Saturday, 12 April 2014

Norwich Gift Emporium - coming soon!

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at what will soon be the sparkly new Norwich Gift Emporium. Currently undergoing a complete makeover, the former Capricorn Cameras shop will be another exciting addition to the famous Norwich Lanes. 

Really, really good things are coming soon...

The Gift Emporium sells handmade, local arts and crafts and is the brainchild of Steve Pugh, who is a crafter himself at DT Steampunk. It began last year with the opening of the Swaffham Gift Emporium in the summer, bringing together work from over 50 artisans. The shop is well and truly holding its own in the market town, bringing plenty of original and lovingly produced arts and crafts to suit every budget, and proving a popular addition to the town centre shopping experience. It has also attracted great interest from O2 and Microsoft, who have featured the shop in their advertising (join the other 340,000 people who have watched the ad here!).

This will all be built on at the Norwich Gift Emporium, where Charis Brown has been taking the reigns to prepare for the grand opening. Charis is another well known crafter in the area, producing a variety of handmade items at Luffly Stuff. She has spent weeks helping Steve to find the perfect location for the shop, designing the shop layout and decorating - which I can say is looking great so far. There is still lots to do before the grand opening on Good Friday, but with Charis in charge everything will go to plan.

Norwich Lanes
Several crafters from the Swaffham Gift Emporium are also taking shelves at The Norwich Emporium, and have been popping in to help Charis scrub, clean, decorate and build stuff. Yesterday Andrea and Peter were also on hand to put up shelves, and did a fine job (Andrea is a potter and runs Wattlefield Pottery, Peter does oil paintings and frames them himself).

Andrea and Peter hard at work with the shelves

I was mainly helping build Billy shelving units yesterday and admiring the building, with it's lovely natural light and unique angles and textures. The ground floor is mostly there with the major renovation works, as is the landing and much painting has also been done. All the display units are nearly there, and the place has a very homely and welcoming feel to it already.

So, please do get along to the opening of the Norwich Gift Emporium, which is taking place this coming Friday 18th April, at 10am. You can find the shop at 22 Lower Goat Lane, Norwich and there will be celebrations galore on the opening day.
If you are a crafter and would like to have your fine work in the shop, please do contact the shop by calling 01603 624333 or via the Facebook page

You can find my photos in both the Swaffham Gift Emporium and Norwich Gift Emporium.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Experiments in food photography

I've been doing some food photography experiments. I love food and so it makes total sense to me to photograph it too, adding another strand to my photography bow. In fitting with my general rules of photography, I like to capture the qualities of my subject as they are, without altering the reality of life massively in Photoshop. It's all about making something look just as it is - good enough to eat in this case! If you don't like photographs of food, then look away now.

If you too love food and drink, then keep an eye out for more tasty treats on my blog.

If you create food and drink masterpieces and you're interested in working with me to show the best of your food products, then contact me via my website.

Above: Food created and styled by Susan Bone.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Jess Morgan - Langa Langa - April 2014

I've been lucky enough to do some more work with the amazing folk and roots singer and songwriter Jess Morgan recently.

The follow up to her last album 'Aye Me' is due out in April 2014 and will be called 'Langa Langa'.
Keep an eye out on Jess' website and twitter for further details about the upcoming release and tour dates.

Here's a photo and video from our session.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A busy start to 2014

What a busy start to 2014. This year began with The Surge Collective exhibition, which has so far raised nearly £1400 for the EDP Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal, which was started after the tidal surge of December 2013. I wrote this blog during the exhibition, and have only just got around to posting it for you - so sorry for the delay!


I'm writing for you today, sat in The Forum in Norwich. It's day 2 of an exhibition, which has been my life for about the last month. That explains a little my lack of attention to you, dear reader, for the last month or two. Also let's be honest, I've been a bit crap at keeping in touch.

I may get called away at any moment, as although it's just early on day 2, we have been really busy with this exhibition. You may have heard about it if you live in Norfolk and Suffolk, and maybe even if you live further afield. It's by a group of artists from Norfolk and Suffolk, who have come together to form The Surge Collective.

I'm going to tell you about how it came together, and a little about about the journey to where we are now, sat in one of the most well known buildings in the county, hopefully raising a lot of money for charity.

So you may remember my last blog which was all about the December 5th 2013 tidal surge, an extraordinary event which wreaked havoc along the East Coast. I went out the Saturday following the event to check out some of my favourite Norfolk places and the experience left me humbled, but also troubled by what I had seen, and I spent a lot of time questioning the ethics of taking photographs in certain situations and why I as a photographer take the photos I do.

I felt compelled to do something for those that had been affected and started an ebay auction, for a photo I had taken on Cromer Pier a few years ago. This raised a few pounds for the EDP Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal, but I quickly realised that Ebay was not the platform to sell work in aid of such a local cause. Talking to my dear friend Katy Walters, she suggested that there may be other photographers who would be interested in selling their work to raise some money, and why didn't we do something together? Well that IS a good idea I thought, and spoke to the lovely Nick Stone, who floated the idea on Twitter. Then suddenly we had 16 artists from Norfolk and Suffolk, and a whole lot of work to sell.

What could we do? How could we do it? As usual for me, I got very excited and started to think about all the exciting things we could do and how we could do it. Time was of the essence, we needed to do something quickly. I thought I better talk to the folks organising the appeal, and so we got in touch with David Powles at Archant, who has been a great supporter of the cause throughout and a brilliant help. We at first thought about a charity auction, but with the resources that would be needed, it wouldn't be possible to do this quickly. Instead David contacted The Forum in Norwich, to see if they could help. And yes they could. Amazingly at the end of December, they said that although they were tight for space, they could offer us a space over the weekend of the 17th to 19th January. And so The Surge Collective was born and we had something to work to.

And work we did. Everyone thought about what they could offer up, and very soon we had 40 works donated for the exhibition. All of the artists agreed to fund production of the work themselves, and donate 100% of the money from the displayed work to the EDP Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal. Amazing! Along the way various people came on board to offer help, a number of companies both local and not so local were very kind in helping us out with donations of time, expertise and their wares. AMC Photographics in Coventry. Fabulous Frames (Norwich), Norfolk Camera Centre (Dereham), Peter Richardson Framing (Old Buckenham), Starfish Design (Norwich), Swallowtail Print (Norwich), The Print Space (London) and The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (Norwich). I was thrilled at the response we were getting. We could really do this!

The Norfolk Community Foundation were also really helpful in sorting out the finance side of things for us, and ensuring all the money we raise goes to the people who need it.

The press and media have also been amazing, with the Eastern Daily Press, Evening News, Mustard TV and BBC Radio Norfolk giving us plenty of coverage. The universe of Twitter was also entirely helpful, with so many people coming on board to help us spread the message. In just over two weeks, 4000 people had read about what we were doing.

Everything was put up ready to go on Thursday night and here we are on Saturday 18th, safe in the knowledge we have already raised enough to help some of the communities in our area. This is all we hoped to do. People have been extremely generous in their donations, and we even had local Cromer artist Gaia Shaw pop in on Friday and sign and donate some of her artwork for us to sell for the appeal. Fantastic. It's been great for us local photographers to come together and spend some time with each other during the lead up to the exhibition, and now during the exhibition.

Curating this has been a really good experience for me. Of course it has been very busy, and a lot of work to get everything organised and accountable, but it has been fantastic to work with some of my favourite Norfolk and Suffolk photographers for a great cause. I have loved how enthusiastic everyone has been, and how helpful. Everyone has given up so much time and it couldn't have happened without them. It has been really lovely to meet so many people who have come to see the exhibition also, talking to them about our beautiful counties of Norfolk and Suffolk and their experiences of the coast and the surge.

If you have made it along, we hope you enjoyed it. And may I say a massive thank you to my fellow photographers and all round lovely people:

Andy Crouch
Matthew Dartford
Steve Hunt
Mark Ireland
Joe Lenton
Esther Ling
Ryan Mason
Stuart McPherson
Nigel Nudds
Jenny O'Neill
Al Pulford
Andi Sapey
Mark Stevenson
Nick Stone
and last but not least
Katy Walters

Sunday, 8 December 2013

East Coast tidal surge

Updated: Monday 9th December 2013

On Thursday 5th December, a massive tidal surge hit the east coast of England. Many places in Norfolk were affected by the extraordinary sea levels, in some places sea levels were even higher than the great floods of 1953.

Over the weekend I ventured out to see how some of my favourite places in the county had fared. A strange experience which left me rather humbled. Some places saw massive damage, yet in others it was difficult to see that the sea had wreaked any harm, except for some tell tale signs.

In only a few days, lots of work has been done right along the coast to start repairs. It is clear there is much left to do.

There are many places I could also have visited, and many photographs I could have taken. However it didn't seem right to go to places such as Hemsby. There are no photos of the damage to homes. There are also no photos of the seal pups I saw rescued at Winterton, having visited to check the beach cafe was still there and enjoying breakfast before moving on along the coast. Personally, it felt totally wrong to take photos in those situations.

This throws up an interesting debate on the moral codes and ethics of photography. I have found myself increasingly concerned with how others may react to me taking a photo, and thinking about why I decide to take a photo in the first place. If I feel uncomfortable in a situation, I normally just won't take the photo at all.

There is a fine balance with situations such as the tidal surge. Obviously these events need to be recorded - and photographs are essential to highlight the problems, dangers and immediate needs in the short term. Importantly, they also act as a historical record and a reminder of the ongoing need in the longer term. There is also a case for sensitive coverage of the after effects and the impacts on those involved. How would we know what happened in the past if it wasn't for some of the coverage of notable events over time? Certainly we may not have such an appreciation. In a purely functional way, photographs will also be hugely important in things like insurance claims.

If everyone involved is happy with photographs being taken, is there any harm in it? It is where photography becomes an unwelcome invasion that I find it difficult. I am sure everyone has view and an opinion on this.

For me, documenting the impact on the landscape (both natural and built) in a safe way was my intention (there is a whole other debate about putting yourself at risk to get "that photo"). I wanted to highlight the problems being faced by our coastal communities, without invading anyone's privacy. I hope I have managed to do this in a sensitive way.

The day started at sunrise, on Cantley Staithe. The water had topped over here, and a fine layer of silty mud coated the banks.

Sand bags were still out in force, and water the other side of the bank showed that some had come over the top.

Next, on to Winterton where I was pleased to see the cafe still standing, and I stopped for some breakfast. Much activity was going on, with a team of volunteers arriving from Friends of Horsey Seals helping with counting the seals, which had been hit hard by the surge. The seal wardens were trying to keep people from the beach entirely as pups littered the shore.

I finally got a shot of the little huts at Winterton which I was happy with.

Next on to Happisburgh. As with every winter storm here, the coastline had been eaten away, but by a staggering amount in some places. This sandcastle caught my eye at the bottom of the slope on to the beach. The sea was too far in to venture further safely.

Next on to Cromer, where there had been rumours that the pier may not have survived during the height of the surge. I am amazed it is still mostly in one piece. What an amazing piece of engineering. Looking up from underneath the pier, it was mind blowing to think how different the water level was just a few days earlier. You really had a sense of the scale of the surge.

The following day, I visited Brancaster. Here the signs of the flooding were not so immediately obvious, but on closer inspection, it was clear the water levels had been very high. The whole place had a coating of reeds and mud. In some places, the marks left by the high tide gave away the daunting water levels. Condensation in windows a sign of those buildings affected.

Blakeney fared even worse. The road on to the staithe was a mess.

The surge showed once more why the sea should always be respected. Finally, on the way home, nature reminded us that although it can be incredibly harsh, sometimes it is also breathtakingly beautiful.

See the full East Coast tidal surge photo set here.

*Donations are now being accepted for the Flood Appeal*

These can be made via the EDP head office, at Prospect House, Norwich – or any Archant branch office. They can also be made at Handelsbanken on Prince of Wales Road with cheques made payable to EDP Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal; 

You can also donate by visiting the offices of North Norfolk District Council in Cromer. If you do this, cheques should be made payable to NNDC.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Introducing - Wooden Arms

After a few months away from my camera, the perfect project to launch back in to film making came up in April.

Norwich based band Wooden Arms launched their new EP at The Birdcage in Norwich, and invited Alexander Helm and I to document the evening. Wooden Arms are a five piece based in Norwich, producing some exciting new music on the Bare Feet record label. Something a little different to the norm, the evening was enchanting and captivating. Our brief was to capture the atmosphere of the venue, as well as the performance.

We enlisted the help of two local Norwich film makers for the evening, to assist us in getting all the shots we needed - Joseph Murray and Emma Smith. Their enthusiasm for the project was welcomed, and the video would not have been possible without their input.

The first part of the evening was spent filming all the "atmosphere" shots of the venue. The Birdcage is well known in the city for its cosy and welcoming environment so we really tried hard to capture the unique buzz of the venue. Next came the more challenging part of filming the performance, in a packed out back room with little room to manouvere! This is the usual challenge when doing anything visual at a concert - moving around to document the evening, whilst trying hard not to get in the way of the artists and the audience.

The evening was a great success, and "Separate the Verb" is available now at

Thank you to the fabulous Jess Orestano for doing an excellent job on the sound desk, and producing the audio track used for the video.

You can view the video below.

Wooden Arms - Separate the Verb (Live at the Birdcage) from Bare Feet Records on Vimeo.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Stone circles and monuments - your favourite places?

I have visited several stone circles, and in the last few years I have become ever more interested in them. The first stone monument I ever remember visiting was Stone Henge, back on a family holiday. Since then, I have visited several others. I find them really atmospheric and sometimes eerie places to be, and generally just fascinating. They always make me think.

My favourite is still the Ring o Brodgar at Stenness on mainland Orkney, and someday I want to return and take some photographs. Can you believe it, I don't have any! I visited this stunning place a couple of times when I was in my late teens and not so into photography and can thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested. The circle at Stenness has 27 standing stones, and the circle is the same size as Avebury's two inner rings.

That brings me nicely on to Avebury, the site of the oldest stone circle in the world, and a designated World Heritage Site. It is only around 20 miles from Stonehenge and is huge. I spent an afternoon in and around the circle in 2009, it was a really peaceful day and very interesting. I was intrigued by the trees on the site, which had amazing roots and were clearly a special place for many others.

The stones at Avebury are very impressive. This is a stone from one of the two inner circles.

I really liked the textures on the stones themselves. Over the years they have aged and weathered and created interesting patterns and colours.

From Avebury to Arbor Low, in the Peak District. The day I visited in 2010, it was particularly quiet and in fact only my friend and I were there for most of the time. It was wonderfully peaceful. This stone circle is on a private farm, but the landowner allows access. The stones at Arbor Low are mostly laying down.

I put together some panorama's of the circle at Arbor Low. If you click on these photos you can see them in larger format in my Flickr photostream.

Again the individual stones are very interesting and frequently topped by sheep, which freely wander around the site.

The last stone circle for this blog is The Cockpit, which sits on the hillside above Ullswater in The Lake District. Again I was very lucky to visit on a beautiful day, the sky was blue, and the clouds lined up perfectly for this shot. Isn't it amazing how sometimes you can be in just the right place at the right time?

You can see my "Stone Circles" set on Flickr here

I'd welcome hearing from anyone who enjoys visiting stone circles and monuments with suggestions of places to visit in the UK and Ireland, as I learn more about them.