I like taking photographs

Today’s reflection on ‘stuff I like to do’ is about photography.

Like going record shopping, taking photos has sort of become my ‘thing’. Unlike going record shopping, this is a fairly recent development, and I had a pretty steep learning curve.

I took a beginners’ course a while back, which gave me a good start. It helped me with a core understanding of the mechanics of the camera, a basic sense of how light works, a bit of insight into concepts of composition, which way around to hold the thing and so on.

Since then, it’s become one of my favourite things to do. I’ve been on a couple of organised photo walks, but actually, I hardly go anywhere without a camera – and in fact, I’ve started going places because I have a camera.


Sunday Photo Walk


I’ve been doing a beginners photography course recently at Matt & Pete’s Photo School, which has been loads of fun and I feel like I’m learning lots and improving rapidly. Tomorrow night that comes to an end for me – though I suspect I’ll be back for more.

They also run regular photo walks, which are exactly what they sound like. You walk around and you take photos, while talking about the area, and about photography.

I’ve just returned from this afternoon’s one. It was led by Pete (above), and it was a really great way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Birmingham.

Photo walk

There was a small group of us, and we spent a couple of hours wandering around Digbeth at a very leisurely pace, going places you might normally never walk, and stopping to pay attention to details that you otherwise might miss.


I took a whole bunch of photos, did lots of experimentation, played around with the camera settings, made loads of mistakes – and ended up with about 40 photos (out of 140 taken) that I thought were worth looking at.

Below are a few favourites. You can see the rest in my Flickr set.


Wall of crushed cars

Photographers in a park

Man painting

Billboard frames

Canalside flowers

View the full set.


Taniwha St

I’m back from New Zealand, where I had a fantastic time doing all sorts of interesting things. I gave two presentations, did three radio shows, met up with friends and family, attended a couple of industry events, visited several cafes, interviewed half a dozen interesting people – and worked out the structure, treatment, instrumentation and musical personnel for 14 songs.

Here’s video of the speech I gave for The Great Blend;
Here’s the Kim Hill ‘Playing Favourites’ radio interview (mp3);
Here are some photos I took;
Here’s a video stroll through Real Groovy Records;

I’d be more comprehensive, but not only did I not have a single moment to sit down and blog the whole time I was there, now I’m back – I’m rather jetlagged.

Thanks to Mum & Dad for having me stay and the use of their car; Caitlin for the airfare and the chance to work on the album; Russell for the opportunity to share billing with Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tesanovic; Mark Cubey for inviting me on Kim Hill’s radio programme; Wammo for inviting me on his; Mark Robinson for inviting me on his; Nathan, Blackie, Nick D, Mark Roach, Manual and Danny for the interviews; Brendan for the NZ on Air function invitation; and everyone else for being so nice, friendly, helpful and interesting.

Grime etiquette

8 16 32

I went to see 8 sixteen 32 at the Birmingham Rep Theatre with Bobbie and her mum, who is staying with us on her way back to New Zealand. It was an amazing performance – four Grime artists trying to make it to the big time.

We were there because my friend and former business partner Mark de Clive-Lowe was their Musical Director and Producer, and he had raved about how great these guys were. And he was right to do so. They were just amazing.

Before the performance, as usually happens, there was announcement. No flash photography, no unauthorised filming, and please turn your cellphones off.

“Oh cool,” I thought. “You can take non-flash photos.”

And so I did. But apparently, that was the wrong conclusion to draw.


Visiting Tony Levin

Tony Levin

Tim and I went to visit legendary UK jazz drummer Tony Levin at his home in Church Stretton today. We’re keen to work with him on an online jazz project, and this was an initial conversation to get the ball rolling.

Tony runs a semi-regular jazz club at the Patrick Kavanagh pub in Moseley, where some of the greatest jazz players in the world play to a handful of people in the know. He also has a record label called Rare Music, which releases some great undiscovered British jazz gems.

We’re interested in working with Tony to start building a bit of an online oral history about local jazz that we hope will eventually seed a UK Jazz Digital Archive. We’ll bring students into the plan, film some performances (Dave Holland‘s giving a masterclass at the Conservatoire this week — that’s our university), and get Tony talking to some of his jazz mates to reminisce about the old days.

And then we’ll do some cool social networking, cross-platform, Web2.5 stuff with it.


Photo shoot

Kate takes my photo

I had my photo taken today. More than once. In fact, it was a whole photo shoot thing. Spent about an hour with Kate Beatty (left) and Shelley upstairs at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath while Kate took my picture.

It’s being used for some exhibition or portfolio of photography that I don’t fully understand, but which appears to be centred around portraits of creative people in Birmingham. Apparently I’m also allowed to use the photos for my own personal ends as well, so there may just be a new Facebook profile picture on the way.

I’ll get to see them in a few days once Kate’s had a bit of time to play with them. I sort of know Kate from around Moseley, and we know a lot of the same people (notably my wife and my PA, who she lives with) – and I get the impression that she’s very good at this sort of thing. Like award-winningly good.

Really looking forward to seeing how these come out. I’ve become comfortable with the fact that I just kind of look like this, so I don’t have too much difficulty with having my photo taken.

I mean – you don’t have to be particularly good looking to have a good photo taken of you…