A new post for a new year. My book has been featured in the Burlesque Bible magazine.
Click HERE for details
A new post for a new year. My book has been featured in the Burlesque Bible magazine.
Click HERE for details
There is a great deal to try and understand about my father, but I like to think that this pictures captures a little of his complexity.
Its been a rock and roll year for the UK and for me. I think that I have shot more photographs that I have ever have in the past despite more than several trials and tribulations on the personal front.
I thought that as 2018 has dragged to a close, or is dragging to a close. It was the right time to have a quick retrospective of my photos.
So join me in trying to find the one photo that sums each month of this wierdly, terrible and strange year.
This is a comped shot from the first Burlesque Idol of 2018. I loved the basic shot of the performer Athena Thrillme. Then I wondered what would happen if I copied and pasted her across the shot. This is one of my fave shots of the year.
You can see the whole of this particular Burlesque Idol by clicking here.
February is my birthday month, I wasn’t really feeling very festive, but still managed to take a few photos. It was blooming cold and I got locked out of a hotel in a snowstorm, which was interesting experience.
One good thing that happened, was that I was able to pursue my interest in daylight portraits. In order to improve my skill and experience, I went on a photography course with Weekly Imogen where I was lucky enough to shoot the eponymous Imogen and work with Mark Wilkinson. If you get the chance to go on one of their courses, do it. Its def worth the money.
You can see the whole set here
March was one of the busiest months of 2018 for me, I went to Germany, I went to Scotland. I got around. Looking at my Flicker list I took loooooooooots of photos.
The highlight of the month was a family trip to Aberdeenshire. For those that know me, will have observed that I have a Scottish surname. My grandfather emigrated from the North East of Scotland to London in the 1930s. He maintained strong links with his hometown – Huntly. We took a trip to see the family seat and frolic a little in the snow.
One of the places that we visited was the now derelict Tarlair Lido in Banff. As a child my grandparents took my sister and I there and I remember how cold, cold, cold it was. It was abandoned by the local council as it was too expensive to keep open, and there is now a campaign to restore and reopen it.
While I would like to see it reopen – it has an excellent derelict quality. It is eerie, wild and silent. I would make a great place for contemplating the world. If there was time in the day for contemplation.
Anyway, I realise that I have really wobbled on. Let’s go to the picture.
Surprisingly, I remember April as being a super wet month, despite 2018 being one of the hottest years on record. I wasn’t very well in March and April and I don’t appear to have taken that many photos. But I did manage to squeeze the Lady Luscious cabaret in to my month. If you have never been to a cabaret, go to Lady Lush. Its amazeballs.
This is a pic of Onyx Fatale, all round super woman and winner of the 2018 Burlesque Idol. She is an astounding performer, if you get the chance to see her perform – just do it.
So having gone from pissy rain weather to super warm and that start of a famous heat wave. I also felt better and back to myself. I was on my travels again, Germany and the US but it was closer to home where my fave pic of this month was shot. Indeed, I liked this shot so much that I have it in AO paper size on my wall at home. If you like it too, I can print you and sell you a copy too.
This fine gentleman was celebrating Vaisakhi with other members of the South Asian community in my current home of Reading. It was a fantastically warm day, and the colour and the noise of the procession, which went on for about 4 hours had to be seen to be believed. You can get a flavour of the whole thing by clicking this link here
I haven’t published many pics from June on my Flickr site. I am not sure why that it, my memory of June that I was super busy taking pictures, perhaps it was because I doing paid work for other people and didn’t want to post them.
What I did do was take some self-portraits. The pic itself is a tadge stark now I look at it.
It shows a tubby bloke, who is a bit Burly ( get it). The pic also says something about the sort of pics I like to take. I shows a tubby bloke, with bags under his eyes. He looks careworn but defiant. This fits with the way that I want to take pics, I hope that it is true to life, not airbrushed but real. This is me, the way I am, struggling through, biting bullets and trying to be the best me I can be. The awesome Tempest Rose has a lot to say about being yourself, and one of her key expressions is #Fuckthatshit. I like to think that this a picture of a bloke as he is, broken, weak, defiant, surviving and able to say #Fuckthatshit at the appropriate moment.
Ok I am going to cheat and put two photographs up. My blog my rules…….
I went to three major demonstrations in July. The famous Anti-Trump Demo to welcome the great man to London. Lots and lots of people, possibly around 500,000 marched to Trafalgar Square. The day after a much smaller number of demonstrators had a greater and more violent impact as a small number of demonstrators tried to demonstrate their support for Donald Trump and the then jailed Tommy Robinson.
The pro-Trumpers and pro-Tommy Robinson’s were angry, violent dangerous and a bit fat. I mention this as one of the insults that they threw at me was that I was a bald, fat cunt. When you see the pics you might see the irony. See all the pics here
One of the protesters punched me in the mouth towards the end of the demo, but things were already wound up when one of them, I think also the man who threw the punch also pushed my camera back into my face when I was taking a picture.
And these were some of the fine gentlemen who felt strong enough about their own sexuality and personalities to call me names.
Just another cheeky shot from the same day, this time with the Anti-Fa demonstrators trying to create their own chaos.
I had a fantastic August taking photographs. I shot a wedding in Germany and spent a fab couple of days taking photographs in a small village to the North of Berlin. Went to the Notting Hill Carnaval and took lost of photos for people.
But, the picture that I want to highlight is one I took on my way back from Berlin. I saw smoke rising from a wood next to the motorway. I went to investigate and found an informal migrant camp like the old Jungle Camp in Calais, but less fun.
I decided to have a look to try and understand a bit more about the refugee problem. It was a Sunday afternoon and social workers were in the middle of food distribution. The residents were doing Sunday sort of things and I found this man giving his son a hair cut. They had travelled from Syria and were hoping to cross to England. They were proud and dignified, but lived in shit and squaller instead. I like the way that the man stares in to the camera as does the son. I can see their human pride and dignity. Are they still there? I don’t know.
You can see all the pics here .
Again, I took had lots of commissions, but the pic that I am happiest with is a portrait of trainspotters at the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway in Cheltenham. The observant amongst you, if you have struggled down this part of the page is that the spotters are still there despite the locomotive having already departed.
It seems like it is a metaphor for Brexit Britain. The trainspotters are all gathered round a train that has already been departed and they are looking at an element of the past. They are looking backwards into the future.
As a photographer I thought it was important to shoot at the Peoples’ Vote march in London. There were around 700,000 people marching in favour of a 2nd Referendum. But, and this is a big but the picture that I want to feature is of the most photogenic man on Instagram. Paulus – he is the amazing MC of Little Lady Luscious Cabaret at the Albany.
I am the Burly Photographer, I am a bit Burly and I take lots of pictures of Burlesque and Cabaret shows. Infact you might say that Burlesque is my passion, you might say that but you can definitely say that my real passion is steam railways. I could drive a steam engine before I could drive a car. In November I spent a fine weekend in Swanage and luckily enough the steam railway was working. So I was luck enough to take a fine pic of a steam engine at Corfe station. You’re welcome…….
Lots of commercial shoots, 3 Burlesque shows, 1 conference, a saxophone orchestra and a few other things.
So I can’t show you those pics, but I can show you the burlesque book I published.
So that’s my year. What will 2019 bring – who knows?
More Burlesque? Don’t mind if I do……
Was shooting at the November Lady Luscious Cabaret at the Albany Pub. This is an amazing venue. It’s a basement in a large pub opposite Great Portland St. The stage and performance area is very atmospheric. If you listen to the walls carefully, you can hear the Beatles being played and women in mini skirts and blokes in sta-pressed trousers twisting away. If you listen even more carefully, you can hear the scream of bombs from the Blitz and you can smell cigarettes burning while the latest music hall star takes the stage.
It’s that sort of place, the fab Lady Luscious cabaret is adding its own layer to the patina of history and performance.
If you haven’t been you really should come and watch history being made.
A lot of my friends have been asking me about my burlesque book – what it looks like, who is featured in the book.
To help them I have created a quick video of the book – it looks great, even though I say so myself.
Here’s the video
You can buy the book HERE
I have just published a book of my best Burlesque photos of 2018. I can’t believe it, I am so excited that the effort that I put into it has come off.
The first Burly Photographer Album is out! It features the best of Burlesque and Cabaret in 2018. It covers the whole wild world of cabaret, burlesque, boylesque and drag in London this year. It features 48 amazing performers but is only a snap-shot of all the pics I’ve taken in 2018. The book has a wide range of performances and includes 2 Burlesque Idol winners, 1 Miss Burlesque UK winners, 1 Miss Pin Up UK, a couple of Germans and several Australians and a whole world of performers in between.
You can order the book here
There amazing performers featured are
In November I shot the Lady Luscious Cabaret at its graduation show in the Cavendish Arms.
It was a night of wildness, craziness and amazing Burlesque. My mum, who has been rather ill over the summer, said that she wanted to see what Cabaret and Burlesque was all about. I had to keep telling her that most nights I’ve been to or shot are really not as crazy as this night.
To give you an example of the sheer nuttiness, I have never seen the Stage Kitten, Harvey H Hendricks, have an arm wrestle with a member of the audience
In addition to this, there was a mixture of debutante performers and more experienced performers and I was pleased to be able to take pictures of the very first performance of some of the acts. I was a crazy night and one that I could repeat every evening of the week.
Stormina Teacup was one of the debutante performances
Donna Divine has only been performing for a year, but has already found a regular spot on the London Burlesque stage
Fab Music from Admiral John
I love the cheeky look in this photo
I was lucky enough to photograph another politician 2 weeks ago. This time it was Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy. He had come to Reading, in support of the new Labour MP, my friend Matt Rodda.
Lammy spoke about the Windrush Generation, Grenfell Tower and of course Brexit. One of the things that struck me was what he said about housing and Grenfell. He talked about how Britain needs to be building more houses. He talked about the experience of living in a house that his parents owned and his cousins and friends living in Council Houses. He talked about this as feeling like a ‘normal’ experience. This certainly was the experience I saw growing up in Chertsey, with “council” and private houses cheek by jowl together. My own current situation, where my own housing situation is a real mess gave what he said extra power.
So what about the photos.
David in pugilistic mode
Recently I came close to losing my flat. I have had a couple of bouts of so called ‘sofa surfing’ in the last 2 years. The last period being between August and September this year. To lose your home, or even to live under the threat of losing your home is a feeling of extreme powerlessness. It is terrifying – I can’t describe it.
Having lost my job recently, I was suddenly faced with losing my home again. I have been very upset by this. To try and cope with this I wondered what signs I could find in my home town of Reading or homelessness and signs of home.
The first signs I looked for were, those of identity:
First I found flats, one for Cornwall and then the LGBTQ+ flag. People in Reading trying to claim their past or perhaps their present while in the most transient cities of the country.
I saw, in the shopping centre the Polish supermarket – this confuses the matter as the shop is so Polish, that I imagine hardly any Brits ever go in.
The final plaintive cry was scratched into a door: Take Me Home – what better sign could there be for a dislocated person in this dislocating town.
So who are the dislocated? People like the man who regularly begs outside the Tesco’s at the Cemy Junction. He claims to be deaf and mute so its difficult to find out what his name in. Tomeka and Brumie were kind enough to talk to me and let me take their picture. They sit on the streets and wait. They wait. They wait. They wait.
But, this is not all the people on the streets. Reading has people who are simply sleeping on the street.
These two gentlemen are simply just sleeping on the street. One in a door way one in a tunnel under the station. As you can see from the first picture, they are simply part of the background. They are mixed in with a bag of rubbish and we, the normal people with a home, simply walk past them.
Reading is a town that needs more homes, but those with homes or perhaps more accurately. Those with a house, are sick of the number of flats that are being built around the city.
I am saddened by this graffiti. I won’t be able to afford a house, I don’t think, when I am in the position to buy a home again. A flat will be a life saver, however the joker who wrote this graffiti wants to keep me out of a home – thanks mate.
It could be worse, I have a flat that’s slightly about a bedsit, and somewhere that I really love. Despite not having hot water and damp everywhere. But, it could be worse. It could be worse, it could be much worse.
I could live here
Reading now has a small shanty town, which reminds me of the Jungle in Calais or the temporary migrant camps that I saw in Dunkirk
Some people have taken the law into their own hands and are occupying abandoned barges on the river. The homes look drier and perhaps more interesting.
But in the shanties are spread throughout the town. They are hidden but if you know where you are looking obvious.
How can we have let ourselves to get like this?
And finally why do we allow activists, preservationists and those that would seek to pull up the ladder behind them to say:
It is reported on the BBC that there has been a sudden upsurge in the last couple of weeks of migrants attempting to cross the channel in small dinghies. This has been deplored and with the channel being the world’s busiest waterway, it is extremely dangerous.
Why are they trying to cross the channel in the first place? The report that I heard on the radio seems to point to the migrants fearing that once Brexit comes in to force then it will be impossible to cross the channel.
These reports have avoiding, what, I think is one of the key reasons for chancing the crossing.
I can’t replicate the smell, but I can show you what I have seen.
I hope that it will spark some sympathy for those in the camps and hopefully some action some where. Please look at the pictures, share them and talk about the reasons why people want to flee to England.
Part of the shanty town in the jungle
Toilet area in the Jungle – The smell was appalling
Green Slime – The Jungle
You can see all the pics that I took in the jungle here
This is a stress free area – Oh the irony – Dunkirk Migrant Camp
Hopeless and aimless feet – Migrant Camp Dunkirk
Rubbish creates pest – Migrant Camp Dunkirk
Hopefully Hopeless – Dunkirk Migrant Camp
You can see the whole set of Dunkirk pictures here