The year started shooting in the most brilliant of sunlight, on the Spanish Canary Island of Fuerteventura. Booked at the last minute, this trip was less about photography for a change and more about just getting some winter sun. It was okay, if a tad boring, I couldn’t find an available rental car on the island! Then one night I was walking the few miles into town and I noticed a family ahead who were taking un unusual number of pictures of their eldest daughter under any available streetlight. I got chatting to them and discovered that the girl was a full-time model and had worked with several photographers I know. We set up a shoot and the next day we made some pictures around my hotel using a simple reflector. This one was shot with my Sony A7s and the Leica 50mm Summilux using no reflector
In April my best friend’s daughter gave birth to a baby girl called Frida. The birth was traumatic and life threatening for both the mother and child. I had visited Cornwall a month before to photograph the baby shower party and do some nude maternity shots. Now, hanging around a hospital, after yet another critical operation, I tried to offer some support but found myself automatically documenting as much as I could of this fragile new life. Thankfully both the mother and child recovered well and now 8 months later are thriving. This shot was made during one of the first times Frida was able to come out of her incubator and bond with her mother. A photo story about Frida’s struggle appeared on the National Geographic website and I published a Steller Story about it here. This picture was made with the Olympus OMD EM1 and the Panasonic Leica DG25mm 1.4 lens
I was watching a BBC drama adapted from a JK Rowling book, called The Casual Vacancy when an actress appeared in several ‘altogether far too brief’ scenes who I thought was fascinating. I looked her up and discovered that she was the ex-wife of legendary film director Ken Russell. I met her for coffee in London and suggested a shoot down in Winchester. Shooting with Hetty was a real highlight of the year as she is such great company and full of wonderful stories from her fascinating career. Her agent at the time had been putting her up for too many ‘doddery old women’ parts where its obvious she still retains more than enough vitality and sexiness to be playing raunchier middle-aged roles, so I was delighted to hear that my pictures played a small part in securing her a new agent who will be proposing her for more appropriate roles. I blogged about the whole shoot here, one of the images from it was exhibited as part of the London Portrait Salon and I took Hetty along to the launch party. This shot below was made with the Sony A7s and the Leica 50mm Summilux lens
The next opportunity that came out of nowhere was when my best friend Sarah, who was an Olympic swimming coach (and pretty much established the Fijian Olympic swimming programme single-handedly), managed to score a couple of show court tickets to Wimbledon! This happened to coincide with the my acquisition of the Olympus 1.4x teleconverter for my incredible 40-150mm 2.8 PRO zoom lens. We had an amazing day, one of the hottest of the year, the main match we saw featured Britain’s number one female player, Heather Watson. Heather won her match in style and went on to only just lose to Serena Williams in her next match. The lens performed brilliantly too on my OMD EM1 and the shot below, using the 1.4x TC was made at full stretch (420mm) capturing Heather playing also at full stretch! I posted this picture on twitter and Heather immediately installed it as her Twitter page banner and even now its still up there, although I must send her a higher resolution version!. I blogged about the whole day here
Shortly after that I was invited out to Romania to shoot more ‘behind the scenes fashion’ at the annual Sibiu Fashion event ‘Be Creative’. It was held in a different part of town and again the fashion collections were very innovative and downright gorgeous! On this trip I brought along my photo buddy Karl (whose luddite status means he has as yet still no internet presence to link to here, despite the fact he has a huge archive of excellent photographs on his computer!). I blogged about this trip here and published a more comprehensive Steller Story about it here The picture below was shot with the Sony A7s and the Leica 35mm Summilux
My Solo Exhibition
This year saw my first proper solo exhibition of photography which was shown with the support of Winchester Fashion Week. I exhibited prints from last year’s shoot in Sibiu, Romania where I documented several fashion shows from backstage. The prints were shown at The Link Gallery in Winchester University over 6 weeks and I sold enough of them to make a small profit! I was astonished and delighted when Magnum photographer and legend Ian Berry, who I had the privilege of meeting a few months earlier, agreed to write a few words about my images for the flyer, I’m sure that helped sell a few prints..:) You can see all the images from the exhibition here which were shot with a combination of the Olympus OMD and the Sony A7s cameras
Scottish Fashion Awards
In late summer, I was commissioned to shoot the ‘winner’s portraits’ at the Olympus Pen Scottish Fashion Awards which were held at the swanky Corinthia Hotel in London. This was something quite new for me as I haven’t done a lot of event photography and I had never worked with studio flash before. You can read about the whole shoot here. After meeting Ian Berry earlier in the year it was a great privilege to meet yet another photographic legend at this event, David Eustace who was being honoured for his amazing career. I also had a lot of fun meeting the show organiser Tessa and her remarkably talented daughter Tallia Storm, the soul/pop singer who opened a concert for Elton John at just 13! A feature from the shoot was published in the Olympus Magazine and the image of Tallia below was used on the cover. I also blogged about it here and published a Steller Story here All the shots were made with my trusty and brilliant Olympus OMD EM1 camera, the one below was actually made with a continuous ringlight which was being used by fellow Scottish photographer Will McGregor.
Almost immediately after the fashion awards I jetted off to Berlin to run a workshop with fellow Olympus Visionary Steve Gosling. We had ran one last year in Venice which was a big success and two of the photographers from Venice also came to this one. One photographer even flew in from India for this 3 day workshop. As always it was a real pleasure to work with Steve who is a great photographer, a brilliant and insightful tutor and an all round great guy to spend any time with. The ‘well humoured’ workshop was greatly enjoyed by all the photographers and there will definitely be more joint workshops with Steve to come in the future. You can read about the workshop and see images shot by Steve, myself and the workshop participants in the Steller Story I published here. The image below was shot with the Olympus OMD EM1 and the 12-40mm PRO lens using my newly acquired Elinchrom ELB400 portable studio flash.
In November my first Photo Tour for KUONI got off the ground, travelling around India with 14 clients most of whom were keen photographers, some already quite accomplished. It was an amazing experience, one which I will never forget and I know many of the guests felt the same way. India was special for photography and special because of the wonderful people there. I had a few days in Delhi before the tour began and one of the Berlin workshop participants, JC who lived an hour’s flight from Delhi, came in for 2 nights so we could shoot together in some of his favourite spots. It was great to see him again and we had a tremendous day’s shooting. You can read about the whole photo tour on my blog here and also in the Steller Story I published here. The shot below was made with the Olympus OMD and the Olympus 12-40mm PRO lens
On Boxing Day I nipped off to Istanbul with my best pal Sarah for 4 days of shooting with my latest acquisition the Leica SL, their first full frame mirrorless body. The camera is the ultimate machine to use my 4 Leica M lenses with but in the main I used the 35mm and 50mm Summilux lenses. I booked up an afternoon shoot with a lovely Turkish model, who told us we should call her ‘Boosh’ a short version of her actual name ‘Busra’. I stayed in the lap of luxury at the new St Regis Hotel in the swankiest area of the city and I treated to butler service where they brought in tea and coffee by the bedside every morning, it was bliss! It was a quick visit but we managed to squeeze in visits to the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and the Istanbul Modern Art Gallery. I’ve written more extensively about this shoot on the Leica Blog here but the SL did a great job with those M lenses even though I consider the firmware to be seriously lacking in a few areas. The shot below of Boosh checking her email in the taxi was made with the SL and the 35mm Summilux lens.
As ever, this year’s photographic highlights were dwarfed by the importance of the wonderful people who remain in my life and some of the new ones who have entered it, especially the beautiful baby Frida who charms everyone she meets and who’s radiance shows me for one, how precious life can really be. Here are a few pictures of some of those people…