Archives for category: London
Front cover of Gavin issue 1

Front cover of Gavin issue 1

Over the last few months I have been working on an exciting project which combines many of my creative skills. And this weekend just gone I released Gavin magazine. Gavin is a showcase for my photographic, written, and design work and has been published online on the issuu platform. There is a link to the magazine at the bottom of this blog post.

I have opted for a soft launch rather than a grand fanfare as I am just finding my feet with online publishing. I have been involved in the publishing of hundreds of magazines over the years, but this is the first time I have used an online platform such as issuu, so I wanted the first issue to be stunning, yet reserved.

More issues will follow and they will include both personal projects that I have worked on in recent years and commercial work I am able to publish. Some of my work I am not allowed to use for certain reasons, which I always respect.

As always when creating a magazine I used Adobe’s Indesign and worked hard on choosing complimentary fonts, I hope you like what I’ve chosen. I decided many of the images needed to have the background story, which is so difficult to do on a portfolio website, which is another reason for working on the magazine. So some of the images have a caption, but others are part of a much larger story. This is fairly limited in the first issue, but the articles will increase as the magazine grows in popularity.

Since my first job, I have always been involved in photography and magazine creation, so this is a logical step for me. I have the writing, design and photography skills needed, but the process has been a learning curve.

At the moment the magazine is just online, but I am looking at offering a hard copy (although this will be a paid for service as buying any magazine) and as the readership grows I will possibly offer advertising opportunities for business looking to advertise their services and wares alongside my editorial (The adverts in the first issue were donated to companies who have helped me obtain images or offered advice).

I hope you enjoy reading it and please let me know what you think and also if you have any questions, comments or requests for areas of my work you’d like to see included in the magazine let me know.

You can find Gavin magazine at:


All rights reserved © Gavin Parsons

All rights reserved © Gavin Parsons

It’s up to every business to make their people look good. I don’t mean dress them smartly, give them clean uniforms and wash their work’s vehicles every once in a while (although that will help), I’m talking about in their promotion and publicity.

Models wearing your company logo is one thing, but people can spot a model a mile away these days. How many chiselled 6footers with manicured hair and nails do you find on a construction site or hanging off the side of a muddy wall? What’s needed is real life. Your real employees, the people who know how to do the job and how to make it look professional. And if your employees look and act professional, then you can use them to promote your business.

Photographing real people in real situations has become a specialty of mine over the last few years. Several of my clients need promotional material for press releases, social media and advertising, but sometimes budgets won’t stretch to models and sometimes they just want the people doing the job. They did though, want stunning looking shots. And this is the key to getting eye catching images as opposed to snaps. Any of my clients could have sent a foreman or manager out with a camera or even a phone and grabbed a couple of pictures, but they realised to get the job done right, they needed a professional commercial photographer to not only get a distinctive and engaging image, but also to process that image correctly and imaginatively to really make their photography pop.

The example attached to this blog is a workman repairing a stone wall on an island in the Thames. It was dirty, hard work and the people doing it were skilled at the task. Plus they were used to the river environment and the hardships that spending days on a small island completely detached from London life  brings. A model could never portray that.

So I worked with the builder as he was doing his job. I spent the best part of a morning in pretty good light working in the Thames mud. It wasn’t a job for a model photographer, or indeed a news photojournalist. It was a job though that I love. I’ve photographed the transformation of the island over the years for the same client. I’ve been attacked by Canada Geese, photographed tree surgeons measuring the trees, arbours sculpting the trees and then the guys repairing the walls. I’ve photographed in sun, rain, cold and heat and every time I bought back images that impressed the client.

That’s why getting a professional to take the pictures you use to promote your business is a key part of marketing. Viewers looking for businesses to hire, will always stop and look longer at a website with unique and characterful imagery, than they will on a website full of royalty free generic snaps.

So as every story has to end with a moral (I don’t know why. Blame the Hollywood movies I watched as a teenager), here is mine. If you want to get your business noticed. Then

look for a professional photographer who can help you achieve that goal.

If you would like some advice on images for your company’s marketing then please get in touch. You can see many more of my real life images at:

A dive back in time


© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

This week’s ‘behind the picture’ apart from being a day late (Bank holiday in the UK) is a shot I took while on a commission for the Port of London Authority. It was, surprisingly, taken in the Docks area of East London. The Docklands Museum was having an events day and the Port of London Authority and the Historical Diving Society collaborated to create a commercial diving attraction. They had modern commercial divers going in the water and historical divers as well.

The old Siebe Gorman helmet was synonymous with commercial diving through a great deal of the 20th century, but now very little of the working kit remains in use.

This was an opportunity for me to get an unusual shot. The water beneath about 5cm from the surface was pitch black so I decided on a half and half style shot. Although, in the end, I settled more for a ¾ ¼ image as the few centimetres had just about enough visibility.

I wanted to portray the diver just before he submerged which was what I got. It wasn’t quite so difficult as this was a volunteer from the audience who, understandably, hesitated before he finally stuck his head under.


Unknown to the majority of people in UK’s capitol, let alone the outside world, London is the host to the oldest rowing race in the world. Started in 1715, the Doggetts Coat and Badge race is as historic as it is ceromonial.

Each year up to six Apprentice Waterman of the River Thames compete for a rather plush Red Waterman’s Coat and a silver badge.

As part of an ongoing project to document the life around the River Thames, the Port of London Authority asked me to photograph the preparations and start of the race at London Bridge.

The start occurs adjacent to Fishmongers Hall on the north side of London Bridge which is where the competitors prepare their sculls (the small one person rowing boats).

It was quite popular this year with a photographer from the New York Times and Channel 4 film crews around to film the event. I can only imagine what it will be like when the race hist 300 years old in a couple of years time.

I worked in Black & White to capture the event as a small story.  It’s hard to capture the 298 years of history when essentially you are dealing with a modern scull race, so I opted to record the moment for what it was rather than what it stood for.

The day was fairly cloudy and the light was pretty flat, which suited monochrome. Occasionally we got a blip of sunlight, but also quite a few rain showers, but the build up was calm and light -hearted.

Passers by on the river must have wondered what was going on though as Fishmongers Hall, the home to the Fishmongers Company, one of London’s 12 great Livery Companies, put on a bit of a show and delighted the public with free fish and chips and London Youth Rowing held their own static Thames race on rowing machines. It was a great spectacle that even attracted the Lord Major of London (Not Boris, but the other fella who can trace his job back to Dick Whittington and beyond).

The race started pretty quickly and in a couple of blinks of an eye the competitors were gone. It takes a mere 20 minutes to row the four mile course from London Bridge to Cadogan Pier in Chelsea, but it would have taken me a lot longer by road, so I didn’t get to the finish. However the race was won by the brilliantly named Merlin Dwan.


With the Olympics now underway I’ve had time to process and upload a gallery of images taken during the last day of the Olympic torch relay. For those outside the UK, the organisers of London 2012 created a 700 or so mile long relay for the Olympic flame. The culmination of which was down the River Thames.

As you will know from previous posts I do some work for the Port of London Authority. It asked me to join one of their launches as they control the river from Teddington out to the North Sea. They wanted a photographic record of their work around the torch relay and the event itself.

The torch gets up early and the 27th July 2012 as no different. A start of around 7.30am at Hampton Court Palace was the schedule. Luckily they were 20 minutes late which gave us enough time to get to Teddington Lock, where the PLA takes charge of the River.

The Gloriana, the Royal rowing barge that lead the Queen’s 60th Jubilee River Pageant was the vessel of choice to carry the Olympic flame. It was lit in a shiny metal cauldron bearing the 2012 logo. Although along the route  the flame was transferred to several torch bearers to hold.

At Teddington, the Gloriana was preceded by two passenger boats loaded with onlookers and well wishes and then followed by a flotilla of small rowing boats. After the lock the fairy narrow river was alive with small boats. It was chaos for a few minutes as everyone started to follow the horn tooting Gloriana. Soon though the field couldn’t keep up with the 18 oars of Gloriana and they started to slip behind.

For a while, the Gloriana just had its close protection team of police, PLA vessels and press boats for company on the river, but the banks were still lined with well wishes shouting, waving, clapping and cheering. I was working, but still felt a sense of being a small part of something quite special.

At Richmond, the whole waterfront was rammed with onlookers and we were joined by more rowers and the procession became a flotilla once more. As we passed under each bridge the Gloriana had to pull down its stern flag, but it also used the acoustics to amplify its raucous horn. It was a sound heard for miles I would imagine.

While photographing a torch bearer named Charlotte Fone, I saw she walked passed an elderly man rowing the Gloriana. This turned out to be  Paul Bircher, now 83, who won a silver medal in the rowing events in the last London games in 1948. In fact many of the Gloriana Rowers were Olympic medallists.

At Putney, one of rowing’s spiritual homes in the UK, there was a 21 oar salute and even more crowds there to cheer and wave the flame on. Once passed Battersea, the flotilla entered London city itself and rowed passed some globally iconic buildings such at the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, plus County Hall, The London Eye and on towards Tower Bridge.

It stopped short there though and put a stop in at the floating rings next to HMS Belfast and here torch bearer Amber Charles held the flame and waved at the crowds on the South Bank. Major Boris Johnson was being interviewed on the back of HMS Belfast at the time, but I of course had no idea what he said.

After a few minutes the flame was hidden and the Gloriana slipped under Tower Bridge and around to Butlers Wharf where the flame was offloaded and put in safe keeping to wait for the opening ceremony.

As darkness engulfed London and the opening ceremony kicked off several miles to the east, Tower Bridge exploded in a cacophony of light and sound as fireworks announced the flame was about to leave. The Gloriana was put to bed by this stage and so it was left to David Beckham and an extremely fast speed boat to carry the flame. The lit up boat shot out from under Tower Bridge and sped away to the crowds cheering in the Olympic stadium.

So that was it, the end to a special day and the start of an event that I doubt I’ll see again in my lifetime. An Olympic Games in the UK.

I have a full sized gallery on my website at:



The tall ship Belem arrives in London for the 2012 Olympics

I’m not a sports photographer, so didn’t get the chance to get into the Olympic stadiums, but I have been working on several projects around the Olympics for the Port of London Authority. Because London revolves around the Thames, The Port of London Authority (PLA) has seen a huge amount of shipping coming into and out of the Capitol.

I was lucky enough to be asked to capture the moment the French tall ship the Belem came into the city. The Belem is a three masted sailing barque from the the 19th century. She is a training ship these days, but still as beautiful.

It was due to arrive at 8.15pm and the day was clear and blue so the sunset was set to be perfect. I couldn’t have asked for better light, wind and setting. The breeze was coming from the east ensuring the Belem had her sails out, just as the sun hit the top of Tower Bridge.

In the next day or so I will put up an Olympic based gallery on my website.