC Hydro. They have a mascot. Buster, a Boston terrier puppy who will be welcoming guests with open paws to the dog friendly hotel.
The staff were great for picture a really cool bunch who could not do enough to help.
For the group picture we had to time opening the champagne with the confetti canon and make sure everyone was cheering at the same time. Baxter did his part on the check in desk posing for his picture.
Kiltwalk at The Riverside Museum
The Kiltwalk is an annual event that just makes me smile. Everyone that gets involved just smiling form ear to ear, however the kilt is always the star. Some kilts do really stand out. I was working with Glasgow Taxis who on the day of the kilt walk were donating 50p from every cab ride that day to boost the STV Children’s Appeal. Showbiz reporter Laura was with a couple of taxi drivers down at The Riverside Museum. As well as the kilt being the star we now had the bright pink taxi as a colourful co- star. Bright colours do make good pictures. We were lucky with the weather, half an hour I after I took this the heavens opened.
I was working at the RSNO’s ‘A Day at the Museum’ concert at The Mitchell Library Theatre, a venue I really love, having spent many happy days as a backstage crew member with the Capricorn Players amateur theatre group there. The Herald Cafe also does a great scone! During the concert the kids were really engaged in the whole thing. Some musicians make better pictures than others. Violins are great as you get the light of the sheet music light reflected up in their faces and they keep their heads up. Drums and percussion are not so good as they have their heads down most of the time playing. The conductor always makes a good picture. The light here was really low but there was enough just to pick out conductor Holly Mathieson. Putting the picture into black & white I thought really added to the atmosphere.
A Love of Books
I visited an amazing venue for the first time last month. The Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh was a former swimming baths. I knew Infirmary Street, as there is a great folk music venue there called The Royal Oak Bar. I was covering Scottish Book Trust Awards. I met two lovely people there author Vivian French (on right) with her Outstanding Achievement Award and Head Teacher Eileen Littlewood with her Learning Professional Award. The location made a really super background. I loved the old swimming pool roof. It really made the picture.
A Sea of Daffodils
I was at the unveiling of Marie Curie’s amazing ‘Garden of Light’ at Glasgow’s Central Railway Station. It was to mark the charity’s annual Great Daffodil Appeal, the charity’s biggest fundraising drive which happens in March. The idea was to shoot the daffodils from a low angle to really make it look like the whole floor of the station was covered with flowers. The light from the individual flowers lit up the faces beautifully. Marie Curie nurse Liz Arnott with service users Linda and husband Robert, were on hand to admire the display. As we were in the famous Glasgow Central Station it was important to show the stunning iconic iron and glass roof.
Jaguar Video Blog
I was helping a very good PR pal of mine who was doing a video review of the Jaguar E Pace. A very cool car although a bit out of my price range. ‘Laura from Aura’, as she is best known, had got this amazing 4×4 on loan from Taggarts Jaguar. We took it up to Loch Lomond to do some pictures and then I tried out my new DJI Osmo, which holds an iPhone to give the cinematic type effect when shooting video. Here is the link to some of the scenes I shot with is using my own guitar soundtrack.
And to finish this month, another video. The Beast from the East storm cut our village off for three days. It made for some amazing pictures which, I hope to eventually make into a video slideshow but for now here is a short film of our road been cleared.
Sir Bobby Charlton
I was covering the visit of Sir Bobby Charlton to the synthetic bone project at the University of Glasgow, which is funded by his charity Find A Better Way.
Sir Bobby is with Eva the Munsterlander who, for those who remember my June post, was the dog whose paw was saved and became the unplanned beneficiary of the project to save land mine blast survivors. Inside the lab the set up was amazing. The 3D printer, which actually grows the bone, really is a miracle. Eva, happy with a few doggie snacks, was totally unaware of her very famous friend.
All Aboard for the Taxi Cup
The annual Glasgow Taxi Cup will see more than 700 students from Glasgow, Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian Universities compete to be Glasgow’s best sporting institute. The cup is a beautiful trophy and very heavy. The three folk in the back of the cab are all the University sport presidents and are being driven by Robbie Wishart of Glasgow University. Last year Glasgow University won the trophy. The cup competition is now in its 15th year and the competition is a firm fixture in the calendar. I always feel the taxi itself is just as much as the star as the students and trophy – so it’s always essential to make sure it has a staring role.
The Lighting Is the Thing
Sometimes you have to visit a location before an event to get a look at rooms and equipment that might make a picture. Scottish Government Innovation Minister Paul Wheelhouse was visiting a lab in Strathclyde University’s Technology and Innovation Centre to announce funding for the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics in Glasgow. The non-profit centre specialises in photonics, or laser technology. Lasers always sound great for pictures, but in reality they can be small and inside protective casings for health and safety reasons. On an earlier visit we found the huge TV screens in the board room and then looked through a bank of images to find the one would look the most effective as a background. When the minister arrived we were set up, ready to go and the job was done in about 15 minutes. He could then get on with the rest of his visit.
LAB/ River City Project
I was on the set of BBC Scotland’s weekly drama River City with Actor Aisha Toussaint, who plays Jules Belmont in the program. She was working with BBC Scotland’s L.A.B (Learn At BBC Scotland) and pupils from Lourdes Secondary School in Glasgow to create original drama content, focussing on mental health. The pupils write, act in and film the short drama as well as making a behind-the-scenes documentary about the process. As well as Aisha the youngsters worked with well known TV script writer Stuart Hepburn who, as well as River City, has written many of the Taggart episodes. It was good fun watching everyone mucking in, even the school teachers got parts in the show. It was a great learning opportunity for the young people, I wish school had been like that in my day. I have posted a link to watch their drama on Instagram.
Scotland’s Hospices Together
I was at Glasgow Centre Station for Valentines day with staff from many of the local hospices handing out chocolate hearts. It was for the launch of new national partnership called Scotland’s Hospices Together and spread the #hospicelove with the commuters. The chocolate hearts did prove to be really popular with commuters some asking for more. It was a freezing cold and I did feel guilty in my hat and scarf, but the colourful hospice T shirts did make for a nice group picture.
My first job of the year is always on New Years Day. The Loch Lomond Water Ski Club take to the chilly waters of the loch for their annual sponsored Fancy Dress Water Ski Event. The year it was in aid of Race Against Dementia. It’s a day I really look forward to. It gets you up and into the fresh air and what could be more lovely than Ben Lomond with a bit of snow on the top. Racing up and down the loch on a speedboat certainly is a good way to blow away the cobwebs.
A Year In Pictures
With the new year started I was keen to do another slide show, ‘2017 A Year In Pictures’. Please click on the link below and have a look.
The Coolest of Cool Cars
I came across one of the coolest designed cars to photograph when the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour were out on the road celebrating their 20th anniversary. One of the stops was at Shawlands Primary, where the youngsters came out to welcome them to their school. When I saw the fantastic drawings all over the outside of the car I knew this is going to make a great picture. One of the students volunteered to chauffeur children’s writers Lari Don and Ross Collins, sitting in the back seat. As she was only eleven our driver could not actually move the vehicle but it did make for a good fun picture.
Monday the 15th of January is officially the most depressing day of the year seemingly. However I was out bright and early with the Buchanan Galleries promo staff who were turning the Glasgow commuters frowns upside down with their Blue Monday voucher give away. We were on the platform at Queen Street Station and people were looking pretty miserable. They really cheered up with their unexpected gift. It was nice to be a part of the event and seeing the public’s reactions.
RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
The large snowfall we had in January made for some amazing weather pictures. I found Wee Blue the Blue Tit waiting patiently to get on the bird feeder. I think his feet must have been getting cold. I am glad I was inside. It made a nice Picture of the Day on The Herald letters page on the Saturday of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. I always enjoy taking part on the day and I am sure I saw Wee Blue and his pals at the feeder again.
Its That Time of Year Again
As we are coming up to Christmas all the pantomimes are getting in to full swing. I have been working a lot with the Pavilion Theatre on their production of The Wizard of Never Woz. Photographing the show is such a laugh. Its easy to miss a shot as you are in stitches with laughter. The other super show on just now is Jack & The Beanstalk with Greig McEwan of Gary Tank Commander Fame.
I actually took this a while back for the press call to publicise the show. Greig was really up for it. There were a stack of press photographers all looking for the shot looking right down the camera lens. Panto season is always great for pictures. The colours really jump out. It must have been so hard in the old black & white days. I love black & white but this is one occasion where the colour wins hands down. It was nice to with Greig again having done pictures for the Gary Tank Commander show last year at The SEC Hydro.
Ready For Take Off
I found myself standing on the runway at Glasgow Airport this month photographing Glasgow Airport’s Managing Director Amanda MacMillan who is leaving the position after ten years. Its always pleasant to work with Amanda as I have photographed her many times. However was one of the most tricky assignments. You only get a short space of time to stand at what is called ‘the piano keys’ on the main runway. What you don’t see behind me is a big pick up truck with the engine running and a guy with a walkie talkie listening to the air traffic control. We only have about a minute to get out of the way before a plane comes into land. As soon as he shout to us we are in to the truck and away to the side of the runway at top speed. It is pretty strange to watch the wheels of a huge plane running along where we stood only minutes before. The Herald’s new Business magazine Business HQ used my pictures on the front cover and on two inside spreads.
I have been working with the Scottish Maritime Irvine Museum over the last year or so. One of the highlights is ‘Illumination’, Irvine Harbour’s Festival of Light. It made for brilliant pictures and it looked so amazing that I wanted to add a couple of pictures to my blog. It is not easy as there is a lot of work to figure out the best exposure and shutter speeds on my camera. Walking along the harbour was the Light Trail part of the event. Illuminated buildings and boats out in the water with lights stretching across the harbour. I loved my picture of a local youngster with the world’s first, music-making Illumaphonium. The look of joy in her face said it all. The sounds it made were amazing. In order to get a good picture the timing had to be right so that the white light came on to light up her face.
Inside the listed Linthouse building , a former shipyard, was the gravity defying acrobatics of Spinal Chord. All the movement was done to amazing live industrial rock music. It was quite a sight. The misty dry ice and the strong colours of the lighting made it hard to focus, but the more you try the luckier you get.
A Peaceful Christmas Scene
Sometimes pictures just come to you as your walking by. I was helping my better half with her JoJo Gnome Christmas workshop at Mugdock Country Park. We had a great day and I got to wear my news Santa hat. We had just taken a picture of ourselves in the JoJo Gnome T shirts and as we walked away I realised how quiet it was. All the kids were in watching the Panto in the small theatre and we were going for a coffee into Charlie’s Bar. I had never seen this place with out a soul in it. I liked the Christmas tree in colour and turning the rest of the image to black & white. There was a bit of blurring to the edge of the frame which I thought added a bit to the atmosphere.
To everyone who has read my blog this year, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I look forward to sharing more pictures and stories in 2018.
Singing In The Rain
I had one of my most tricky lighting situations this month in the old street at The Riverside Museum. It is one of the places with the lowest light which gives an old fashioned look to the naked eye but for photography it is one of the more problematic locations . I was photographing Patricia Ward Kelly, she is the wife of Hollywood legend Gene Kelly. The photo shoot was for Gene Kelly: The Legacy, which was playing at The RSNO Centre at The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. I had four flash guns all pointing at various spots in the room. One on Patricia herself, one on the street cobbles, one on the shop and one on RSNO violinist Patrick Curlett. It was defiantly worth all the effort and Patricia herself was lovely.
I was back at The West End Festival St Andrew’s Day Torchlight Parade again this year. It was an amazing event as always. This year there was the addition of actor David Hayman, from Spirit Aid, who was leading the procession. There were the members of Glasgow Hula Hoop group doing some of their fantastic fire stunts.
One of the hard things about photographing the procession is how dark it is. You do need a very high ISO to catch the light on the faces of the of the crowd and get a good exposure of the people. Also the low illumination makes it very hard to focus on the subject. The light on David Hayman’s face came from the shops on the main road shining on his face which balanced out the torch light.
The other hard thing is is keeping ahead of the procession. You would not imagine that the crowd move as fast as they do. Especially when you have to run up to the car park above Waitrose and then run backdown stairs and get ahead of them for another picture from a pair of step ladders half way down Byres Rd.
Time For Tea
The Willow Tea Rooms in Buchanan Street is one of the loveliest settings for a photo call. I was in The Blue Room on the second floor of the Buchanan Street restaurant. The square shapes of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh design, with the strong blue colour, really make a lovely image to launch the new ‘Willow Tea Rooms Recipe Book’. The book which provides 40 recipes for the perfect afternoon tea, while also telling the remarkable and inspiring story of owner Anne Mulhern and The Willow Tea Rooms. In a press photograph sometimes it’s better to show a whole scene rather than just focusing on the book alone.
A Visit to Hogwarts
Scotland’s oldest public museum, the Huntarian Museum in Glasgow, was the venue for a photo call involving one of my favourite characters Harry Potter. The main hall of the museum is very like ‘The Great Hall’ at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardary. The Hunterian, will be playing host to the exciting event which will celebrate the world of fantasy fiction. Stories involving the legend of King Arthur or what real life creatures inspired the Loch Ness monster legend. Playing the part of Harry was Katarina O’Dette a student who is studying Fantasy at The University of Glasgow. She was joined by a great bunch of S5 pupils from Hillhead High School. Everyone really threw themselves into their parts. I managed to make things a bit more spooky by putting green coloured gels on my flash lights which gave a filmic look to the scene.
Always Up A Ladder
Scottish artist Lachlan Goudie was hanging his new exhibition ‘Shipyard’ at The Scottish Maritime Museum. This is a remarkable exhibition capturing the work, vibrancy and renewed optimism in the shipyards on the Clyde and Forth. The exhibition, which has been supported by BAE Systems, draws on hundreds of images from the renowned artist, and broadcaster, created during a seven year study documenting construction of the next generation of Britain’s naval vessels. When I met him he was up a ladder hanging the work, no sooner had he come down then he was up another one. It only seemed fitting to ask him to climb back up another ladder to pose for my photograph.
Burns In Braille
I had another visit to The University of Glasgow this month. A rare braille collection of the complete works of Robert Burns was presented to the University by Joan Muir, from Ayrshire. She had gifted them to the local Irvine Burns Club. The Club wanted to pass the books to the University, where they will be on permanent loan. I loved the picture of Joan reading the books watched by President of the Irvine Burns Club Allen Paterson. It was guide dog Elma who really made the picture by sleeping contentedly under the table.
Look What We Caught in The Clyde
This month I was covering the BBC Good Food show at the SEC in Glasgow. We had chef Ryan James of Two Fat Ladies restaurant holding a giant hake with Anne Mulhern of The Willow Tea Rooms with her tea set cake and James Kemp, bartender at The Finnieston with one of his super cocktails. Sometimes you just cannot beat a huge fish as a prop, especially at the River Clyde. Some one is always going to ask if we had just caught it. It was a scary looking thing.
Lighting up a Pumpkin
I was in the giant pumpkin patch at Arnprior Farm which was opening for Halloween. I have never seen so many pumpkins ‘in the wild’ before. All the kids were loving the experience. I got this young lad wondering how I managed to light up the inside of the pumpkin for my photograph. Simple, put the flash in a polythene bag to stop it getting all covered in bits of pumpkin and use a flash trigger to set the flash. It always looks good.
Another amazing thing is that my grandmother came to this farm during the war after being evacuated from Glasgow. When I told my mum she asked was it the McEwan Farm? I said that was the name of the lady who organised it. It seems the McEwen family has farmed Arnprior since 1936. How is that for a small world.
There are some pictures we call hardy annuals. Burns night, switching on of the Christmas lights, fireworks night, this is another of these assignments that I look forward to coming round every year.
Two years on and still going strong with Mackintosh
I cannot believe that time has passed by so quickly. My last job on staff with The Herald & Evening Times was a Charles Rennie Mackintosh look a like at The Willow Tea Rooms. Now on my second year anniversary I am back celebrating the world renowned architect and designer at The Queens Cross Church for The Sixth Mackintosh Festival. To be honest, I have been doing many photo calls of the ‘man with the moustache’ over the months and I love the subtle colours and shapes of Mackintosh. My picture ended up on the front page of The Scotsman as well as in The Evening Times, The Times and The Metro. The one thing I never get tired of is seeing my work in print. It still gives me a buzz to pick up a newspaper and see my photograph on the page. The front page is always a real thrill. I have had many front page pictures over my career and I still remember going into the newsagents and having the front page on nearly all the newspapers. It was not unusual for all the Nationals to pick up on a story that we had done earlier on the day in the Evening Times.
Take Care of My Bear at Glasgow Airport
I had a really fun assignment last month with Glasgow Airport’s new Teddy Tag. Every year hundreds of teddies and soft toys get lost and left behind on planes. The airport are now issuing tags for youngster’s cuddly toys. Putting all the toys on the trolley and add to that young Christopher’s great expression, really made me smile. It made people around the world smile too. The picture and story went all around the globe and hopefully the world’s cuddly toys can fly with confidence in the future.
All Smiles and Painted Faces at Specsavers
I was at the opening of the new Specsavers store in Newton Mearns. They had cake, balloons and a face painter. Optometrist student Caroline Reilly tried her hand at drawing a pair of glasses on young Alistair. I wanted her to paint them on as a real pair of glasses but he wanted Spiderman. So we had a compromise. A wee pair of specs then the full Spiderman face.
Roaring in to Autumn
This month started with a bit of a roar. I was at the Jurassic Kingdom launch photo call at the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow. The effects were amazing. You could hear the sounds all around the park. Looking at these huge dinosaurs stretching up into the trees was certainly a sight you don’t see every day. I had a young explorer on hand to add a bit of fun to the picture. Some dinosaurs don’t have teeth but we found one that wasn’t too tall and decided to let him meet his match. However we all got a fright when the motion sensor in the creature kicked into life and the thing lifted it’s head and gave one almighty roar, but it was good fun on the day.
A Big Red Bus
I had a great bus trip around Glasgow. Red Bus Bistro and the National Autistic Society had organised a tour which took in the Glasgow Cathedral, People’s Palace and The Riverside Museum. The trip included adaptations to the bus such as a chill out zone, sensory toys and no music playing in the background. Alison the MD of Red Bus Bistro and son Bradley were my models for the photo shoot along with dad Stuart, who was driving the bus.
The whole thing lasted about an hour and there were tea and cakes with some sweets for the youngsters. The old Routemaster Bus is such an iconic sight. As we drove through the streets there were people all looking round to see us driving past. The trip made the following day’s Evening Times on Page 3.
The Lucky G
The G postcode of Glasgow is one of the luckiest postcodes to have in Scotland it seems. I was out in George Square with a giant golden G. It was creating a buzz about the square. Locals and tourists alike were all taking selfies and posing with it. However ‘Wee George’ the French Bulldog was one of the few not giving it a second glance.
Life Can Be A Beach
Landscapes are a part of photography I really enjoy. You have no control over the subject and you just have to choose your moment. Whether it’s a beach, or green fields how the light falls is an important factor. Sometimes you can just throw a curve ball at it and change the whole look of a picture. I used my 15mm fisheye lens which I find works really well in science and industrial assignments. The huge sky and the unusual curve of the beach at Gott Bay on Tiree gives a really unusual look about the photography. Another good thing about a fisheye is that it has such good depth of field everything is in focus.
Part of the fun of this year’s trip to Tiree was having my own postcards for sale in the local gift shop Chocolates and Charms. Last year I was really pleased with my photographs and I thought I would get some printed up. I had a pal who was up a few months ago and told me he had brought one. The first batch had almost sold out. There is about six different ones with some in black & white. The thistle and the highland cow proved to be the most popular.
Six Black CandlesTheatrical photography has long been a favourite of mine and takes me back to my student days. Working in the Tron Theatre in the bar and occasionally doing the cast pictures. Watching the action happen in front of you and just catching the actors in full flow of emotion. It is like hard news but no-one gets hurt (which I usually say about politics). Sometimes someone has a vision and you have to interpret it. Six Black Candles is the Pavilion Theatre’s latest production. The idea was to photograph each member of cast holding a candle and put them together in the one frame like the image of the band Queen in Bohemian Rhapsody. Uplighting the faces and with a flash behind to give a hair light like in the video was fairly straight forwards but the designer put them around a pair of underpants on fire. That’s why I love working with designers. I was delighted when I saw the poster.
I had the opportunity to photograph a couple of really nice guys from Together Energy who are very proud to have their base in Clydebank. It is hard to convey this fact from inside an office. Clydebank has a great local landmark of the Titan Crane at the old John Brown shipyard. Having the subjects with this iconic structure really brought the whole photo shoot to life and located the business right in the heart of Clydebank. I love business assignments. The days of getting two gentlemen in suits shaking hands in a room is really less common as business want to show more of their personality with more imaginative and creative photography.
The Big Yin
I had the pleasure and privilage of watching Billy Connolly’s first reaction to seeing his portraits that were created for his 75th birthday by Jack Vettriano, John Byrne and Rachel McLean after they were enlarged onto the side of Glasgow buildings. He said he was ‘flabbergasted’ at the massive images. It was shown on the BBC Scotland Billy Connolly : Portrait of a Lifetime. I actually watched it twice. It was hard to pick a favourite image. They all had something special about them. I think Rachel McLean’s image really came to life through the documentary with all the details that were in her photograph that were part of his life. Every time I looked I could see more and more. I have photographed him before but not one to one and I was a bit nervous. He was delightful and laughed when I told him I bought a Dry As A Bone long coat like his after watching his World Tour of Scotland program.
Give Us A Paw
I met Eva, a 2 year old Munsterlander whose leg was saved from amputation by an amazing new regenerative medicine project at The University of Glasgow. The research is funded by Sir Bobby Charlton’s landmine charity Find A Better Way. Owner Fiona was so delighted to watch Eva running around the grounds of the University’s Small Animal Hospital in Bearsden. She is pictured with William Marshall who performed the operation. The research will be used to treat civilian land mine blast survivors. It was one of the really good news stories of the month. Another photographer and myself were making woofing and meowing noises to get Eva to look at the camera. We did get some strange looks but it worked.
Takin’ The Biscuit
Hamilton Park Racecouse was promoting it’s Saints & Sinners evening and I was asked to come along to create an image that would work for the newspapers and social media. We had a local girl Eilidh MacDonald wearing a fascinator made out of Tunnock’s Tea Cake and Carmel Wafers. It was a great idea to feature these local and famous tasty treats.
The red colours really work from the hair, to dress and the wrappers really stand out from the white background of the racecourse buildings.
Last month I was photographing Josh Quigley his team who all taking part in The Great Big Walk. I caught them at The Clyde Arc bridge crossing The River Clyde in Glasgow. They had been all around Scotland and they was them passing through on their way to the Kelpies at Falkirk. We did some pictures of them crossing the bridge but I quite liked this image of them walking beside the river with The Finnieston Crane and the Hydro in the background. I love having lots of iconic buildings in my pictures.
The Scottish Parliament
I had never been to the Scottish Parliament building before. After 25 years at the papers I had seen the the Scottish Parliament coming into being, the building plans, photo calls with the architect and scale models with Donald Dewar. Well this month I had the pleasure of seeing around the building with Marie Curie and the National Autistic Society. We were meeting MSP’s to get them on board with pledging support for autism and encouraging the Great Tea Party charity event for Marie Curie.
I was so pleased to see how enthusiastic the MSP’s were to get involved.
I must say being freelance I was missing being part of the political news photo opportunities that usually go on at election time. The election count in Glasgow was the first one I had missed in over 20 years. Even the First Minister said she had not seen me for ages. She also could not believe I had not been through to Holyrood before. All the party leaders were in good form. The group picture was taken just after First Ministers Questions. I guess it went well that day.
This month I met a group of walkers at The People’s palace in Glasgow. They were all taking part in The Great Big Walk. Josh Quigley and his team were walking and still are at this time of writing. The Great Big Walk sees five teams of walkers over the UK connecting people and celebrating community. Every day, the walkers and their supporters visit different community projects and spend time with people who go the extra mile to bring communities together.
Walking and running pictures happen quite frequently and sometime the challenge can be to photograph it in a different way. I liked the idea of the people up on a grassy mound looking almost like a hill or mountain with the top half of the People’s Palace peeping up over.
A great day I worked on last year was the North Hop festival at the cool venue of SWG3. It’s a mix of craft beers, cool food and music. Their hashtag is #NORTHHOPGLA I took the picture of festival organiser Michelle Russell and Richard O’Brien, from Glasgow-based microbrewery, Out of Town Brewing, in front of one of the amazing graffiti art works at Yardworks Glasgow’s just outside at SWG3. It worked using the GLA of the Glasgow painting to tie in with the hashtag.
Fizz, Jazz & Razzmatazz
Kaye Adams, Nadia Sawalha and entertainer Edward Reid brought TV’s glamour and style when they appeared at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice’s Fizz, Jazz & Razzmatazz ladies lunch at Mar Hall hotel near Glasgow. I was there to catch the moment when the bubbly was opened. The interior of the marquee tent was amazing. I loved all the colours and with the celebrities who were all in great form combined with the lovely soft light coming though the canvas roof made a really super picture for the next days papers.
To light a space that is a 63,000 square foot arena full of trampolines is no mean feat. You need a powerful flash to fill that space, especially when the Glasgow Skyline mural in the background is one of the most important parts of the room. I was at Flip Out, Glasgow the world’s largest trampoline arena. My Ellinchrome flash heads came into their own. A normal Speedlight on camera flash is just not enough. I was fortunate to ask one of the display trampoline team if I could do some shots of her with the Glasgow Skyline in the background. She had to be very precise with the height she would need to jump to. She was really good and every jump was spot on. Then, when I asked her name she told me it was Katie Gallagher, the Scottish Ladies Champion. Talk about good luck in picking the right subject.
Flash Bang What A Picture
I had an amazing evening at The Glasgow Science Centre photographing ‘The Science Lates’ an evening event for adults only. There were live demonstrations, fascinating exhibits, tasty food and drinks. I was tempted to try the cocktails that changed colour as you poured them. I could have filled my blog with pictures from the Silent Disco, Star Wars characters, all the amazing things that you cannot get a hold of as the kids are usually in there first. My favourite image was the flames leaping from the hands of willing volunteers. There was no shortage of participants, as soon as one was done the next was up. The flame happens so fast blink and you miss it. I find my 15mm fish eye always gives a great effect in The Glasgow Science Centre.
Style Is Not Rubbish
I was really impressed with the pupils from Hillhead High School who were celebrating the launch of St. Enoch Centre’s new Atrium Food Court. They had a special design of their own, fashioned entirely from food packaging.
Model and presenter Jennifer Reoch looked amazing in the dress which was constructed using materials from a selection of the food outlets in the centre.
I loved the distinctive design and colour of the wall behind the model. All the colours worked really well together. For once I did not need to use my flash as all the natural light was pouring in to give a lovely natural skin tone.
A Moment Of Quiet In Rome
When I take a few days off I still I love to take my small Canon G7x compact. It makes such a change not to carry two or three camera bodies with lenses and flash – only one camera, no flash and a short zoom lens on holiday. I love shooting in black and white, just taking time to watch what is happening. I saw these two young people sitting looking at the pictures they had taken on their phone. The light from the roof bouncing up off the floor lighting up their faces in this stunning church. It was so quiet and peaceful while outside Rome goes past at 100mph.
Looking Up With a Smile
This month I was working on the FrockDrop campaign at the Buchanan Galleries for Marie Curie with top TV presenter Cat Cubie. FrockDrop aims to encourage people across the country to have a spring clear out and donate their pre-loved clothes. We had dresses donated by a number of high profile personalities including The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Lorraine Kelly and Myleene Klass.
I wanted to show Cat with a couple of the outfits. We chose Myleene Klass’ and Lorraine Kelly’s dresses as the most colourful and Spring inspiring pieces. Rather thank just holding them up by the hangers I thought it would be nice to shoot the picture from the 1st floor balcony looking down to the ground floor. We had some bright yellow daffodils and a nice grass effect carpet. Leaning over and looking down, which is always a bit scary as I don’t have a head for heights, Cat looked amazing. Sometimes a different angle can really make a picture.
Style At Sea 1930’s
I was back down in Irvine to shoot some publicity shots for a new exhibition called Style at Sea, at the Scottish Maritime Museum. It tells the story of the Cunard Line and Clydebank shipbuilder John Brown & Co, which gave the world some of the most famous and luxurious liners of the 20th century. We had a great couple of volunteers dressed in period costume. I had them dancing on the floor beside the ships. The whole thing has an amazing 1930’s feel. There is even an evening event called A Night of Cocktails, Dancing and Glamour. I loved this shot of them in front of a giant picture of the QE2 with the welder working away in the background. I am glad it wasn’t real – health & safety!
My grandfather worked at Yarrows and my dad worked at Stephen’s Shipyards in Glasgow. They had many stories to tell of the exploits of what the men would get up to. I think the workers on these ships would have had a very different experience from the glamour of being a passenger going over to New York. Mind you, it’s making me think of a cruise for this years holiday.
A Dram by The River Thames
I have been to London working many times for the newspapers but last month I had my first trip as Martin Shields Photography. I was down to photograph the young Chivas Regal brand ambassadors. This was part of their graduate program. What a bright, articulate and friendly bunch they were. There is nothing more rewarding than to see youngsters bursting with confidence.
My main picture was to be taken with the M.D outside the company HQ in front of Hammersmith Bridge. Getting 50 people down a set of stairs, speaking nicely to the facilities staff to borrow a sturdy health and safety passed ladder and hoping the rain stayed off…..taking the picture was the easy bit.
All Light Now
This year I treated myself to new studio lights that I can use outdoors as well as inside. They are Elinchrome Quadra Action which sound a dramatic and exiting. Maybe I should have used that in my business plan. Somehow ‘Martin Shields Quadra Action’ does not have the same ring to it.
My first assignment with them was photographing the talented singer Jill Brown. She is based near the Campsie Fells and and I wanted to capture the spirit of her music and personality that would also reflect her roots. Musicians have a image that good photography can bring out. Talking to the artist about what kind of look and feel they want with their photographs is so important. It is about trying to realise what is in their heads and adding a bit of creativity. It was a great shoot to do and I really enjoyed working with Jill. I feel it looks like a musician’s picture, even without a guitar or any other musical instruments.
Art In The Galleries
There are some pictures that I love to take that I hope will make the viewer look twice. Finding an unusual subject in a familiar location is usually a winner. This is what I did with The Glasgow Art School fashion show, which is taking place next month on 21st and 22nd of March. It is worth trying to catch. I have covered it many times over the years and it never fails to disappoint. I was in the Buchanan Galleries the other day with three of the talented designers who had brought their creations along with models to show off in the shopping centre who are supporting the show. We had thought about putting the models on the escalators but we were a bit worried about the pom-poms getting caught up in the mechanics. Health and safety at all times!!!
I am a great fan of Apple products. They just seem to work and are lovely to use. You can imagine my delight at being asked to cover the Apple CEO Tim Cook receiving his honorary doctorate of Science from The University of Glasgow. The pictures were for all the worlds press. I was very proud to be trusted with the event. It was nice to see the pictures well used over the papers and websites. I was particularly proud of my front page in The Herald. Even though Tim Cook is such a major player in global industry he was genuinely delighted with the whole event.
This month I spent some time at BBC Pacific Quay with Shereen Nanjiani and Glenn Campbell on the set of their new TV show Timeline. Like all these shows you rely so much on the good nature of the lighting technicians. Again this time they did not disappoint me. A set is lit for the presenters standing in a certain spot and usually I am being a pest moving them around. For a press picture I do need a certain type of image. Often the back to back works almost every time.
I was down at the BBC River City set at a photo call for the Rosshall Academy school pupils film ‘ The Costume’ . It was written, starred and filmed by the pupils but with the help of River City writer Stuart Hepburn and actor Gerard Miller. The project was run by BBC Scotland L.A.B, which is part of the learning and outreach team. It was a great event and so good to see the pupils rising to the challenge.
Officer Karen & Bobby
Over the holiday period I spend more time that usual in front of the TV. This time I had extra interest as I had been working with the Comedy Unit on the filming of the hit police spoof Scot Squad. The whole team were really nice and made you feel part of the ‘squad’. Two of the nicest were Karen Bartke and Darren Connell who play the long suffering Officer Karen and the lovable but incorrigible Bobby.
The picture above was shot for The Herald Magazine. We did the shoot at the very swish Citation Bar at the former Sheriff Court in Glasgow. They were totally different looking from their TV personas (right) where I photographed them in a local Tenants Hall which is dressed as a Police Station. The crew really help you out. The lighting is set by some of the best lighting guys in the country. It is nice not to have to use my flash.
I was really proud to see my pictures used on the BBC iPlayer and in the national press. Jack Docherty, who plays the Chief, is lovely and a real pro.
He has been acting with a few cool celebrities for this new series. I was in stitches watching him with writer Ian Rankin. In this episode the Chief was trying to show the top author his own crime novel with no sucess. Ian plays it straight which makes it all the funnier.
I love watching the show. I even had a bit as an extra when they needed a press photographer for a press room scene.
On Hogmanay I always stay in and watch Only an Excuse. I had the privilege of working on the show this year. I have watched it for years and think it really should be on more. I was on set to photograph Jonathan Watson doing his send up of Frank ‘Macca’ McAvennie getting tennis lessons from Judy Murray. It was fun watching the one liners flying back and forth. I think Judy enjoyed is as much as I did.
Never work with children or animals, that is what we were always taught at college. However I know these university students are certainly not children but Dublin, the huge white horse at Busby Equestrian Centre certainly falls into the animals category. The horse did everything he was asked in return for a couple of Polo Mints. The University Sports Presidents were all coming together for The annual Glasgow Taxis Cup photo call. The cup involves over 700 students representing Glasgow, Strathclyde, and Glasgow Caledonian universities to see which will be Glasgow’s best sporting institute. Dublin was there to represent the Equestrian section of the competition. When Lauren Ramage of Glasgow Caledonian asked him for a smile I think his answer was ‘ neigh chance’.
With the festive season in full swing I thought I should include at least one Christmas picture. It was the staff and volunteers of The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice all wearing their Christmas jumpers on Christmas Jumper Day. They were celebrating the achievement of raising £19.25million so far for the Brick By Brick Appeal.
Finally I wanted to put a selection of some of my pictures on a YouTube video. I have enjoyed all of my assignments during 2016. I could not put them all so here is a selection of what I got up to over the past year. Have Happy New Year and all the best for 2017.
Lighting Up The Night
November is my least favourite months as we say goodbye to autumn, lighter nights, milder weather and hello to cold grey days leading on to colder grey nights. As a photographer I think its the lack of colour and light that gets to me, after Guy Fawkes night thats it. Thank goodness for the inspirational events like the Scottish Maritime Museum’s Illumination: Harbour Festival of Light and the West End Festival’s Torchlight Parade. Pictured above is Gloria Ronchi as she put the final touches to On the Wings of Freedom, a kaleidoscope of glowing butterflies that was featured at Irvine harbour next to the museum.
It can be a challenge at these events to catch the colours and the light. As bright as it is to the human eye the camera is not as forgiving. These days digital cameras are much more sensitive than film cameras. With the glowing butterflies I had to drop my shutter speed down to about 1\20th.
Fire performer Annie Minnaar of Glasgow Hoola Hoops was wowing the crowd at The West End Festival’s Torchlight Parade. I could not shoot that at such a slow speed so I had to shoot at 3200ISO to freeze the movement in the flames.
Another thing about November is that Christmas is coming and all the events that go with is come around again. A job that I enjoy is going down to George Square to join Glasgow Lord Provost Sade Docherty hanging decorations on the Christmas tree.
Most years we go up on a cherry picker way up high above the square and I close my eyes and hope for the best. Being up so high in a small cage is not a great thing for me so I focus on the subject and don’t look at the ground. This year we did it from a lower point which I was much happier with. Mind you the Provost has never complained and I think quite enjoys the trip for the birds eye view.
The charity photo calls that come up are another group of fun events to cover. It is really great to see people pulling ideas together to try and help others. I went along to photograph the pupils from St. Luke’s High School in Barrhead help Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) launch its Christmas Real Gifts appeal.
Sometimes teenagers are a bit shy and not really up for being in pictures as it is not seen as a cool. However add in a few pieces of tinsel and a Santa hat or two and they were right up for it. As you can see they had a right good laugh.
Look Through Any Window
I love a picture through a window. It is like a picture in a frame in real life. I was at the Leiper Gallery in West George Street, Glasgow to photograph artist Paul Kennedy who curated his own exhibition ‘A Night at The Dogs’. It was inspired by a visit to Shawfield Dog Racing. He was actually working at the far end of the gallery when I asked him to come close to the window. After a few interested passers lingered to watch him work, he decided to stay at the window.
Being a fan of the kilt I was delighted to be asked along to cover the Kiltwalk 2017 launch in George Square. The driving force, Sir Tom Hunter was there in great form as always. Joining him was the former Celtic player John Hartson. I have photographed John many times at Celtic Park but this was the first time I had spoken to him. He was charming and so enthusiastic about the whole event.
One of my other events in October was covering the press photography for the Gary Tank Commander show at The SSE Hydro. I only was there for the first half but, what a laugh. Greig McHugh’s character was hilarious. We went back on the Friday to see the whole show.
His co-star Leah McRae from River City, who I featured in my August Blog, was a scream. One of the other familiar faces was James Allenby-Kirk or Volunteer Officer Ken Beattie from the Scots Squad TV series.
It was like photographing a band. You have to react quickly to the changing lights, get good expressions and you only get about twenty minutes. On the night of the show the place was packed and I think some bands would struggle to get that size of audience to their show.
Flying High but I’m Sacred of Hights
When photographing an artiste you rely on them doing what they do. I can suggest different angles or what lens I would like to use but there are times you just have to let them get on with it. High flying Ashleigh Blair of Spinal Chord, was one example of this. We were working in the superb location of The Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine as she was rehearsing for the country’s newest art and light winter spectacular, Harbour Festival of Light. Ashleigh was hanging from the original girders from the former shipyard for the Illumination Light and Aerial Art Spectacular. I do sometimes have to remind the artiste……….smile.
I had the privilege of meeting Pele at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. It was an event called ‘An evening with Pele’. The man himself was there with his number 10 shirt. Even thought Pele is such a superstar he spent so much time talking to everyone who patiently waited in line. I always talk about using flash carefully but occasionally you just have to blast it. The strong brightness caught his arm punching the air.
Showing the contrast between old and new is a feature I often use in my pictures. This was the launch of the 2016 Mackintosh Festival at the House for an Art Lover. I loved the wee girl pointing up to the figure of Charles Rennie Mackintosh wearing his virtual reality goggles. I know it is not true in real life but its nice to suspend belief and to make the viewer smile.
The Things You See out Shopping
Coming face to face with Darth Mol from Star Wars at the Film and Comic Con at Braehead Arena was a surprise. The event was huge with loads of comic fans all dressed as their favourite characters. There was Spiderman, well Spidermen as there was a few, a Frodo Baggins, Power Rangers even a Star Wars Stormtrooper in a kilt. I met a young Supergirl who I photographed with Superman girl friend Lois Lane actress Margot Kidder. There was a few other famous faces there too. Colin Baker who was the sixth doctor in the TV series Dr Who, Grado from Scot Squad from and Scottish actor Rony Bridges who was in Star Wars.
I loved the casual way the two stormtroopers where having a coffee with Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings and Catniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games.
Buy A Brick for The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice
As suits go I am not a fan. I have only ever owned four suits in my life and I only bought two of those this year. However I loved the red brick suit belonging to Entertainer Edward Reid, there for the launch of ‘Buy a Brick’, for Glasgow’s Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice. He was great to work with and was quite happy to jump up on the piles of bricks brought in by fork lift into George Square.
He was joined by hospice staff, service users and family members who were all in the Buy a Brick TV advert. It was a real feel good event with some lovely people I felt privileged to work with. The event was well covered in the next days newspapers.
I caught up with River City actress Leah McRae who was getting in shape with her personal trainer Kenny Walker. She is performing in this years Cinderella pantomime at Eastwood Theatre. One of the best pictures was when she was doing her boxing practice. She really gave Kenny a tough time. Not quite like her character in the TV soap. I did feel a bit rotten as I put her through her whole training routine in an hour just to see what would make the best picture. As usually happens the best one was the one at the end -when she brought out her boxing gloves.
One of my favourite days this month was being taken out on a speed boat to watch some Glasgow primary children learning to sail with the Royal Yachting Association. It was part of the RYA Sail for Gold Roadshow. Scottish members of Team GB, RYA Scotland were preparing to celebrate the Rio 2016 Games by hosting two days of sailing activites. The kids loved it. To be honest I had a ball too. One of my old friends Marc Turner was the guy ensuring that I would not fall in. It was a roasting hot day with a lovely cool breeze blowing up the River Clyde instead of a gale that usually would cut you in half.
A Walk On The Beach
This summer we decided to visit the Island of Tiree. I was looking at the possibility of creating some cards showing the stunning beaches. One of the beaches near where we stayed was the one at Crossapol where the Tiree Music Festival was being set up. I loved this shot looking towards the big tent where the artists would be performing with the couple walking towards it. The two people really give it scale however they were holding hands which looked great but by the time I got my focus and exposure they had let go. Perhaps they had a fight. I have about 30GB of images to go through to pick out a few for my cards, but that is something for the long winter nights .
One of my favourite things is science fiction and I was at the launch of the Festival of Architecture Adventures In Space exhibition at The Lighthouse. It explored
200 years of science fiction. The picture was our young Sci Fi fan reading her 2000AD comic in front of a drawing from Metropolis (1927) from the film directed by Fritz Lang. The exhibition explored two centuries of architecture in science fiction film and provided an over-view of the whole history of one of the most important genres in contemporary culture.
The exhibition covered sci-fi from the past 200 years, from Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein via Flash Gordon and Star Wars, to The Martian.
Staying on the sci fi theme I got to meet celebrated Scottish writer and producer of Dr Who Steven Moffat OBE. We were on the steps of Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church in Paisley where he received his Honorary Doctorate from University of the West of Scotland beside of all things… a Dalek. It was funny as the Dalek was hidden behind a huge plant at the top of the stairs to that it would not distract the students and guests attending the ceremony. I don’t know how they could miss it.
Looking at Life Through a Mirror
I had the privilege of photographing Prince Charles in Ayrshire during the lovely weather we had this month. It was at the launch of the Partnership of Dumfries House and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. His Royal Highness was in good spirits as he toured around watching amazing dancers and musicians form the Conservatoire. I was watching a performance by local children from Greenmail Primary School. However I could not get a good angle on the Royal guest when I noticed the huge mirror. It framed him and the youngsters perfectly.
I had another visit to one of my favourite place this month. The Glasgow Science Centre have a new exhibition called The Crunch. It is all about edible bugs. The picture idea was to have Stephen Breslin the CEO being fed a scorpion. I must say being the boss is not always the best job but he took it on the chin and posed up for the picture. We did draw the line at actually eating the creature. I think that would have been a step too far. It was not as easy a job as I had thought. The big windows mean the light is great for illuminating the subjects but it was the size of the scorpion that was the challenge. It had to be held at the right angle to see the shape of its pincers and a very plain background so that its outline would show exactly what it is – a scorpion.
I was covering Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise Raploch Eighth Birthday Concert at The Albert Halls in Stirling. It was amazing watching the talented youngsters playing and singing together. All the faces we all in deep concentration. I am always looking for a smile but everyone was engrossed. There were plenty of laughs back stage though.
Walking Towards Summer
Sometimes even when you are off duty you are still on duty. I had a day at The Carrick Golf Course at Loch Lomond for a late tea time tee off and these days I am never without a camera. My wee Canon G7x is always to hand. On the 18th I was delighted, if a little nervous to see all these geese with their young wandering around the fairway. I had a bit more pressure that normal not to drop short and knock a gosling for six.
I was invited along to meet Bookbug. A children’s reading character for Bookbug Week at the Bannockburn Experience in Stirling. We had a group of young readers all around the age of four. I must say I have never seen such a bunch with staying power. They were terrific. Usually the youngsters will be fed up after a few minutes and want to wander off for something more interesting than posing for a photographer. Mind you the parents were on hand to offer bribes of sweets and juice.
I had a great afternoon at the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice Ladies Lunch 2016 at The Hilton Hotel in Glasgow. Celebrities Karen Dunbar, Clare Grogan , Darius Campbell, Kaye Adams and Gary Lamont
were special guests at charity lunch. They were great to work with. I cannot believe how tall Darius is. He towers above me. The lunch raised over £26,000. The pictures got a great show in The Herald, The Scotsman, The Sun and The Evening Times. It still gives me a buzz to see my work hitting the presses as we say. It is good when you get a group of TV celebrities who can work with a photographer and get a really super picture in double quick time. A natural laugh makes a much better picture.
The Leaders Line Up
This month all the talk is of the election and whats going to happen. I must say I always enjoy election time with all the politicians out doing their thing, smiling at babies, shaking hands and even riding a buffalo. Election night in Glasgow was always a busy one as there was loads of MSPs to get counted in. We always rush about chasing which ever famous name appeared. I must admit I just keep a smile on my face and be nice to them all. We have to keep a professional manner. Once we are in the the polling station at the ballot box then we can make our choice based on politics or how nice the candidate was at the last photocall.
One of the best laughs I had this month was photographing the women from the voluntary organisation Inner Wheel. They were all lined up over the Bells Bridge over to the SECC with over 500 bras they had collected to go to help poor women in Africa. There enthusiasm was amazing. They really had a great bond with one another. This was the first day of their 3 day conference. I would have loved to have been there for the last day party. Right in front is Inner Wheel President of Great Britain & Ireland Trish Douglas.
A really emotional assignment I covered and felt really privileged to be asked to do was the memorial service for William McIlvanney at the stunning Bute Hall at The University of Glasgow. His daughter Siobhan was receiving an doctor of literature honorary degree that the writer had accepted before he died. It seems the acceptance letter was his last piece of writing. His brother Hugh, with David Hayman, Val McDermid and Hugh McDonald all spoke beautifully. I had photographed William many times and always found him so polite, patient and and a great sense of humour. It was really nice to meet the family and an honour to be part of the day.
Here is The Scotsman’s piece from the following days paper. http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/books/william-mcilvanney-awarded-honorary-degree-at-glasgow-memorial-service-1-4089069
Have a look at this months spring video
Whit A View
I’ve always liked a view and with many of Glasgow’s tower blocks coming down there are not so many high points. However with modern cleverly designed buildings we are getting the high views but with a style and beauty from both inside and out.
The new City of Glasgow Riverside Campus on the banks of
the River Clyde in Glasgow is one such building. It is a cracker for pictures and their coffee is not too bad either.
Another stunning interior is the spiral staircase leading up to the Mackintosh tower at the Lighthouse Building in Glasgow. I was there with some young students from Hillhead High School for the Mackintosh art and design competition. They were a nice bunch and didn’t didn’t mind the long climb up to the top.
Lastly but not least I thought I would mention my visit to a school science lab with Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale. Now who ever says you should get the picture first time is a bit too smug for my liking. We had one hydrogen ballon for the labour leader to light. It goes off in a flash and is over just as quickly. Yes I missed it. I had to sweet talk the school technician for another one. Thankfully one of my eight frames per second caught it. Oh well… better late than never.
Have a look at my latest slide show of photographs from the start of 2016 that I have put up.
Getting near to a spring clean
Recently one of my stand out moments was meeting the girls from CSI Biohazard Cleaning team Rhiannon, Marie and Leslie. They were the stars of Grime Scene Queens which was shown this month on BBC Scotland. Their job can be a pretty harrowing one but they carry it out with a huge amount of dignity and thought for the people they find themselves working with. They were hilarious moments in their CIS Biohazard van, but the women would light a candle in respect if they had been working in a place where someone had died. I had to photograph them in their white crime scene suits and also in their Saturday night glam outfits. I thought the picture of them in the white suits with the glam side underneath summed them up perfectly. Have a look at the link to read more about them.
Creative, comedy collective, ‘Witserface’ are set to storm this year’s Glasgow Comedy Festival with their brand new sketch show – “Funny how…?” at St Lukes, in the Calton. It is the new cool venue just minutes along from The Barrowlands. Karen Dunbar from Chewing the Fat, Elaine Mackenzie Ellis, from Rab C Nesbitt and Maureen Carr… ‘pint o Guinness ‘ playing Edith in Still Game are leading the all female, grass roots comedy movement.
What a laugh trying to get them all on the steps of St Luke’s. It was just like a weddin’ but with no groom!
Its been a whirl
Well here we are halfway through January already. I cannot believe how time flies. I spent a day last week going round the Irn-Bru Carnival. Now that was fun. I arrived at the SECC with a tripod, a 16mm super wide angle lens and my Canon 5D. The guys running the rides were great. They had so much patience and ran the machines as long as I needed and one superstar even dismantled a lighting rig to give me better view. The exposure was a bit of a guest-timate but worked out at 3-4 seconds at f22 on an ISO of 100; or 100 ASA as we used to call it. I loved the results but I did feel as if I was doing the cover of the new Pink Floyd album.
I couldn’t let the January blog go by with out a mention of the Loch Lomond Water Ski club. I spent New Years day with them out on a speedboat photographing the hardy souls who were out after the night before blowing the cobwebs away. This is Tom Scott. He was brilliant out in his kilt feeling no pain, well cold. He even had a pint after this. The were raising funds for Dementia UK.
Finally I now have my new Martin Shields Photography Facebook Page up and running. Please have a look and like at https://www.facebook.com/martinshieldsphotography/
Merry Christmas Everyone
This picture was an old one as I am sure anyone looking out a window would guess. It was taken a few years ago looking out my back window at the birds in the garden fighting over the food in the feeder. The thing is with the mild weather it doesn’t feel Christmasy. I have been out photographing Christmas shoppers and I have hardly even seen a Santa hat. In days gone by we would have a couple of the red hats with the white bobble in our camera bags beside the flash guns and the lenses. Mind you when it gets dark Buchanan Street, George Square, The St Enoch Centre and Buchanan Galleries all look amazing with all the lights and decorations. Frasers and Princess Square all look lovely and with a tripod and a slow shutter it can make some amazing pictures. I just wish it was a little cooler.
One of my assignments which was festive and fun was the Santa school at Scotland Street School Museum . It was a laugh watching the teacher showing the kids how to belly laugh and Ho Ho Ho in the correct manner. The sad thing for me is I remember these old desks of days gone by. Cleaning the blackboard was one of my jobs to do in school.
Another one that was a very humbling experience was with Steven Naismith of Scotland and Everton. He sponsored a Christmas Lunch for the homeless. He spent time talking with everyone who was there and making them feel special. Have a wee read at the link below.
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Fireworks on Glasgow Green and still going 2nd month in the freelance world.
November started well, well with a bang or rather a few bangs at Glasgow Green. Huge crowds turned up to see this years display. I loved the colours of this shot as it was almost the same colour at the People Make Glasgow banner from the Glasgow City Marketing Beauru.
Photographing fire works can always be a fluid experience. ISO set about 100 and the shutter can vary from 6-12 seconds with the aperture around f11 – f16. It depends how many they send up at the one time. At least with a 20 minute show there is plenty of time to change around the settings and get one to work out.
Joe Sugg at the St Enoch Centre
I had the pleasure of meeting blogger Joe Sugg who was doing a signing of his new book ‘Username Evie’ at WH Smith’s in the St Enoch Centre. What a nice guy. I found he and I use the same compact camera, The Canon G7x. Mind you he did have his work cut out as he had well over 1000 teenagers all waiting to get their books and a selfie with him. Have a look at my video I shot or the crowds. It was shot on my Canon 5D.
Martin Shields Photography hits the road
After over 25 years at The Herald & Evening Times I have opted for a change. I have decided to go freelance. I was last freelance in 1990 which was the Year of Culture in Glasgow. Now that wasn’t yesterday.
I still have very strong links with the newspapers and after nearly 30 years of working in the industry it is very hard not to be a part of it. I am still doing the thing I love, working in features, arts and business but now public relations and commercial photography. I still love the buzz I get when I see my work in print and I will always be around our Scottish press. These pictures are a few of my first months assignments. The Nature of Art Nouveau exhibition at The Lighthouse, Colin Brown MD of Ingles Buchan and Edith Bowman who will be presenting the Scottish BAFTAs.
It’s a very exiting time just now and I’m only three weeks old, well the business is. I’m a lot older.
The Bay City Rollers
I was never a huge Bay City Rollers fan back in the day, although they had a few good tunes. However last week I became converted. What a laugh we had at the Grand Central Hotel with three of them.
Allan, Les and Woody were a scream, drinking their milk and trying to get a sing song going in the press room. When they left in their white Rolls Royce, after really enjoying the day, I heard these kids saying “Who is that?” I wish the boys all the best and I am sure they will fill the Barrowland Ballroom at their up coming gig. Soon many of Scotland’s young kids will know who the Bay City Rollers are again!
The New Billy Elliot at Celtic Park
I had a real fun job this month. I was photographing dancer Jamie Reid at Celtic Park. He is the newest recruit at Scottish Ballet. He grew up and lives in the Glasgow’s East End and is a big Celtic fan. He has said joining Scottish Ballet was like being signed for them. We did get a few strange looks and a couple of fans thought we were taking the Mickey. When we explained that he is a real dancer and a fan they were totally on board.
He’s 19 and has a bit of a Billy Elliot story, didn’t tell his friends at school he was taking ballet classes and even when he went to the Conservatoire to study for three years, told his pals he was doing sound and light engineering rather than ballet. It is great when your subject is totally up for the picture. It was the opening photo for the feature on Saturday’s Herald Magazine. My colleague Jamie Simpson had a great shot on the cover.
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo
One of my favourite jobs that comes up every year is the Edinburgh Military Tattoo parade in Glasgow. Some of the top performers come along and march around George square. The spectacle is watched by the Lord Provost, the audience for Piping Live and anyone else that happens to be in George Square. We walk backwards at the front but have to be quick to stay ahead of them as the Military Pipes and Drums that leads the prossesion can move pretty fast. I walk with the marchers for one side of the square and then have to leg it back to the cenotaph to catch the salute. The brilliant red colour of Switzerland’s amazing Top Secret Drum Corps really stood out for me and I think this was my best picture of the day. Although we had the The Lotus Dragon Dancers from Changxing which came a very close second. They were very strict about touching their dragon. We had our orders…’don’t touch the dragon’!
Johnny Beattie Face To Face
I had the pleasure of photographing Johnny Beattie for Monday’s Face To Face page in The Herald written by the very talented Brian Beacom. I first met Johnny in the early 1990’s when I was sent over to the Rothesay Winter Gardens where there was a party for his 50th year in show business. We all had to hide as it was a surprise party. It was hard hiding a dozen photographers and writers in a glass building. There were loads of people from the world of Scottish entertainment. My recollection is of the Alexander Brothers lifting Johnny, who was in full highland dress up in the air. We stayed overnight and I was up early catching the first ferry to take the films back for that night’s Evening Times.
Over the years I have photographed Johnny in a variety of occasions. One of the times he saved me was at the City Chambers in Glasgow where I had to get a picture of him with a bus load of 100 year olds. I had lost my audience and they were more interested in getting a cup of tea. Some were even falling asleep. Johnny came to the rescue, he started a sing song and said ‘are you ready son?’ and got everyone to cheer and look at me at the same time.
I still see Johnny walking in the Botanic Gardens near his home and for his nearly 89 years of age looks fantastic. It must be the two flights of stairs he lives up. The same stairs that had me puffing for breath last week.
First Minister Gives a High Five
I was back at Glasgow Club Crownpoint Sports Complex where they were laying the new running track. It was the same one used at Hampden during the Commonwealth Games and also used by the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt. What a thrill for the youngsters to be running in the footsteps such an athlete. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Glasgow City Council Leader Gordon Matheson were meeting the kids after their run. I liked this picture as it had a lot of natural laughter in it and the fun of the First Minister giving a high five. These days can be so inspirational as everyone is in good spirits and thinking back to this time last year as the Games were just starting. The Herald, Evening Times & The National all covered the story as it was a great piece of good news for the young runners of Glasgow’s East End and beyond.
Taylor Swift at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow
I had the pleasure of standing on a stool holding two camera bodies, three lenses and a laptop for two songs at the SSE Hydro on Tuesday evening. The concert for country and pop sensation Taylor Swift was a sell out and there were so many fans all dressed up with Taylor inspired costumes.
We were in with the crowd right at the front and yes I was feeling my age being at least double the average age of the fans we were beside. However the standing on stools did cause a couple of grumps as I suppose we are blocking a couple of views of the paying customers. I did stand back, as being a bigger than average bloke I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way. However as soon as she came on there were signs being held aloft which even blocked me on my stool. After the first song their arms must have got sore and the signs came down. Either I need an extra song to let the arms come down or a bigger stool.
Both The Herald & Evening Times gave the concert a great show on page 1 and the Evening Times online page had a great selection of the pictures. To see them click the link here.
Donald Trump at Trump Turnberry
Love him or loath him there is no denying that Donald Trump is a man that is not far from headlines. The multi-million pound refurbishment of the Trump Turnberry clubhouse was unveiled for the first time at a press conference to be hosted by Mr Donald J. Trump, Chairman and President of The Trump Organisation. With all the formality over we were all treated very well on a beautiful sunny day which showed off the landscape to its best. Mr Trump gave us the full tour and was very proud of the new look of the club house however with hints to the U. S presidency and a little dig at wind farms and Alex Salmond the day was certainly not uneventful. Both The Herald and Evening Times gave a good show in the paper with The Herald giving a huge part of page 3.
Women’s 10K Run
There are few events with the feel good factor that can top the Women’s 10K run in Glasgow. I have covered this event more times than any other race. The smiles and emotion come through with every photograph. If I wave someone will wave back. It feels like being on stage. There is a bus we stand on as the runners come up to the starting line and the view is quite breathtaking with the sheer volume of people. After the runners have left I make a bolt for the finish line, the short way. I am usually out of breath by the time I get there and it is not long until the first runners come in. I think we had nearly 100 pictures between my self and Colin Templeton in the next days The Herald & Evening Times.
Sunday Herald Life Magazine
I had the great pleasure of photographing Radio 1 DJ and broadcaster Edith Bowman at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. The beautiful light coming in the windows and the chequered floor made a great location for the shoot. I used a small light set up with a flash and umbrella to add some fill in to balance the light coming in from the window and another flash to add some light to Edith’s hair. The whole operation was fairly smooth apart from a member of the public tripping over my light stand as she was looking at her phone while walking. It never fails to amaze me that any quiet street or corridor turns into a crowd the minute I set up my camera.
I was delighted when the photograph ended up on the front page of the magazine.