At the end of every year I seem to end up saying “this has been my busiest year ever.” That remains true of 2016, which has been an exciting and energetic mixture of my regular work for long-term clients plus a number of new challenges too. While I don’t want to simply write a list of “jobs I’ve done this year” now is surely the time to look back and pick out some highlights.
No year would be a success without the many shows presented by my regular theatrical clients. Of course it’s Ariel Company Theatre who keep me busiest in this respect and I remain grateful for Neil & Nicci’s constant support. It is always a pleasure working on their shows and showcases. Now they have 5 drama academies, plus their Othellos special needs group, choirs and workshops it’s never long until their next performance.
COS Musical Theatre’s shows have continued to go from strength to strength. 2016 saw another great pantomime, revue show and a full production of “The Wizard of Oz.” I am very excited for “Spamalot” next year (and their panto “Dick Whittington” opens at The Hawth next weekend too. Book now, it’s probably almost sold out already!)
COS Wizard of OzProduction photo from "The Wizard of Oz" at The Hawth Various Stagecoach franchises across the South also keep me busy and it’s lovely seeing the different ways each school brings out the best in their students.
Nightmare Before ChristmasPerformance photo from Haywards Heath Stagecoach A wide number of dance productions provide great photo-opportunities. Fi Steps autumn showcase is always exceptional and marks the start of the hectic Autumn/Winter season for me. This year there seemed not to be a break from that point right up until Christmas as one event led straight into another! This year’s 25th Anniversary show, appropriately titled “25”, showed how much love there is for the superbly talented Fiona Whyte amongst her staff and students. I’m delighted that Fi continues to choose me to photograph her shows – especially now she’s an in-demand photographer herself.
Fi Steps "25"Fi Steps dancers in action at The Hawth The Hawth Theatre’s resident dance school Sway also put on several great showcases at the end of their Summer term.
Sway DanceSway Dance Showcase performance at The Hawth
Autumn means the incredibly hectic Halloween season. Every year brings more new venues and clients meaning almost every minute of October is precisely scheduled. As always, Tulleys Shocktober Fest is the heart of Halloween. It’s thanks to the ongoing support of Stuart Beare at Tulleys Farm that I am now well known within the Scare Attractions industry and in 2016 I returned to several existing venues as well as taking on new clients. It’s brilliant to see that Scream Park Entertainments are also getting busier and busier too. I’m so glad our paths get to cross as frequently as they do – long may this continue.
Fire DanceFirey fun at Shocktober Fest Broadwitch HauntfestUnderground terror at Broadditch Farm
As the official photographer for ScareCON, Europe’s only trade show for the scare attractions industry, it is a treat to photograph all the goings on at this constantly expanding event. I must congratulate Michael Bolton for his work on this and thank him for his continual support. (This year it was a huge bonus that we all made it onto BBC1’s “One Show” as part of their Halloween coverage. Blink and you’ll miss me, but the coverage for the industry was outstanding and very positive.)
One Show TerrorMonsters, zombies and Arthur Smith, filming for BBC1's One Show at ScareCON 2016 I was thrilled to see Juby Lee Bakes win the Young Startup Talent prize this year and it has been lovely to be able to support this enthusiastic group of young people as their “bakery project” progresses. (Plus they keep giving me cakes, which is always going to meet with my approval.) I expect 2017 will be a very exciting growth time for their business.
Juby Lee BakesThe Juby Lee Bakes team My product photography work is possibly less “visible” here, especially to those who don’t follow me on Twitter. I have had lots of exciting items sent my way for photos this year. I am especially proud of the photos I have taken for the American companies Horror in Clay, Littlest Lovecraft, Project Khopesh and Shire Post Mint. It is a real privilege when I am entrusted with prototype items sent all the way from the USA! There’s nothing more fun than getting a message asking for a particular sort of shot or themed shot featuring the items already in my possession. A real challenge sometimes too…
Horror in ClayPromotional photo for Horror in Clay/Geek Mom website. I had great fun with #TheMajickReturns in October, a promotional event leading up to the publication of the final book in Phil and Jacqui Lovesey’s “Matlock the Hare” trilogy. A whole month of different photos featuring “Shelpp the neffle hammer!” Just the sort of madness I enjoy and I’m delighted that they’ve got another project set in “Winchett Dale” coming up in February 2017. If “Lord of the Rings but with talking animals” sounds like fun to you (trust me, it is) then be sure to check out their website…
Matlock TrilogyMatlock the Hare books Closer to home it was great to take a number of different photos for Sean Rouse’s new company October Candles whose spookily-themed candles “aren’t just for October.” It was lovely to bring together a team of old friends and collaborators for this.
As well as covering their summer school production of "Joseph" I was delighted to be asked once again to photograph The Capitol's pantomime. This year it was "Aladdin" and featured the return of some past favourites to the cast alongside some great newcomers. It was a treat that it also included the return of my friend Martin "Bunny Galore" Ramsdin to The Capitol as Widow Twankey. Brilliant family fun that was clearly well received by audiences and reviewers alike.
This August I finally took the plunge and updated my website. I had been putting this off for a LONG time due to the workload involved in migrating all my existing photo albums to a new provider. However it had been apparent for quite some time that the PhotoBox “Pro Gallery” I was using was no longer fit for the purpose. I am very pleased with my new site and the customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so I am glad I took the plunge. Thank you to everyone who had to be patient during the changeover. It is now possible to easily access older photos on this new site as well as my more recent work. If there are any old sets of photos that I have not copied across, please do contact me to ask and I can add them to my archive pages for you.
A project from another photographer that I must mention is Paul Michael Kane’s inspiring “Lightbox Photography Cards.” I am proud to be an “education ambassador” for these and indeed was the first person in the world to use them in an educational setting back in February 2015. There are now four different decks of cards available, each with a variety of photo challenges cleverly designed to be ideal for photographers of all levels of ability and experience. They’re also accessible regardless of what equipment you use (there’s even a whole deck designed just for use with mobile phone cameras) so for anyone asking me how to improve their own photography these are the first thing I recommend.
Finally I can’t finish without saying how proud I am of Jack Lane and his “Wisdom of a Fool” show. I am proud that he asked me to take the publicity and production photos for him in the Autumn of 2015 when he premiered his work at The Capitol in Horsham. Since then the production has toured the UK to huge acclaim and I am delighted to have seen the poster (featuring a photo I took) appear outside prestigious venues across the country! Telling the story of Norman Wisdom, this energetic one man show is back at The Capitol (as well as other venues) for 2017 and I can’t recommend it enough. Get yourself a ticket and you’ll have something great to look forward to.
Wisdom of a FoolWisdom of a Fool Poster Photo I am bound to have missed out something in my recollections, but it’s fair to say I have enjoyed every show, shoot, performance and production that I have worked on in 2016 and am very much hoping I will see everyone again in 2017 for another busy year!