British Life Awards and the stories behind the images

I always advocate taking the time to enter some awards, if you win there is usually quite a lot of exposure that goes with it. Many ask an entry fee, so you need to be choosy. Go for ones that get lots of publicity, that way you get more than just a prize, you get yourself out there which is good. Some of those who notice you may become your followers or readers. It can open up channels of communication. Last years RHS photographer of the year award got me a commission to shoot people at Chelsea.

I recently won an award at the British life Awards, I had 4 images in the exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. There are 12 of my images in the book.

This was the category winner – “Brits on Holiday”

Brits on holiday british life award winner

Brits on holiday british life award winner

It was taken on a camera club day out, I was trying to get another shot but couldn’t get Mehrak to look natural, so I told her she was a ‘ham actor’. Sheema and Mehrak  laughed and I moved the camera up to her face as she leaned in and then took the image blind. It’s good to get into the habit of just shooting blind when the better image is somewhere you can only reach with your hand. With practice you can start to imagine what will be in the frame and it allows you to move the position of the camera very quickly. Had I been looking through the lens I would have missed this shot.

The were three other images in the exhibition and also in the book

This is an image of Sheema, Mehrak’s friend, also in the exhibition, highly commended in the portraiture category.




I noticed one day the great silhouettes that were created by the strip lights in front of the cupboard doors in the garage. I was also thinking of ways to create interesting animations for the Saatchi/Google animated gif competition. I asked Mehrak and Sheema again to come to the rescue dressed up as “working girls”. I had to explain to Mehrak that – No I didn’t mean her pinstripe suit.

I shot it in jpg in burst mode, the idea being to try and capture two almost identical poses in a sequence so that I could create a small stop frame animation or gif. I going to write about this in another post.

The result was loads of jpgs to choose from, too many in fact, but some of them make nice still images so I selected one for the portraiture award.

This image of the Brighton naked bike ride also made it into the exhibition. I did ask this gentleman’s permission and he stood and posed for me for this shot.

Can you see me now? - Brighton Naked Bike Ride

Can you see me now? – Brighton Naked Bike Ride

I’ve been taking pictures at Brighton events for years now and have been honing my event photography skills for very long time. I am planning to offer two event photography workshops in May – working on the outlines and presentation now. If you are interested in booking let them know at Silicon Beach Training 01273 822272, and they will send you the dates as soon as I provide all the paperwork.

I will only be offering 6 places on each of the event photography course so if you were interested the sooner you register your interest the more likely you will be to get a place. Just phone or email Silicon Beach Training.

Another Brighton event image that made it to the exhibition in the portraiture category. This image was taken after the parade on my way back home. He was having a break in the pub and I asked his permission for the shot, persuading him to keep smoking for the image. The effect is enhanced by the wide angle lens used, but you do need to be very close to get this effect when shooting wide.

british life awards Brighton Pride portrait

british life awards Brighton Pride portrait

Another event image that made it into the book is this one taken at the Goodwood Revival. Shooting wide again, I asked this couples permission as I needed to get close with the wide angle lens. I shot the first one blind but didn’t quite hit the spot, so I lay down on the grass and tidied up the area of modern items, and shot using fill flash against the sky. In post process I have darkened the blues and lightened the oranges (skin tones).

Goodwood Revival 2014

Goodwood Revival 2014

Another event image take at Brighton Fringe is in the book. Wide angle again using the sausages and smoke to create that frame, fill flash.

british life awards - Brighton Fringe

british life awards – Brighton Fringe

Five of my Naked Bike ride images made it into the book in the ‘Documentary series and photojournalist category’here are four of them:

Brighton Naked Bike Ride

Brighton Naked Bike Ride

I took a few shots between this mans legs but nothing great, so I showed him the images, asked him to stay a little longer while I waited for the moment, and then it happened 🙂

Brighton Naked Bike Ride 2014

Brighton Naked Bike Ride 2014

Brighton Naked Bike Ride 2014

Brighton Naked Bike Ride 2014

Brighton Naked Bike Ride 2014

This one of my friend Chantal at Birling Gap made it into the book

Birling Gap Teapot

Birling Gap Teapot

That’s about it, don’t forget to contact Silicon Beach Training if you want to reserve a place on the event workshops in May. I haven’t confirmed the dates or finished the outline yet although I plan only two groups of 6 people. Silicon Beach Training 01273 622272




Winning Photography Competitions

I know Iv’e been tweeting, facebooking and google plussing like a trojan about my recent win. My apologies but I do have another reason other than being chuffed to bits.

Entering competitions, and winning them is great for your profile as a photographer.  It gets your images seen by new people, not just your followers and friends. It gives you something to talk about on your blog and social networks. It gets you talked about, shared and mentioned. It gives buyers the confidence that you are good at what you do.

So yes, I’m going to mention it again, sorry, but it’s relevant:)


RHS Photographer of the year

foxgloves and bee RHS Photographer of the year 2014

foxgloves and bee RHS Photographer of the year 2014  – click to purchase image


One month when searching for photography competitions that were ending soon this one came up. Now and again I search for “Photography Competition (put month) 2014” to find current competitions. At first I didn’t think I had anything good enough or appropriate for the theme. It’s important to choose something that really fits the theme, don’t try and squeeze an ambiguous square peg into  a round hole. Then I remembered the foxgloves image. It ticked all the boxes to be a contender, it was a good quality image and it would stand out, few garden images are taken this way, most being macro and few use flash.

It was important to make a reasonably objective decision as to wether your image a chance when there is an entry fee. I only pay to enter after careful consideration otherwise it could become an expensive hobby rather than a means to get exposure, kit or cash.

How can you tell which are the best images to enter?

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Capture the Colour

This Competition caught my eye – Capture the Colour. At first it seemed like hard work to enter. You have to write a blog post with your 5 colour themed entries in. You need to  nominate and link to 5 photographers whom you think might like to participate, and there has to be a link to the competition on your post. Finally you have to tweet or FB message the sponsors – travelsupermarket to let them know you have entered.

I thought about the images that sprang to mind for each colour and decided to have a go, after all it’s good to keep you blog fresh.

The process made me think about what a good example of social marketing this competition is. You do not have to mention travelsupermarket to enter, just link to their competition – it’s subtle, it’s engaging at the same time as encouraging participants to share. In terms of SEO these are good gains – lots of links, engagement and lots of shares. Note to self: will have to start working on something similar!

For those who don’t know me, I’ve been using SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing for Silicon Beach Training for well over a decade, as well as being a photographer, and soon I’m going to put all of it together in a book on marketing for photographers so keep posted. I don’t keep my photography blog up to date nearly as often as I should, but I do check my Social Media accounts regularly.


Mick, Shoreditch, London. Yellow

When I put this up on Flickr and Facebook I was surprised at how many people mentioned that they knew him or had taken his picture. His name is Mick and apparently he is quite well known around the Brick Lane area, London.

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Renaissance Photography Competition

This image was one of four images chosen as a winner and finalists in the people category for the Renaissance Photography Prize 2010.

brighton pride

Fish chips and Mushy Peas – Please click to buy this image

It’s called Fish Chips and Mushy Peas.  I had to move Manula nearer to the fish and chips sign to get this image. She is just giving me a telling off for my cheekiness!

Although it didn’t win first prize in the category, it was used on all the publicity posters and flyers, was in the times newspaper and it was fun to go to the celebrity gala and see my image in the exhibition. the image did sell on the night raising even more for the charity.

The Renaissance Photography competition raised  over £40,000 for The Lavender Trust at Breast Cancer Care. Incidentally this image is of Barry Love AKA Manula Bang Bang, who was sponsored by Marks and Spencers to wear this dress for Brighton Pride 2008, she told me this on flickr when she first saw the image, so that’s twice this dress managed to help breast cancer causes, a lovely coincidence,