Friday, 11 November 2011

Why I Choose To Wear My Poppy With Pride

Thanks by Way Ahead Photography
Thanks, a photo by Way Ahead Photography on Flickr.

For many years now remembering Armistice Day has been under attack from many sides.

Some people don't like it because they believe it glorifies war. If they can explain to me how remembering one of the most pointless and futile wars ever fought on this earth, and the countless number of men and women who have died then and since, every time just so somebody can stick a flag in a bit of ground or gain a few oil refineries, how THIS glorifies war, then I might conceed their point.

There are those who have made the poppy a political battlefront, who campaign for our RIGHTS to wear poppies, who pick a fight with a faceless man, who actually doesn't really seem to give a toss about a little red flower worn once a year. Meanwhile the press stir and muck rake, provoking people to say and post some truly stupid things...

Suddenly the poppy is less about a sad, solemn remembrance, it becomes about the individual validating their OWN lives, as if in some way it makes them as significant as those who died in those muddy fields just across the water, many years ago.

It really does not.

Me? I wear mine because I am a grandson, a son, and a father. And these simple facts mean that in the past, war has affected my family, in the present, it shapes the world I live in. And God forbid, in the future, my son, or his sons, might find themselves sitting on a frontline, afraid of dying, feeling alone and scared, whilst those that love him most, sit at home waiting for terrible news to come.

I wear a poppy because I identify with my fellow man; I am sad that so many brilliant men died for NOTHING, whilst simultaneously appreciating in a way words cannot express that these same men BELIEVED they were giving their lives for a greater world, and were willing to do so - and perhaps ultimately and most selfishly, because I realise that there but for the Grace of God, go I, and those I love most.

Perhaps that's why people are really so opposed to this small symbol - because it reminds us all that life is cruel, and that death, in some shape or form is inevitable. And possibly a very untimely and unpleasant one...

But that's no excuse not to wear a small red flower once a year, and say thank you, we will remember.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Designer Profile: Amy Jean Moore

Amy Jean Moore is a 23 year old fashion and costume designer based in Kent. She graduated in 2009 with a First in fashion design from Brighton University with a gala winning catwalk collection at graduate fashion week.

Since then Amy has progressed into both the world of fashion, starting her own alterations and repairs business, as well as in the world of costume, where she has not only got to work on the costumes for the current Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but has also progressed to doing costume design for established theatres, after only a year in the industry.

She is currently moving into starting her own Fashion brand under the name the "Wardrobe assistant", the first samples of which you can see in this photo-shoot!

What made you want to get into fashion design?

I love the process of bringing a character to life through the clothing, looking at traditional techniques and skills from history. With my designs and approach to fashion, I want to bring some permanency. I really believe that people should buy less and keep things longer and this is how I approach my designs. I aim for timeless pieces heavily inspired by history that are simple, classic, well made and will age beautifully.

What's the hardest part about being a designer?

You have to have true grit and determination to keep picking yourself up after rejections, as well as managing the stark contrast between the times when there is not a lot of work, and when there is tonnes, working around the clock.

What's the best thing about it?

There is so much, it can be an immensely rewarding job! Most importantly the people you meet, I have met so many inspirational characters that are a pleasure to collaborate with, each time producing something unique.
But for the work itself is the opportunity to constantly learn, not only new sewing techniques but also to research various aspects of history and traditions in depth.

What does an average day entail for you?

Every day varies wildly, as a designer you have to be incredibly flexible, have the ability to do lots of different jobs and travel all over the place. Some days will be spent purely sewing but the next I might be doing invoices and accounts, at museums researching, having meetings in London... or on a shoot in an iron foundry!!!!

What's the most memorable assignment you've had?

So far I would have to say it was working on a Christmas production in a theatre of Toad of Toad Hall. I love working on costumes for theatre as it really gives you the opportunity to be really creative and a bit wild! For this production I had to make a rabbit disguise for an actor that was playing a fox, made dozens of ears and rabbit noses, big flouncy dresses with layers of petticoats and much much more. I literally got lost in the attic of the wardrobe department in piles of fur and breaches!

Who or what really inspires you?

I am really inspired by British history, not only from fashions of history but also the culture from folklore and craft to the cottage industry, which is how I approach business. I think something like fashion should be small and personal, we can use it to support other local interdependent businesses. For my next project I am looking at traditional dying techniques such as woad and the history that surrounds it, considering characters like Boadicea and the Iceni tribe.

What advice do you have for those looking to take up fashion design?

1. Smile and the world smiles with you. It is desperately important to be a pleasure to work with, make friends and contacts and you will be remembered and recommended and this will only lead to more jobs (and some wonderful friends)

2.Keep positive! you should only approach a career like Fashion design if it is your dream because there will be times when you are very poor, very tired and down hearted....... but keep going, try a different angle.

3. Work for free whilst you can afford it (in both time and money). Whether you studied fashion at university or not, everyone starts at the bottom probably working for free. There are very few paid graduate positions within fashion, it's all about experience, even if you want to start your own label. You will learn what the industry is really like, and techniques and skills that are integral for working practice, and most importantly the opportunity to explore different areas of the industry that will help you develop your own work as well as doing other jobs that may well suit you more.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Karena and Rankin...

There is something even better than realising your dreams. Watching your friends achieve those, and in some small way, being involved in that.

Last night I had the privilage and honour of attending the launch of the new Swatch range, designed by photography genius, Rankin. It was help at his Annroy Studio, London, and was quite simply, a fantastic party, and an amazing night out. I loved every single second of it.

But more importantly I got to see my friend pictured here with Rankin, at a point where she can definitely feel that all her hard work and dedication, in the face of all the hardship, critisism and downright rubbish that life throws at us all, has finally paid off. She is destined for greatness...

And I got a free watch :D

Monday, 21 February 2011

To quote Jar Jar Binks...How ROOD!

A brilliant gig Friday night at the O2 Indigo gave me an opportunity to flex my somewhat out-of-shape rock'n'roll photography muscles, and try and bag some shots of the fantastic Chasing Ora.

I first saw them live supporting Them Is Me at the Monto Water Rats a year or two ago, and I was more than a little impressed. When I got in touch with the band, mainly via Darren their bass player, I was even more impressed.

Not only do Chasing Ora produce some blistering tunes, such as the hauntingly memorable Jekyll & Hyde, and equally unforgettable Running Scared, not only are they a bunch of dedicated, hard-working, and exceptionally talented musicians, but - they are some of the nicest rock musicians I have ever had the privilege to meet. Which sets them poles apart from many bands on their rung of the ladder, and in my opinion, earns them a place much higher up.

Sadly the same could not be said for some of the "photographers" in the press pit...

Not content with machine-gunning the band at 10 fps for 30 minutes, hoping to snatch a couple of half-decent shots of "the pretty singer bird" so they can sell them to whoever will pay, they tried their hardest to ensure others in the pit didn't get any good shots, by whatever means necessary.

At one point one of the videographers, a really lovely young lady working for the band, was blocked from passing photographers in the pit, so she couldn't get into position. Upon noticing this, said photographers turned their back on her and ignored her, refusing to give up their vantage point.

I have had some great opportunities to shoot rock music from the press pit, and this really pained me. I have been privileged to work alongside some really talented and nice guys, eager to pass on advice to me, then a relative newbie, but the thing I think impacted me most was the friendliness of these guys.

They were clearly brilliant photographers and (I think this is the key) they had no insecurities about other photographers "getting better shots" - they were just there because they loved the music, and loved photography. Which is why I do it. And when I meet other likeminded photographers, that makes it all the more fun.

I loved the camaraderie in the pit, people watching out for each other, moving aside for other photographers to get their shots too, not hogging space in front of the microphone stand. In short, it was a place where good manners still existed.

Sadly it looks like "rock paparazzi" are now inhabiting the press pit, and have not brought their manners with them. There are few things that irritate me more than somebody being a bully, and that is pretty much all these morons are. All they want, is one good shot (not that they have the ability or the eye to get such a thing deliberately, despite owning a huge camera to compensate) and they don't care how they get it, or who else suffers.

Fortunately, I can't see this phenomenon lasting, as whilst they clearly excel at being downright rude, they really aren't very good at taking photos... and after all, that's quite important isn't it?

Being urban and chic. We does it.

last week I had a very exciting call from Abi, the amazing designer behind the Be Urban Chic range of clothes. She had, at the very last possible moment been offered an exhibition stand at the PURE London Exhibition, in the Olympia showground.

This highly prestigious event was nothing more than she deserves, as her clothes are simply amazing, her passion is unmatched and her talent is astounding. Drawing inspiration from the 60s and 70s British fashion scene, Abi manages to combine classic ideas with modern twists in a way that is totally devoid of pretence, she does not pander to either the past or the present, she takes the best of what has come before nd combines it perfectly and beautifully with things that work today.

Something I believe is important to my own passion, as a photographer, .

Oh and Abi is also one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet!

With the aid of three very beautiful (and tall) ladies, we staged an inpromptu fashion shoot, against one of the old white brick walls near the Be Urban stand. And amazing things started to happen. The photos, taken with a couple of cheap flash guns, were fantastic, the brickwork and the moody shadows combining with the moody attitude of the brilliant models, Claire and Victoria, to compliment the fantastic clothing perfectly, giving the resulting images an edgy urban quality.

In fact so pleased was I with the photos, I rather regret shelling out on my studio. all I need, it seems, is a nice wall somewhere...

The other thing that happened confirmed something I have believed for a while -
photography is a spectator sport. As soon as people noticed us, the Be Urban stall was awash with enquirers, curious to find out why there were photographers and noise and general activity in a hall full of people standing stock still in their stalls. And then once drawn over, the clothes did the talking and our job was done.

I always really appreciate any opportunity to work as part of a bigger team, and the fleeting visit to PURE London was a fantastic chance to do this, with some really brilliant ladies. I had a fantastic time working with some really great people, and I can't wait for the next time!