A New and Exciting Chapter

Dear All,

Many thanks to those of you that have followed my blog post over that last year or so. Like everything in life there are times when change is needed and that time of change has come for me. This blog is about to shut down  but please don’t lament and cry because it is now revived in a the form of a new and improved site. All of the old posts are still there and from Monday 22nd 2015 there will be a more regular and topical discussion of all things photographic and news of my fantastic new business.

So I’d love to see you on the new blog, just go to http://picturesonapage.photo/ and register please. Some new and possibly staggering news to come, oh and of course words of wisdom and photographic mastery from yours truly (Really Giles?).

All the best and many thanks for following me… still please!

Giles

 

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One Act of Random Kindness

Today I had to pop into London to sort out an issue I had with a  camera I had recently purchased. Whilst waiting for the shop to open I decided to pop into Pret A Manger in Carnaby Street for a quick bite to eat and a coffee. Once the food selection had been made, unusually quick for me it has to be said, there was a small queue to join. Entertainment of sorts was provided by the middle age couple in front of me having some serious words with each other, whilst trying to keep very quiet and be very British about their minor tiff.

I had chosen a bacon, cheese and chicken toastie and was waiting for my turn to be called to order the ubiquitous large latte, thinking with some small measure of middle class guilt that perhaps I should have tried to find an independent coffee house. You know the type we all dream of where the staff know your name and have your particular brand of caffeine fix ready before the words “large double mocha choc-ca latte Americano please” issues forth from your parched lips. I mean who really wants to go into one of these soleless corporate chains stores if you really had the choice. Well after today and the events that transpired I will happily choose Pret whenever I need my next caffeine fix.

The queue started moving  and very shorty I was called over by a smartly dressed chap, who to me looked like the manager,
“welcome sir, what can I do for you today” he asked,     ‘errm well just this sandwich and a large latte to drink in please”, I replied.
The next words to come from my mid-morning purveyor of chicken based snack and caffeine beverage really took me by surprise, put a huge smile on my face and well just gave me a happy feeling for the rest of the day.
“I tell you what sir, please have the coffee free with my compliments, I just love your shirt (I was wearing my particular favorite, the pink floral number) and on this rainy dull day you have brightened up the place”.

Of course I gratefully accepted and didn’t stop smiling for a long time after. So the lesson of the tale for me today is, don’t judge the book by its cover etc etc, there are lovely nice kind people all over the place. Oh yes and don’t get rid of the flowery shirts.

So my heartfelt thanks to the chap serving me in Pret A Manger in Carnaby Street, not only for the free coffee and delicious toastie but also for making me smile the whole day. Oh and not forgetting of course letting me take his picture.

 

 

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“free coffee for the customer in the pink floral shirt…”

 

my free coffee and tasty toastie

my free coffee and tasty toastie

 

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Pret A Manger in Carnaby Street

 

Hunting for the Photo Story – Roger Allen

On Monday and Tuesday of this week Roger had two spreads in the Daily Mirror relating to stories of the First World War. For each story his brief was pretty loose and had he only done what was required we wouldn’t know as much about these two instances as we do now.

In “Finding Private Brameld” all that was initially required was an image of the area where these soldiers had been found, however when Roger and reporter Tom Parry started to investigate, the story became all the more interesting. By talking to Guy Behorel Deputy Mayor of  Beauchamps-Ligny, they not only discovered the location where the British soldiers had been found but were given access to images of the area during the war, added to this, Guy who showed them the location revealed his grandfather had also fought in this area around the same time and so provided a greater depth and connection to the past for this story.

In “Boy Soldier Killed at 14” the sadness of the  grave of Private John Condon was made more poignant by the images of a family who had gone to visit the grave. The grandfather of the two boys remarking that John Condon was at the time just barely older than his two grandsons.  All the image made by Roger in these reports are either set up or ‘collects’ and while they may be very simple  they do play a huge part in telling an important story about the appalling nature of this and other wars.

Going out to find and tell a ‘photo story’ requires more than just looking, you have to engage with people, investigate and uncover facts and information and be prepared to do what is necessary to bring the elements together that are necessary to make the story relevant to the reader and publication. Only by thinking with an inquisitive mind and looking beyond the obvious do photo stories develop from simple concepts into emotional tales.

 

Finding Private Brameld

Finding Private Brameld

 

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Boy Soldier 14

The Iron Harvest of WW1 – Roger Allen

One hundred years after the start of the First World War the fields of Belgium and France are still providing a macabre harvest of unexploded military ordnance. This week Roger was sent on assignment for the Daily Mirror to cover the story to show how farmers today are dealing with the legacy of the First World War.

Daily Mirror Tuesday 15th July

Daily Mirror Tuesday 15th July

 

100 Years since the start of the First World War. Hilde and Wim Delputte at their farm in the village of Boezinge Belgium where over two hundred bombs where dug up.

100 Years since the start of the First World War. Hilde and Wim Delputte at their farm in the village of Boezinge Belgium where over two hundred bombs where dug up.

 

Belgium army bomb disposal teams collect WW1 bombs that have been unearthed and left by farmers near Ypers in Belgium. Cpl. Nico Sierens with a new collection of rusting shells.

Belgium army bomb disposal teams collect WW1 bombs that have been unearthed and left by farmers near Ypres in Belgium. Cpl. Nico Sierens with a new collection of rusting shells.

 

Belgium army bomb disposal teams collect WW1 bombs that have been unearthed and left by farmers near Ypers in Belgium. Cpl. Nico Sierens with a new collection of rusting shells.

Belgium army bomb disposal teams collect WW1 bombs that have been unearthed and left by farmers near Ypres in Belgium. Cpl. Nico Sierens with a new collection of rusting shells.

 

Belguim army bomb disposal teams collect WW1 bombs that have been unearthed and left by farmers near Ypres in Belgium.

Belgium army bomb disposal teams collect WW1 bombs that have been unearthed and left by farmers near Ypres in Belgium.

 

 

 

 

Monty Python Birthday Present and Treat.

Being a Dad especially to two such wonderful daughters in a constant pleasure for me but yesterday I had an extra little treat. It was my daughter Eleanor’s 14th Birthday and being as much a Monty Python freak as me I decided that her birthday pressie from me would be to go and see the great men perform at the O2 on her birthday. Words are not enough to explain my delight, joy and sheer excitement in taking her there and seeing my comic heroes perform. The day and performance was in every way magnificent and made all the better for sharing it with Ellie. Sometimes days just don’t get any better, thanks Ellie for being a wonderful daughter and for being my Monty Python partner and a huge thank you to all the Pythons for being so utterly brilliant as always.

 

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Something to Consider – A question of choice.

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The progress of radio therapy to treat cancer of the skin and how it effected this lady’s hair and as a result became a symbol of her battle and part triumph against the disease.

 

This is a story about choices and perhaps a reflection on how we as a society decide on what is important. The lady in these images, who for personal reasons wishes to remain anonymous, has a rare form of skin cancer. Some time ago, due to complications, she was advised by the truly remarkable doctors and nurses caring for her to try Radio Therapy treatment. It wasn’t going to be a cure but the belief was that it could provide some significant relief from the symptoms. Weighing up the options she decided to take their advice and have the course of treatment. Despite their best wishes and hope that it wouldn’t affect her hair unfortunately soon after the final session it began to fall out.

Hair is a strange thing, not just a covering for our heads but depending on gender it can and does have a huge effect on how we see ourselves and how we are perceived by others. Despite our best intentions not to ‘judge the book by the cover’ it is incredibly difficult to see a bald woman in public and not automatically make the link to cancer, sympathy and perhaps even fear. The process of hair loss meant so much to her but proved to be an outward sign of an inner resolve to fight this “bloody awful disease’. In time her hair returned and while there as a brief respite from the cancer, its invidious nature meant a return and not remission.

There are many people in the UK suffering from the ravages of cancer that are thankfully able to get help from the NHS, unfortunately due to the many and varied commitments and pressures, the funding and resources available to doctors and patients alike falls short in so many cases. This funding is augmented in part by private and public charitable donations to the tune of around £500 Million a year, but as always the NHS needs more funding to provide not only treatment but also vital research into the treatment of all cancers.

Here is something to consider about what is important. In the last few weeks our government has commissioned a warship which cost £3Bn and given £1.1Bn to the MoD’s already sizable coffers. That £4.1 Bn could well be justified in being spent on conflict, war and aggression or it could have been spent on over nine ‘state of the art’ NHS hospitals or indeed funded UK charitable donations to cancer research for at least eight years. I guess its up to each one of us to justify what is important, but my guess is that the lady in these images would much prefer the money were spent on cancer research and treatment for her and all the other sufferers?

Pictures on a Page – A new business partnership

It’s a great and very exciting day for me today, my friend Roger Allen has agreed to join forces with me and become business partner. Our new business ‘Pictures on a Page’  will concentrate on teaching photography in a number of very specific areas.
Roger and I both have a great passion for the photo story and we will be running several classes for one to six clients at a time taking them through the fundamentals of what is takes to make a great and meaningful photographic story. We intend to hold courses in the UK, Europe and US where we will take clients on fantastic photo adventures led by the two of us, highly experienced and talented photographers. Its all on the first run of the ladder but we will let you all know when the courses are ready and how you can become part of a inspirational and educational experience.

Roger Allen has been a press photographer for 42 years, starting at the age of 16 in the days of black and white film, at the age of 26 he then joined the first colour newspaper in the UK,Today, it was a steep learning curve for 3 years, he was asked to join the Daily Mirror which at the time was selling 4 million copies a day, during his 25 years on the staff he won the British Photographer of the Year twice, covered most of the major news stories ranging from the Romanian revolution to 3 tours of Afghanistan with the British forces. After leaving the paper 4 years ago he has become involved in photographing animal welfare features working with orangutangs in Borneo, bears in India, gorillas in Rwanda and elephants in Zambia mainly for the Daily Mail and other magazines and International Animal Rescue. I have known Roger for over twenty years and met him in the maelstrom of the Bosnian war, he is one of my most trusted and dearest friends and has always been a great inspiration to me, I’m going to love working with him as I know our clients will too.

Watch this space…

 

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Roger Allen Elephants

Elephant rescue in Zambia

 

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D-Day 70 – The Greatest Generation

Today is the 6th June and we rightly remember and commemorate the actions of a generation who 70 years ago gave everything of themselves so that we may truly be free. On the 6th June 1944 130 thousand Allied troops took part in the largest and most successful amphibious military invasion in history. Through their sacrifice and willingness to do what was horrific and brutal but ultimately so necessary we can all now enjoy a life of freedom impossible without their actions. I believe they are the last Greatest Generation who fought the last truly honorable war in history.

To those who died and those who survived I say an inadequate but heartfelt “thank you” for doing what you did and for giving me and my family the freedom to be able to question and dissent against the prevailing view. The word “Hero” is nowadays used so often and in the wrong context that it is in danger of loosing its true power, in order to find the real definition we only have to look at what you did and stand in awe and wonder.

I made these images 10 years ago at the 60th Anniversary and they stand as my personal memorial to all those men.

 

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The modern view of the first houses to be liberated on Gold Beach on D-Day.

 

Images made on the 60th Anniversary of D-Day at Arromanche Gold Beach

On Gold Beach

 

Images made on the 60th Anniversary of D-Day at Arromanche Gold Beach

View from Arromanches onto Gold beach and the remains of the Mulberry Harbour.

 

Images made on the 60th Anniversary of D-Day at Arromanche Gold Beach

Jack Tilley 79 from London now living in Norway, a Royal Marine of 19 on D-Day who say service on Sword Beach and Albert Lewis 83 from Bethnal Green in London who served in 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment was dropped further south as a diversion for D-Day.

 

Images made on the 60th Anniversary of D-Day at Arromanche Gold Beach

A young girl watches on as a modern Landing Craft arrive on Arromanches Beach during a reenactment for the 60th Anniversary

 

Images made on the 60th Anniversary of D-Day at Arromanche Gold Beach

Military enthusiast in the dress of a US Soldier on D-Day

 

Images made on the 60th Anniversary of D-Day at Arromanche Gold Beach

D-Day flypast

 

Images made on the 60th Anniversary of D-Day at Arromanche Gold Beach

Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery

A Future Photographic Talent?

My daughter Maddie Penfound demonstrating her great photographer’s pose and backing it up later with some wonderful images taking whilst on a walk with me in Newbury. I’m trying to temper my potential over enthusiasm toward her interest in photography but when I see her work and the way she approaches an image I get the feeling there is a great talent starting to emerge.

For a ten year old Maddie has a very mature and natural way of seeing and recording images and the quality of her composition make my heart sing.

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My daughter a very natural photographer.

 

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Maddie’s image of me

A Ghost of Forgotten Innocence

I’m in the process of collating a lot of my “personal work” from my days as an Army Photographer for a body of work to be presented to the Imperial War Museum later this year. Its a bitter sweet experience and none more bitter and sad that this image.

It was taken nearly 20 years ago in July 1994 at a Children’s Hospital just outside the town of Fojnica north east of Sarajevo. A place where humanity was conveniently abandoned by all those who should have known better and protected these children but instead chose to be cowards and left them to the fate of evil men and women. Thanks to the Canadian and Danish UN forces as well as some British Army Medics some semblance of decency was restored to the lives of these oh so fragile children.

To all the War mongers and peddlers of hate and Nationalistic filth let the image of this innocent child sear itself onto your soul and be a daily reminder of what you have done and how we all find it more convenient to look the other way.

I do not know what happened to this fragile and delicate human being, but I do know there are many others like him, this very second in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine etc. etc. who are suffering thanks to our species lust for war and conflict!

“All we are saying is give peace a chance”… John Lennon

Mentally Handicapped Child - Fojnica Hospital

Mentally Handicapped Child – Fojnica Hospital