Workshops & Tours
29/05/13As a boy of 14, back in August 1975 I was taken to Porthleven on a family holiday. It was this lovely little fishing harbour that sparked my affinity with Cornwall. Our landlady's son Paul, who was also 14, had his own rowing boat and we spent many happy hours out on the water. I well remember being struck by the reflections and images of the fishing boats in the harbour. And after using up my Instamatic's 12 frames, I 'borrowed' my Dad's 35mm Minolta to take more pictures. He almost had a fit when he saw me out on the boat with it!
From then on, Cornwall became a magnet for me. As I grew up, my friends and I would come down on surfing holidays. We learned the ropes at Skewjack Surf Village and then, in subsequent years, larger and larger groups of us would hire cottages or come down and camp. In 1982, sixteen of us hired a large farm on the Camel Estuary and had a truly fantastic time. Yet, inevitably, things changed, we all got jobs, got married and went our separate ways. Yet the calling for the outdoors remained with me and throughout my twenties and thirties, I alternated destinations between Cornwall, Cumbria and Scotland and made as many trips a year as work would allow. For in the frantic world of advertising, these remote destinations made for welcome 'bolt-holes' where I could get away from the hustle and hassle of London. I would jump in the car on a Friday afternoon and be down at Sennen Cove, or the Wrynose Pass with just enough daylight left to pitch the tent. From there I'd take my 35mm SLR camera and just walk for miles in the great outdoors for the weekend before returning to the 'fray'.
Back in 1990 I met my great friend Allen. His family lived in a large bungalow at Rock in North Cornwall and throughout a somewhat 'domestically turbulent' decade, his friendship and kind hospitality provided my two young children and I with some truly memorable holidays. We would come down three or four times a year and, loaded-up with buckets & spades, windbreaks, fishing tackle, surfboards, tents, and in later years, kayak and diving gear, travel from coast to coast in search of quiet beaches and high adventure. Throughout it all my cameras were by my side, recording childhood memories and nature's beauty.
As the children grew-up, our holiday itinerary's changed but the destination remained the same. On one such holiday in 2002 I met Sam - a Truro girl born and bred - and fell in love. I lured my piece of 'Cornish Gold' up the A303 with the promise of returning in five years to settle down. As it turned out, she lived with me in Loughton for what ended up as almost a decade but all throughout, we hankered after Cornwall and returned as often as possible.
During those years my business practices changed. I gave up the daily grind of commuting to my offices in Docklands and set up a studio at home. All the time technology was moving along apace. My top of the range Minolta 35mm SLR, that I thought would never be 'outgunned' by the outrageously expensive and 'clunky' digital technology, stayed with me on my country jaunts. I can remember art directing photo-shoots back in the early 90's when the photographer was using an new-fangled DSLR that was both huge and outrageously expensive. It cost him over £20k and delivered 2mb images that were hardly what I would call awesome. And so for years, I remained faithful to 35mm film and expensive processing houses, not realising that a new era was just around the corner. Until that time came, my personal photography was limited to what I could afford in terms of professional colour houses and just how many of my images I could load onto the back of another job's print order!
As time moved on, so I dabbled with a few digital 'point-and-shoots' for family stuff that ended with a Sony system that took impressive 12mb images through its Zeiss lens. Its capabilities were impressive. So much so, that, after I carelessly dropped my beloved Minolta onto the rocks at Trebarwith Strand, rather than pay a hefty repair bill, I decided to bite the bullet and take a look at investing in a full DSLR set up. This made commercial sense because in my marketing work, I was still commissioning photographers. They would turn up with a DSLR yet I found I could manipulate the post production programmes better than they could! The time had come to reduce my overheads and add to the bottom line. Long story short, I tried a few cameras, hired a Canon system for a weekend, and that was it - I was hooked!
From changing the face of my marketing practice to giving me total freedom to explore my passion for landscape photography, my new DSLR set me free!
And it came at a good time. For as I reached the big five-Oh! my perspective on the world altered. My priorities were 'evolving' around me. My kids were now young adults and no longer wanting to come over to stay every weekend. My darling daughter announced she'd "grown out" of coming camping*. Instead my son brought his mates along and I found more time on my hands - to watch the sun cross the sky and take notice of the changing seasons. Sam and I would visit Cornwall regularly and I'd get up before the dawn to go and catch the sunrise somewhere new. No matter the weather or time of year, I found incredible locations just around the next headland. I had more time to myself, to go off and explore so I redoubled my efforts to go to Scotland and Cornwall to discover new places and push my photographic approach.
A week spent camping on Sandwood Bay - just below Cape Wrath on the farthest NW tip of mainland Scotland - back in 2010 provided a life-changing event for me. I cannot easily express just how much this time at such a fabulous place really did 'move' me. It sounds trite as I write this, but on more than one occasion I had tears streaming down my checks as I worked my camera, capturing some of my favourite images. I don't think I'd ever been so happy, just roving around with my camera. I'm not sure Sam quite enjoyed the 12 mile hike it took us to hump the camping gear there, but I loved her even more for putting up with the tiny tent, dune-loos and me!
My time at Sandwood provided the boost I needed to turn to Sea & Landscape Photography as part of a new career path. Soon after submitting some images to magazines and photo libraries, my work started to gain recognition and earn some money. When my first royalty cheque came through the letterbox I was ecstatic! It pushed me on to bigger and better things. I bought another camera, set up my website and redoubled my efforts to get out there with my camera. In the following months I went from the Arctic Circle to the Equator and many exotic and remote places in between. I loved the times abroad, yet my heart and real focus remained on the UK.
Early one March morning back in 2011, I found myself before the dawn in the deserted car park above Porthcurno Cove. After a foul night of sea fog and rain, I was shivering and none to positive regarding the coming day's photography. The steam from my thermos flask and persistent drizzle from 10/10 cloud cover combined to obliterate the view through the windscreen. It was wet, cold and dreary. Yet, just as I was about to cry-off and head for breakfast somewhere warm, a small speck of light broke on the horizon to offer a little ray of hope. I grabbed my gear and set off down the winding track to the beach. The images I took that morning are still some of my favourites. The light. The weather. The sea. Everything came together in the viewfinder and I was whooping and shouting aloud as shot after shot displayed themselves on the rear screen of my EOS 1DS MkIII. One of these images went on to win the 'Cornish Point of View' Photography Award and gave my photographic aspirations another huge boost.
And so it has gone on from there. I branded my website, bought a top of the range print and colour management system and started selling Fine Art Limited Edition prints and was invited to display my first solo exhibition. Back in February this year, in yet another change of direction, I brought Sam back to Cornwall and moved to Crantock on the magnificent Atlantic Coast. Now, from a large detached house, I sit in my studio and look out over some of the most amazing landscape in the UK. Hardly a minute goes by without me thinking 'I wonder what the waves are doing down at so and so' or 'I bet the light's fantastic at such and such right now'. And this is for two reasons. One I'm lucky to be living with all this beauty on my doorstep. And two, I'm furthering my business approach.
B&B Workshops & Tours
I knew all along that moving to Cornwall would represent another change in my working practices. For while I would continue in marketing design, in making the most of outdoor life and my people-skills, I wanted to grasp the opportunity of combining my passion for photography with introducing like-minded people to photographing Cornwall's natural beauty. And that's where the inspiration behind my new Bed & Breakfast Workshops and Photo-Tours comes from.
It has long been been my plan to offer such breaks for people who get a real thrill from shooting stunning sea and landscapes and who want to extend their photographic skill set. In the past I've been approached by people wanting to learn more about cameras and computer printing. In most cases they had tried evening classes but found that trying to match numerous personal aims, equipment types and personal skill levels, led to lots of hanging around. Add to this the week's gap between lessons and it became a long-protracted and unfulfilling experience.
This gave me the idea of for the three day courses. For I'm now in what must be the almost unique position of having the working photographic knowledge, passion, location and premises to deliver such courses. Working one-to-one with live-in individuals, couples or small group of guests, I'd have the time to devote the time to explaining, demonstrating and supporting their efforts in such a way that would be understandable and inspiring.
I'm not claiming to be a master photographer, but my pictures speak for themselves and my creative eye has been successfully cast around the world of design and advertising for over 30 years. This experience has helped establish a different perspective and alternative approach to how my camera lens sees the world. Also, I'm used to presenting to, and working with, people. This means I can communicate and instil confidence. And this is important. I can show absolute beginners the ropes of how to get the best from a DSLR, likewise, I can share my experience with enthusiasts and advanced photographers who want to go to the next level with their image taking and post production techniques. I have a full studio set-up and a range of Canon equipment ready for hire. So if you want to go from a point-and-shoot compact to a DSLR and try before you buy, here's your chance.
And on top of all this is my adventurous streak. So I'm up for including camping, climbing, kayaking and diving as I guide established photographers on Tours around the little-known coves and harbours of Cornwall, from on top and under the surface of the crystal-clear sea. I'm PADI certified to Advanced Open Water Diver and happy to buddy accordingly proficient underwater photographers on some of the great dive sites that lie in shallow waters just off the coast. Likewise, I have an extensive range of camping equipment, meaning if the weather's OK and you want to stay out for a night of shooting stars under light-polution free skies, that's fine with me! My approach is all about my flexibility to provide exactly what you want. It may be that you prefer a more sedate approach to photographing Cornwall that's based around taking the car as close as possible to the locations, and this is absolutely fine as well. I can show you the sort of places you want to visit and get some great images.
Post Production & Websites
As part of the Workshops, I will show you the Photoshop techniques to get the best from your images. It's a matter of personal preference and ambition but I can take you right the way up to professional standard RAW file manipulation.
It may be that you've wanted a website but never had the confidence or helping hand to get you started. Well that's covered too, as you can stay an extra day and I'll show you how to build and manage your own website.
For advanced photographers, if you're looking to put your photography on a commercial footing, I can help you design a logo and branding alongside creating artwork for stationery and a selection of marketing materials as part of a Business Starter Pack.
Overall, my aim is to share my passion for the art of digital photography and my love of the remote, hidden places in Cornwall. So, no matter your photographic experience, if you like Sea & Landscapes, there's something here just for you.
- Accommodation & Food -
As for the 'B&B', my spacious, modern accommodation offers individuals, couples and small groups of friends, a choice of en-suite double and twin bedroom facilities. This makes for a maximum individual group size of just 4 people. My one-to-one approach will guide solo-individuals, solo-couples and solo-groups through getting the best from a DSLR including lens choice, composition, exposures and filters in some of the UK's most awe-inspiring locations. It will be friendly, inspiring and fulfilling. At the start of each day, we'll get into my Land Rover Discovery and head off for secluded places you'd otherwise have been hard-pressed to find and photograph to your heart's content.
And if you like your food, then you won't go hungry here! For beside my passion for Photography is my love of Cooking. I've put together a wholesome menu based around fresh local produce and the need for hearty, delicious food before, during and after a long day out in the open air. Take a look at the Workshop download to read through the menu. Hopefully you'll find it to your taste but if you have any specific preferences to make your stay that little bit more special, just let me know. For example, if you want to push the boat out, I can get live Lobster and Crab from our local fisherman. Whatever your choice of dishes, all will be freshly prepared and served, either in our kitchen/day room or your own private dining room, as with everything on offer, the choice is yours.
So, whatever your current photographic standing, if you're thinking about taking it to the next level while surrounded by incredibly beautiful surroundings, why not book a three day Workshop or Tour soon? I look forward to hearing from you.
Visit the Workshops & Tours section for more details and pdf downloads that give you full course/tour descriptions and prices. Use the Contact Me section to get in touch and I will provide any information and further booking details.
*On a happy closing note, my daughter Meghan is now once again regularly accompanying me on my trips and has become well-versed in using her own camera!