So recently revived and refreshed after a short trip to Vegas I thought it was about time I got another quick blog post out there and in light of the recent events in Paris and the other horrors that unfold more often around the world I just take every day as a blessing.
If I'm not sharing my latest workout it's probably the cottage cheese pancake recipe that I've discovered and to be honest I don't really get too hung up on what I share, favourite or retweet. There's far too much negativity and whining and moaning about things the people post, like or retweet and so on depending on what social media platform you reside on. We all partake in it at some point so I'm not immune from it but I've got more aware of it all and do my best to stay off the ranters roundabout. As I always say if you're not interested don't follow and if it does annoy you then do something else and move on. No one likes a 'Moan-Ivator', it's much easier to be a Motivator. I think far too many people get hung up on what others think and at the end of the day the only person that matters in the bigger scheme is you. For the most part if I've retweeted, loved or liked you can sure as hell bet your bottom dollar that it's something I'm interested in or that I will be checking out. That little heart on Twitter has always been akin to a FB like or a Google +1 in my book and they seem to have recently changed it from a favourite to a like or maybe it's been there for a while now and I've only just noticed.
Talking of books as I've been doing a lot of reading lately and I have a few other titles in the pipeline but I'd like to recommend a book that turned out to be a bit of a bargain, £3 to be precise, that has really had a profound impact on my state of mind and my well being over the last few months. I'm sure a lot of people will see this as mumbo jumbo and some might even call it bullshit but take out of it what you will. I for one have been making sure that I steer clear of the negativity neutrons and taking my time out has helped me realise how fortunate I am and just how much control I have over my feelings on a daily basis. Ever person you talk to or come into contact with impacts how your day and week generally pans out and it's probably exactly the same for most of us but we never really give it a second thought. Don't get me wrong my exercise regime helps a lot as well but if you check out one book or take anything away from this post be sure to seek out Get Some HeadSpace by Andy Puddicombe or have a look at the Headspace website. I'm not doing a book review other than to say it's about clearing your mind amongst many other things and is definitely worth a read.
Getting back to the trip to the US and we were fortunate to make it visit number six to Las Vegas. It was a short stay compared to other occasions and we didn't have the kids because we were accompanying friends who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. To be honest the thought of being away without the kids seemed great prior to the trip and whilst it was nice to have a few days of peace and quiet at times we really missed having them with us and it wasn't quite the same, it's funny how you grow very attached to those little tortures or should I say big tortures now. We still had a wonderful trip and plenty of new memories to look back on.
As brilliant as Vegas was and is and even though it still has a special appeal I'm not sure I want to return just as quickly and with as much enthusiasm as I have done before. Don't get me wrong if the flights come in at the right price for the next holiday, god willing, then never say never! The trouble with the city these days is that it's become a metropolis of madness from what I witnessed and it's not completely the desert gem I once knew. It looks like every man and his dog is rolling into town and the bad side of Vegas appears to be ever present at every corner you turn. Maybe I noticed it more this time because we stayed directly on the strip itself whereas in previous years we've been well outside those areas and only popped in and out through valet in the many hotels we've visited. I'm not even convinced that those displaying placards for help are even doing that for the right reason and in some ways I felt ashamed with the abundance of money, glitz and glamour that's regularly on display. The other side of the coin though is a sigh of disbelief when you see people asking for $$$$ for weed......who do you trust or believe?
While I was busy putting this post together I actually came across this recent news update from Twitterland which maybe goes to reiterate just what I had witnessed recently and how much more it is ever present on the strip. Some will say you get those elements everywhere but I'm speaking from personal experience of visiting Vegas for a number of years now. It's changed and somewhat to it's detriment in my opinion, only time will tell if it will still be one of the destinations of choice that it's grown to become.
Before I share more of the pictures I made during the trip I thought it would be nice to share this throwback from 1985. Now I made my first trip to Vegas in 2007 and it's changed massively since then so the difference in 30 years is unbelievable. I'd say it would have been amazing to have been part of those 30 years but there's no Back to the Future Delorean just yet so we'll have to live with and love the images that all of us capture.
It feels like I've abandoned ship and I wasn't sure if I'd even bother making another blog post but I've been hinting about posting some shots and an update for a weeks maybe months now however I just haven't quite had the spark to write or that little bit of interest to bother putting fingers to the keyboard. It's not due to any motivational reasons because I'm usually not lacking in the motivation department but I have a new found love for a lot of other things in my life, probably more important stuff in the bigger scheme along with a lot of quality family time. My twitter feed has slowly turned into a regular source of fitness tips, music and sports follows along with a multitude of other inspirational go to's. I probably don't get a chance to interact with as many folks as I used to and I dare say I miss a lot of their posts so if you happen to fit that bill then it's not by choice but probably due to timing that I've not spotted your post. Try late on a Friday night, I'll be chilling with tunes and catching tweets then.
I've shot a little in the last few months and posted a few here and there along with the more regular content that hits my IG feed. It's usually what many would consider as the typical iPhone user drizzle but that's exactly what I intended it to be and for me it's all about having fun and not taking things too seriously. Don't get me wrong, each to their own as I follow a lot of super content on there but it's just not the place for me to share my Fuji shots. I'll stick with Flickr, G+ (although the ship might have sailed once and for all) and my good old blog site for now. I'm maybe missing a trick based on some recent articles I've read but the enthusiast still reigns supreme. For the great pro's I know out there I wonder how they all do it sometimes because it's a dog eat dog world based on my view from outside the greenhouse. There seen to be many fickle arguments and spats across feeds and groups that I drift in and out of and personally if I had to deal with people like that on a day to day basis I dare say I'd tell a lot of them to jog on to put it politely. It's maybe a small minority but they're never done sticking critique in where it's not wanted and arguing over the most trivial things or telling people how it is or what type of posts they should be making, how they should address one another and even how to bloody spell. I wonder why they feel the need to correct people on typos or how they should be posting content, that's the sort of thing you might do with people you've known for years but not with people you've never met. There's also a major dose of negativity out there and social media can be an easy target at times. It's not just photography, I've seen some of the harshest comments on fitness feeds about progress goals people have made; there's some serious haters out there. The only thing I have to say in light of all of that is just be yourself and do what you want to do and give those sorts a bye ball.
Talking of balls the football season has kicked off again as well but along with all the other changes that have been going on I've even cancelled the Sky subscription so it's old school radio listening or Match of The Day now for me! After 12 years or slightly more it wasn't an easy decision but I've become very disenchanted with it all and forgetting the massive wage bills these guys command I'm just more concerned with the costs for me that just seem to be never ending as far as the monthly bill goes now. The last hike took it up another fiver and I understand things move on and there's lots of great content but the cost of watching TV just seems to be an overhead I could reduce significantly and at the same time get some headspace back on a weekend. Who knows I'll maybe eat those words in six months. For the eagle eyed among you the XProNick moniker has gone as well so I'm sticking with my real name across social media, it probably just that little bit better when you are communicating online and seemed more sensible these days, maybe I am getting old. I'm still a massive Fuji fan so don't forget to get yourself onto the Fujiholics site, join the G+ group or if you're of the Facebook fraternity then here's the latest group link.
So with all the negativity shoved to one side and the updates done I thought I'd share a few converted to black and white with a combination of Perfect Effects and Lightroom from a somewhat gloomy 12th of July morning in Antrim. It inevitably turned out to be a much brighter afternoon and I bagged a few more but I've decided to stick with a similar theme for this post. Who says you need sunshine and perfect light to take photos...it's over-rated!
It's been a busy time recently and due to some personal circumstances the blog and image capture are taking a bit of a back seat. I've wanted to get out and about but more important jobs have had to come first and that's not even the cooking, ironing and washing. After discovering another Fujifilm blog it gave me a little jolt of inspiration to get out with the camera again!
I can't believe that it's been a year already since the first UK Photoshow. I had this one booked well in advance but in hindsight I really should have taken a two day trip because there is just so much to see and do but it probably worked out better for other reasons. I wanted to take the opportunity to meet up with the many faces from Twitter, Facebook, Breakfast Club and the Fujiholics clan but it all felt very rushed in the end although I did get a chat with a few great sorts. It's always difficult to meet up with everybody and catch the great demos and get a proper chance to view all the gear that's on display but I think I'll set something more concrete in place next time. Although I was torn between watching Liverpool v Man United which was a non event in the end anyway it was great to see Matt Hart doing a brilliant job on the Street stage as well as being introduced to some of the Fuji team who were putting in all the hard work while the punters pose many a difficult question about which camera is the best......the one that works best for you regardless of manufacturer is always a good starting point!
With the multitude of 300mm lenses and swinging backpacks being bandied about at the show I resisted the urge and left the XPro back at the hotel however I did manage to take an early morning stroll on the Monday morning and grabbed a few shots in and around the surrounding area of the Crowne Plaza. It was another successful show judging by the numbers on the ground and the output on social media, I never had the pleasure of visiting Focus but this one seems to have gone from strength to strength in a short period and I can't wait to see what they put on next year and if you plan on visiting make sure you say hello.
Capon the Fuji XPro1 and edited in Lightroom and Perfect Effects.
It's almost the end of the year and I've been fortunate enough to spend time with my family eating, drinking and adding a few pounds so I thought now was as good a time as any to look back given that I have a few days away from the office and I've resorted to the couch potato position. Three months since my last post, where does the time go....slightly disappointed that I haven't been able to put pen to paper metaphorically speaking but life has a funny way of getting in the flight path every now and again coupled with a little procrastination however equally I didn't feel the spark to get tapping on the keyboard in the usual fashion BUT now I have!
As far as online activity goes it's taken a little bit of a backseat lately due to work commitments but I'm always knocking about early doors with my good friends of Breakfast Club over on G+ or the Fujiholics of Facebook. Twitter has become more of an outlet for all my other hobbies and interests again outside of photography. Whilst social media has a negative side I've read some great posts throughout the year from a host of new faces, seen some amazing photography and found some great sources of inspiration along the way. I've taken to following a number of great DJ's and artists this year and discovered some brilliant podcasts and shows that help pass the wee small hours and keep the motivation levels on course.
I've just about completed the Press Up Challenge which I'm sure you may have spotted appearing in the feed every now and again accompanied with the hashtag #PUC2014 and bar one or two slip ups I've kept it going all year, tomorrow sees us reach the magic 365 on the final day. Some of the images and the clips from the participants have been very funny although I would have love to have seen the look on faces when you took to the escalator when Pressing to Portugal. It's been brilliant in a lot of ways for me personally and it's one I intend to continue with into 2015 although I think I'll try and average around 200 per day along with the normal regime. Big thanks to Pete Reed for putting it out there; it's funny how the photography and fitness stars aligned for that one!
Another highlight for me has been finding the Body Coach - Joe Wicks and his amazing #leanin15 snippets over on Instagram. That one came about thanks to Forever Sports and what can I say for £2 you get just about everything you could ask for in a sports magazine for the modern era, I even ended up buying a new tv for the bedroom with their recommendation for Finlux! I hope that your book deal comes about in 2015 Joe as it's definitely one I'll be after and could even end up taking pride of place in the kitchen along with that new Nutribullet although that was down to Mrs M ;)
There's never any shortage of articles or inspiration out there when it comes to photography but seeing Matt Hart do well this year and following his Fuji journey has been great to see even if it does mean I have to visit Facebook every now and again, it's been well deserved. I recently purchased the Fujinon 55-200mm which I'm classing as a collectors edition now given the previous owner and I've only managed some limited clicking with it since my last outing with Matt in Liverpool however that said I've still been grabbing shots regularly on the iPhone and it's those moments of inspiration that keep my photography mojo well in check and keep the fire Flickr'ing on my social media outlets. I'm sure most Fuji fans have been eyeing up the latest addition to the collection in the form of the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8 which looks like an outstanding piece of glass however I need to keep my costs at a manageable level and not get sucked into the trap if you like of investing too much in kit and veering off the enthusiast trail. Talking of lenses as there are others more experienced in kit reviews than me here's a great link from Damien Lovegrove over on his ProPhotoNut which covers plenty including the 55-200.
So aside from leaving you with a few images from me here's a brief list of my favourite follows and finds of 2014, hope you had a great Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all that have taken the time to stop by.
The Photoshop Nuts
I Am Pritchard aka Russell
Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach
Luke Haslett - Physique Consultant
Above and Beyond
Super8 & Tab
the usual suspects
Anyway, back to the photography and having fun plot!
Recently I had the opportunity to meet up with another photography pal through the power of social media, yes once again, imagine using social media to actually meet people......unbelievable. I've known Matt for a few years now and keep in touch as much as time dictates. He spends most of his time (god knows where he gets it) over on Zuckerville as he secretly loves it there but I usually have a run in with him on one or more social media fronts. He's always been what I would call quite an outspoken sort of character and a bit like Marmite but I get on well with him, I think....that's me booted out on the next cull. He's a massive Fuji fan and has groups all over the place promoting that gospel however more recently after his year of black and white he's stated running street photography days out. With a few presents in the bag and a couple of pounds in the pocket after the recent birthday I'd booked a day trip to Liverpool to meet up again and what better way to spend the day than shooting street.
Sometimes I just really want to be out with my camera instead of posting on social media but I choose to do so because I enjoy it. I also spend too much time looking at images every day, good ones, bad ones(not so much) and all the other madness that is social media but again I do so because I like it. I don't care if it's a cooked breakfast or an exquisite reflection from the other side of the world because everyone has an opinion and if you don't like something just unfollow, unfriend or don't view the feed....it's that simple. There's enough negativity and criticism out there these days without me adding to it, I don't get it at times. The new iPhone is a perfect example, apparently the masses wanted bigger screens so Apple give them two and yet people still complain it's too big...now that's irony if ever I seen it. Do people just want custom made handsets to fit the palm of their hand?
I've never really grabbed the street photography genre by the balls but it's another area that really intrigues me and hope to try my hand at it again soon especially after having learnt a lot more from spending the day with Matt. Sometimes I wonder if people are just lucky, right place at the right time or if they really have thought long and hard about what they are trying to get from a shot. I think it's definitely one where you need have some sort of connection or idea of what you want and point and shoot just isn't going to cut it. It was great to know that I'd spotted some of the same opportunities on the day that Matt had his eye on and was very beneficial to see how he works the street so to speak. Hopefully I'll get another trip over there in 2015 or possibly meet up with more of the Fujiholics on some of the other planned events.
For now here's a quick selection of some of my shots from the day and if you want to find out more about Matt Hart and his upcoming workshops here's the link.
Been way too long since I put a post on this page especially since the switch to Fuji but I wanted to get something up here just to say I'm still active, still taking pics and just having plenty of fun and changing how I look at a lot of things in life. I intended making this post a bit longer as well but this weekend has been spent with screwdriver in hand and plenty of flat pack action courtesy of Ikea....god forbid that I have a life away from G+, Twitter et al. I honestly just want to sit down now and have a beer, the #leanin15 is on hold until Monday.
My photography journey has taken plenty of twists and turns but I've also been on holiday recently visiting new places, spending some wonderful time with Mrs M and the two other most important people in the daily routine, my kids! It's been so refreshing to take that step back and think about what really matters. I've got to know a lot of people through social media but it's only now after a reasonable period of time that you get to realise who the stickers are, the folks who really want to get to know you and want to have a bit of a laugh and learn more about you as opposed to just how interesting or boring your last image looks or how much rubbish you actually tweet about. Hopefully you're one of them and there's a fair chance if you are reading this then it'll ring a bell. I don't need to name names, not just for fear of offending anyone but, because it doesn't really matter unless you stick around and become a friend. Those who do already know who they are.
I'm also very thankful for the opportunities that social media has afforded me particularly as I've had the chance to meet up with good friend David Kelly aka Norn_IronMan just this week. We shared a meal and a pint at last and had a few laughs. David never ceases to surprise me with his kindness and he turned up with some awesome goodies on tow. It's been a taste sensation so far and I've been introducing a few others in the office to the way of the Bhut Jolokia chilli jam. Lets just say it'll put hairs on your chest! You may also have noticed recently that I've been uploading images from the American trip when I get a chance and that's mainly just to remind me of the great memories we had while we were away and just how fortunate I was to be able to spend that time with family and friends. I know a lot of the images were with my iPhone and aren't crackers by any stretch of the imagination but when I look back at them they put a smile on my face. It's maybe something you've forgot about whilst you idle endless hours away looking for that online image gratification. Just a thought...not looking for a debate, just don't forget to photograph the important things in life as well along the way as it's easy to get sidetracked.
Even though we had many brilliant moments on holiday one of the highlights for me was meeting up with someone else that I'd only got to know through my work for the Antrim Guardian. It's strange that our paths crossed but I'm sure that fate had a big hand in it somewhere. I have a real love affair with Scottsdale and I noticed these articles in the paper from a lady called Yvonne Watterson who was originally from Antrim but now lives in Phoenix. I connected through Twitter and discovered this tremendous blog along with a wonderful writer who had a such a positive outlook on things and came across as having a great personality. Thankfully we both made a point of arranging a meet up while I was in Arizona and not only did we have a beautiful meal in downtown Phoenix but myself and my family also had the pleasure of spending the evening with Yvonne and Sophie at their house. We had such great crack and it's an evening we'll always remember and at least now when someone asks if you have friends in Phoenix, we can say yes.....at least I hope that's true, Yvonne.....?
Well that's enough from me today, time for that beer and some relaxation. Enjoy the rest of your weekend ;)
So it's been two months since I last put fingers to keyboard. I've had my own little dilemma recently with the whole Nikon/Photography journey but as I sit back and take stock of that and see the other tribulations that friends and other people have to deal with it kind of all pales into insignificance. I did consider mentioning the specifics of the more sad and important things I've read as I typed this up but here isn't the place for it and it's not meant to be that sort of blog anyway. Some might read and connect, some might actually understand why and others might just glance it and say something derogatory. I'll never know because like everything else that goes on we're all busy in our own life and that's understandable, for me it's just another way to spend some time online and have a look at images and stories from around the world and add my 50p's worth but mostly it's about doing something I enjoy and having fun. I've also been caught up with other work related stuff recently, namely a management course as well as trying to lose a few pounds ahead of another eating fest when I hit America later this year. All of these things have also had a bearing on decisions I've made.
Back to the plot then. For anyone that does follow me or checks my images out you'll see that I was primarily going down the route of sports photography. I'd secured some weekend work and had been doing that every weekend for about a year come rain, hail or every now and again sunshine! I had definitely improved on the whole as a photographer (in my opinion) and thought it was maybe time to invest in some better glass. Now I have a feeling that for a lot of people this is going to be a real deja-vu moment and I've already had a chat with Mr Pritchard who reinforced his told you so ethic. It's a conversation I've had with him a few times(I was listening Russell) so I guess the little doubt demon was in there somewhere. Likewise Wilgenix sent me an email almost a year ago and told me a story about what I was letting myself in for, I guess they were Wills Words of Wisdom...sorry, something corny about that but just how it came out. Just remember when people offer advice it's usually free, it's up to you what you do with it that matters.
So a few weeks ago I was at home waiting on delivery of my new 70-200 f/4 filled with excitement, the courier departed and I open the box and look at what I'd just bought. Excitement turned into a slight gurgling in the pit of my stomach and upon checking the invoice again I suddenly had in no polite terms a WTF moment! I thought to myself is this really where I want to go, the money pit? What was initially gear lust too in some respects suddenly turned into realisation and having recently visited the photography show in Birmingham and witnessed first hand how much of an industry for manufacturers it really is I began to have a complete re-think. Photography for me was never about making money or becoming a big draw but with most aspects of life you want to improve, you want to get better. I'm naturally competitive too and yes sometimes I get ideas above my station...don't we all but at the same time you have to be a realist. If I was maybe 10-15 years younger then maybe I'd take bigger risks but I'm 40 this year, have two kids and a loving wife, that's reality folks! Over that weekend I did a fair bit of tossing and turning and some heated discussions ensued with Jo. Monday came and thanks to a change of mind policy the lens went back to the supplier. But that's not all, not only did I decide to send it back but I also decided that it was time to switch systems. Nick On Nikon was rather unexpectedly going........now you're having the WTF moment!
I don't buy into systems or gear because that's what the big name togs are doing but I'd be lying if I wasn't somewhat influenced by a lot of sharing that my other mate Matt Hart has been doing however even before he'd got himself immersed up to his neck with it, I'd always liked the style and simplicity of the system and had seen plenty of the work that local photographer David Cleland aka Flixelpix had shared. In some ways it was a no brainer as it was a move that would allow me to be flexible down the line if need be and also let me enjoy photography yet still have a high level of quality. If you haven't guessed by now then you mustn't be in tune with the tog world at large because there is a bit of a Fuj-ease going about, the XT-1 virus has been spreading and I too was almost tempted to buy into that beast but that would have been contradictory to the whole reason for this change. It would have took me straight back into big money territory and that is what I wanted to avoid. So I've moved and am now the proud owner of a Fuji XPro-1. Am I happy, well to keep it simple.....YES!
I haven't been out an awful lot yet with the new kit however it's a hell of a lot easier to transport about and it's also going to take me a little while to get used to it but I'm sure I'll have plenty to share in the forthcoming weeks and months. We've been fortunate enough to witness the Giro D'Italia here over the past few days in Northern Ireland, shame it rained so much, and even with the 18mm I managed to get some shots in. Photography is a brilliant hobby and social media sharing gives me a lot of satisfaction so the journey continues and I hope it does for you so keep clicking.
P.S: It's no secret that there's a lot of stunning black and white work out there shot on Fuji but just in case anyone was in any doubt as to how it handles colour, well this one says it all for me.
I've left it a bit late but always keen to make sure I get a post in for the month and let you all know what I've been up to outside of the twitter updates and the latest number of press ups I can bang out thanks to Pete Reed and #PUC2014. This one is probably a bit more philosophical than normal and not entirely photography related so bear that in mind if you've chosen to keep reading.
It's funny as I've been to'ing and fro'ing with a lot of ideas recently as to what I'd be blogging about because, like everybody, one month seems to fly into the next at the minute and as my buddy Matt Hart would profess there aren't enough hours in the day. It was brilliant to have met up in person at last Matt by the way and we definitely could see Jane this time as well! When you are stuck in the office 9-5 which is where I happen to be Monday to Friday it can get monotonous at times! Then just like a light bulb (all will become clear or not if you don't turn it on) it struck me. I thought about my mood and the positive and negative effects of the things that people do and say that influence it everyday.
A number of people have done that this month probably without even realising it and no matter how much you love or hate social media generally speaking if you approach it with the right attitude you'll probably get more from it than you originally had bargained for. I'm not going to highlight all of them in this short post but let me just give you a couple of examples from a few people I happen to follow. Some probably don't normally see these posts so I'll be hitting them up with a tweet just to make sure. I'm not one for posting quotes and phrases myself but that doesn't mean to say I don't look at and take some of them into consideration. One that caught my eye this month was from NI based fitness guru Luke Haslett. I've never met the man in question but I can't help but admire his dedication and commitment to his training. My morning tweets and chats with the Breakfast Club boys normally consist with the majority of us just about managing to lift the duvet cover at 0630 whereas this man is up at the crack of dawn putting the miles and hard work in to get the body most of us can only dream about. I know that's his full time role but either way you need the right attitude and drive to do that on a regular basis. If I can take a little piece of that and build it into my lifestyle then even better. I love my training and have done so ever since I got the bug back in the 90's....getting on a bit now though! Anyway here's the quote I was referring to.
Luke Haslett - "Surround yourself with people who are positive and uplift you. Individuals who drain you are TOXIC to your happiness! They have no place in your life"
Moving swiftly on then to my next bit of motivation. Music - who doesn't love it?
I'll listen to anything and everything and my taste is so varied you probably wouldn't believe it. I was/am partial to a bit of heavy metal and would still crank on Metallica and heavier every now and again when I take a notion and after a brief stint with the Technics 1210's and a short lived DJ career(I knew I should never have sold them!) my favourite genre albeit in it's many varied forms would be dance music. It never fails to brighten your day and none more so than the legend from Larne who is now actually based in Las Vegas and living the dream as they say! The man in question is Fergie and his Arcadia podcasts on a Friday certainly lift my mood....as he would say himself, keep 'er lit!
Last but not least I'd like to give the folks from the Breakfast Club a quick mention as there's always at least one among the bunch that lifts the mood or makes you think about the other side of the fence if you like and I had the pleasure of meeting up with a number of them last week at the UK Photography Show and they were all as genuine as the online persona's betray. I also managed to catch a number of other folks from Twitter although I think I might have taken a few by surprise by actually following through on my actions and introducing myself in person. Hopefully I didn't frighten you too much!!! Blokes with Northern Irish accents always tend to stand out like a sore thumb when we start talking in these places so I'm hoping the worried looks won't be as bad next time around or at least you'll know to hide when you see me. Just wanted to give a special mention to David Kelly and Simon Allen, always taking time to keep in touch as well as sharing and it's much appreciated guys. Great to see Mr K with chilli goodies in tow and just a shame you couldn't have made the show as well Simon, next time sir. As Will C hinted a G+ group meet or photo-walk needs to be planned for next year ;)
Finally, in keeping with the positive vibes here's one that incorporates a bit of the old electro house and photography all in one. It's so true and it makes me laugh.
So now that we're well into January I thought I'd get the ball rolling with something different this month and hopefully with the help of some friends I can keep this going and get a few more interested parties who are willing to give a few minutes of their time to share some thoughts, opinions and possibly an image or two that they've shot during the journey.
Rather than me babble away every month I want to try and give a little bit back to the people that I've got to know over the last few years. So without further ado first up on the cards is none other than Pro Sports Photographer and pal (I think) Russell Pritchard.
Russell has been and continues to be an influence along the way ever since I first tortured him late one evening almost two years ago. That seems like only yesterday and although he can feel like a bit of an enigma at times he doesn't have a big ego or if he does I'm yet to see it. As well as being a great photographer and a football fan he's always there for some words of advice albeit with a hint of sarcasm. His regular slot is the Irish Premiership but he's also shot many different styles and people along the way but like me one of his other favourite sports is boxing and aside from regularly shooting Carl 'The Jackal' Frampton he continues to showcase some of the brightest and best prospects in all genres of sport from the Emerald Isle.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
41, work full time as freelance photographer, married 2 boys 17 and 11 shoot Nikon, love sport and boxing.
Where do live?
Ballyclare, Northern Ireland
How long have you been a professional photographer?
Completely Self Employed now for 10 Years !, when you wake in the morning and don’t have guaranteed money, trust me it makes you work harder on your images.
And how did you get started as a sports photographer?
A guy let down Glentoran FC one Saturday for their team photo, I happened to be there, got the gig, and never looked back
There are so many great photographers but just go with the first two that come into your head for the next question.....
Which sports and non sports photographer's inspire you most?
Al Bello, Dave Cannon (Getty)
If you could pick one camera and one lens only for the rest of your life what would those be and why?
Nikon D4 and 50mm, i got stuck in London with Tyson Fury and had to shoot the whole night with just this combination and i loved the results
Apart from getting a soaking most weekends what's the hardest part of being a pro tog?
Money, everyone is in love with the idea of being a photographer, I get paid less now than I did 5 years ago, and the amount of images I have stolen is obscene
And the easiest?
It’s what i wanted to do, I left a £33,000 a year managerial job one day, came home and told my wife i was going to do Photography full time, and started in the Down Democrat for £150 a week, by the time I paid my petrol every week there wasn’t much left. That takes balls, all the new guys want to start at the top doing international matches etc
Do you think post processing is over or under rated?
It has it’s place, i’ve processed the shit out of certain images that I had to, and the next day I’m sending Live images from a match and I do Nothing to them, I get it all right in camera, I’ve got my D4 set up for sport were I don’t even have to sharpen
Digital or Film?
Digital, although I’m shooting Film at the minute for a top secret project :)
What's been your best experience to date as a sports tog?
Spending an all access day with Rory McIlroy when he won the US Open, for Sports Illustrated.
And the worst?
Travelling to Cork overnight to photograph Pierce Brosnan, and he decided after 2 shots he didn’t want to do it !
You're currently working on some video footage for Breen's gym, is this something you think you'll get more involved with in 2014 and how does it differ from stills?
Video frys my brain ! BUT, it’s some of the best fun I’ve had in ages, I’ve seen a lot of video, but only a small amount of it is good. The processing is so much slower than me sending my stills live from the pitch. Video is definitely something I think photographers need in their arsenal, more and more people ask for it now, BUT you have to get paid for it.
You also covered the wedding of Carl Frampton recently, how was that compared to a weekend of sports and do you think Carl will be world champion in 2014?
Carl will be World Champion in 2014, FACT. I’ve done a lot of weddings over the years, but with knowing Carl and Barry McGuigan so well, it was very relaxed, and he knew what he wanted, great fun, AND I got fed !
Like most of us I think you're a bit of a social media junkie but what's your favourite social media channel?
I have a massive Love / hate with Twitter, it’s helped me so many times, never liked Facebook, but I like to blog the odd time, but Twitter for me is no1. I went to shoot Amir Khan v Paul McCloskey in Manchester, and was able to connect with Paul and meet up at his hotel, simple things like that wouldn’t have been possible without Twitter
What's your most favourite image to date from your own work and tell us a bit about the image?
My favourite image is the one of Carl Frampton in a New York subway. We had a half day shoot set up, lights hired, make up people, everything, then it rained, he couldn’t shoot outside. If he gets a cold or chest infection he could miss the fight and lose a lot of money, so we made a few calls, hired a studio, shot him on white backgrounds with a 3 light set up and went home and put together 4 composite images, ironically these have been my biggest and most profitable pics of 2013.
Do you have any personal favourites from any other photographer?
Dan Carr, Grant Brittain, Cameron Baird, and keep an eye out for Charles McQuillans surfing pictures he’s working on at the minute.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in photography apart from stay at home?
Don’t copy ! Try and keep your mouth shut, we had a guy recently who started freelance and decided to start bitching about everyone else’s stuff, not a great first impression. Needless to say he didn’t last too long. Keep learning, never think you know it all, be humble.
Where do you see yourself in another 5 years?
Apart from yourself, name three photographers we should check out?
Weddings - Ciaran O’Neill, Sport Sportsfile - Stephen McCarthy, Photoshop - Scott Kelby
And finally something a little more light hearted....
Give us three words that describe you?
Loyal, Bald, Perfectionist
Aside from coffee what's your tipple?
Who's going to win the Irish League?
Anyone but Linfield please
What's your idea of the perfect night in?
Me, my boys and a Steven Seagal, Van Damme, Schwarzenegger Movie
What's your favourite holiday destination?
Prego Steak at Nandos
Carl Frampton……. Of Course
Bethany Carson, Swimmer from Lisburn
So there you have it. Hope you enjoyed the short insight and I'd personally like to thank Russell for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer so frankly and honestly. I'm sure you'll agree it's great to hear how things are on the other side of the fence. If you'd like to check out more about Russell and his work please follow the links below. Many thanks again RP.
Russell on Twitter
Russell on Google+
I've been meaning to get a post on here for a few weeks now as I wanted to make sure that when I looked back at my archive that I managed to make the effort and finish the year with a Christmas update at the very least. Like everyone else though I've been pretty busy in the run up with shopping and then the eating, the drinking and the inevitable sleeping or as Fatboy Slim might have coined it - Eat, Drink, Sleep...Repeat!
Sometimes it can be difficult to find the time or the inspiration to get out with the camera but recently the spark has been ignited again through some of my online finds and also because of the people I network with. In this day and age it isn't always possible to meet up with everybody you chat to online and lets be honest half the time you probably don't know most of them from Adam and you might not even want to meet some of them anyway.....scary lot. I'll talk to anybody and everybody however and I know quite a number don't give much back but for me it's not about how many people I follow or get feedback from. It's all about the learning, the sharing, the inspiration and the fun.
Thanks to a share months ago from Matt Hart I was fortunate enough to come across a guy called Paul Brown aka Skipology. I was immediately drawn to Paul's work and could see straight away the amount of time and effort that he had put in to his images, his tutorials and the willingness to share. The best thing about it is that Paul does all of this at his own cost and isn't expecting much, if anything in return! I've had the pleasure of chatting with him on a few occasions and he appears to be a genuine down to earth photographer/iphoneographer who is having fun and enjoying sharing. I'm not saying everybody has to be like that as the majority of the full time togs out there obviously need to be paid for the work they do but it's always nice when you unearth finds like this and I just wanted to take the opportunity to highlight his work some more albeit in the little world of my blog.
His work also influenced my decision to go with the iPhone when I was recently coming to the end of my contract with my old HTC and I've been more than pleased with that decision. All of the images I've shared on this post have been taken with the iPhone and I plan to make even more use of it in 2014. Aside from Paul there are a load more people I'd like to thank for all the chatting, sharing and much more in 2013 but unfortunately I don't have time to do a full run down on everyone just now but let's just say I've got a few ideas for next year and it might involve you, you never know. Talking of which make sure you check out Matt Hart's face behind the keyboard project as well, he's definitely coming to meet you!
I'd also like to thank the following people for everything you did throughout 2013.
My wife Joanne, My Kids and all my Family, my work buddies and in no particular order...
Will and Trudie C, David Kelly, Russell Pritchard, Scot Baston, Andy Wills, Matt Wall, Alistair Kerr, Andy Lane, Mike "Where's My Cake" Boss, John and Liz Denton, Steve Bryson, David Butt,
Simon Allen, David Cleland, Stewart Chambers, Dom Dorey, Gavin Hoey, Yvonne Watterson,
Sarah Lissemore-John, Paul Brown, Neil Harrison, JDennis Thomas, Warren Millar, Haje Jans Kamp, Derek Pether, Jason White, Luke Haslett, PeteGlogiewicz, Liz Phillips, Derek Johnston,
Terry Simmons, Andy Whyte, Pete Reed, Matt P Woodhouse, Thomas Hawk, Mark McCullough,
Sofie Smith, Ed Godden, James Abbott, Jenny Gow, Alistair Hamill, Gerry Coe, Kyle Rendall,
Paddy Rogan-Crothers, Eric Renno, Callum Mcinerney, Andy Condie, Fergie, Simon Patterson,
Ben Nicky, Max Graham, Niall Conway, Morkel Erasmus, Stephen Cox, Glyn Dewis, Angela Nicholson, Martin Spence, OX Belfast, Hannah Massey, Rodney Pennie, Tommy Kelso, Darren House,
Justin Balog, Matthew Watkins, John Batdorff , Colby Brown, James Farley, Dave Flynn, Yen Baet, Craig Jones, MikeOlbinski, Colby Brown, Vanessa Champion, John Taggart, Thomas Fitzgerald, Ian Mylam, Brian Matiash, Owen Reid, David Nightingale, B.C Lorio, Tom Holland, Marianne Skov Jensen,
Chris Humphreys and last but not least The N-Photo Team.
......and anyone else I happened to forget!
You've all encouraged me, helped me in one way or another or at the very least posted something that got my attention so cheers for that and everyone else who happens to be having a look.
Happy New Year,