Sunday, January 7, 2018

Well, it's been a while ...

2 years and 5 months to be exact.

Life has a funny way of making you slow down - or in some cases stop - and reassess everything.

That's pretty much what happened between August 2015 and December 2017.

After 2 years of assessment, evaluation, prioritising, trying some new things, finding meaning again, taking a break from photography (except that Diploma I did in 2017), and a whole bunch of other stuff, I've decided to take a paddle back into photography.

Nothing big, nothing great, no major projects on the horizon - just me, my phone, and instagram
While I will still continue taking paid work, I will only do so on an "on request" basis. I will also continue with my stock photography, but again this will only be on an "as and when" basis.

For now I will be content with me, myself, and eye.

Happy New Year - and if you are interested please feel free to follow my instagram account.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Copyright; content creation and theft.

This will primarily focus on image theft, but can just as easily be applied to any content – digital or physical. Artist is proven to enhance society and culture, yet the theft of artistic content – writing, video, photographic, drawn, digitally created – whatever the medium, is reducing the number of artists, and therefore works, available to our culture.

Once over the theft of images was pretty rare and was usually carried out by people wanting a nice screensaver, but I have noticed in recent years that the theft has become more blasé.

A photographer friend of mine, rather gifted in Equestrian photography, was the first victim I can recall knowing personally. His images were not only stolen by another photographer, but the thief would also remove my friend’s copyright and watermark, replacing them with his own. Even the thief’s logo mimicked my friend’s. Just when my friend felt he had that under control a well-known magazine published an image belonging to him without consent or payment.

A few years ago digital content was lifted directly from a sports website that I know. This time it was video – an exclusive interview, and rather distinctive. I then spotted the still of the video on another sports site, there was no crediting given, no link back to the source, and I knew that the second sports site had not sought permission from the first to use a still.

Last week a large TV company had one of their exclusive video interviews not only lifted from their website, but the logo on the top of the screen was covered over and a transcript of the interview published. Despite the well-known interviewer the thief-site still did not credit the TV Company until they were challenged.

Finally this week I discovered via that I was a victim of this same fraud, not once, not twice but 11 times! Given that I have over 3000 images on my websites this is a remarkably low number, however spread over more than 5 years it has cost me more than £30,000 in lost revenue. While I have been struggling to make ends meet others have been earning more than £87,739.67 per week using just one of my images on their website.

I'm Studying ... Honest

The challenge now remains to get payment for past use of these images and to either licence them going forward or have the images taken down with immediate effect should those using the images illegally not wish to pay any further.

My first port of call will always be to contact the offender and invoice them for the usage so far. I will also always offer an option of licence for future time or take the content down voluntarily. If they do not want to licence going forward, and do not take the content down I issue a DMCA takedown notice to the web host, forcing the content removal.

If the offender ignores the invoice, or acknowledges the theft but still refuses to pay I am not afraid to use all legal avenues to pursue thieves and recover monies. I have an excellent team of IP solicitors who recover their fees from the individuals concerned regardless of the country they are in.

Bleeding Rose

So will these thefts stop me putting my images onto my websites?

Well, no. I am a very good photographer. I have a natural eye – I have never been trained. I need to live, I need to pay my bills, I need to support my family. I have professional equipment and legal insurance to pay for. To live I need to sell my work and my service. To make sales I need to advertise.

It is worth noting that I take every precaution to prevent theft of my work. All images contain a watermark, all images contain the copyright status ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, all images have EXIF data with my contact details, location the image was loaded to, ownership, creation date, copyright information, etc.

Usage and Licencing

The use of photographic images is a complex one. Most photographers I know are extremely reasonable and negotiate usage rights and charges when they are contacted before the image is used. For example; I was approached by a sub section of a large charity and asked if they could have an image I took at one of their events. There were a number of factors I took in to the decision I made to allow them one of my images in exchange for credit and copyright notification without charge (with other limitations).

Another exception is my significant other, a sports journalist. He has access to my sports images for his website without charge as it is in the family interest to ensure that we both make a good living to support us all, but even he still has to credit and copyright me.

On one of my sites, and on my Getty page, those looking to use an image can use an online calculator to get an idea of the cost of licencing the image. I believe in fair and clear licencing.

Photographers face enough drain on their income with hobbyists taking images for free and giving them away, without having their own images stolen.

If you still don’t believe it is fair to pay someone to use content they have created I have a few suggestions;

  •  See if the photographer has loaded the image to a stock photography site (these can be cheaper than buying direct)
  • Ask a hobbyist to recreate the image for you (assuming that the image creation isn’t IP protected)
  • Recreate the photo yourself (see above codicil)
  • Find another image that you like which someone is willing to give away
However if the image is so good you have to have it and nothing else will do, even if it means stealing it, then it is more than good enough to pay for. Contact the artist and talk to them.

Until content and digital theft becomes as unpalatable as drink driving, or smoking in a confined public space this battle will continue to rage, with those found to be stealing content facing heavy bills. Companies such as and Intellectual Property law firms will become content creators first port of call rather than last.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

See Me Exposure Award 2015

See|Me Exposure Award 2015: Finalist!

Earlier this year I entered the annual See|Me Exposure Award, and I did it on a whim. I never planned or intended to enter, but I had an image that I thought was excellent, and then I received an email about the competition and thought "Why not?".

So I submitted and forgot all about it.

Next thing I know I have an email saying it has been selected as a finalist in the "Black & White Collection" and will be displayed in The Louvre, Paris.

Now I am quite cynical so didn't take this on face value. In fact I emailed back and asked if they were telling me that my art would DEFINITELY be on display in this world renown art gallery. Back came the reply "Yes, and you will receive certification to this effect".

That was it! I told my family, who were thrilled for me! My partner said we should have a copy printed and display it. So we did.

People who have seen it have asked if I am going to sell prints. After some thought I decided to have a Limited Edition print run of 150.

75 Small
70 Medium
5 Large.

People started pre-ordering before I had my meeting with my printers.

I have always believed that art should be shared, and that everyone should have the opportunity to own their own piece of art. That is why the prints start at £70. All prints are mounted, but not framed. Each is signed by me, numbered, certified by the printers as a genuine of the print run and was displayed in The Louvre on 13th July 2015 as a finalist in the See|Me Exposure Award 2015.

Friday, September 13, 2013

NEW YORK – Part 1

I have a confession to make.

I am an adrenalin junkie.

That in itself is unremarkable, however, combine that with my abject fear (actually it's terror) of heights and my love of cultural travel (not your 2 week package holiday in Majorca eating fish and chips) and you may be able to start seeing my problem. PLANES!

Now I am not one to allow my fears to stop me doing what, or going where, my heart desires. You simply need to see my photos from Snowdon (walked up and back down) or from Tryfan to know this. I cannot convey in a blog the intense terror that ran through my body doing these walks, or recall how many times by body froze – to paralysed with fear to continue. I cannot tell you how I eventually managed to talk myself round in to continuing. Or the intensity of the pure relief as we completed the walks and returned to bottom, which caused me to sag to the ground sobbing.

Until 27th August 2013 I had never been out of Europe. The thought of a long haul flight was unbearable, plus why would I want to go “State-side”? There was nothing there I couldn't find on a driving holiday across Europe, or if I must – a short haul flight, which involved sobbing the whole flight.

But then, suddenly, something extremely appealing was in the US, in fact in New York. Right then New York was exactly where I wanted to be.

Excuse Me! …

On 27th August 2013 I left my home and travelled to Heathrow. Now my “coping strategy” for my short haul flights was not to think about it. Which works right up until you are in the departure lounge, then you are face-to-face with your fear. So I sat there, bolt upright in my little plastic chair, trembling all over, with my fellow passengers eyeing me with suspicion. The boarding time comes and goes, my trembling increases -

  • “Why aren't they boarding us?”
  •  “Why are they all just stood there chatting?”

Then the voice comes over the tannoy “Sorry for the delay. We are carrying out additional security checks on the plane.” …... Wha!!!!???

  • There is something wrong with the plane? 
  • Had there been a threat detected? 
  • Was there an issue with the battery?
  • Had the engine covers come off? 

I texted my loved ones to tell them all I loved them (seriously, I did!)

The thoughts that race through the terrified traveller's mind upon hearing this are inexhaustible. I admit that if it hadn't of been for my excellent reason for travelling to New York I would have got back on the bus and gone home right there and then.

As it turned out the cleaning and checking crew were short staffed. Rather than it taking 10 people one hour to carry out the work, it took 5 people two hours. I know this news may have angered other passengers, but a message of;

"Ladies and gentlemen - there will be a delay in boarding due to staff shortages on the cleaning and checking crew"

Would have been far more preferable to me than;

“Sorry for the delay. We are carrying out additional security checks on the plane.”

An hour later than scheduled, the staff board a rather shaken, tear soaked passenger with the promise that the cabin crew would keep an eye on me. As good to their word, they did. Eventually, tired from the early start, the raw emotion, and the sobbing, I fell asleep. I completely missed the food, which given the experience returning to the UK, I was glad I did. The plane landed in it's usual fashion, with the non-religious passenger gripping the seat tightly, praying to which ever god that was listening, that the plane would not only touchdown but stop without hitting the building. I finally released my grip, stopped praying and opened my eyes when the plane stopped. I'd done it! I had flown across the Atlantic and I was now in New York. Again I texted my loved ones to tell them I had landed safely.

… And breathe! 

Next was the security to get in to the USA - which was easier than I anticipated. I had no stamp in my passport from anywhere, you no longer get them travelling through Europe as a European citizen. The bemused security guard asked if I had ever been to the US - “No, my first time out of Europe” I said cheerfully – the adrenalin rush was now kicking in. I cleared security and retrieved my bags. Now I needed a taxi … sorry … cab. I headed for the exit doors and as they parted there stood my reason for flying long haul – the man I love – a wonderful surprise end to my flight. (I do wonder how long it took his ribs to recover from the hug).

The departure delay, and the entire flight, and that niggling reminder that “you have to do it all again” was wholeheartedly worth it. Would I fly long haul again? If my man was with me, or waiting for me at my destination? Yes, I would.

Awww … nice blog … but aren't you a photographer?

I know – this is supposed to be a photographer's blog, and not some personal “Dear Diary”, but this is all in context I promise. Without the reason for the flight I would not have travelled to New York, and therefore, not challenged myself to take an alternative view of those iconic landmarks. You can't pre-prep for a travel shoot in New York if you have never been there before. We all have preconceptions - good or bad - in both cases these are likely to be completely wrong.

For a photographer, and most other people, New York is iconic. From “that" photo of Grand Central Station to the views of the city from the Empire State Building it has “all been done before”, so what do you do?

I discovered that the first ever trip you ever make to New York you should consider “a reccy”, because it appeals to each person in a different way, and you won't know this until you get there. The lighting in such a built up city is also different, it takes time to adapt, even for a seasoned pro. I was thrilled to see so many Art Deco buildings. In fact the General Electric building was very prominent from the hotel we were in. You will see things you didn't expect to see, and discover that landmarks don't look as they do in the photos; mainly due to the changing cityscape.

The hunt for Strawberry Fields in Central Park actually took 2 journeys. The park isn't signposted internally and there is very little in the way of maps in the park. I eventually learned to use google maps on my phone while in the hotel to plan my day and route, saved it and then referred to it (Data Roaming turned off) as required. This does require some map reading and orienteering skills.

Also – don't forget the hidden gems of New York, such as the Unisphere and New York Pavillion in Flushing Meadows (Men in Black I), Baseball!! (you have to attend at least one baseball game. WARNING FOR VEGGIES OR THOSE WHO DON'T EAT RED MEAT: Only the nachos can be served without meat, and you'll get a funny look when you ask for that. It's all red meat at a baseball game).

For those who like their architecture make sure you go to the churches scattered across the city. Locals will tell you about St Patrick's, but this can be very busy and shoot opportunities limited. I chose to look elsewhere and was completely blown away by St Vincent's, and St Thomas's has an incredible backdrop to the alter. Be aware that photographs can only be taken at certain times of the day. Check out their websites and plan accordingly.

Don't be worried about New York rain ruining your plans. I sat for an hour under some scaffolding waiting for the rain to pass and got some stunning images of New Yorkers getting on with their day – roll with it.

What did I discover?

Like all travel it should be personal. Throw away the guide books, feel the place you are visiting, live it, breathe it. The phrase “Travel broadens the mind” was not simply conjured out of thin air. I had preconceived ideas about New York; some of those ideas were borne out, others were completely smashed. On the day I landed, after dropping my bags at the hotel, I hit the streets to get my bearings, get a feel for the layout … and track down food! I had no guide book and no plan – the best way I know to get a feel for where I am.

What I discovered was …

  • New York is not all chrome and steel, there is beauty, history and culture there.
  • All New Yorkers are not aggressive; I had some lovely chats to people who weren't trying to sell me anything, or provide a service.

To be fair the only thing I struggled with was the food, but this is what happens when you don't eat red meat, you don't have an overly sweet-tooth, you love a variety of fresh fruit and veg, and you decide to travel to New York … but that's another story .. Next project - “A Foodie In New York”?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Are we becoming Social Media Blind?

I recently came up with a new idea for supporting elderly and vulnerable people in their own homes. I patented the idea, then contacted a major manufacturer, who signed me on the spot.

Job done - right?


Patenting an idea, arranging agreements with manufactures, etc. all come at a high cost, most of which I covered with my savings (bye, bye house and car), but I was still £1200 short. Banks don't lend such small sums to businesses, not even start-ups. I'm either too young or too old for the vast majority of grant/loan schemes set up by the government.

So now what?


Crowdfunding is simple. It allows friends, family or even complete strangers to donate or invest, and there are no upper or lower limits. It connects in to every avenue of social media allowing you to reach every corner of your network - and beyond.

I looked at my immediate network and discovered I have 324 connections. That's £3.71 per person.

If someone I knew, who I knew well, came to me and said - "I have an idea which will completely change the way we care for people. I already have a major global manufacturer involved. I have invested over £6000 of my own money, but I just need a further £1200 to finish. You can help by donating/investing £3.71, would you be interested?" My answer would be "Yes" - after all what's £3.71 now? A cup of coffee? A small lunch at my desk?

I thought that the vast majority of people in my network would know me well enough and would be more than willing to support this idea. So I created my account on GoFundMe. I then set about publicising this on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

 324 people were given the link

The stats for the first 2 days break down as follows;

41 people have viewed the page
19 people have shared the page on Facebook
8 people have shared on Twitter
2 people have donated
0 have come via LinkedIn

So what happened?

TMI (That's Too Much Information to the rest of us)

Do we no longer actually read social media posts? Do we just benignly repost, retweet, pass on without thinking? Without considering why this information was shared with us? Are we so bombarded with jokes, pictures of cute cats, videos of little darlings at their recital, sales in our favourite stores, memes, and game requests etc. that all information is superfluous?

My invention was borne out of concern that we ignore the generation that went before us, that paved the way, loved and nurtured us. What has become more apparent, and more concerning, is that we are not just ignoring our elderly relatives, but we are ignoring each other - regardless of age.

Social Media was an idea to bring us together, and in may ways it does. How would I be able to talk to my sisters on such a regular basis? Or know how my cousins are? But the flip side to that is the bombardment of irrelevant information constantly filling our "News-feeds", to the point where we completely miss something which would interest us. After all how many times have you either written or seen written "How did I miss this?" on someone's post days/weeks/months after it was posted?

I too am occasionally guilty of posting/reposting jokes and pictures of cute animals, but I do try to think "how is this relevant?". "What am I trying to say?". "Has this been seen everywhere already?"

Like supporting our elderly relatives, to get ourselves out of this rut requires consideration. We need to consider before we post. We need to post smartly and more over, we need to take time for each other.

May be it wouldn't have increased the donations/investments, but it may have increased the traffic to the site. It may have increased the number of people sharing the link and instead of having a potential 324 people donating £3.71 there would have been 648 donating £1.85, or 1200 people donating £1.

This idea did not come about because I wanted to be rich, this idea came about because somebody needed it, and nobody was making it. I am no different to anyone else supporting their family.

Put it this way - if it was your mum or dad this information would end up helping - would you walk past without at least reading?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Finding inspiration

After months of hectic running around, work and other stresses of a day-to-day existence I finally hit the pause button and fled to the seclusion of my favourite fishing village. The aim was simple:- chill, relax, unwind, walk, and find my 'centre' again.

In this beautiful location, without a mobile phone signal, no internet connection, no phone in the cottage, no TV and an open fire fuelled heating system a tiny bit of my past came home.

I was fortunate enough to have 3 excellent art teachers at my time at secondary school, yet to this day I can only remember the name of one of those teachers. He was a male with wild curly hair and matching mustache, quite quiet as I recall. His art room was filled with pockets of light and artworks, which I had assumed were works of past students.

On a bright, autumnal day, as I walked past the art gallery in this little village, I saw a familiar face staring out from a poster in the window with the name underneath "David Mulholland". Curiously I entered the gallery and found pile of books all about this 'teacher'.

Sitting down with the book at home I was startled by how little I knew about him. He had wanted to be an artist from a young age, now in a harsh industrial area those with artistic talents aren't usually encouraged, but he was. By the 1970s he was living, and being exhibited, in London. However the draw of those heavy industrial sites surrounded by the beautiful and majestic countryside was too much, and he returned to Teesside where he took a job as an art teacher at a local school to support his family.

Throughout the book were images of paintings and sculptures I remember seeing in the classroom. In particular the piece "At The Dentist's" I recall being on a shelf as you entered his classroom. Other pieces made me realise that, subconsciously, his works may have had an impact on my own photographic style.

In 2005 David Mulholland passed away after a long struggle with throat cancer. Looking back through his work as an adult, and with a greater understanding of the man, I consider myself fortunate to have been taught by this talented artist and son of Teesside.

Now I intend to buy at least one of the prints of his work, it's just a shame that my favourite from the classroom isn't available.

For further information on David Mulholland see:

His work is on display at Dorman Museum, Middlesbrough until June 2013.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sensor Cleaning


While I was researching a sensor loupe I came across a review of a related, excellent product I have used for years. The review read:

"...If you use too much liquid it dries as very obvious spots; too little liquid and you have visible smears. Despite using the recommended liquid and, in the end, all the swabs I never got a sensor I was even vaguely happy ..."

This has happened to me, but purely due to my own inexperience. I mean - sensor cleaning - how hard can it be? Right?

Well, it's not hard, but it is tricky.

Before you start make sure you have the right equipment

I use the following

     from Visible Dust

  • 1.0x Orange Swabs
  • 1.0x Green Swabs
  • VDust fluid
  • Dust Snapper
  • Quasar Sensor Loupe
     from Giotto 
  • Q.Ball Air Blower
A micro-fiber cloth (any will work)
And a lens/sensor brush (make unknown, bought it years ago)

Check you need to clean. f/22 shows up dust and debris best. shoot a light coloured ares (the ceiling works well here)

Now to the cleaning - REMEMBER follow manufacturers guidelines

As the review quoted above said - too much cleaning fluid = spots, however, too little does not cause smears. Smears are mainly caused by swabs being reused. Think about a piece of kitchen roll, you use it to wipe up some spilt red wine, and now you use the same piece of kitchen roll to remove a spill on your cream carpet. What's going to happen? You're going to transfer the red wine and make matters worse. So the solution is simple - use a swab, then bin it! Using 3 swabs to clean a sensor properly is much cheaper than trying to clean the sensor with just one swab and introducing smears.

For the record the one time I introduced smears like this it took 8 swabs to clean up my mess!

Smears can also be caused by the swab coming in to contact with the wall around the sensor. Oil or debris are picked up and transfered as you 'clean'.

There are many excellent guidelines and "How-To's" out there, but my favourite is;

(Select "Wet Cleaning Manual (pfd)")

My Technique

Using my sensor loupe I examine the mirror (very carefully!! Watch your eyes!!) and the sensor.

I then conduct a dry clean (blower & brush) of the mirror and sensor. Sometimes I have to use a dry swab on the mirror to remove stubborn specks.

I like to lean my camera downover allowing debris I brush or blow out to fall naturally on the Dust Snapper.

With a sensor loupe you can also spot fine hairs caught in the seams of the camera. You don't have to remove these as they shouldn't interfere with images. However if, like me, you can't stand ANY debris around your mirror and sensor these can be removed with a pair of tweezes and a VERY steady hand. If you are no good at Operation it's best to avoid doing this.

Now check again with the sensor loupe. If there is still evidence of debris present this is the time to wet clean.

  1. I take a swab and add 2 drops of fluid towards the bottom of the swab, but still on the flat of the swab. I don't squeeze the bottle, I allow the drops to fall naturally. I find this avoides over saturation
  2. In one movement run the swab over the sensor. Take the loupe and view. If the sensor is clear then your done (give yourself a round of applause). 
  3. If specks can still be seen throw away the used swab and repeat the above steps until the sensor is clean.
If smears do appear do not panic. You can rectify it, but you must be patient and repeat the steps. All that has happened is that one of the swabs has had some debris on it. It happens to the best of us. You may need to buy additional fluid (such as Visible Dust's Smear Away)

Once the sensor is clean replace the lens and take another photo on f/22 - Yay!! It's clean!!

Now go and shoot!!

I don't want to clean!

It can be daunting to clean your own sensor. Some local camera shops and photography groups run workshops to demonstrate sensor cleaning. My "local" is WEX

If you still don't want to clean your own sensor, then you can contact your local photography store and ask them to recommend someone, or you can contact the manufacturer for their cleaning service.

A local reputable cleaner will probably need your camera for 24hrs and cost around £50. Using the manufacturer's service means your camera may have to be sent away for a longer period of time and may be significantly more costly.

In summary ...

The best of us get debris in our cameras. There is no way to stop it, but there are ways to limit it.

  • When cleaning your camera, clean your lenses too, with the same care and dilligence.
  • When changing lenses use a blower to ensure both the lens and the chamber are clear.
  • As you change the lens point the camera down over (limiting debris 'falling in' to the camera)
  • Regularly check the state of the mirror and sensor by taking a photo at f/22 on a light coloured back ground (ceiling shots).