Web Site Update Launched

I posted a number of updates to the main web site recently.

There are a lot of more recent images added to the portraiture galleries including some of this year’s Holy Communion photos.

I added a small gallery of Story Boards and Album Pages just to give an idea of how these turn out.  The Story Boards are a great product to capture a particular moment in time.  They typically include a main portrait, some support images of the child or children with their family to set some context and a then a set of detailed miniature images of the things that are special to the child at that point in their lives.  They are all custom designed, printed and framed and range anything from 50cm to over 1.2m wide.

Story Boards start at 50x40 cm
Story Boards start at 50x40 cm

Tour of Ireland 2009

Well look, they got two days of sunshine.  They did well.

Lance's last gasp
Lance Armstrong gets to see Shandon (if not Patrick's Hill)

Cork welcomed the 2009 Tour of Ireland in great style.  Not only did it force them up Patrick’s Hill it gave them some Real Rain to deal with.

Bonus points for anyone who can spot Lance Armstrong in this photo.  He pulled out just after this, before he got to The Hill.  As one commentator put it ‘those with multi-million dollar insurance policies thought the better of it’ and I really can’t blame them.  All the more credit to those who did take it on.  About two thirds of those that started didn’t make it to the finish.

If they had, they’d have seen the sun come out.  Only in Cork!

We stuck it to the end, we watched the TV coverage and spotted our froggy umbrella, we even made it small on the back of the winners interview.  Jeeez, you can’t keep us out of the news!

Mass Media in West Cork

It was great to see one of my photos posted all over West Cork over the weekend.

The guys from Aesop’s Fables and Foibles are in Gougane Barra this week and posters featuring a photo from a session I did with them are on posters posted all around the place.

One of the kids spotted them first as we passed through a town on the way out to Allihies.  It then became one of those great kids games to find another poster as we travelled around.

I must admit I had great fun shooting a bunch of actors doing mad stuff in cardboard outfits!

More from Aesop's Fables and Foibles
More from Aesop

99th Allihies Festival

Our busy ‘summer’ continues with a weekend away in Allihies.  After a foggy start, Saturday broke into the most wonderful afternoon just in time for the start of the 99th Allihies Festival.

Running back down to the start

OMG, great craic.  International running races for all ages (and all-comers) interspersed with horse racing (not for the feint-hearted), ICA Cake stand, Bouncy Castles, Candy Floss, the Works.  The going was a little ‘heavy’ which bothered some of the inexperienced horses more than the foot runners – although everyone who raced got pretty evenly covered in mud.

Allihies is a lovely spot on an amazing part of Ireland and the festival (and that bit of afternoon sun) topped it off for the weekend.  I think we’ll be back in for the Centenary Festival next year!

Up the hill and on to the home straight
Up the hill and on to the home straight

The Look of the Irish

I just finished catching up with RTÉ’s ‘the Look of the Irish’ season on the on-line player.  Some really good stuff in there: some arty-farty stuff, artists who take photographs; some very interesting profiles of ‘real’ photographers; lots of interesting archive material as well.

If I had to pick one it would be John Minihan.  I came across an small exhibition of his work from Cuba at the Kinsale Arts Week (last year?) and subsequently realised that not only did I have one of his books already, but his work is also hanging in the English Market.  Very interesting for me to see the man talk about his work and to get his full bio.

But they’re all worth a look if you have the time.  I think RTÉ keep them up for a couple of weeks.  Start here and explore: http://www.rte.ie/player/#v=1053611

A Little Retro Time Out

I noticed that there has been a distinct lack of photographs in the last few posts!  Hey, this is supposed to be a photo blog!

Well part of it may be that a week or so off has obvioulsy made me deeply philosphical but another thing may be that I took the chance while on holiday to shoot some film.


“Holy 20th Century Batman, you can get cameras that shoot film? What dastardly plot to undermine digital cameras is this?”

“Well not any more Robin but it used to be all the thing”

“What?  No endless chimping?  No instant gratification?  You have to wait hours, no sometimes days to see your photographs?  What kind of Victorian Water Torture is this?”

No really, digital is great, especially for my work.  Between blinky adults, fidgey kids and weird mixed lighting its great to be able validate your set-up instantly and be able to take enough versions of a large group to reasonably expect that everyone will be looking at you with their eyes open in at least one.  Moreover, the recent crop of pro DSLRs has made shooting with available light just an amazing experience.

Film still has a lot going for it.  For scenic work where you have the time to set things up the advanages of digital are less obvious.

But I not only went film, I also went full manual.  The discipline of having to go back to basics on your photography was really interesting.

“You have to remember to set the shutter and the aperature?  AND focus?  If it is a little dark you can’t just pump up the ISO?  So what do you do?  Hold your breath and try not to shake too much?”

It is great to slow things down when you can.  Take your time.  Remember the basics of your craft.

Then there’s the pure pleasure in operating a purely mechanical camera: the clunk of the shutter.  There’s still a bit of the Engineer in me that appreciates a well crafted machine.

There is one application that film still holds a significant advantage over digital: star trails.  Sure it is do-able with digital but worrying about batteries, long exposure noise, condensation issues and various other things doesn’t compare to just opening the shutter on a film camera and setting your alarm.

We didn’t get that many clear nights this trip (we didn’t even get many dry ones) and the one time we did get stars there was only time for two exposures (10 mins and 20 mins) before high cloud came over.  But this is an on-going project and the FM2n will be in the bag any time I’m expecting to be out under a big sky.

It is something (else) that will take some time to perfect.

Star Trails, Ballylicky
Star Trails, Ballylicky (20 minute exposure around midnight)

Oh, and on the subject of chimping, check out this video.

The Value of a Photograph

I got an e-mail this week from David A Williams announcing more seminars (none in Ireland yet unfortunately) and also his new web site.  It is well worth a look, lots of lovely images but also some thought provoking messages.

David is inspirational.  Not only in terms of his photography but also the way he encourages photographers to look at the value of their work: ‘You do not make portraits of children for their parents, you make them for when the child is a parent’.  He emphasises the work of a photographer as a creator of unique memories which will prove to be priceless.

The thing is, the true value of these memories only truly comes home to you sometime later when your family experiences a dramatic change and it is apparent that the moment captured by the photograph has gone forever.

Getting your family together for a photograph is an easy thing to put off or just never get around to doing.

It doesn’t matter who is missing or what shoes you have on, take the photograph, make the memory.  You will never regret taking a photograph, you may regret not having a memento of your family at a unique point their history.

It took a lot for me to ask my mother to pose for a portrait for me way back when I was about 20.  It probably took more for her to agree.  But in the passing years those photographs have become more precious than I could have possibly realised at the time.

Unfortunately parents age.  Inevitably children grow up.  Sometimes family leave for foreign shores.  Take pictures of your family whenever you can.  Get them taken with you in them as well.

Whether you hire a professional photographer or not, make a memory, not an excuse.