Ok, so, I thought that a week would be enough to let my poor fingers recover from yesterday’s typing marathon, but apparently not. I feared that this episode may take slightly longer to get down than the previous and I was so right. Holy moly. As with last time, I’ll be writing by category rather than chronologically so you can skip ahead to whatever takes your fancy. Right, here goes nothing!
This sector’s adventures into music photography started with a nice young lady called Jess Vincent, whom I met when myself and David Gibb played a set at the Seend Acoustic Festival sometime previously. Jess had just recorded a solo album, produced by Reg Meuross, and commissioned me to take the photos and piece together the artwork. Once again, despite the somewhat unpredictable British summertime, the weather was absolutely glorious! My vintage clock enjoyed a trip into the garden and all was lovely.
Next up myself and my assistant, Jade Higman, took a little jaunt down to Somerset for a Christmas themed photoshoot in July. Standard. This photoshoot still retains the title for “strangest prop I’ve ever had to make EVER”. Seriously. I had to make a pair of pretend legs wearing pink fishnets. Belshazzar’s Feast have been assured that if I had incurred any sort of name for myself amongst the market stall owners of Derby I would have blamed them entirely. It’s a strange sensation, stuffing a pair of skin coloured tights with toy stuffing and then proceeding to attempt to make them leg shaped, all whilst gazing off into the sunset. As it stands, it all worked out fine in the end. We used the beautiful fireplace at Halsway Manor as the basis for our backdrop, ate curry, swapped horror stories of places we’d stayed after gigs and admired the incredible venue we were lucky enough to be staying in that night. If you’ve not been to Halsway before, check out the website here: http://www.halswaymanor.org.uk/ They’ve got an amazing array of courses and events on, so do have a gander.
Moving onto the rather less sunny month of August, I photographed the rather gorgeous Rheingans Sisters for their upcoming album “Glad Gold Hearts”. There was a distinctly pre-Raphaelite feel about the shoot as we headed into the fields behind my house and crossed our fingers that it didn’t rain. Thankfully it didn’t, but some cunningly disguised bin bags were very definitely required for all photos involving a close proximity to the ground. This was also partially due to the previous presence of a large number of cows, but we’ll just skate over that part…
The Rheingans Sisters’ “Glad Gold Hearts” is currently available to pre-order from Rootbeat Records and, having heard it being recorded, I can tell you it’s a good’un!
Finally, bounding into the realms of the even less sunny September, I did a double promo shoot for the delightful Julia Disney and Gren Bartley. It was a decidedly chilly day, but troopers that they are, we got the shots. (Huge kudos to the at-the-time pregnant Julia too, what a star!)
Now, I also popped along to the video shoot for “Scarecrow” by Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts in a make-up artist / stylist capacity, but might have ended up taking a few snaps too… I couldn’t resist, it all looked so pretty!
If you’ve not seen it already, here’s the video itself! It’s a corker and all.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Fashion, families and published!
The first family shoot of the summer was with the lovely Amelia Sidwell, her brother and their cousins. I popped over to their beautiful farm on the most glorious sunny day and photographed them in the green fields and outside barns. We were even joined by a labrador and the most friendly pig I’ve ever met. Admittedly the pig was more interested in chewing the strap of my camera bag than in the shoot itself, but y’know, it was sweet all the same.
Now, every now and again, I get an idea for an image in my head that won’t go away until it’s been realised. This one, and I can’t thank model-wonder Halo Haynes for putting up with this, was to turn someone into a human planet in an “around the world in 80 days” themed shoot. So, cue the brilliant Deborah Bennett MUA for something of an epic make-up job! Halo, and again, I really can’t thank her enough, was painted blue and white all over with the addition of icing in her hair and some felt continents that I’d stitched the night before. If it sounds mad, that’s probably because it was. However, I was pleased as punch with the results and the images were featured in Atlas Magazine‘s beautiful “Exploration” issue! You’ll be pleased to hear that the blue paint all came off in the shower and Halo thankfully wasn’t doomed to walk around looking like a character from Avatar.
Moving on, every now and again I get the opportunity to meet up with other photographers whose work I admire, so I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was to FINALLY meet up with the incredible Ella Ruth and Nathalie Donado! I’ll not lie, the weather was grim, but we still had a lovely time frolicking around on the moors above the Longshaw Estate in North Derbyshire and only had to hide from the storms a few times. I was decked out in a standard cream vintage dress and massive Dunlop wellies / waterproof combo and nearly exploded with delight when I saw Ella and Nat’s photos aftewards. They’re ever so clever. Be sure to check out their work!
The first wedding of this sector was at the Littleover Lodge in Derby, and the marriage of one of my oldest and dearest friends from school. There was a beautiful butterflies theme running throughout the whole day and the weather couldn’t have been kinder. Huge congratulations to Katy & Steve and all the very best for the future!
Next up was the gorgeous wedding of Ben & Sarah down in Shropshire. Ben had apparently found out about my photography having been a fan of David Gibb & The Pony Club, a band I played in for a few years. Hurrah for accidental networking! The venues were both gorgeous, there was bell ringing, a flower lined path, customised beer bottles, goldfish decorations, a bubble machine and my current favourite cake decoration EVER. You’ll see what I mean if you scroll down…
Sometimes you go to a venue that absolutely blows you away. Postlip Hall, the venue for the wedding of Molly & Nav, did just that. I can’t even begin to explain how beautiful it was, and the perfect weather only intensified this. So much thought had gone into all the decorations and my word, it really paid off! Myself and my lovely assistant, Ocean, spent most of the drive home exclaiming just how beautiful it was and how we were both determined to find a dress in the same pattern as the bridesmaids’ dresses. (Seriously, they were absolutely genius.) There was autumn foliage, bunting, fairy lights, vaulted beams, pigs in an orchard, a rope swing, specially composed songs AND a ceilidh band at the end of the night! Gorgeous.
The final wedding of this sector was the wedding of the lovely Frank & Verity. As with Joe & Heather (see MAMMOTH CATCH UP ep.1), I met Frank whilst playing and photographing on the Derby metal scene. Hurrah for the bass guitar! This was another ludicrously beautiful wedding. The room of the B&B where Verity was getting ready wouldn’t have looked out of place as the room of a princess in a Disney film – there were drapes up to the ceiling and chandeliers and everything! The weather was a touch more temperamental at this one with the need to employ the classic white umbrella to get Verity between the car and the venue, but the clouds parted after the ceremony to reveal the most wonderful light just in time for the main outdoor photos. The grounds of the reception venue combined with the light were a photographer’s dream. “Click happy” just doesn’t cut the mustard here. Huge thanks to Lawrence De Gruchy for stepping in as my fabulous assistant for the day! You can check out a few of his photos right here.
Summer was a busy one on the music front! As David Gibb & Elly Lucas, we played a festival at Conkers (a National Forest discovery centre, and the place where I discovered that I’m really not a fan of glass floors courtesy of being dragged onto one to see what the roots of a tree look like. Not that I’m, like, traumatised or anything.) We discovered a folk club in South Wales which has a ballad-length song about their raffle before it’s drawn, we played a festival gig in a tent which featured wooden pews for the audience to sit on AND we even got to play at Cambridge Folk Festival which, incidentally, is the most incredibly organised festival in the universe.
At the end of the season, we headed over to Towersey for the brilliant Towersey Village Festival. I did feel a bit like I was cheating on Shrewsbury Folk Festival (unfortunately on over the same weekend), but we were kept so busy that I didn’t have much time to mope for long! Besides, it was a gorgeous festival. I’m clearly just a creature of habit when it comes to festies. There were even two donkeys between the two sites which I had to drag David away from every time we went past to ensure we actually got to our next gig / workshop on time. Over the weekend we played about six gigs and ran five children’s workshops and I can tell you now, despite the fact we were at a festival, I was in bed by about 10.30pm every night. We were both right royally cream crackered, but we did have a super time AND I spotted some of my work plastered up on the inside doors of the portaloos. I have officially made it.
In between the duo madness, this September I had the absolute privilege of playing the fiddle and viola alongside the fantastic Seth Tinsley (guitar, double bass), Alex Cumming (accordion) and Jay Leivers (electric & acoustic guitar) on the new album by Marc Block. The recording was done by the terribly clever Ich Mowatt at Sounding Post studios in Nottinghamshire, and it all looked a bit like this:
(Photos of Marc & myself by Seth Tinsley!)
Back to the duo again, we spent an afternoon larking around in front of the camera to film a new video for our donkey-related song, Jerusalem Cuckoo. It largely consisted of David singing to the camera, and me getting more exercise than I’d got in the last two years leaping around behind him with an IKEA hobby horse. Seriously, I was full-tilt energetic. If you don’t believe me, you’re just going to have to watch the video:
Finally, the duo had a lovely evening at The Glee Club in Nottingham supporting the phenomenal KAN. Big thanks to Tom Rose for putting us on at such a cracking venue!
While it might be difficult to believe, we are about to embark on the very last section of this epic! You might want to take this opportunity to grab a brew or, you know, just rest your eyes for a bit. I promise the blogs will be more sensible lengths once I’ve finally caught up…
FUN STUFF, FILMING AND FLYING THE NEST
Sometimes I, rather flatteringly, get asked to stand in front of the lens for other reasons beside frolicking around. This time it was by the rather talented Natasha Jane, maker of the most beautiful headbands and bridal hair pieces in the world. I popped along to Rei Bennett‘s studio in Derby, got my hair done by the amazing stylists at Hedshed and my face sorted out by the brilliant Ms Moo MUA. As if that wasn’t enough, I got to wear the biggest wedding dress you’ve ever seen! Princess-tastic. I looked a teensy bit different to my usual self…:
Check out Natasha’s website here.
In July it occurred to me that I’d not really had a proper knees-up for my 21st birthday. I’d had a lovely walk around the Peaks, but not a party per se. Consequently, I teamed up with Bar One and local singer songwriter Julie Collings to bring the world “FOLK DOES 90s” – an entire evening of folk covers of all the most gloriously cheesy 90s classics. It was, quite simply, wonderful. I double-denim-ed, Cupola:Ward arrived in their finest Britney inspired garb and myself and Seth Tinsley somehow ended up singing two medleys comprising of Cotton Eye Joe → Pump Up The Jam → Ooh Ah Just A Little Bit and Can’t Get You Out Of My Head → Survivor (feat. Lucy Ward). It was chuffing brilliant. There were Spice Girls covers, Madonna covers, the best cover of Baby One More Time I’ve ever heard and it was just wonderful. As if that wasn’t enough, there was even a 90s disco at the end. As “official” birthdays go, it was a corker.
In early August I decided that I would go to a festival just as a punter. It was wonderful. I ended up at Sidmouth Folk Week for a few delightfully relaxed days of meandering around with the camera, dancing at Jim Moray’s genius silent disco, catching up with lots of old friends and drinking gin and lemonade with one of my absolute favourite people. Magic.
Shortly after returning from Sidmouth, I finally officially flew the nest good and proper. I can’t thank my parents enough for supporting me until my creative business could support me itself, and for their help lugging my life from one room to another! So, in mid-August I waved cheerio to Derbyshire and hopped over the border to South Yorkshire and sunny Sheffield. I’m now living with sound engineer and record production wizard, the fantastic Mr Andy Bell. If you’ve not heard any of his work before, I suggest you find a record with his name in the credits! We’re just working on his new website at the moment, so watch this space… On a different note, just check out the view from my new gaff:
I still can’t quite get over it.
Towards the end of the summer, I worked with Fleet Arts on a brilliant project based at Lea Green in Derbyshire for Looked After Children. The project was based around a song by Frank Turner entitled “I Still Believe” and offered the kids a variety of different music and arts based workshops to engage in. I was asked to work with the participants to put together a video based loosely around the one done for Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” which was then played at a concert where the kids performed the songs they’d written over the week.
FINALLY, and I promise we’re on the very last thing now, I decided that I’d revive the tradition of getting up at approximately 4am on a weekend in September to help my Dad run a checkpoint atop a mountain in Derbyshire as part of the Kinder Walk. This involves climbing a whacking great hill at about 6am, setting up a tent in gale-force winds, attempting to stay warm in so many layers you resemble the Michelin Man and fending off sheep who have developed a taste for bacon sandwiches. Believe it or not, it’s actually rather fun. This year I added my Dad’s old luminous fisherman’s trousers to my outfit and befriended one of the less skitty sheep. Marvellous. Despite the weather, the Kinder Downfall is actually incredibly beautiful – in a rugged, wild sort of way.
And we’re done! A hearty congratulations to you if you survived this far. As soon as I’ve got some life back into my fingers, I reckon it’ll be time for the October – December installment. Oy vey…