Photo inspiration at Columbia Road
December 14, 2009 6:12 PM
Over this last month I've been revamping my plants and gardens portfolio in preparation for a few meetings I've set up with magazines and garden-related organisations in the new year. So, last weekend I took a trip to Columbia Road flower market in London's East End for a little photography inspiration.
Columbia Road is one of my favorite markets. Every Sunday morning, flower sellers converge on the street to set up their stalls and transform it into a plant-lovers paradise. Bulbs, cut flowers, plants (the unusual and the common), trees and lots more are on sale. There are some great little independent shops on the street too.
The market has a great atmosphere although it can get really busy, particularly in the summer, when you're well advised to turn up nice and early. Some of the stalls have been in the family for generations - I think some of the stallholders' jokes have been too - but that's all part of the fun.
I stocked up on some festive flowers and foliage. It was all very Christmassy watching people weave their way through the crowds weighed down with armfuls of holly and mistletoe. The amaryilis flowers I bought were particularly stunning - amazing jewel colours.
Wilton's Music Hall - part 2
December 14, 2009 4:14 PM
Some more photographs from Wilton's - this time of areas up in the roof space. As you can see, even the roof space at WIlton's is atmospheric. When you look beyond the dust and buckets collecting rain water, the layers of history are there to see as various owners and occupiers have left their mark on the building over the years.
There are exciting plans to turn these 'rooms' into functioning parts of the theatre. My photographs document the building as it now and will help Wilton's fundraising plans for the New Year. And yes, those are holes is in the floorboards looking down into the office.
Interiors shoot - the world's oldest music hall
November 22, 2009 7:22 PM
I've been a bit lax in updating this month's news but I thought I should, at the very least, upload some shots I took last week at Wilton's Music Hall. The images here are of the venue's atmospheric Mahogany Bar but I'm returning soon to take further shots of the main hall, as well as some of unused rooms that are in serious need of repair.
Wilton's is a fantastic Grade 2* listed building described as being of 'outstanding architectural and archaeological significance' by The Theatres Trust. Tucked down an alley just minutes from Tower Bridge, Wilton's is the world's oldest surviving music hall and began life as a concert room built on to the back of a pub, The Prince of Denmark.
The owner, John Wilton, built the music hall in 1853 and in it's heyday audiences of 1,500 crammed into the hall to hear the top acts of the time, including George Leybourne, a superstar of London's music hall, nicknamed Champagne Charlie. Weybourne, when singing Champagne Charlie, would famously walk on stage, immaculately dressed in top hat and tails, complete with scarf, gloves and a walking cane, waving a bottle of champagne.
The music hall closed in the 1880s but went on to be used as a Methodist Church Mission, a refuge to those bombed out of their homes during the Blitz and a rag warehouse. It was threatened with demolition in 1964 but was saved by the campaigning efforts of Sir John Betjeman and others.
That the building has survived fire, bombs and years of dereliction and neglect, is quite a feat. Fundraising efforts over the years have enabled Wilton's to undertake enough building works and repairs for it to open to the public for performances, film screenings and other events. However, a large part of the building is currently unused and there's still a significant amount of building and repairs to be done to ensure this building is no longer at risk. Wilton's is hoping to launch a new fundraising campaign in the New Year so sign up to their mailing list to find out more.
Masterclass at Little Venice Cake Company
October 27, 2009 4:53 PM
Earlier this month I photographed a cake decorating masterclass led by "The Queen of Couture Cakes" Mich Turner, founder of Little Venice Cake Company.
With celebrity clients including Madonna, David Beckham and Pierce Brosnan, Mich knows her cakes! So it's not surprising that the 15 or so people attending Mich's masterclass at the Langham Hotel so keenly watched her demonstrate hand painting techniques and listened to her cake decorating tips. When participants got to work decorating their own cakes the levels of concentration and creativity going on in the room were quite something.
The day was rounded off with a fabulous champagne afternoon tea. Participants then collected their cakes from the day and were homeward bound - some taking a little shopping diversion via nearby Oxford Street!
In fact thinking about it, some had also taken a little shopping diversion on the way to the class. Shopping, cakes and then some more shopping - all in all it strikes me as a rather lovely way to spend a day.
Feedback on the photos has been really positive - the Little Venice Cake Company will be using them to promote future masterclasses, details of which you can find here.
CoolTan Largactyl Shuffle
October 12, 2009 9:21 AM
On Saturday 10 October I joined around 40 people on World Mental Health Day for the start of a sponsored walk to raise money for charity CoolTan Arts. Known as the 'Largactyl Shuffle' it was a walk of 5.8 miles that started at Maudsley Hospital in Denmark Hill and ended at Tate Modern with a well deserved party.
The event was supported by the Mayor of Lambeth and CoolTan patron and TV chef Rosemary Shrager who travelled all the way from Yorkshire that morning to be there (but not on foot I should add!).
CoolTan are hoping the photographs from the day will help them in a publicity and fundraising drive. The charity provide much-loved art workshops for people experiencing mental distress but they do it from a building with no insulation, no proper heating and one outside portaloo - they need the cash!
CoolTan Arts lead guided walks every third Saturday of the month - the next is on the 21st November. It's a leisurely pace with friendly company and, especially if you have the sort of weather we had this weekend, it's a fine way to spend a Saturday morning.
Event photography at Dulwich Picture Gallery, SE22
October 3, 2009 7:01 PM
Last night I was at Dulwich Picture Gallery photographing the opening of Altered States, an exhibition of work by CoolTan Arts artists, that celebrates World Mental Health Day. The brief: "get shots that capture the overall event, each of the speakers, some of the artwork and people engaging with it".
The exhibition includes paintings, drawings and screen prints by artists experiencing mental distress and explores themes relating to changes in the way we feel, see or think. It was a good turn out and friendly atmosphere with artists celebrating their achievement with friends, families and other guests.
Photographing exhibition openings like this can be a bit of a challenge. Often photographers are working in small spaces, with no natural light, and all those people can make it difficult to get a clear shot. I always go along to these events with a couple of lenses, including a long lens that lets me zoom in on people from quite a distance, and a flash that I tend to bounce of walls or ceilings to get a soft light.
The exhibition finishes on the 9th so catch it if you can.
Photos of Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival
September 28, 2009 4:59 PM
This year more than 80 local producers of food and drink are taking part in the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival 2009 which runs from 26th September to 4th October. Now in its fourth year, the festival celebrates the food and drink of Suffolk and brings together producers, farmers, cooks, food experts and a public all enthused about food.
The thousands of people attending this weekend's showcase at Snape Maltings were not disappointed. While it goes without saying there was great food and drink to try (and buy) the event also had a lovely relaxed atmosphere which I'm sure was helped by the location and glorious sunshine.
I photographed the festival on Sunday and I've posted a few photographs from the day above. After the event closed I just had enough time to soak up a bit of the atmosphere of the beach just north of Aldeburgh where the Scallop, a four-metre high sculpture conceived by artist Maggi Hambling and built by Sam and Dennis Pegg, shimmered in the sunshine.
South London botanical garden
September 14, 2009 7:25 PM
Tucked behind an imposing Victorian building in Tulse Hill is one of those gardens that sometimes gets called a "hidden gem". And, although you might think it a cliche, that's exactly what it is!
The South London Botanical Institute was founded in 1910 by a keen botanist, Allan Octavian Hume, and the Institute's garden provides a welcome breathing space off the busy Norwood Road. I'm photographing the garden through the seasons so the Institute has a bank of images it can use to promote its work.
The garden may be small but it's packed with plants which spill out over the paved paths that separate beds containing over 500 labelled species. A small conservatory is filled with with carnivorous and tender plants, and there's a pond which is home to frogs and newts.
The Institute also has a herbarium, an extensive library of botanical books and offers a programme of lectures, courses and events. Open on Thursdays from 10-4pm and at other times by appointment, this month the Institute will also be welcoming visitors in on Sunday 20th as part of Open House weekend.
Images of August produce
August 24, 2009 5:53 PM
Over August I've been busy adding to my portfolios with the intention of submitting a collection of images to one of the specialist photo libraries later in the year. One of the long term things I'm trying to capture in my food and garden portfolios is the seasonality of produce - photographing the best of what's growing and what's available to eat around the calender.
August is one of the most colourful and bountiful months and a pleasure to photograph - all those berries, plus currants, potatoes, apricots, cos lettuce and beans. But, there's no doubt Autumn is on its way. This year I've tried to store up some of August in a bottle so that I can sample it later in the year when it's dark and miserable - I've made blackcurrant vodka! Not sure it will last till winter but that's the idea.
Here are a few August shots...
Photographing Thrive gardens, Battersea Park
August 17, 2009 11:11 PM
For several months now I've been working as a volunteer gardener and photographer at Thrive, a small charity that uses gardening to change the lives of people with disabilities.
Thrive's London project is in Battersea Park where a team of gardeners, volunteers and staff currently look after three separate areas. One of the areas, the Herb Garden, is really flourishing at the moment and last week I photographed it for a brochure Thrive is producing to promote its work.
I attracted some strange looks from office workers eating their lunch who I guess wondered why I was lurking in the middle of the veg beds with a camera. However, the day flew by and, a bit of a bonus, it was a harvest day so I came away with a little goodie bag of veggies.
Shots from sunny West Dean Gardens
August 4, 2009 4:02 PM
Well, this summer is turning out to be another washout. Still, I headed off to West Sussex this weekend determined to make the most of whatever weather was thrown in my direction and think I was hugely lucky because the weather was great.
Yesterday, I spent the entire day at West Dean Gardens set in the beautiful South Downs countryside. I'd recommend a visit if you haven't been there before and gardens are your thing.
The restored Victorian kitchen and fruit gardens are particularly worth seeing: regimented rows of vegetables are labelled up neatly by someone who has perfect handwriting that curves and loops; glasshouses bursting with nectarines, figs and grapes; more varieties of chilli and tomato than I'd care to count; and flower beds full of colour.
And, if you're in the area, I'd also suggest a visit to Cass Sculpture Foundation in Goodwood. It's a 26 acre estate displaying around 70 monumental sculptures by contemporary sculptors such as Tony Cragg, Wendy Taylor and Antony Gormley. Even if you're not a fan of contemporary sculpture, there's something magical about walking through the forested landscape and seeing work of such a scale. Will post some photos soon.
Words and pictures for SE22 article
July 6, 2009 9:22 AM
Yesterday I spent a little time researching a short piece I'm writing for SE22 magazine on the surge of interest in "growing your own" and National Allotments Week (which takes place in the second week of August). Demand for allotments outstrips supply by a long way so I feel lucky to have one just five minutes away from home. Naturally I want to include some pics in the article, so Sunday afternoon I popped down to the allotment with the camera. July's looking to be a good month!
News or blog - what's it all about (Alfie)?
June 16, 2009 4:13 PM
First of all welcome!
I thought it would be nice to have somewhere on the new site to post the odd bit of personal work and keep everyone informed of other interesting bits and pieces - so this is the place. The big question... where to start?! Well, seeing as I've just got back from a trip in the Cinque Terre in Italy, I felt sharing a few of the pics I took there is as good a place to begin as any. Most were taken for fun, but some will be accompanying an article a travel writer friend of mine is compiling.
As you can see, it is an impossibly scenic place with picture-postcard villages perched on cliff-tops which lead down to harbours filled with fishing boats.
However, now the holiday's over and it's back to work. I'm especially pleased to have the website just about completed (just a few little tweaks here and there to go). As anyone who knows me will tell you, it's taken a while to get it just right but hopefully it's been worth the effort.