Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Top music, top blokes, top night out!

On Friday I had the privilege of attending the Stringer Bessant gig at The Forum in Tunbridge Wells.

Sitting well away from the road at the top of a hill like a misplaced tiny Roman fortress, at first glance, the forum is a very unusual venue, looking more like a restaurant (in fact it was originally a public toilet, apparently) but is very easily accessible, and it's small stature makes it very intimate, and gives it a relaxed atmosphere. Once inside it oozes rock'n'roll, and you can't help but feel you're somewhere special.

First band of the evening was Maker, and we were spoilt rotten by their rock'n'roll exuberance. Styled somewhere amidst Kings Of Leon, Small Faces, and the Mighty Boosh, they backed up their awesome 70's attire (I want the singer's jacket!) with some killer riffs, and blistering rawk tunes.

All timeless, memorable, foot-tapping asnd head-nodding classics, all worth searching out on Myspace etc. I can only see great things happening for this band!

Next up were Origami Dinosaur. Kinda wacky. Kinda be-boppy. Kind of Scissor Sisters, but with hats. They clearly had a large following present that evening, and the crowd loved them.

And then changing the tone completely came Stringer Bessant - the stage was reduced from mini-arena to two chairs, a couple of microphones and a mysterious flask. Gary and Jack leaving the room spellbound as they played tunes from the Yard album, plus a couple of bonuses - one being "Mellow" - a Reef tune, which the crowd were very much blessed by.

As you listened to the two of them, you couldn't help but be impressed by their musicianship, but also found yourself spellbound by the feel of the songs, and the atmosphere in the club - a previously heaving rock gig had become a quiet, reflective and relaxing evening's entertainment. It is testimony to Stringer Bessant that they were able to compliment such an evening despite a totally different style to the rest of the acts.

After the gig, it was heartwarming to note just how long Gary and Jack spent chatting to fans, some clearly a little worse-for-wear on the sauce - but at all times they are friendly, genuine and courteous to all. And you get the impression they're not so much doing it for "marketing" or "customer care" - they are doing it because they are happy, comfortable in their own skins and genuinely like and appreciate people.

I had a fantastic few minutes after the gig, backstage having a good old natter to the two of them, hopefully more of this will be published soon in one of the magazines I write and shoot for.

Big thanks to Gary and Jack for a fantastic evening and for making time to talk to me and my mate Andy - possibly the biggest Reef fan on the planet :)

Saturday, 23 October 2010

A Grand Night Out...

Last week I was asked to shoot at a fashion show being run at the Grand Hotel in Folkestone, organised by Folkestone and Hythe Conservatives.

The outfits and models in the show were provided by several local boutiques, and there were some really stunning ensembles on display.

I had a fantastic evening chatting to some lovely folk, and managed to shoot plenty of photos of the lovely models dressed up in their finest.

In between catwalk shows, several local business demonstrated beauty products and displayed jewellery, whilst a young lady played the piano (and if she happens to read this, I noticed that she played "The Spy Who Loved Me" and the theme from The Incredible Hulk amongst more classical pieces!)

MP Damian Collins was there as well, and he and his wife seemed to really enjoy the evening. All in all, a very enjoyable and entertaining evening, and a great excuse to take the camera!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Way Ahead goes to London baby!

A week or so ago I had the privilage of being asked along for a styling and photoshoot arranged by the uber-talented stylist, Karena Sedgewick from MyNewBestFriend. Karena works for individual clients and also boutiques, giving advice on fashion, arranging events and shoots, and sharing her wealth of knowledge and amazing contacts!

On this occasion she was working with the extremely stylish and lovely Sarah Robotham, who when she isn't being a psychologist runs FashionOnTheCouch. The shoot took place in the luxurious Amika club, on Kensington High Street, so for the first time in a while, I found myself jumping on the high speed train, armed with a bag and a half full of camera and lighting equipment. It felt REALLY good :)

Arriving (eventually) at the club was a daunting experience, lots of well-dressed people, all sitting around looking confident and efficient, and then me, a slightly scruffy photography, feeling a few butterflies and wondering if I could really pull this off.

But the folks Karena had assembled were not only a collective of some of the best talent around, they were really friendly, supportive and fun to be with. She really does know things about people!

With the aid of my lovely photography assistant, we set to work arranging lighting and finding electrical sockets, whilst the brilliant makeup and hair stylists went to work on the lovely Sarah. It was fascinating to see them all at work, so passionate and so clear on what was required. Sarah turned up on the set looking even more stunning than usual!

The shooting couldn't have gone better - as soon as I started clicking, I was in my element and the minutes and hours flew by. Sarah was a natural model, throwing some fantastic poses, culminating in the included shot, which is in every single way "Style On The Couch!"

And it was a wonderful feeling afterwards that despite a few hiccups with the venue, a few challenges along the way, we had all worked a a team, and pulled off something rather fantastic, whilst having an absolute blast at the same time!

Heartfelt thanks and respect to all involved, especially Karena and Sarah for allowing me such a brilliant opportunity. I can't wait for the next one!