Bye Bye 2018

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.

January

Burlesque Idol Jan 18

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

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.

A photo course with Imogen

You can see the whole set here

March

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.

Tarlair Swimming Pool

As usual you can see all the pics here and here

April

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.

Onyx Fatale

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.

May

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.

Vaisakhi Reading 2018

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

June

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.

Self Portrait Test

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.

July

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.

Pro-Trump Demo This was some of the chaos caused by the Pro-Trumpers Pro-Trump Demo

And these were some of the fine gentlemen who felt strong enough about their own sexuality and personalities to call me names.

Pro-Trump Demo

Just another cheeky shot from the same day, this time with the Anti-Fa demonstrators trying to create their own chaos.

Anti-Fa Demo July 18

Have a look at all the pics from the demos here or here  or here or here

August

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.

Dunkirk Migrant Camp

You can see all the pics here .

September

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.

Glous and Worcester Railway

October

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.

Little Lady Luscious Oct 18

November

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…….

Swanage Railway

December

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?

A slightly Trainspotteresque Post

I think we can say that I like trains – yes once many moons ago I used to travel to the delights of Reading to take down train numbers……….

Fewer moons ago I was one of a group of photographers who spent their time wriggling through the security of Reading station to take pictures of the station redevelopment. I was travelling by train from Reading at the weekend and it surprised me how normal the new station has become.

I thought I should stare my archive of Reading redevelopment pictures which show how far the station has come. As usual, click on the picture to see the whole archive.

Reading Station Redevelopment