Saturday 13 March 2010

Greentop Circus Cabaret

I was recently invited to shoot Greentop Circus's monthly cabaret (, considering the wide variety of acts on show I thought it could make some pretty interesting images. Clowns, aerial acts and daredevils were the crop of the nights show.

Starting of proceedings were 'The Condiments', with their alternative clowning routine. A mixture of slap-stick comedy, crowd interaction and a bit of acrobatics for good measure they definitely got everyone excited for the rest of the night.

In the first shot they are stood next to a talking scouse burger!

Nikolaj Munk put on an impressive 7 minute routine on aerial straps; which was a mixture of acrobatics and theatre. Nikolaj told me that he previously worked in theatre and his background definitely shone through in his act.

This lady did an impromptu version of Hanohano 'O Maui to celebrate her birthday and keep with the haiwaiian fancy dress theme of the night.

Last up was Marcelo the Daredevil who put on an incredible show. Check out his website to see a video of him in action on Britain's Got Talent ( Considering the space that he had available this guy really does have some balls - he kept joking about it saying it could go wrong but he was definitely being deadly serious.

Marcelo used the microphone and a hammer to put different objects up his nose, including nails and a screwdriver.

For another part of his show he dislocated his neck and spun around on the spot at speed (check the video on his site to understand exactly what's going on here!)

The grand finale saw Marcelo dive through a ring of knives, over a bed of nails and onto broken glass. Photographically, this would have worked great from a straight on angle but space was extremely limited and he ended his routine against the wall, I don't think either of us would have fancied me being there to break his movement.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Aviva World Trials and UK Championships

Shortly before my stint down at SWNS I covered the Aviva athletics at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. With local golden girl Jessica Ennis only in attendance as a spectator due to injury, the stage was set for Dwayne Chambers to steal the limelight as he maintained his position as the fastest man in the world over 60 metres so far this year.

Photographing multi-event athletics is a completely different challenge to any other shoot due to the variety; which makes it essential to stay on your toes and not miss anything out. The only thing I regreted was not being able to have the 300 f/2.8 as it would have allowed me to isolate the athletes much better from my position further back (inside track positions were reserved for the big agencies). All in all it was a very enjoyable and hectic two days, the aim now is to get myself to be in a position to shoot the London 2012 Olympics.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Corporal Liam Riley: Military Funeral, Sheffield

Yesterday I photographed the funeral of Corporal Liam Riley, 21, of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, the Duke of Wellington's. He was killed by an explosion in Afghanistan on February 1st as he tried to assist Lance Corporal Graham Shaw, who was killed by a blast moments earlier. An estimated crowd of 500 paid their respects outside Sheffield Cathedral as he was carried in by fellow soldiers, with his family walking closely behind.

As always, there was a large number of British Legion members in attendance. Before the cort├Ęge arrived they shared a joke as I photographed them.

The family of Corporal Liam Riley arrive.

The pain is etched on the face of Cheryl Routledge, Liam's mother, as she walks into Sheffield Cathedral holding the hand of her daughter Olivia, aged 6, Liam's step sister.

Wednesday 24 February 2010


Following on from my work experience at The Times I wanted to see how a big agency worked and so decided to go to the highly respected South West News Service (SWNS) for a week. They deal with the national press on a daily basis and have a team of extremely talented photographers. Being able to work alongside such good operator's was once again invaluable.

On the first day I was literally in the office 5 minutes before rushing to Bristol Magistrate's court to meet and shoot with one of the SWNS photographers. Lib Dem Councillor Shirley Brown was in court after sparking a race row by calling an Asian colleague a coconut. ( )

Straight after this I learnt that I was going to Bath to photograph the Euromillions winners. The couple seemed really down to earth and deserving of the £56million, wouldn't mind some of that! With it being the biggest ever UK lottery win there was inevitably a BIG media presence there - I can count 17 photographers in one of my shots and then there were ITN, BBC and SKY amongst others. As SWNS already had one photographer there (red top in first frame) I tried to get something different from the edges. Paid off in the end - Gareth got front page of the Evening Standard and I got front page (second shot) of the Western Daily Press (Bristol's local rag).

Wednesday saw me doing a portrait shoot for the Daily Express in Salisbury of a nice guy called Spike Bell. Spike used to suffer from sleep apnea due to his weight, however after losing a significant amount of weight he was able to cure it and he can now sleep perfectly.

Bristol was hit by snow storms on Thursday morning; whilst most people stay nice and warm inside during this type of weather, press photographers tend to spend all day out in it trying to catch some nice images. I definitely need to invest in some proper gloves, fingerless ones are useless when it's that cold. A 45 minute trip out of the office to take some shots at the local train station paid dividends: The Sun (first shot) and Daily Mail (second shot) used an image each online, The Times (third shot) used one the next day and the Bristol Evening Post used the same shot as The Sun on page 4.

After a productive morning I headed with two of the staff photographers to Wootton Bassett in the afternoon to cover the five soldiers body's passing through the streets. Much has been said of the apparent 'media circus' that now accompanies this all too common ritual, personally I think that such images are important and need to be seen. The silence, the numerous standard bearers and the large public gathering really do make a fitting tribute.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

The Times

As briefly mentioned in my previous post I was lucky enough to get some work experience on The Times in London over the course of last week. Walking into The Times office and meeting their staff photographers is something i've always looked forward to and to do so was a great experience. I had the pleasure of working with and meeting some of the photographers whose work I really admire: David Bebber, Paul Rodgers, Richard Pohle, Matthew Lloyd (all of The Times) and Leon Neal (AFP), as well as meeting alot of the top photographers in the business from AFP, PA, AP, Reuters and Getty. Somewhat surreal but they were all great guys and I look forward to the day when I can hopefully go down there and work with them. The ability to watch them work and the portfolio critique I was able to receive whilst in London was invaluable. During the week I achieved my aim of getting published in The Times, the fact it was on a major news story was even more satisfying! Next up is some work experience at SWNS so I hope to make an impression there and get just as much out of that as I did last week.

I was lucky to be in London on a major news week (aren't they all down there?!), the ongoing Chilcot enquiry was the main focus with several top figures giving evidence, including Tony Blair on the Friday.

Tuesday saw ex Cabinet member Margarett Beckett admit that 'we may have been wrong to go to war.'

Afterwards it was on to the Costa Book Awards where poet Christopher Reid won the 2009 Costa Book of the Year for his collection, A Scattering.

On Wednesday London was host to the Yemen Meeting, with key international players in attendance to discuss political, economical and security problems concerning the Yemeni people. Around a hundred or so Yemeni's gathered to protest along Whitehall, with pro and anti government protestor's holding rival demonstrations.

Thursday saw the Afghanistan Conference take place at Lancaster House with high profile leaders, foreign ministers and ambassador's from around the world in attendance. Amongst them were Hilary Clinton, Gordon Brown, President Karzai and Ban Ki-Moon. A selected pool of photographers were invited in to take photographs so I spent the day looking for security / protest shots. Instead of finding a protest I did come across members of the Afghan delegation sight-seeing in London during a break in proceedings; taking photographs of each other next to the Trafalgar Square lions and with the Horse Guards on Whitehall.

Straight after taking the above photographs I rushed off across to the General Medical Council where the GMC delivered "damning" verdicts against Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues over their research linking the MMR jab to autism. My image of Josh Edwards, an autism sufferer, hugging Andrew Wakefield and his wife was used by The Times in the next days newspaper. (For more info. on the story see here: ). I'm hoping that's the first of many national publications!

The major story of the week was always going to be Blair attending the Chilcot enquiry on Friday. Arriving at 7:15am on Friday there was already a large press contingent in place, with protestor's slowly growing in number outside. The Times had several photographers in different places (including me) to try and catch a shot of Blair entering the building. At around 7:30am word spread that he had snuck in via a back entrance. It was to be a repeat situation in the evening when Blair waited for the media and protestor's to disperse (thinking Blair had left) before exiting out of the back. Inevitably he was met by several photograph's at his home - and so he didn't quite escape the media. I'm not one to get into politics but by sneaking in and out I don't think it did much to change people's perceptions about Blair's apparent guilty conscience.

Covering such a major news event was fascinating, especially being able to watch other photographer's operate and the various spots and methods they utilise to get their images. Looking at the other photograph's from that day and linking that to the above has definitely given me a greater understanding in how great news pictures are created, something I will most definitely bear in mind on my next big assignment. With Blair's absence I spent the day getting images of the protest outside and the people queuing to enter.