Archives for category: reportage

 

2nd issue of Gavin magazine

2nd issue of Gavin magazine

In the 2nd issue of Gavin magazine is a feature on Orangutan rescue in Borneo. This thought provoking story shows the plight of one of mankind’s nearest biological neighbours.

Also in the magazine is a fine art project on Britain’s ancient trees, the look at the work of British Divers Marine Life Rescue, ragged tooth shark migration and a photo project on the 1st World War battlefields.

So there is pretty much something for everyone. The link to the free magazine is: http://issuu.com/gavinparsons/docs/gavin_magazine_issue_2

I hope you all enjoy it.

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: http://issuu.com/gavinparsons/docs/gavin_magazine_issue_1

 

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: www.gavinparsons.co.uk

The French Newspaper Libération’s 14 November issue ran without pictures. Instead of harrowing images of the typhoon ravaged landscape of the Philippines or war torn Syria or even pretty pictures of baby animals doing cute things, there were empty white boxes. The story can be seen on the BJP-online site at http://tiny.cc/jh8k6w. I think it demonstrates firstly the power pictures play in the news telling process, but more importantly, what our French cousins think about photographers. Would the British media industry do such a thing? I very much doubt it. They seem more concerned about drumming photographers out of business as they chase cheaper and cheaper rates.

The UK media has pinned content (words and pictures) to advertising revenues. When the ad revenues fall, so do the rates they pay for content. A shrewd business plan you would think, except it fails one critical point. If you pay peanuts for content you will drive the creativity and heart out of the contributors and before long you end up with bland camerphone style images which then drives away your customers.The UK media industry needs to acknowledge, the readers are the customers as well as the advertisers.

Why hold your readers in such low regard? It’s a point that has always baffled me. The BJP (British Journal of Photography) actually made a bold move a few years ago and instead of racing to the bottom as many others did, it took about three steps up and is a much better and more respected publication because of it.

With a market flooded with photography, you’d think the British magazine and newspaper sectors could command global respect, but very few do. The reason is they care little for the content and more about the Ad revenues. It’s a decision I believe will leave them behind the curve. The electronics sector which creates new technology is deciding the direction the media industry has to go on a global scale. Pro cameras these days do both still and video, many people carry tablet readers and it will not be too long before many of the world’s great cities will offer wireless access everywhere, so you can sit in the park and read your favourite newspaper or magazine online live. You’ll be able to see a stunning high definition picture on screen and be able to tap it and watch a video clip to enhance the story. This is the way technology is pushing us, whether we like it or not. Will the UK media industry be able to keep up? I have to say I doubt it in many cases. They simply do not pay enough for contributors to keep up with the latest technology. In many cases it falls to hobbyists with well paying corporate jobs and an desire to see their work published no matter what the cost.

The UK media industry will price the most creative and talented people out of the market and then wonder why no one is reading their produce.

I think this is a crying shame, but one that is inevitable I feel. I wonder how many publishers will take note of what Libération did and think about the future rather than firefight today?

 Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved.s permission

Copyright Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved.

Fishing tails is a website (www.fishingtails.co.uk) run by fishing guide Sean McSeveney. Sean appeared on the first King Fishers programme that has aired on the Discovery Channel recently. He landed the largest White Sturgeon I have ever seen in the first programme.

He guides and fishes the coast around Weymouth and Portland in Dorset, UK and throughout the summer I’ve accompanied him on several trips to record his life as a fisherman.

Last week we had a cracking early morning photo session. We started with a perilous scramble down the cliffs on Portland. The weather wasn’t looking promising and heavy rain was forecast for the day ahead. The sea conditions were looking good for bass fishing, which is all a fishermen thinks about. A photographer though looks at the light and I wasn’t keen. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

As the sun came up, a break in the cloud cover produced a stunning sunrise and even as the cloud cover moved over us, the light produced gave me something different to work with.

The water was rough enough to produce a decent amount of surf, which we both used to our advantage. Sean loves fishing in these sorts of conditions and I made the most of his willingness to get soaked by the large waves.

I chose my moments carefully, I’m not a machine gunner when it comes to using the camera. I watched the waves as Sean did and took a few rapid shots as a large one beat against the rocks and exploded in a pile of Spume.

I now have a collection of images I am happy to show and while this is still a work in progress I thought I’d share the pictures which can be seen at www.gavinparsons.co.uk/pages/fishermen.html.

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

A couple of days ago I was searching through my photographic archives to find some slides I took in Australia a few years ago, before the digital age. A client wanted pictures of western Australia and I knew I had some beautiful slides.

At the bottom of the file box was a couple of long forgotten plastic sleeves with black & white negatives from a backpacking visit to Indonesia 21 years ago. I had never printed or scanned them and they have never been published. I simply processed them and put them away.

So I was excited to delve back into my past.

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

At first I couldn’t remember where the pictures were taken. The temple was as mysterious as the start of a Scooby Doo cartoon. I’d traveled extensively in South East Asia in 1992 when I was 24 and thought at first it was northern Thailand as I remembered touching a Buddha’s feet (a statue anyway) through the holes in the bell shaped domes. Thailand is a Buddhist country and so my hypothesis had some merit.

I searched the internet, but turned up a blank in northern Thailand. So I spread the search and found a picture on Google image search of the same bell shaped domes. It turned out to be the ancient temple of Borobudur on the Spice Island of Java. And then the memories rushed through time like a hand from the past slapping me across the face. The desolate ruins in the rainforest mountains appeared in my mind. It rains a lot there and the day I visited was no different. I remember the loneliness of the place. Just me, a couple of traveling companions and our driver who sat in his car in the carpark. We had the place to ourselves. The sky was a flat grey, the stones wet and mirror-like in places, it was like liquid silver had been tipped across the temple.

We wandered around the temple so old and exciting that Indiana Jones wold have felt at home. You can find out more about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borobudur.

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

A day or so later I was on a rickety bus heading to an old harbour near the city of Jakarta with a guy from Brazil.  The harbour was a step back in time. The cargo boats were all sail driven, small and the hustle and bustle around them was infectious. It was a great place to spend a few hours watching the men carrying huge planks of wood, bags of rice, potatoes and any other pieces of cargo.

When I got home I must have processed the films and put the negatives away for later printing. I probably didn’t think it would be two decades before the pictures were seen. Although now, the pictures will be seen by more people than they perhaps would have done. After all how many pictures taken 21 years ago have you looked at lately?

You can see the full collection in the gallery on my website at www.gavinparsons.co.uk/pages/rediscovered.html

Please let me know what you think about my posts by either leaving a comment, liking it, or following me.

Plankton babies

Copyright: Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

This week’s Behind the Picture is a bit of an odd one. While working on a survey of the plankton in the Mediterranean Sea I was asked to photograph some of the specimens the vessel collected.

This had to be done before the samples were sealed ready to take to the laboratory. Basically when the plankton net was hauled aboard the sample in the back of the net was poured into a chemical preserving agent. Before that I was given a small amount in a glass dish and asked to photograph whatever was in it.

One of the key species being looked at was the Blue Fin tuna, one of the world’s rarest fish. Adult fish fetch huge sums of money in the fish markets of the world. The reason is the complete disregard for the species by fishing nations. The fishery for blue fin tuna is an utterly disgusting race to the bottom with pure greed and profit as the driver for the trade. Because the less fish there are in the sea the higher profits.

There is an unseen fleet of tuna purse seine vessels that roam the Mediterranean, particularly around Malta and Cyprus catching as many fish as possible. They are then fattened up in massive seapens, which generally means they are caught too small to have bred. In my opinion it is one of the most stupid fisheries in the world.

Knowing the number of juveniles is particularly important for scientists trying to advise governments on how best to safeguard the species. So tuna were the target. We found quite a few other juvenile fish species in each sample, lots of eggs which can be identified in the lab back on shore and of course a lot of zooplankton species such as copepods, which only get to a few millimetres in size.

Every so often a tuna species did turn up, (you can see one on the middle of the three fish in the picture) but not in the numbers I’d hoped for. It was, to my untrained eye, quite a depressing sight seeing as so few juveniles make it to adulthood. Even so I photographed each sample that was produced. It wasn’t easy as the ship was moving and I didn’t have the option of a microscope as this was being done of the fly at the back of a working ship. Around me were coils of rope, bins, tools, chains and all manner of industrial paraphernalia. It was not where most scientific photographers would like to work.

I strapped all the extension tubes I had between the camera and my 105mm macro lens. I didn’t have a tripod as when I joined the ship I had no idea I’d be doing this kind of photography. Luckily I did have my off camera flash radio control so could get the light right where I wanted it.

I sat the glass dish on a black t-shirt to get a dark background and then set up the exposure with the flash. It was then a case of shifting my movements up and down ever so slightly to get the samples in focus when I pressed the shutter.

To start with there was a lot of trial and error and most of the pictures were slightly out of focus, but eventually I managed to get a technique, which improved my technique.

I thoroughly enjoyed this adhoc scientific photography session and soon I’ll be looking to do some more, but with a much more scientific and controllable set up.

To see more of my work, book on a training course, buy a print or book my for a talk please see my website at www.gavinparsons.co.uk

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.

 

Just because I’m cute

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved.

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved.

The slow loris is a relatively small mammal found in South East Asia. If you do a Youtube search you undoubtedly come across a cute looking creature that looks endearing and comical to humans. Evolution has granted them big eyes to see in the dark and a soft, warm fur to protect their bodies. Perversely evolution has given humans a craving for creatures with big eyes and delicate features. I believe it reminds them of babies. The two species sadly are not compatible.

Slow Lorises are sold into the illegal pet trade in such numbers that all loris species are now on the CITES endangered lists.

That’s not the end of this one-sided story either. Evolution gave the slow loris a means to hunt, kill prey and protect itself. It laces its sharp teeth with a toxin. Obviously the traders cannot have their customers dying so they break the teeth with nail clippers meaning the hapless slow loris is sold not only as a living puppet, but also with a death sentence. If they don’t die of an infection due to their broken teeth, they die of starvation.

Buying a slow loris may seem like a way to get a real life Furby or a Mogwai (pre midnight fed gremlin), but the reality for the loris is so far removed from the pleasure people get from the experience that it’s perverse.

Thankfully for the slow loris there is help. International Animal Rescue (a British based charity) has the world’s only slow loris rescue facility. It’s based in Indonesia (where loris’ come from) and it rescues, rehabilitates and where possible, releases loris that have been sold on the streets.

One of the biggest hurdles for IAR is the treatment of the teeth. The head vet at the centre has developed a root canal procedure for loris’ which requires delicate handling and a very steady hand. I was allowed into one of these procedures and this image, I feel, is the most powerful as it shows just how vulnerable the slow loris is and how cruel humans can be. This loris is having the broken teeth removed  so they do not get infected. The teeth are tiny and the vet needs a very steady hand. The whole operation of preparing the animal for surgery and then performing the surgery is risky for the loris, but thankfully this one pulled through. So a happy ending of sorts.

If you are tempted to view a slow loris video on youtube or anywhere else, please let the owner of the loris know just how much suffering went into their delight and joy.

Heathfire rescue

Copyright: Gavin Parsons all rights reserved

Copyright: Gavin Parsons all rights reserved

This week’s ‘Behind the picture’ has a bit of a sad tale. In 2011 a massive area of low land heath close to Poole in Dorset was deliberately set alight. Low land heath is one of the rarest habitats on earth. Rare habitats are, by their nature, inhabited by rare wildlife. Upton Heath, as it is called, is home to smooth snakes, adders, grass snakes, sand and common lizards, raft spiders and a host of others creatures.

As you can see the fire devastated everything. Two days before that picture was taken the man would have been lost in a sea of ferns, gorse and shrubs. Even the trees where destroyed. The area looked like the surface of the moon and I wanted to show the complete devastation.

I followed one of the reptile rescuers who was looking for adders and stayed back a little when he got to this tree as I could see its potential as a graphic image. As he walked passed it, he glanced at the tree and that’s when I took to shot. The person now has a face, and therefore a personality, but the moonscape landscape is as dramatic as when I saw it.

We saved dozens of reptiles, amphibians and insects over a couple of days and other teams saved even more. I captured the whole thing. BBC Wildlife magazine ran a story on it, but sadly only showed one shot – not this one. The rest of the news media ignored the story. So I thought I’d share it with you.