Category Archives: News and Commentary

Harsh Life

This is part of life in any city.

I captured this scene in a reasonably affluent part of Belfast, an area full of life and vibrancy where students from across the world mix with young professionals in coffee shops and bars. Where the streets are teeming with people enjoying friendship and a casual happy lifestyle. Where the side streets are student flats, posh detached homes and family terraces. And where a man lives on a pavement in a grubby sleeping bag.

If any picture can speak a thousand words, surely this one does. What does it tell you about the man on the ground? Why has he positioned himself there? What conversation is taking place between the man and the woman at the bank machine? She doesn’t look threatened – in fact they seem to be having a pleasant enough conversation. He’s sitting beside a ‘meal deal’ sign – would anyone go into the shop and spend some money on a ‘meal deal’ for him? Is that why he’s there?

I love photographs like this, not only documenting real life on the streets as it happens, but exciting the mind – raising questions; seemingly incongruous juxtapositions of objects and subjects, apparent conflicts of themes and interpretations.

Fujifilm X-T30, F=55mm, f/5 @ 1/125th sec on ISO400, shot in ACROS film simulation mode.

World Politics – In Belfast

Political graffiti in the university quarter of Belfast – and why you don’t always need humans to document human interest.

An interesting aspect of documentary photography is that human influence and interaction can be implied, rather than overt.

Even if people are not actually in the photo, the human element is still present and the human story is still told.

This gable wall in Belfast points us to events on the other side of the world, and indicates the desire of locals here to show solidarity with their fellow students there.  There is a significant Chinese community in South Belfast, many of whom are students at the university, and many of them would have Hong Kong origins.

Fujifilm X-T30 shot in Acros film simulation.

F=22mm, f/11 at 1/60th sec on ISO400.

A Much Loved Dereliction?

There’s a derelict house on Sourhill Road, Ballymena, which presents the passer-by with some interesting contradictions.  The house is or rather was, a beautiful building, – almost an enigma, in its construction and decor, with beautiful colours, and fascinating roof patterns, and yet on even a casual inspection it is crumbling and decaying with broken slates and rotten timber.  It is unoccupied and abandoned, but sits in well kept extensive grounds, with mown grass and a well kept gravel path.  Its windows and doors have been removed and replaced with boards, but the boards have been painted to look like… windows and doors!

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This place is derelict, but someone still cares for it! Continue reading A Much Loved Dereliction?

Progressing and Sustaining Your Photography Practice – a Strategy for Personal Progress

Progressing and Sustaining Your Photography Practice – a Strategy for Personal Progress

I’m starting to panic! In another six months or so, I’ll be an OAP! A ’Senior Citizen!’ Now, I’m not in any way thinking that on my 65th birthday I’ll be locking the studio door and throwing away the key! That’s not going to happen – not in this day and age, – but I’m curious as to how I’m going to practice photography with the same drive and enthusiasm when it’s no longer my source of income! A recent read through a photography degree course curriculum confirmed my own thoughts. One of the modules was ‘Developing a Strategy for Personal Progress’ So what’s MY strategy – for when retirement finally kicks in?

Continue reading Progressing and Sustaining Your Photography Practice – a Strategy for Personal Progress

Cluan Place, Belfast – 15 years on.

In 2002, I visited Cluan Place in East Belfast for the first time.  I was visiting a couple of homes in the street, – people who were parishioners of a church that I belonged to at the time.  The reason for my visit was to see if their homes had been damaged in the rioting that was taking place at that time.   Cluan Place lies right on one of the Belfast interface lines, ‘peace-walls’ seperating two communities.  In the case of Cluan Place, it interfaced with the largely republican Short Strand area.  In 2002 friction between the two communities was at a height, and there was a constant police presence to keep the warring factions apart.  One of my friends in the street was an ederly man who had found a pipe bomb in his garden; it had been lobbed over the wall from the other side.

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In August this year I had occasion to visit the street again.  It’s fifteen years from my first visit, and I havent been there since, and I wondered how the community and the atmosphere had changed.  was there still that fearfullness, that alertness of suuden attack?  was there a constant police landrover sitting at the single entrance to the cul de sac?

Needless to say, I had a film camera with me.  I never go anywhere without one, so after my visit with one of the residents I did some photographs.  I hope they paint a small picture of life in Cluan Place 15 years on.

The other side of the wall is Short Strand, equally smitten in 2002, – here’s some pictures of the wall from the Short Strand side, and a lovely new building, on the site where the old ‘Picturedrome’ cinema once stood.

If I had to choose my ‘image of the day’ – it would probably be this one, for after all, like life the summer barbecues go on!

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#Randalstown 12th Day Photos

Tuesday, 12th July 2016

Even if you’re not a big fan of marching bands, orange lodges, banners , big crowds and noise, the annual 12th July parades in Northern Ireland are a fertile hunting ground for a photographer with a love for photographing people in reportage style environmental portraits. I always advise avoiding the Belfast parade, – too much ‘in your face’ politics, – so seek out a nice wee country walk, find a quiet spot where there’s not too many people, and aim for the quirky hats, the puffed-out fluters, pipe majors, the big drummers, the colour and the spectacle – try to get the walk home from the demonstration field, – by that time the bandsmen will be letting their hair down a bit, the rules are not so rigid, and funny walks, painted faces and daft headwear make for a more carnival like atmosphere, rather than the stricter, more regimental atmosphere of the outward processions. Continue reading #Randalstown 12th Day Photos

Helping Preserve Memories

Today I had the privilege of attending the funeral of Pastor Israel Ojo in the Covenant of Love Church in Belfast, and photographing the event for his loved ones, – a lasting tribute, and memorial.  Pastor Ojo has many friends and relations abroad, and the on-line gallery can be accessed from all over the world, so that they will see around 200 images made through the day, all over the world.

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Many thanks to Pastor Ojo’s family, for allowing me to share in their day, and for commissioning me for this event, to Pastor Kevin Sambrooke for his patience and for permission to make images throughout the service, and to James Brown and Son, whose staff were very helpful and friendly.

It’s being able to share in people’s lives like this that makes professional photography a very special vocation indeed.