I miss Polaroid!


Ok I admit it but it’s true, I miss Polaroid! The conversation today revolved around film and how mad it would be to go back to processing (not that anyone’s suggesting we should!) when we’re all used to the speed and ‘efficiency’ of shooting digitally and yes, it would be hard to get back into shooting on film again, certainly for the kind of work I do and for clients that have to have shots emailed for approval, etc.

I tried explaining how film worked to my teenage daughter recently – she was interested for about 5 minutes then started laughing when I explained the dip and dunk process. By the time I’d got onto mounting trannies and tranny bags she was hysterical and couldn’t take any more. Kids of today…

But Polaroid was a faithful friend and yes, I do miss it. I worked with Peter Lavery whilst at college – he was (and still is) an inspiration to me with his energy and love of photography, and he would rub his Type 54 furiously for well over 2 minutes to make sure it was fully ‘cooked’ before tearing the paper apart to reveal the enclosed print. I even miss the ‘ching’ of the 5×4 roller processor as the metal clip was pulled through the rollers. But the smell. Oh that smell! Type 59 (colour) was good or Type 55 (B&W with negative you could also use) had a great smell too – not sure what it was and it was probably highly toxic but it smelled good!

It is still possible to buy (Fuji make a good alternative too) and it’s still being used by some photographers, especially fine art snappers like Barbara Cole who have created the most beautiful images with Polaroid and taken it to another level, creating photographs that look like classic masterpieces by Da Vinci or David. Such as this set, called Painted Ladies, by Bar­bara Cole. The self-taught pho­tog­ra­pher not only chal­lenges our real­ity, she does it all using Polaroid film – I bet she has the odd niff too.

If you’re interested in Polaroid then take a look at The Impossible Project where they have a small stock of refurbished SX-70 & 600 series camera and their own range of films.

Impossible started with a small team of the very best 10 former Polaroid employees who shared the passion as well as the belief in The Impossible dream. Every single one of them has a long time of expertise in the field of instant film production – more than 500 years accumulated experience and knowledge. Without their work and support the Impossible Project would not have had the slightest chance to make the Impossible possible. The Impossible Project currently employs 25 people in the factory in Enschede, Holland.

The film range includes PX 70 Color Shade for SX 70 cameras which tends to overexpose, especially in bright sunlight. With a little experimentation and adjustment of the lighten/darken wheel on your SX 70 you’ll find the right exposure setting for your camera.

This slightly high film speed (600 ASA) will give amazing color and tones in your correctly exposed SX 70 pictures, but it also opens up the opportunity to use this magic material in your 600 camera without the need of any additional filters. Simply insert the film in your Polaroid 600 camera, if necessary, add a little lighten adjustment and enjoy.

Also available is PX 680 Color Shade for Polaroid 600 cameras (as well as SX 70 camera equipped with ND filter and PZ680 for Polaroid Image/ Spectra cameras. ) and a rather nice looking PX black & white film for aspiring Helmut Newtons.

Also available is a Dry Age kit to protect the film from fading, due to the nature of the cheeky chemicals used, with a whole host of accessories for cameras.

If I’m honest, I don’t really see the point as everyone’s so used to shooting digitally and using apps like Instagram and Shake it that it seems irrelevant, but I have to confess I’d love to ‘shake it like a Polaroid picture’ again, and if they brought out a Type 55 version I’d be first in the queue, complete with dusty Sinar. If only to hear the ‘ching’ again…!w

Available online via The Impossible Project or from those crazy guys at Amercian Retro

Incidentally, if you fancy a trip to Manchester and want to spend your hard earned money on an old Polaroid camera, The Real Camera Co have a stock of used (some still in original packing) bodies, and Fred Aldous stock Polaroid equivalent Fuji film, along with some fab looking Holga and Lomography gear too.

Thanks to Barbara Cole for use of her work

M/Y Luna


Back to Bremerhaven this week to shoot the world’s largest expedition yacht M/Y Luna undergoing sea trails after her refit at Lloyd Werft. The North Sea was quite a challenge especially for our drone guys but I think we managed to capture some of the excitement and drama of the trip with a great video.

Thanks to the Captain & crew for their huge help during a fairly full-on couple of days!


Notting Hill interiors shoot


A lovely couple of days in beautiful Notting Hill this week for a private client (just love this leafy part of London with its cafés and foodie shops!) and thanks to Binkie Moorhead and her team of ridiculously talented interior designers!

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Les Voiles de St Tropez


Great opportunity to see these graceful old girls racing against eachother in Les Voiles de St Tropez, the annual event that takes place after the Monaco Yacht Show.

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M/Y Lady Lara


Huge thanks to Azur Helicopters for helping us out at the last minute on this shoot for M/Y Lady Lara




Great shoot with the guys from M/Y Altitude with SeaBob – amazing toys!

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Mercedes W196 Monoposto


We were enormously lucky to see the W196 – it had been driven by Stirling Moss and Lewis Hamilton the day before for a BBC TV trailer and an eager crowd quickly gathered when it was rolled out of its garage at Silverstone this week.

The Mercedes-Benz W196 Monoposto was a Formula One racing car produced by Mercedes-Benz for the 1954 and 1955 F1 seasons. Successor to the W194, in the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss it won 9 of 12 races entered and captured the only two world championships in which it competed.

The legendary 3-litre 300 SLR (Sport Leicht-Rennen, eng: Sport Light-Racing) was derived from the W196 for the 1955 World Sportscar Championship season. Its crash at Le Mans that year ended not only its own short-lived domination on the WSC circuit but spelled the end also for the W196, as Mercedes pulled out of competitive racing in 1955 and did not return for another three decades.

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S/Y Unfurled shoot, Mallorca


I have to confess that prior to this shoot I wasn’t a big fan of sailing, but a couple of days on board Unfurled has got me hooked!

With an incredible racing pedigree, this stunning yacht has won almost every race in its class and is just about as luxurious as you can get.


Port d’Antratx, Majorca was the chosen location and as we landed in Palma we were greeted with clear blue skies and the kind of heat that makes you look for the nearest place with air conditioning, but once we were togged up with factor 20 and the obligatory shooting shorts everything was fine!


Climbing up the mast isn’t exactly my idea of fun especially in a gentle swell and a 5D around your neck, but we needed to capture the detail of the deck so I managed to rig myself up in the boatswains chair and was hauled 40ft up the mast – great view from up there!




With thanks to Y.CO, Unfurled crew and the brilliant Jonny Greenall at Sloane Helicopters.


visit Guernsey


Quick trip to Guernsey to shoot a new ad campaign for Visit Guernsey with Vi-Vid Manchester. Our first trip there and quite a pretty little place – fortunately we were blessed with amazing weather and great to shoot with Karl Sanderson again, one of the best art directors we’ve had the pleasure of working with.

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Shot just off the stunning coastline at Port Andratx, Mallorca.


Marc Paris


The likes of great photographers such as Bailey, Donovan, Lategan, Parkinson and Duffy are household names (and rightly so) but Marc Paris is a photographer whose work has, by enlarge, not hit the headlines or been used by glossy fashion magazines.

MarcPArisHowever his unique photography style and character is well known in the yachting world and synonymous with yacht photography. Marc had a special way of living life, and nothing was ever an obstacle between him and a good time. What started as a press-check trip, ended as a weekend in Tuscany. What started as a morning coffee, ended as a late night affair with a traditional Italian dinner three towns away. He loved life and loved his work.


I’m often asked how I got involved in yacht photography and often I get a raised eyebrow (or two!) when I tell people I get to shoot superyachts for a living, but my recent trip to St Tropez did underline actually how dangerous it can be and how “getting the shot” can push you beyond the limits of “risky” and right under the nose of “bloody dangerous”! From a personal perspective, Marc’s work is a great inspiration to me and often appears on mood boards when I’m preparing for yacht shoots, especially his interior shots which have amazing composition and lighting.



Marc Paris’ dedication to his work often put him in slightly precarious situations too, but when he took off on a fairly straightforward trip to shoot a yacht near Antalya, Turkey on Christmas Eve 2012, little did he know it would be his last. Sadly, the microlight he was flying in crashed killing himself and his pilot. The cause of the crash is unknown but suspected to be a technical fault.


Marc Paris and pilot in the microlight that crashed later that day.



RIP Marc.

With thanks to Natalia Rodriguez, YachtCharterfleet and Temide Ancilla.

All images by kind courtesy of FAB Studios and Temide Ancilla.

White Cloud in Palma


Blue skies and brilliant sunshine greeted us on arrival in Palma to shoot the beautiful MY White Cloud – with stunning interiors and a brilliant crew, the trip went really well.

Another fabulous yacht from the Y.CO portfolio, she has all the graceful curves expected of a superyacht, with the added benefit of a rather smart heli superbly flown by Wayne who didn’t seem the least bit fazed when asked to fly sideways to track the tenders shot – even at 20ft above sea level!

We woke early on the last day to find the sea as calm as a proverbial millpond – perfect blue skies and a new 14mm Canon wide angle lens to play with gave us the ideal conditions for exterior shots, also giving us the opportunity to shoot a few running shots of the toys from sea level too, giving Blayne the opportunity to show off his boat handling skills!

Even a last minute request to the crew from yours truly, to set up a beach picnic went without as much as a raised eyebrow! Tenders dispatched to the beach complete with table & chairs and fab looking food lovingly prepared by the yacht’s chefs. What we didn’t realise until the shot was set up, was that the particular stretch of beach I’d chosen was a nudist beach! Fortunately, the beach was clear of sunbathers by the time we shot although a few nude joggers gave us a fright!

Huge thanks to Lachlan, Clare and the White Cloud crew for being brilliant, and to Callum & Charlie from Y.CO, Monaco.

nice view from the heli!

Oh yeah – and Ryanair you might be cheap and nasty but your customer service is shite.

(had to be said)


Shooting a Ghost


Not the spooky kind but the rather special Rolls Royce kind. Actually very special – first time in a Roller and certainly didn’t disappoint, from the sumptuous cream leather through to the gentle rumble of the V12.

Not my cup of tea to be perfectly honest (I was much more interested in my client’s collection of Land Rovers!) I think I’d be too petrified of parking it and coming back to find it engraved with the initials of the local yoofs, but you really have to admire the attention to detail and the sheer quality of the workmanship.

And no, you can’t hear the clock ticking. It’s a myth.


Before I started college I was lucky enough to get a weeks work experience with automotive photographer Les Smithers – he’d just started the Bentley brochure which, to a keen young photography upstart like myself, was pretty much heaven. Obviously in was back in the days of 10×8 film, dulling spray and multiple flashes (about 60 flashes I think!) then endless making of tea and polishing and cleaning and polishing…you get the picture. Needless to say it was a great experience/baptism of fire but the recent Range Rover shoot was so well received that we were commissioned to shoot this Ghost.






And, apart from a few judicious tweaks to the contrast and colour balance, no magic tricks in photoshop either. Les would be proud!

Grace Kelly


Ahead of our trip to Monaco this weekend (well it had to be mentioned, come on…) I’ve just stumbled across these shots of Grace Kelly on Flickr – naturally beautiful, just fab.



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with thanks to Vogue, Tatler, Corbis and Huffington Post


Hi Yo Silver, away!


Our first visit to The Bahamas just before the Easter break – a fab trip to shoot ‘Lone Ranger’, a beautiful ship with an incredible history having been one of the world’s most powerful tugboats in her heyday.

Lone Ranger, currently operated by Schmidt Ocean Institute’s (SOI) was originally constructed as an ocean tug Hamilton in Germany in 1973.  Following two decades of industrial and commercial service, Lone Ranger was refitted in Malta and Germany for global expedition yacht operations by the well-known yacht enthusiast Jack Setton.  With a cruising range of approx 30,000 nautical miles, Lone Ranger is capable of traveling around the globe without refueling or reprovisioning.  Between 1994 and 2009, Lone Ranger circumnavigated the globe several times including visits to both Arctic and Antarctic regions.

In 2009, SOI refitted Lone Ranger to support ocean research operations.  Since February 2012, she supported four research cruises in the Atlantic. After her last research expedition in the Sargasso Sea, Lone Ranger begins a new chapter in her long and storied history as she is decommissioned from the SOI scientific fleet to become a global expedition vessel once again, as Falkor takes the reins for SOI.

A few raised eyebrows when I saw the plane we were shooting from (in typical Caribbean fashion, the harness was a little less than sturdy!) but  our pilot, Roosevelt Major (cool name or what?!) was brilliant at dropping his little Cessna down at just the right moments to get the shots we needed.

Beautiful interiors too – a challenge to shoot given the different lighting but subtle use of flash and a little jiggery pokery in Photoshop gave us the results we were looking for, helped with a few little styling touches from Gemma the Lone Ranger stewardess who must have wondered what she’d let herself in for when she agreed to help out!

We even found time to do a little fishing – those of you that know me will know that I’m no fisherman, but when the opportunity to go out with the boys in search of tuna came along, I wasn’t going to say no!

Sadly no tuna to report but I did manage to catch a little Barracuda!

Huge thanks to Charlie, Callum, Adrian, Gemma and the Lone Ranger crew & Y.CO Yacht.

Marlboro cigarette ads


Marlboro is far and away the world’s best-known and biggest-selling cigarette, with a huge global presence and total sales now still well in excess of $20bn. Ownership is split primarily between what are now two entirely separate companies: Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International. Ironically, as the tobacco industry comes under ever more intense regulatory pressure, Marlboro is still going from strength to strength at least in terms of market share. In its home territory, more than four out of every ten cigarettes smoked is a Marlboro, the brand’s highest-ever level of market share. That dominance is mirrored to a lesser extent in just about every other territory the brand is marketed, as other cigarettes see brand share erode in favour of Big Red. The reason? Leo Burnett’s Marlboro Man and the abiding power of marketing, even in an industry where advertising itself is virtually forbidden.

In the 1950’s there began a suspicion that smoking cigarettes may be linked to lung disease. Filters were generally decided to be the answer but Real Men, which was where the sales dollars were, didn’t smoke a filter cigarette. The question then became how to make this cigarette appeal to men? The Leo Burnett advertising agency in Chicago was consulted and came up with campaigns that showed Real Men smoking filtered Marlboro cigarettes. First came the series with men with a tattoo on their smoking hand, tattoos were masculine then. Next came the long-running cowboy series, all in an attempt to convince the public that men could demand a filter too. It worked and the Marlboro Man became as famous as other Leo Burnett creations like Pillsbury Dough Boy and the Jolly Green Giant.

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Louis B Cheskin, whose original specialism was the psychological use of colour, proposed that the Marlboro packaging should suggest a medal worn around the neck as an unconscious cue of masculinity. He supported the cowboy campaign and later had a hand in Marlboro’s introduction of the hard, flip-top cigarette packet – an invention that, by creating a ritual around opening a pack, contributed almost as much to the addictive nature of cigarettes as nicotine.


James Twitchell, author of 20 Ads that Shook the World, said the Marlboro Man was an achievement because it found success at a time when Americans were learning that cigarettes were genuinely dangerous, addictive products that could kill you.

“The Marlboro Man was strong, powerful. He never speaks. He’s so tough. The genius of the ad is that at the same time there was a rising realisation that this thing will kill you, it was identified with a character who was, on the face of it, indomitable.”

Sadly, the three actors who played the Marlboro Man died of lung cancer. One sued Phillip Morris and the cigarettes became known colloquially as “cowboy killers”.


Richard Prince was commissioned to shoot the iconic images, shooting with Ektacolor film

Associating Marlboro with the rough, tough and masculine life of a cowboy worked well – still does, although the references to cowboys were replaced in the 80’s by a more sophisticated campaign which retained the suggestions of the wild western lifestyle but catered for a more educated audience, especially in Europe where the cowboy references were seen as irrelevant. As smoking bans in cinemas (1987)and advertising & brand restrictions on screen started to take effect, an audience that had been introduced to the slightly heady and surreal world of Star Wars V, the slightly camp but awesome Top Gun, the clean living style of Superman and ET were responding to the B&H advertising (see previous post) hence Leo Burnett were tasked with introducing in new approach to promote the Marlboro brand which also ticked the boxes/neatly sidestepped the new guidelines on cigarette advertising.



Among the photographers commissioned to shoot the new ads was Peter Lavery – a brilliant photographer who I spent 4 amazing weeks with during my stint of work experience at college (I think I learned more in that 4 weeks than the whole 3 years!) whose passion and energy still inspire me today.

He was given a fairly open brief to travel the wild west with art director Gordon Smith, armed with his trusty Gandolfi under one arm and a few boxes of 10×8 under the other. In 1993 he produced the shot of the motorbike which really defined the new style.


While it’s good to look to the past, it’s also intriguing to look to the future. But is there a future for cigarette advertising in the UK?

Well for tobacco cigarettes the answer looks like a resounding no, and in fact cigarette companies may soon lose even more of their ability to build their brand.

Back in December Australia became the first country to introduce plain packaging laws for cigarettes and it looks like the UK will be soon to follow. As a result of a lengthy consultation on the topic, the UK will soon introduce plain packaging for cigarettes and the new ruling is due to be announced during the Queen’s speech in May.  This will mean that all cigarette packets will look exactly the same as each other – typically an unattractive colour with several warnings about their damage to health.

So from the glamour of Hollywood endorsements and Formula 1 cars, cigarettes will soon lose their last touch of personality and become uniform, ugly boxes.

As for whether smoking will ever be entirely outlawed, the verdict is a little more uncertain. For the moment everything seems to be pushing towards making smoking unpopular, rather than making it illegal which runs the risk that it will go underground.

In such a scenario the government would lose any tax they gain from the sales of tobacco (around £12.1 billion in 2011/2012), while still footing the bill for subsequent healthcare (estimated to be around £5 billion in 2005/2006). With around 20% of the adult population still smoking, this could prove very costly.

However, if the stricter measures cause the number of smokers to dwindle to a select few, it’s definitely possible that smoking will one day be banned for good.

Thanks to Peter Lavery, Leo Burnett, Campaign, DrFox, BBC & Wikipedia



With temperatures below freezing this month it was rather nice to be able to look forward to a week in the studio with Allermuir, long standing client and manufacturers of oh so very trendy furniture seen in bars and hotels across the land.


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The new Tonina range is a moulded stacking chair – the brief was for a simple white background so with the stage stripped and given a fresh lick of paint, we set about composing and testing the colour combinations.






The bold colours of the Tonina range worked well against equally bold backgrounds and became the theme for the site #shecomesincolours after a little judicious retouching by those clever people at Music

With thanks to Allermuir and Music

Seriously, Marks and Spencer…?


Now I’m a fairly open minded kinda chap who takes the rough with the smooth etc, but I have a strong passion for my work and for photography in general.

I love to shoot creative work and get a real buzz from working in this industry – I go to awards and galleries, and I’m keen to see new styles develop either through software or lighting or just sheer talent.

Which I think qualifies me to have an opinion.

So, M&S, what the hell are you trying to achieve by letting Annie Leibovitz shoot your campaigns?

Nothing against her – she’s shot some really great stuff, but…seriously?


Don’t get me wrong – I understand the thinking behind choosing a selection of famous British ladies to represent your brand and dress them in M&S clothes, that’s all fine but the shots look, to be frank, bloody awful.

I’m not sure whether it’s the way the ladies are posed or the styling or the locations (probably a mixture of all three?) but  in my humble opinion, it really doesn’t work.


What you’ve ended up with here, if I may be so bold M&S, is a pastiche. Leibovitz has presumably been allowed to run with a fair amount of free reign and tried to create some kind of Gainsborough-esque, Vanity Fair inspired result, with the ladies so perfectly composed that nothing looks real and, if I may be a little bolder, doesn’t sell your clothes and actually serves to alienate your target market. Obviously I can’t qualify that statement as I don’t have access to your marketing reports, but it just looks like a dogs dinner.



Maybe the creative director is a bit star-struck? Maybe he’s a big fan of Leibovitz and has been given a huge budget to spend, or maybe he’s anxious to take the M&S brand up a gear, but there are much, MUCH better photographers suited to shoot this campaign and make a bloody good job of it.

Oh…and they’re British too. And when you’re pushing the whole British thing, would be a consideration surely?

On the flipside, I have to say the new M&S website looks fabulous – credit where it’s due. David Gandy is perfect for the brand, and the new lingerie collections with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley are very classy indeed.


ROSIE HUNTINGTON-WHITELEY compSo maybe just stick to what your good at M&S?

I have forgiven you for not having any changing rooms in the 70’s and the mental scars of having to stand in the middle of your store in my undies while my Mum chose my new school trousers have long faded, but let’s stop the Leibovitz thing shall we?

Bring back Twiggy I say…

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With thanks to Marks & Spencer plc and Annie Leibovitz





We’re all aware that superyachts are the undulgence of the rich and famous, and for those people who have the good fortune (excuse the pun) to be able to afford one, they can be as individual as you like. Aside from the myriad of options for toys (we were recently commissioned to shoot a yellow submarine in Italy for one owner) are the choices for interiors ranging from bespoke furniture and glass elevators to opulent carpets, folding swimdecks and cinemas, not to mention the jacuzzis, entertainment and wifi systems.

So our recent trip to Lürssen in Germany to shoot lifestyle images of a superyacht build was a rare treat to see what else actually goes into building a superyacht, and the level of detail, work and craftsmanship is just stunning. Obviously we were treated to a snapshot of the build but in just 2 days you get a feel for the sheer scale of what these guys do and it’s easy to see where the money goes.


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For starters, everything about the the Lürssen yard is massive. Huge. But it’s the attention to detail, the design not just of the superyacht’s profile but of every panel, stitch and rivet that combine to create the final result, not to mention the logistics and small army of craftsmen that co-ordinate in typical Germanic efficiency to create beautiful results like Azzam.

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Lurssen’s reputation as a high-quality, dedicated and discrete shipyard has ensured its continued success, incorporating the highest technical standards in all designs to meet the special demands of its clients.

The company lends its name to some of the yachting world’s most recognisable vessels including the motor yachts Carinthia VII, Pelorus and Octopus





With thanks to Y.CO, Lürssen, and


Green fingers…


I wouldn’t go so far as saying that I’ve got green fingers but we’ve just completed a fab garden shoot with design agency Stocks Taylor Benson for their client, Morrisons.

Full garden set which filled the studio here at St Vincents – makes life much easier when you’ve got a daylight studio seeing as all the plants managed to stay alive – I was almost at the point of thinking I should mow the grass…

40 Litre CompostLife made easier with a fab set of visuals and experienced art director Lysa Millergill – big credit to Vicky McLean for the styling too, great job chaps!

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Veg Planter propped

Wheelbarrow Planter

Not so shabby


I have to admit I do like the shabby chic look still and do have a particular love for beach houses, so when I took the brief from the client to source a shabby chic location to shoot a new range of fabrics, it was hard to not to get excited!

Quick scan through the location agencies didn’t come up with anything that quite ticked the boxes until I came across Beach Studios and their cracking selection of locations in Surrey.

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Thanks to Dave at Beach Studios for the amazing location, Jane Sanderson for the shabby styling 😉 and JP (Muscles) Brown for the bangin toons and banter!

I guess a few sneaky pics behind the scenes wouldn’t go amiss either…


…there’s always a stylist tweaking something!


Me loving the new Blad!



Range Rover in the Cotswolds


I’ve always maintained that UK photographers are amongst the best in the world when it comes to coping with changing weather and all that the elements can throw at you.

No exception here then – we travelled down the night before to our stunning location in the beautiful Cotswolds to be there for first light. When we woke to the sound of rain and grey skies, it was one of those moments when you think ‘oh poop’ and slip back under the duvet for a few more minutes! But after a fabulous breakfast (thanks Debbie!) and a few mugs of tea, life always seems more positive and as we started setting up, the rain stopped and the heavens started to clear revealing a fantastic morning light which was perfect for shooting the new Range Rover Vogue.

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After a quick jet wash and judicious amount of elbow grease, the Rangey was ready to go – the morning mist bathed the set in fab soft light which was perfect. Prayers answered!

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All done in time to include a nice set of interior shots too!

NYK lifestyle shoot


When an open brief comes along it can sometimes be quite daunting, but personally I prefer to be involved with ideas & concepts and be able to add my input.

Having already shot all the packshots for NYK, I was familiar with the product and the strategy behind its marketing, so when they asked me to shoot a series of lifestyle shots it was a great opportunity to pull out all the stops and come up with some believable images of a guy ‘vaping’ with their cool eCigs (they’re surprisingly good too, even from someone who enjoys the odd ‘analogue’ cigarette!)

Salford Quays was selected as the location and an ‘OMG it’s early’ start meant we caught the early light. All done in time for a quick lunch at the Lowry Theatre!

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_N9R48182client   NYK / art director   Arif Banghi  / model   Stephen Bracken / make up & styling   Zoey Clarkson

Spirit in Majorca


When all the elements combine against you and you can still fly back from a trip with a smile on your face, you know you’ve nailed it!

Such was the case for this shoot in Majorca in April – although we arrived in Palma to blue skies and sunshine, the weather quickly changed as pouring rain and winds swept in.

The itinerary for this 6 day shoot was unbelievably tight (thanks Callum!) and it was obvious that we’d have to work around the weather. What we didn’t allow for was models and crew getting seasick, a tender crashing into the marina and wind conditions so freaky that even the heli pilot was scared!

Hardcore locations – that’s how we roll!

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The brief was to shoot a library of lifestyle images that depict a holiday onboard this superyacht – it has to be one of the most luxurious and amazing holidays out there too, so from shopping trips, manicures and dinner parties to barbecues on the beach, playing on the jetskis and enjoying a glass of bubbly in the surf, we had to make sure we had it all covered. It was a big ask especially when the weather refused to play ball, but fortunately (after chasing the sun half way round the island only to end up back where we started!) the light was fantastic for the last few days and everything kicked into gear.

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Dramas aside,  this was a fabulous shoot and at times we did have to pinch ourselves! Beautiful yacht, great locations and a great crew – big thanks especially to Clive, Isobel, Rob, Claire, Max, CathyCathy, Aneska, Andy, James and Ben for pulling out every conceivable stop to make it all happen.



Thanks to my crew too – Zoey ‘copy that’ Clarkson for makeup & hair, Martin McLean (Boss Models) for styling & shopping, Emily my awesome digital assistant and of course to Callum, Charlie and team Y.CO for having the cahoonas to stick with the plan when it all looked a bit wobbly!

And not forgetting our model family – John, Tamsin, Jack & Sammy. Guys you were amazing and thankyou for being so patient and professional, and to Jonny at Sloane Helicopters for getting us up and down again in one piece!

Big-up also to the guys at Liquid Eye for sorting the housing out so quickly for the 5D – awesome piece of kit that I’ll show later on the blog.


The glamourous life of a model!


Chance for Zoey to apply a little more slap…


Quick check before we go to the next shot


bts at the beach barbecue set


a handy field to touch down in while the pilot thinks of a plan!

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Jonny taking his R44 to infinity & beyond!

All images ©malcolm birkett

Bad Instagram


The founders of Instagram were approached by Facebook in early 2012 regarding an offer to buy the then newly created company.  The price offered?  $1 billion.  It took a while, but in September 2012, just before Facebook went public, the sale was finalised at  $750 million. Instagram’s founders and its few employees couldn’t be happier about this deal, but did they realise that it was about to become a privacy fiasco for the thousands of people who had photos posted to the site?  Shortly after the acquisition, a new policy was put into place that says Facebook has the right to sell any or all of the 5 billion-plus photos that were posted on Instagram’s site.

Just 3 months after Instagram’s purchase by Facebook, on January 16, 2013, a new policy regarding photos was put in place.  Starting on that date, Facebook has the right to sell any photo that was posted on Instagram without paying, or even notifying, the users who posted those photos.  If you read the updated policy and deleted your Instagram account before January 16th, this was the only way you could have stopped the sale of your photos.  However, if you didn’t read the update and your account with Instagram was still active as of that date, you are in danger of your photos being sold.  Instagram users certainly weren’t happy about this detail.

What all this means is that if you use Instagram to post photos and did not delete your account before January 16, 2012, you could be facing a huge privacy concern.  Any photos that you posted on Instagram after the effective policy date can be sold to any advertiser and used in any way.  You could be on your way to work or school one morning and see a photo of you and your friends partying at a local bar up on a billboard advertising that bar.  Or maybe the billboard is for a beach resort that you visited and the photo is of you lying on the beach in a very skimpy bikini.  Another possibility is that you could be skimming through a magazine in your dentist’s waiting room and see a print ad featuring you and your friends standing in front of the newest casino.  Would you be shocked at any of this?  Would you be even more shocked to know that everyone involved with creating this ad, except you, will be making money off of your images?  Does this sound like a good deal?

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has taken notice of this new policy.  “It’s asking people to agree to unspecified future commercial use of their photos.  That makes it challenging for someone to give informed consent to that deal.”  That was a statement issued by Kurt Opsahl, Senior Staff Attorney for the EFF.

Since it is unspecified what types of photos can be sold and used, the policy leaves an endless amount of possibilities.  Any type of business, hotel chains, cruise lines, airlines, bars, restaurants, etc., can purchase your Instagram photos from Facebook without asking you for consent.  Your photos can be used in brochures, television commercials, print and Internet ads…any kind of advertisement that the purchaser sees fit.  And because there is no limit on the types of photos used, your kids can be in danger.  One day, you may see a billboard of your kids running around on a beach used to advertise the kid-friendly resort you visited last summer. And remember that if you’ve checked the ‘Add to Photo Map’ option, Instagram conveniently knows exactly where (and when) they were taken

If you want to avoid all this but didn’t delete your Instagram account before January 16, 2013, you can still delete your account to regain some control over your privacy.  However, keep in mind that any pictures you posted to Instagram after January 16th up to the date your account was deleted can still be sold since there is no language in the new policy that protects those photos.

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Two new phrases that were added to Facebook’s Terms of Service regarding any photos posted to Facebook and Instagram should be carefully considered.  One states that “Facebook has transferable and sub-licensable rights” and the other says, “a business or other entity may pay us to display your photos in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”   These are the phrases that give Facebook the right to license any of the photos that you post to either site and they show why it’s so important to fully read and understand all Terms of Service agreements and Privacy Policies.  You must also take the time to read and understand any updates to the policies.

Another thing to be aware of is that along with giving Facebook the right to sell your Instagram photos, the policy also protects them from liability.  On this, the policy states, “Instagram will not be liable for any use or disclosure of any content you provide.  You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communication as such.”  So, basically, you will not be able to sue Facebook or Instagram if your photos happen to show up in an ad that you don’t approve of.  Neither are they responsible for the claims of 3rd parties or owners of intellectual property eg. fine art, product design & architecture. I recently had to negotiate a property release on behalf of a client where the property (a private house) was featured in the background of an ad. A four figure fee with restrictions on how, where and when those images could be used, but with Instagram it seems that such things don’t exist.  Isn’t that an interesting turn of events?

There is nothing in the policy that states that Facebook will certainly sell your Instagram photos, and the language could be put in the policy on the off chance that one of your photos IS used in ads.  Well, that’s what some people think.  I don’t.  Ever since going public, Facebook has been discovering new ways of making money from their users.  One of the ways is “Sponsored Stories” which allows Facebook to sell your “Likes” and comments to those companies so they can be used in ads targeting your friends.  This, too, is done without paying the user for their input.  Lately, a new feature, Promote and Share, has been added.  For a $7 fee, users can “promote and share” noteworthy posts made by their friends so the promoted posts can be sent to the top of the newsfeed (Promote and Share: Facebook’s Latest Money-Maker).

At this point in time, Facebook and Instagram have made no comment as to their new policy.  The EFF’s Mr. Opsahl says, “Hopefully, at some point, we’ll get greater clarity from Facebook and Instagram.”  Yeah, maybe that will happen.
Now it’s time for you to decide what action, if any, you will take because of this information.  Are you going to delete your Instagram account, or are you going to continue to post your photos and hope that one of these days, you won’t see yourself in a national print ad or billboard?  (I’ll gloss over the technical details about resolution and image quality although at 86x86cm @ 72dpi it is just about do-able)

I have to admit that I like Facebook and the whole social sharing thing, however I am suspicious of the company and its intentions. If you use Instagram, I hope that you will think before you post any more photos.  Are you holding up a bottle of beer with the name clearly visible?  Are you standing in front of a hotel with the name prominently displayed?  Is the photo something that you may be embarrassed to have your parents or boss see as they drive along a highway?  If the answer to any of these is “Yes”, then you should re-think posting or you could end up a “celebrity”.  Also, remember that a photo that could be innocent in your eyes may not be so innocent in someone else’s eyes.


I’d expect to see some kind of paid advertising anytime soon with Instagram too – Facebook’s shareholders will certainly want to see a return on their investment and it’s interesting to watch how the sands have shifted at Facebook itself as it has started to cash in on the huge reach it has to consumers. Our likes, friends and the brands we follow all contribute to a customer profile which, from a marketeer’s perspective, is a gold mine. Social marketing can be customer specific now – if I want to promote a luxury brand of dog food to 25 year old women, Facebook will promote it to lovers of dogs in specifically that bracket which saves time on generic advertising, and invite that demographic to share my brand to their friends and family too. How Instagram will incorporate advertising remains to be seen, (if you follow a few brands on Instagram, it may already feel like ads populate your feed) but it will happen, and with 41% of Facebook users accessing the site via smartphones (up from 0% from just over a year ago) it’s easy to see how Instagram users fit into the whole strategy.

So given the huge rise in advertising revenues and the even bigger forecasts, why the need to change the rules and own Instagram images?

Cynical? Moi…?!

extracts by kind courtesy of

Kiddies in a sweet shop!


I’m not going to deny it – I’m a petrolhead. And when it comes to supercars I have to confess that the knees go a bit wobbly and I’ve even been known to dribble a bit, so when those lovely people at Senator asked me to spend a day at the HR Owen showroom in Acton, it was a bit of a no-brainer.

It’s been around a while now but the daddy of supercars (in my humble opinion) is the Bugatti Veyron – the design is just stunning as is the attention to detail. It’s a work of art. And when it’s fired up, the ground literally rumbles beneath you and causes a silly boyish grin to appear. Remember Top Trumps? Well this is THE car that beats everything!


With a rather tasty collection of Lambo’s, Mustangs and Rolls Royce, we were literally like kiddies in a sweet shop! Oh and yes…that is a Pagani Zonda at the back.





Fab new offices too guys – very trendy in white!


With thanks to Senator & HR Owen.

I’ll have a black Veyron please Santa.