York²

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This time last year the Stanley² exhibition was on display at Civic Hall Stanley, and to celebrate that I’ve come up with a little selection of double exposures of York. It’s been a while since I used the Holga but it still has all it’s lo-fi charm. Here are two versions of Clifford’s Tower – which was surprisingly steep both inside and out!

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I’m currently planning my next exhibition which will take place in September at Civic Hall Stanley, and this time I’ll be turning my attention to portraits rather than landscape photography. If you would like to take part you can find out more information in my previous blog.

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Here’s a view of the iconic skyline from the top of Clifford’s Tower, and below one of the planes at the Yorkshire Air Museum – which is also a cracking day out, especially if you have a 4 year old in tow!

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The Road

Yesterday reminded me of why I always take my camera everywhere with me. When I came up with the plan of completing the Stick Man Trail with my son at Hamsterley Forest I really wasn’t expecting the landscape we discovered there.

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After some heavy rainfall the natural colours were really vivid, but with the Forestry team out clearing windswept trees and piling up logs, the overall look was beautifully bleak.

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My son loved adventuring around the woodland trail and jumping in the mud with his wellies on. It’s great how the trail takes you off the beaten track at times, rather than being too neat and tidy.

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Being off season there were hardly any other people walking around, and the walk put me in mind of “The Road” – a parent and child in big winter coats walking down a desolate road. The fact we got lost quite a lot only added to the illusion!

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I absolutely love this colour palette – muted and low contrast. It’s something I try to bring out in most of my work.

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After getting mixed up on following the arrows we ended up having quite a long walk, but luckily the rain held off and we got back to the car before the car park was locked for the night!

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I truly believe that beauty can be found in the most unusual places and circumstances, and I feel lucky to be able to capture that in my photography.

 

Practice makes perfect

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Congratulations to Chanelle and James who have booked their wedding photography with me for their ceremony which will be taking place in July. Throughout February I’m offering a free couple/engagement shoot to all customers who book their wedding photography.

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There are loads of benefits to having a photo shoot like this – today we had a chance to look round the wedding venue, chat with the vicar, and identify any restrictions which may affect the photography on the day.

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It was also a good opportunity for the couple to get some practice at posing. It doesn’t come naturally to most people so I think it’s great to get a little bit of experience before the nerves set in on the big day itself.

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Although the weather was a little chilly today and the plant life was a bit barren, we could also get an idea of good backdrops and photo opportunities we can use in the summer.

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St Ives Church is an imposing venue from the outside, and was stunning inside. Although I knew the church was referred to locally as “The Miners’ Cathedral”, I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful the lighting, woodwork, and stained glass would be. I’m excited to see what the interior shots will be like on the day.

If you would like more information on my wedding photography packages please visit my website www.helentaylorphotos.com or my Facebook page

Can you keep a secret?

I’m going to let you in on a secret – my next exhibition is going to take place in Stanley Civic Hall in September and you could be the star of it.

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My last two exhibitions at the Civic Hall have focussed on the Stanley area and have featured both film and digital landscape photography. The photos in Stanley² were all taken on a plastic toy camera, the Holga 135BC and portrayed the town in a series of ghostly double exposures. In the second exhibition Born as Ghosts I switched to digital photography to celebrate the unwanted, abandoned and obsolete elements I witnessed in my environment.

This time however, I want to take a more collaborative approach and create an exhibition of portraits photography of local people. This is where you come in! I’m looking for people who would like to take part in a portrait photo shoot and have their image displayed at the exhibition in September.

“When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them.”
– Annie Liebovitz

I must stress I’m not looking for “models” in the traditional sense, simply anybody who is interested in photography and has their own unique style. I’m not focussing on any age range, gender, or cultural background, I want this exhibition to be as wide ranging as possible.

As you can see from my previous examples, what I really enjoy doing with portraits is getting outdoors and contrasting the subject’s outfit and pose with their environment. For example, I absolutely love these photos of my friend Anna which were taken, believe it or not, round the back of Kwik Save!

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I’m open to suggestions on location, although I’d prefer to stay in the Stanley area because I want to celebrate what we have to offer here. Although I prefer taking photos outdoors because of the variety in colour and texture, I’ve just got my hands on some lighting equipment so if you have a good idea for an indoor shoot just let me know. I’m also open-minded on clothing and concepts for posing – feel free to throw your ideas this way – you won’t be disappointed.

But where’s the catch I hear you ask? Well, it costs a bit of money to print and frame 50-60 photos at exhibition quality. So all I’m asking of my models is that they make a contribution of £15 for which they will receive their framed 18×12 inch photo once the exhibition has finished. This is simply to cover the cost of the materials and you’ll also get all of the photos from your shoot on a disc.

You could consider this crowd-sourcing, or just a good way to get a truly unique and professional portrait.If you want to see more examples of what I can do please see my website.

If you are interested please get in touch and let’s brainstorm! Are you excited, because I am! Keep your eyes peeled on my facebook page and blog as I gather more ideas for subjects and locations. The game is afoot!

 

 

An unexpected bargain

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It’s amazing what you can find at a market. In amongst the many stalls at Tynemouth Market today I fortuitously stumbled across a full studio lighting kit, which all folds down into a portable carrying case. And the price – a mere £35! I’m so excited now to get it all out and see what I can do with it. Having some studio lighting is going to bring a whole new dimension to my work and I can’t wait to get cracking with it. It’s even got some colour filters 🙂 Thankfully I had my little brother on hand too so I didn’t even have to carry it. That’s what brothers are for 😉

I also took my camera along to the market today and spotted these weird and wonderful things…

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2015 in Photos

2015 in Photos
It’s been a busy and varied year of photography for me, with exhibitions, events, weddings, and portraits. Here are my highlights…

January

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In January I was taking photos in my local area, that would later become part of the ‘Born as Ghosts’ exhibition. I really like the muted colours and lighting in winter and getting out and about looking for interesting and quirky subjects to photograph.

February

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In February one of my aims was to expand into pet portraits and I discovered I really enjoyed it. In some way animals are more difficult to photograph because they’re more unpredictable but as long as you’re ready to react you can get some really beautiful shots.

March

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My first exhibition at Stanley Civic Hall opened on 14th March and was a really great experience for me. I focused on analogue film photography and created some double exposure landscapes of my home town. I’m currently transforming the photos in this exhibition into a photo book with accompanying poetry for each image.

April

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I absolutely love travel photography and managed to capture some great shots in this month on a trip around Yorkshire. I was visiting as many English Heritage sites as possible; this one shows Rievaulx Abbey which was stunning to walk around.

May

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I take my son out on loads of days out and always make sure I take my camera with me just in case. I really like this shot of the Lady of the North at Northumberlandia. The weather was fantastic that day and there’s something about her serenity that’s very calming.

June

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Another day trip out to Hall Hill Farm this time. I love taking photos of animals and capturing the beauty of the local landscape too.

July

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As well as taking photos at Moria-Con in July, I also did a newborn photo shoot for my lovely little nephew Charles. This photo of is of my son and niece who were playing in the background while their cousin was having his photo taken. I took this photo while they were cuddling and it’s one of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken. It’s a simple shot but it’s very genuine and shows what a lovely relationship they have.

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My main photography project in August was Beverly and Joel’s wedding at the Tree house near Alnwick Garden. It’s been a great achievement for me, being able to document the whole day from the bride getting ready right through to the first dance. I really felt like I was in my element and would definitely look forward to doing more weddings in 2016 and beyond. This photo shows the feel I’m aiming for – capturing the genuine emotions of the day.

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I chose this photo because it sums up my main achievement of the month – climbing Snowdon with my family. I must have taken about a million photos on our holiday to Wales but I think this must be my highlight.

October

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October saw my second exhibition at Stanley Civic Hall, a collection of digital photography this time. The title was ‘Born as Ghosts’ and my theme was capturing the beauty and colour in things that people usually don’t notice. I was really happy to be asked to exhibit there again and got some great reactions to the show. I’m currently planning my next exhibition in September 2016, more details to follow…

November

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In November I was taking photos for Muscle Tone Fitness to use on their website. It’s amazing how much good quality photography can elevate a product and promote a business. It was also a good chance for me to get practice at indoor photography and lighting, as well as completely different subject matter.

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A lovely walk in the snow in Stanley. As long as there’s no place to go it’s really quite nice spotting all the unusual photo opportunities. I did feel really sorry for all the drivers I saw on the way though!

Born as Ghosts

image1 My second exhibition at Civic Hall Stanley has now come to an end, and if you didn’t manage to pop in I’ve added a selection of the photos to my facebook page so you can check them out.
I chose the title ‘Born as Ghosts’ from a song by Rage Against the Machine, as it summed up the feeling of the exhibition. The photos that I chose to display were a mixture of both colour and black and white, but unlike my first analogue exhibition, I went completely digital this time.
The theme of the exhibition was a bit looser and harder to pin down than ‘Stanley²’, which focused on mirroring and double exposures. ‘Born as Ghosts’ was dedicated to the unwanted, the abandoned, the obsolete, the uncelebrated things that are in the background of our lives. I wanted to bring out the beauty and nobility that remains in such subjects. This extended from things like derelict shops, to unused coal bunkers, and dying plants.

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The image chosen to represent the exhibition on the poster shows some horse hair tangled in barbed wire. I found it quite melancholy and somehow poetic, and it brought to mind a lyric from the song; “Where home is a wasteland, taste the razor wire.”

One interesting thing I discovered when assembling the exhibition at the venue was how putting certain combinations of photos together gave them a different feel and impact. It’s something I’ll definitely bear in mind when planning future exhibitions.

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For some reason I have a thing for photographing weeds, especially decaying ones. Their colours and textures can be just as beautiful as flowers. I love the delicacy of this picture in particular, with a shallow depth of field giving an eerie feel and the stalk in the foreground resembling a grasping skeletal hand.

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All of the photos were taken in Stanley, on walks and around my allotment. One of my favourite subjects is this creepy looking building I found in a horse’s field on one of my walks, it was approaching dusk when I took the photo and the lighting was perfect to make the building look even more menacing. This shed also featured in Stanley², but looked very different!

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The ‘Born as Ghosts’ exhibition was well received by both the visitors and the venue, and I’ve been asked if I would like to hold a third exhibition in 2016. I’m planning to turn the first two exhibitions into Photobooks and these will be available for sale, as well as individual prints – please contact me for more details if you’re interested.
More details of my photography can be found on my website http://www.helentaylorphotos.com

Love is in the air

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I’ve recently had the great experience of photographing another wedding. My client Beverly had seen details of my first exhibition and contacted me back in March to see if I would like to be her wedding photographer. Beverly and Joel got married in August at the Plough Inn at Alnwick. The Plough is a lovely intimate setting and really close to the couple’s chosen reception venue – the Treehouse at Alnwick Garden. When I first heard Beverly and Joel had chosen the Treehouse I was just a teeny bit excited! My mind was in overdrive thinking of all the unique photo opportunities we could find.

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Beverly was keen to have some relaxed and spontaneous photography of the day, starting with getting ready on the morning. It was so lovely to see how excited everybody was as they prepared for the ceremony, and it was great to be able to capture the candid moments like the wedding dress being buttoned up, and the bride being handed her bouquet for the first time.

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This is one of my favourite photos from the day as it shows the bride being helped to the ceremony room by her bridesmaids. It’s the kind of thing the guests don’t get to see, and I laid it out like a cartoon strip to show how Beverly made her way down the stairs. If you look carefully on the final one, you can see the awaiting guests, unaware of the bride going past!

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The room that the ceremony took place in was a really interesting set up, with a balcony all the way around the sides, the guests in the centre, and gave Beverly a really dramatic entrance down the stairway and then down the red carpeted aisle.

After the ceremony the happy couple greeted their guests in the reception area of The Plough. This was a great opportunity to capture the genuine emotions and expressions that were taking place, rather than staging shots where people can feel a bit uncomfortable. The guests were then left to enjoy themselves for a little while so that I could walk with Beverly and Joel from the Plough to the Treehouse via Alnwick Garden. It was really helpful that we had scheduled half an hour in the day to ensure we had some photos of the couple in the beautiful surroundings.

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A great coincidence was the fact that Alnwick Garden was holding a fairytale event and we noticed the magnificent wrought iron gate that had been put up for this. It made a fantastic backdrop, and really suited the shape and style of Beverly’s dress. She really did look like a princess!

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As well as the shots we had planned in advance, I really enjoyed capturing the more candid photo opportunities of the couple taking their first walk together as man and wife. I think this really is a case of not just having the best equipment, but having an eye for a good composition, and also being able to anticipate being in the right place at the right time. In reality this translated as a little bit of running and jumping around!

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At the Treehouse we made sure we had the family group shots done in a quick and effortless way which means the guests have more time to enjoy the day. I think a good photographer should be like a good waiter or referee – if you didn’t notice them then they did a successful job! One thing we did have to choreograph with the guests however, was throwing the bouquet. I got this shot by climbing up to pretty much the highest point on the Treehouse – one of the turrets at the top of the dining area. I’m really happy with it as I think it’s a great angle to get all of the guests in.

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I also made sure I documented all of the lovely features of the Treehouse, and all of the effort Beverly had put into things like the table settings, flowers, name cards and most importantly – the cake! As well as the guests at the wedding (of course!), these are the little details that make the whole day.

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I stayed until Beverly and Joel’s first dance together, which was really lovely to photograph. It’s obvious what a fantastic couple they make.

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When I sent Beverly and Joel their edited photographs they were over the moon with them, which is a really satisfying part of the job. Beverly has said “We are so so so chuffed!! The photos are stunning, you’ve captured everything we hoped for and more – thank you so much.”
I had a really great day and felt like I was in my element. I’m taking bookings for more weddings next year and beyond. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss your plans, or you can check out my photography packages at http://www.helentaylorphotos.com

“The Conquest of Reality”

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I’m currently brainstorming for my next exhibition and have been looking through my previous work for inspiration. I found some photo collages that I made (one on my allotment and one at the Lake District) and I think it’s a technique I’d like to re-investigate and see if I can apply it to new subject matter. Of course these types of collages were popularised by Hockney (or as he calls them “joiners”). He has a lot of controversial views on photography, not all of which I can get behind, but I found his collages fascinating. He originally stumbled across this idea by accident in the 1980s. His dislike of wide angle lenses, and their tendency to distort the scene, was what led him to take multiple Polaroid shots and then assemble them in a grid to show the whole room he was photographing.

I’ve tried this technique several times on still life compositions and larger landscapes and it’s really effective in changing the whole perspective of a scene. Personally I find photography very absorbing and looking though a viewfinder composes the mind as well as the shot. By breaking down a large area into lots of little segments you focus more intently on them, rather than taking in the whole scene at a sweeping glance. Putting them all back together again reveals the gaps where the fragments don’t join together any more. Any slight movement when taking the shots can become more exaggerated when you try to re-assemble them. Any changes in depth of field also create a somewhat dizzying effect when over-layered on each other.

As in life, the human mind can only take in so much information at once, and when taken out of context a seemingly small element becomes magnified and loses all perspective. Grids suggest order but trying to force reality into a series of small rectangles only highlights the chaotic elements where things don’t join up.

It’ll definitely be interesting to see what kind of subject matter I can try out with this technique and what kind of effects I can create. If anybody has any suggestions then please feel free to let me know!phone2

The end of an era

My exhibition came to an end today and I can safely say it’s been one of the most interesting months of my life. I’ve learned loads about the local arts scene in the North East and received some really good feedback on the show. I’ve also discovered a lot more events that are on at the Civic Hall, including the Hilarity Bites comedy night which was absolutely amazing. If we can get enough support for the next one they may well come back!

I couldn’t help but feel a little sad taking the pictures down today and packing them up but I hope to be able to use them again in another exhibition. I’ve been researching possible venues that may be interested in hosting film photography and will hopefully have more exciting news coming up soon.

As well as that, Civic Hall Stanley have also asked me to hold another exhibition in September this year, so who knows what I’ll come up with. Not even me at this stage! I’ve been brainstorming a few ideas (and boring people to death in the process) but I’m pretty sure there’ll be some pinhole photography in there and potentially some time lapse stuff too, amongst other things.

I didn’t know what to expect when I went and put 60 double exposures up on the walls, but I’ve been really happy with the reaction the photos have produced. It was a very proud moment to see them all on the walls together as a series. The project started in November and was quite labour intensive (in comparison to digital photography) but being able to walk round the show with my family and friends made it all worthwhile. I am now no longer known as the crazy lady who goes on 7 mile walks taking photos of pylons, well maybe I am, but at least I have a purpose now.

Whenever I popped into the Civic Hall for different events it was nice to see that the photos actually made people stop in their tracks (for better or worse) and quite a few people got into (sometimes lengthy) conversations with me about the merits of film, the portrayal of the local area, and photography in general.

I’d like to share a few of the comments I received for the exhibition as it’s quite encouraging to see that film photography still has a place in the modern world:
“Your pictures are absolutely beautiful, each one tells a story.”
“I really like the Stanley photography collection because of its collage style created by the multiple exposures. I particularly like the images featuring pylons and the more minimalistic shots in the collection. The colour palette is gorgeous in these images!”
“Can’t decide on a favourite! Good to see places I pass daily depicted in this format. Great!”

If you didn’t get a chance to see the exhibition in the flesh then you can now check out the images on my website in the ‘Exhibition’ section. You can find them at http://www.helentaylorphotos.com