gill moore photography

Archive for the 'project' Category

Manchester artist Ben Kelly’s new exhibition “Painting the Blues” @ Manchester City FC Museum …

benkellyartexhib_feb09

Award-winning local artist Ben Kelly had a busy time last week.  Sadly, I couldn’t make his Preview Night due to work commitments, but judging by all the feedback and coverage, things went very well indeed.

His exhibition is called “Painting the Blues” and features new work created over the last 12 months.   The aim was to capture the highs and lows of Manchester City Football Club.  Any City fan knows more than most, the world of football is a hugely unpredictable one, where “emotions change from triumph to despair in the space of ninety minutes”.

Even for a club with Manchester City’s history, the last 12 months have been a rollercoaster, yet Ben was given free rein by City to wander wherever he wanted, with unprecedented access to witness activity behind the scenes  aswell as the regular matchday frenzy.  One has to congratulate the club for creating the opportunity for an artist to try and capture the season on canvas and as a huge City fan this was pretty much a dream assignment for Ben.

thefinalwhistle

He is certainly an artist on the rise; having won a massive £15,000 in December 2006 in a competition organised by the Lowry and Umbro called “One Love – The Football Art Prize”.  He beat 800 other artists from all over the country to scoop the prize when his painting “The Final Whistle” was chosen by a panel of judges, one of whom was Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger (in the news this week with his ‘Angel of the South’ White Horse commission).
stop_benkelly

Next project on the horizon was an exhibition at the prestigious Cheshire gallery Firob & Peacock in Knutsford.   This work showcased some of Ben’s landscape paintings; each piece took the viewer by the hand on a beautiful foray into the woods.  Featuring forests and icy stillness, this exhibition was full of intense atmospherics, Lowry-esque figures almost lost within impossibly elongated trees.  Delicate tints and the occasional dramatic splash of vividity created wonderfully engaging work.

Grab the chance while you can, and see Ben Kelly’s latest work here in Manchester at the City of Manchester Stadium Museum, open now and ending on the 31st March 2009.  All work is for sale, though I understand quite a few were snapped up at the Preview.

Which leads me on to the subject of my next post …. “Where can I buy original Art in Manchester and why should I?”.   Yes indeedee, coming soon … check back on the blog tomorrow (probably!).

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


19 steps to be a great Photographic Assistant … and beyond.

assistant_great

UPDATE ADDED:  5 March 2012.  I came across this excellent piece in The Guardian which looks at “How To Become a Professional Photographer”.  They did a live blog Q & A on the topic and the archive is still there in the comments.  There were some superb questions from students and those wishing to enter the profession.  This archive contains some very good advice from an excellent list of panellists.

___

Many people dream of a career as a photographer and there are certainly a myriad of ways to get into the photographic industry.  My own path started by studying at college for 3 years, but the learning really only properly began when I became a Photographic Assistant in a large commercial studio assisting 10 different photographers.  I worked hard and learned a great deal.

I have now worked as a photographer for well over a decade and I have gleaned a fair bit of insight on the question of “What Makes a Great Assistant?”.  So, using my own experiences, reading around and from listening to the many folk I have met along the way I have attempted a potted guide which I hope may prove helpful to others .

Of course, it is all subjective (and by no means definitive- I certainly don’t know it all!)  so take or leave whichever bits you like.

  1. Find out and learn as much as you can about the key bits of equipment used by professional photographers in your area (and I’d include software in that too).  A good place to look would be the main source for hiring professional gear, ask them what gets hired out the most … what manufacturers people tend to use.  This increases your value as an Assistant if you can show a range of knowledge and familiarity with all the latest kit.  Hire it out yourself or strike a deal testing it for the hire company.  If you are at college use every piece of equipment regularly and know it backwards.
  2. Learn the going rate for an Assistant, never try and undercut others … usually not a clever or productive route to go especially if you are just starting out without a decent reputation.  Different commissions will have different budgets, often Digital Assistants get more than Studio Assistants.  Be prepared to work long hours on some shoots and get no lunch break.  On another day you may find you finish early and go to the beach.  To get the best answers ask other experienced Assistants, if you ring up a photographer, most will give you an honest answer.
  3. Shoot as much as you can yourself, develop your own style, practice using all available equipment and cultivate how you like to do things and slowly build up a folio and a nice set of reliable photo gear.  Once you start thinking like a photographer you should become a better Assistant; able to anticipate and be a real asset.
  4. Be reliable, discreet, loyal, unobtrusive but helpful and decisive when necessary.  Being adaptable, easy-going and good company helps.  Don’t underestimate how important good social skills are in being a good Assistant.  Each photographer is different, some will prefer you to be gregarious and take the pressure off them with models and Clients etc. However, be aware that others may hate that!  You need to read people and their needs pretty well.
  5. Ask if you don’t know how to do something. Never just muddle along and then end up breaking a piece of equipment.  Though not too many questions, or you will make the photographer nervous!  If you can, ask someone else who might know an answer (other Assistants or people who work at the studio if it is a Hire place?).
  6. Learn skills from everyone else connected to the shoot.  Watch how they work as part of a team, how do they conduct themselves and use their skills?  Be helpful to everyone;  yes it is a nice way to be and it can lead to other contacts and work.  Network and cultivate useful contacts yourself and make recommendations should someone come looking.  What goes around comes around.
  7. Keep good notes and contacts of anything you learn.   You think you will remember it all but you won’t.
  8. Create an ideas and influences book. Read, visit and study other photographers.  Come up with a shortlist of your favourites from the emerging to the worshipped.  Analyse why you like them.
  9. Never forget your main role is to support … you are all part of a team, don’t try and take over but a useful suggestion at the right time can be invaluable.  Cultivate showing the right amount of initiative, don’t always be waiting to be told what to do.
  10. Always be a little early, NEVER be late.  If, for some reason, you will be late then phone ahead and let the photographer know.  Don’t turn up with a hangover.
  11. Be available should the photographer need you, “busily hovering” is a very useful skill.  If you go off to do a task then let the photographer know.
  12. Dress to blend in, you’re a creative; you can be stylish but practical.
  13. Be keen and able to drive a car and a van, try and have a clean licence.
  14. Don’t moan on a job, if a photographer is a nightmare then do your best on the job and don’t work for them again.
  15. Keep your private life out of work, put your phone on silent&vibrate. Yes, you are running a business, but when you are on a job, don’t take other work calls unless absolutely necessary.  Try and make your calls back at a suitable moment if there is such a thing.
  16. Don’t approach or show your own work to a Client on a job.  If you fancy collaborating with a Model, Make-Up artist or Stylist then agree to meet up some other time.  It might be nice to let the photographer know of your plans as they did put the two of you together in the first place and it could be better than them finding out from someone else.
  17. Do a business course, understand the market you are in, look at other Photographers and how they have positioned themselves within their sector.  Do you want to specialise, do you want to be your own boss?  Read lots about marketing a creative service.
  18. Understand copyright and Intellectual Property, protect your work. In the UK Own It is a good place to start and often run free workshops and Copyright Action has some excellent advice and links.
  19. Get feedback on your work, listen to advice, enter competitions & awards but always read the small print, make sure they are not Right’s Grabs:- a great place for advice is Pro-Imaging: Competions the Good & the Bad.  Keep shooting, but follow your own instincts too.  Love what you do and never lose sight of enjoying taking photographs.

I have listed some links for obtaining critique on your photography below.  I am not endorsing any of these and the standards of photography submitted varies but you may find it is useful for looking at other work and getting feedback.  Please let me know any others which you have found worthwhile and I can add them to the list.

Photoassist … good UK Assistants website and forum, features a showcase gallery for current test work.
Photo-net
J M Colberg website … US-based, you have to pay a fee for this one ($75) see further comment on this offer at the “A Photo Editor” site.
Photosig
Photozo.com Forum
Photopoints.com
PBase Forum
Flickr photography critique group.
Modelmayhem.com.  You can have a profile and if offers critiques but you have to join, mostly fashion.

For actual one-to-one reviews

Format Festival. Photography Festival in Derby, UK.
Redeye. Photography Support Group in Manchester, UK.
Rhubarb Rhubarb. West Midlands, UK based photo-development Agency.

To finish off, here is a link to some respected and experienced photographers on the Magnum blog, featuring brilliant work and some insightful advice on being a photographer ….  “Wear Good Shoes – Advice to young photographers”

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


How does a rather excellent real ale and the UK’s largest sedum roof go together?

adnams_distributecentre

I recently saw a very large and impressive sedum roof at the Wildfowl and Wetlands site at Martin Mere, Lancashire. It got me wondering who can lay claim to having the largest sedum roof in the UK?

I felt sure it would be housed somewhere like the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth (Wales) or maybe one of the large regenerative building schemes undertaken over the last few years for eco-friendly social housing or public buildings?

I did find a few nice examples of sedum and regular green roof schemes:

Certainly quite a number of educational buildings such as St. Martins-in-the-field Girls’ School, London roof and one at Cambridge University plus many new build schools across the country.

The well-known Eden Project has a small green roof, the most picturesque I could find was the Gallie Craig Coffee Shop, Drummore, Scotland. Wow, I SO want a hot beverage there now! :-)

gallie_craig_coffee_shop

Sometimes the choice to create a green roof was by necessity, such as the restaurant within St. James Park, London; any design for the new roof there had to blend in with the surrounding parkland or it would not gain planning permission.

An award-winning illustration on my doorstep here in Manchester is the Norman Foster designed scheme called Budenberg HAUS which has 4,500 square metres of green roof sited on the edge of Altrincham overlooking the Bridgewater Canal.

budenburg_haus1

The largest UK green roof (not wholly sedum) is at the Rolls Royce factory near Chichester which has a huge roof space measured at 40,000 square metres.

Eventually after a fascinating journey delving into various schemes I found a winner … and a real-ale brewery at that! Any real-ale fans will have heard of Champion Beer Brewers Adnams who are based on the Suffolk Coast in Southwold. In 2005 beer sales were up and faced with this growing demand they realised that a new distribution centre was required.

Adnams website lists their environmental goals “We aim to manage our impact positively on the social, natural, and built environment” and on this newbuild project they certainly went for it, not only creating the UK’s biggest sedum living roof but also building the Centre predominently from bricks formed using locally-grown hemp, lime and chalk.

These building materials certainly earn green brownie points (sorry I couldn’t resist!) but they also add effective functionality. Acting rather like a cellar, it maintains a steady 11 degrees celsius temperature within the warehouse, and means there is no need for expensive air-conditioning units. Heating for the offices is provided by solar panels. Though the initial build for the scheme was higher than a conventional approach, is has meant running costs are nearly half what they were at the Brewers smaller previous warehouse. So in the long term it will result in a considerable cost saving.
sedumroof

The roof itself is predominently sedum. These low maintenance, fleshy, thick skinned succulents have excellent insulation properties and also help filter out air pollutants. The plants are low maintenance and usually require no artificial irrigation, they absorb sound (useful in an urban environment) and can provide a habitat for birds and wildlife. The Adnams planting scheme also included regional wildflowers and wild grasses to supplement the sedum and to blend more naturally with local flora.

However, Adnams may soon be knocked off the top of their green perch. Work is ongoing on a scheme in Hemel Hempstead for a new Indoor Ski Centre. The sedum roof here will be a jaw-dropping 21,500 square metres and is set to open in the summer of 2009.

I have rather skirted over the pioneering use of the hemp and lime bricks on this project, but that is only because I am planning a longer post on this Stone Age plant and it’s modern applications in the very near future.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Harvest time – The Abundance Scheme : a cracking idea.

abundance_manc

abundance_apples

I like simple ideas, I like good ideas, I like even more people who follow through on simple good ideas. “The Abundance Scheme” originated in Sheffield in 2007, it sounds like a great idea and below is a concise explanation detailing what it is all about:

    “Abundance is a project to harvest the seasonal glut of local fruit like apples, pear and plums. Each year hundreds of fruit trees go unpicked either because people don’t notice them, may not be physically able to harvest them or there are just too many fruits at one time. Abundance is a team of volunteers who have been helping harvest city fruit and redistributing the surplus to the community on a non-profit basis”

In Sheffield they use a mobile fruit unit to distribute anything surplus for free and it isn’t just limited to newly picked fruit, it can also be in the form of jam, pickles or vitamin packed fresh juices.

The Sheffield Scheme proved so successful it has now sprouted an offshoot in Manchester called Abundance Manchester. Over the last month or so a group of volunteers have been collecting boxes and boxes of Mancunian fruits, mostly apples and pears by the looks of the pictures on their site but I can only applaud what seems like a cracking effort.

People contacted the organisers from sites around the region, many around the borders of the River Mersey including Chorlton, Didsbury and Stockport. Volunteers then arrived with picking gear and bike trailers to transport the goods to needy groups around the region. Some lucky recipients include The Early Years Nursery School in Didsbury, the Red Cross Destitution Project based in Harpurhey and Cornerstone in Moss Side.

If you have (or you can recommend) a good site which has an abundance of food then you can log the details onto the Abundance Manchester website. It could be anything from an allotment or an old fruiting tree in your own garden. It has been a bumper year for many harvests, so even one tree can yield a surprising amount of goodies. I hope the scheme goes from strength to strength.

12 Nov 2008.  Just spotted the River Cottage (Channel Four TV programme) has picked up on this scheme there is a nice piece on their website if you follow this link.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button