Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A little blog about Norwich Arts Centre....

I thought it was about time I did a blog about one of my favourite Norwich performance venues. It’s the place where I started my music photography back in 2003, and has featured heavily in my life for many years. This place is the delightful Norwich Arts Centre.

The current home of Norwich Arts Centre used to be a church, St Swithins - you can read more about the history of the church here. The Arts Centre has been based at St Swithins since 1980 and previous to that occupied a former department store on St Benedicts Street. It is loved by many - the musicians who have played and those who have watched bands over the years.

My association with the venue is a little less rock and roll than the bands performing there - mainly due to the fact I lean mostly towards indie and folk music.  My photography career began there in October 2003. It was a time when I went to a lot of gigs because they sounded interesting, and most of the time I didn't really know anything about the people playing at them. This is an approach I've recently started using again as I really did find some great music that way, and I'm sure I will do again.

The first gig I took a camera to was very memorable due to the fact the second photo I ever took is still one of my favourites. I was shooting using an Olympus OM10 film camera, and my subject was Nina Nastasia, who played an absolutely fantastic set and was also a willing subject. This photo has been used by Nina herself and Touch and Go Records over the years, and still pops out of the woodwork occasionally.

Nina Nastasia - 2003

This opportunity was the start of a musical adventure for me, and I started covering many gigs in the local area. I continued to use the OM10 for some time, but then it failed catastrophically as I was photographing Snow Patrol at Norwich Waterfront, with not a single photo coming out. I took the decision to go digital.

Many of the gigs I have photographed over the last decade have been at Norwich Arts Centre. I love the intimacy of live music there. I love the history of the place, the acoustics - and even the sticky floor at a busy standing gig. I love the staff who have made me feel welcome at every gig I come to.  And I love that atmosphere when you witness something special there, which I've been lucky enough to do several times.

The lighting can often be a challenge, but then it wouldn't be the same with blaring white lights would it?

I'm going to recall some of my favourite musical moments at Norwich Arts Centre now, in no particular order....

Emiliana Torrini - 2005. A really beautiful gig, with a stage covered in candles.

Emiliana Torrini

Martha Wainwright - A boiling hot evening in 2008. Memorable also because Martha told a peristent heckler to go away in style. She got a big round of applause from what I remember...

Martha Wainwright

God Is An Astronaut - Strobe lighting allowed me to play...

God is an Astronaut

KT Tunstall - one of those nights where you knew you were seeing something special. KT went on to massive things after this show.

KT Tunstall

Rilo Kiley- Another very memorable night with a band I was crazy about at the time. 2005 was an amazing year for gigs at the Arts Centre.

Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley

Mumford and Sons 

Mumford and Sons

Scott Matthews - one of the best gigs of 2011 for me. A great songwriter.

Scott Matthews

The Raveonettes - Another fantastic band to see in such a small venue. Really atmospheric.

Sharin Foo, The Raveonettes

Stephen Fretwell - Another fantastic British songwriter. This gig sent shivers down my spine.Another from the golden year of 2005.

Stephen Fretwell

Regina Spektor - The first time I'd ever seen someone play a chair.

Regina Spektor

Dan Deacon - I saw Dan at DumDuckerDum festival in 2007. This was a gig in the Arts Centre bar and was a brilliantly energetic affair....

Dan Deacon

Tina Dico. Memorable not just for the music, but also for my favourite photo to date. This has been used a few times now, most notably in Conde Nast's 'W' magazine.

Tina Dico

Lissie- another something rather special moment.


Dyko featuring Wolfgang Flur - ex Kraftwerk - sometimes some very special guests still turn up. Like the time Wolfgang accompanied Dyko. I saw these guys at one of the many successful Wombat Wombat gigs which still happen regularly.

Wolfgang with Dyko

There are many more gigs that I could include, but this will then no longer be a little blog about Norwich Arts Centre.

So I have a lot to thank this place for. It has introduced me to some great music, given me some fantastic live music opportunities, has allowed me to exhibit my work and been generally really supportive of what I do. I look forward to many more gigs here.

To find out more about Norwich Arts Centre and events there visit:

For a set of photos taken at Norwich Arts Centre visit my Arts Centre Flickr set

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Prints and things...

Over the last month or so, I've been busy getting my web store in shape. Everyone needs something nice to look at, right? So I've chosen some prints from my photo collection ready to share with others.

A lot of the prints in my web store have been taken during my travels around the world, but some are much closer to home.

This photo was taken in Collingwood at the top of the South Island of New Zealand.

This one was taken on the way to Holkham, Norfolk, England - much closer to home.

You can see all the prints available in the web store here:-

Today I went and picked up the prints I have had framed. It's always quite exciting seeing your prints professionally mounted and framed and looking their very best. I've also had some mounted without frames, so people can choose their own frame. I prefer getting frames made to order, but there are some good places to buy ready made frames these days.

I go to Norwich Frame Workshop and speak to Lee whenever I want my photos mounted or framed. He does a fantastic job at making my work look, well, fantastic! I usually go for a simple 3/4 inch black, solid wood frame and at the moment I'm mounting on a glacial white card mount (you can find Norwich Frame Workshop at 1 St Benedicts Street, Norwich).

Now all that is left to do is sell them. I'm doing my first craft stall in a few weeks, and have been busy preparing to make my things look nice. The only thing I have left to get is the final bits of packaging. It will be good to get some feedback on things. I will be looking for further places to sell my work in the New Year, so any suggestions are really welcome.

Finally, I'm having a bit of a clear out of past exhibition stuff, which has led to a couple of very limited prints becoming available. And by very limited, I mean there is only one of each available!!! Both are 8"x12" prints and come in 12"x16" mounts, and are priced at a bargain £40. Here they are, so if you know any Patrick Wolf or Dan Hawkins fans looking for a present, then send them my way....

Dan Hawkins - this print appeared in Guitarist Magazine

Patrick Wolf

Monday, 15 October 2012

On the road again....

Back in July I was lucky enough to go out on the road again with Catherine Feeny. The last time I headed out on tour with her was the rather epic trip at the end of 2010 which took in various venues across the UK. This time was a much smaller affair, a mini tour if you like, to showcase exciting new material at some rather exciting and unusual venues which almost require full on blogs themselves.

In the time between 2010, and Catherine's return to the UK, she has been busy writing a new album "America" which was very much inspired by the time she spent at Occupy Wall Street in New York. After hearing about the protest, Catherine travelled from her home in Portland, Oregon and spent 5 weeks in a small park as part of the Occupy protest. This rewarding roller coaster experience ended on November 15th 2011, in the well publicised eviction of Zucotti Park, where Catherine found herself arrested. Recordings from her time in Zucotti park can be found on the first single and video from the album, a track called United. The dates in July were a great opportunity to unveil this track and others from the album.

The first date on this tour took us over to beautiful Hay on Wye, to play The Wild Hare Club at The Globe. Hay is a lovely place, I'd been told about the many book shops, and indeed the place was full of them. It was this place next to the venue which caught my eye however!

Carpenter and Joiner, Hay on Wye
The Globe is a lovely venue with plenty of ground floor space, and an upper balcony, giving many different angles to enjoy the music from. There was also a basement area, which doubled as a "dressing room" for the purposes of the evening.

Down in the dressing room...

Writing the set list

The gig was really intimate with an attentive audience giving a great reception to the new material. Catherine was accompanied on the tour by husband and singer/ songwriter/ producer Sebastian Rogers.

After the gig, we stayed with host Richard and his family and were looked after very well, not leaving until the next afternoon! I am always delighted by the kindness of the people I meet on tour, and have met some brilliant folks this way. 

Next stop on the mini tour was a bit of a homecoming at The Bicycle Shop, Norwich. The place was packed to the rafters and again a really appreciative audience was in attendance. Catherine played two sets, as it was so warm (it was the one week of summer we had this year) we all needed a chance to cool down. This venue is becoming a firm favourite in the city, with many artists liking the intimate and friendly nature of the shows here.

Norwich breakfast at The Belle Vue

The next day saw a sweltering trip down to London, to one of the most unusual venues I have ever been to, The Brunel Museum. The cool of the venue was very welcomed that day. The gig was in the Rotherhithe Shaft, which was built in 1825 and key to the building of the Thames Tunnel, the first tunnel to be successfully constructed under a naviagable river. Essentially, it is a giant underground shaft, accessible by a small entrace. And I mean a small entrance - you have to crawl through.

Steps leading to the entrance to the shaft.
Once at the top of the steps, you can see the entrance.

Through the door on hands and knees.
Inside, looking out.

Once inside, you still have to descend down to reach the bottom. A scaffolding staircase is in place to ensure safe passage to the base of the shaft. Here is the view from the top.

As you can see, quite a way down!

The space is entirely unique, and the acoustics were really interesting. The gig was entirely unplugged and as the audience arrived, I noticed if you were close to the wall, you could very clearly hear a conversation from the other side of the room. There was also the regular eerie creaking and rumbling of the tube network as the trains moved along the tunnels.

Candles were dotted around, and the gig began with Catherine making her entrance at the top of the shaft with a performance of Hide You Here, which was a beautiful way to start. See for yourselves in the video, which also shows the venue from the top of the forementioned staircase.

It was really different hearing all the songs unplugged, a unique gig in so many ways.

The final gig of the mini tour was at a venue I'd been wanting to visit for a very long time, House Concerts York. This venue is again unusual in that it is a private home, with all gigs also private. House concerts are a relatively new phenomenon in the UK, and give a unique opportunity to see live music in a setting outside of a normal music venue. The hosts at House Concerts York have the house gig concept down to a fine art, with a lovely space in which to hold their events and a system that works like clockwork. They manage to deal with inviting an audience of people into their home with great calm, and make everyone feel very welcome.

We arrived early and made the most of more marvellous hospitality.

The beautiful setting of House Concerts York

Then it was time for the gig, with the place packed - a sell out audience again.

Once more a really different experience to all the other dates, and another great reception for the new material.

And all too soon it was over and normal life had to resume. Don't you hate it when that bit happens?

A massive thank you to Catherine and Sebastian for having me along on another unforgetable experience.

Catherine is back in Europe and the UK shortly for a series of dates to promote the album "America" visit for details of shows and tickets.

The new album is also available from Bandcamp as a download for just $7. Visit for more details. From listening to the tracks at these gigs, and subsequently the album in its entirety, "America" marks a new and exciting direction and I thoroughly recommend it.

For the full set of photos from the tour visit Flickr

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Making the video...

The end of September saw a big step forward for me, with the release of the first music video I can let you all see.

When I was a kid I loved filming video, and even though my main focus (excuse the pun) has been photography, I've never really forgotten my enthusiasm for moving images. Upgrading my camera body to the Canon 5D Mk II enabled me to rediscover my childhood joy in full HD, and I am really quite enjoying it. Using a digital SLR to produce video does of course have it's limitations, but if you get the shot right, you can produce some really rather stunning results.

After some time away from my camera due to my body being generally a bit useless, I started to build my confidence again this year by undertaking the BBC Voices short course "Making Movies" which was a really useful basic introduction to different styles of shooting and editing.

I had been talking to Norwich based artist Sanguine Sea for some months about making a video, after he approached me to be involved, and in September it finally became a reality, as a team of dedicated people came together to produce a video for his song "Until the Cavalry Come". And more about that in a minute.

My first forray into the world of music videos was in 2010, when I was Director of Photography for the video for "Family", a collaboration between Ed Sheeran and P Money. I spent a day in and around Brixton Hill, London, filming Ed and P Money, with a fantastic team of people including Producer and Director Amalia Rosen-Rawlings and Assistant Producer Georgina Bobb ( ) . This was really valuable experience, showing the preparation and attention to detail required for an on location shoot, as well as the benefits of having a great team of people working together to achieve the end result. The video was finished in November, just before Ed signed his major record deal, and as things sometimes go, our video didn't get a release....but it opened the door to many things.

This experience was all incredibly useful when it came to planning the "Until the Cavalry Come" video. The ideas we had all discussed for the video, and Sanguine's vision for it, were made a reality thanks to a really good team of people brought together by Saunguine Sea. My long term friend and now collaborator Alexander Helm was drafted in to co-direct the video, providing some excellent coaching for Sanguine Sea and the beautiful Amanda Santos, who appear in the video. Hannah Melnyk of Bohemian Love Story was on hand to provide wardrobe and prop advice, and created amongst other things the heart which features as a centre piece of the video. She also made everything look absolutely beautiful on the day with her makeup and styling skills, with stunning results.

KCJackson did all the editing and colour grading you see in the final video, and provided the concept for presenting the video in the lead up to the shoot, which took place at EPIC Studios. This concept was key for the day we were filming, and every shot was set up with this final outcome in mind. Lighting and exposure needed to be absolutely consistent. Alexander spent a good deal of time the day before ensuring the lighting set up was just what we needed on the day, and along with the others made sure that the studio was set up ready to go.

On the day itself we knew we had to complete the video by 4pm, and we all arrived at 9am, ready to go. Sanguine Sea had enlisted Alexander Oddy to help as a runner on the day, providing support where we needed it, be it moving things around or providing much needed refreshments. This kind of help can never be underestimated on a busy shoot - that extra pair of hands is always appreciated.

As with any project, we had to revise things a little on the day when things didn't go quite to plan, but the professionalism of all involved helped to keep things on track. The first shot of the day was the one below, simple yet effective.

The next set of shots were of Amanda, who was a great person to work with. She was extremely patient, open to ideas and also placed her trust in Alexander and myself. This was crucial in achieving what we needed Sanguine's story to tell. We were so proud of her for what she did.

By the time the shots of Amanda were finished, time was of the essence, and we had just over an hour to do all of the shots involving Sanguine Sea himself. This meant Hannah had to work at the speed of sound, and complete four sets of makeup in that time, and all around the actual takes. With cool head and steady hand, she created a makeup masterpiece each time.

From this.... this

Also under considerable amounts of pressure in that last hour was the star of the video himself, Sanguine Sea. Although used to performing in an allotted time, the setting of a music video is a rather different situation! Professional throughout, he delivered brilliant performances at each take, and we completed his part of the video with 4 different looks in just 7 takes! As the last take was nearing completion it was bang on 4pm. Linda at EPIC was around to see how our day had gone and make sure we'd had everything we needed from the venue, it's nice to know facilities like this are on your doorstep.

Then it was over to KCJackson to put the shots from the day together to tell the story. Alexander and myself met up with him a couple of times to go through the video, and it was so nice to see how well all of our ideas came together in his edit of the final video. I don't even like to think how long it took for him to complete the video, but we were all really pleased with the results.

I'll let you judge for yourselves, so if you would like to see the video, its right here:

If you'd like to share it with people you know, that would be great.

I know I'll work with some of the team from this video again, and am really looking forward to it. I'm now planning future video projects, which I can't wait to get underway.

If you'd like to find out more about any of the folks who helped to make the video what it is, here are some more details.

Sanguine Sea - Producer - WWW.SANGUINESEA.CO.UK

Alexander Helm - Director -  Here

Amanda Santos - Actress -  Here

Hannah Melnyk/ Bohemian Love Story - Makeup/ Styling/ Props/ Costume - WWW.BOHEMIANLOVESTORY.COM

KCJackson - Editor/ Colour Grading/ Credit designer - Here

Alexander Oddy - Runner -  Here

Linda Thursby at EPIC Studios - WWW.EPIC-TV.COM