Hatfield Forest is a very important oasis amongst the Essex arable monoculture. Its situation means it is surrounded by Stansted Airport, the M11 and Bishops Stortford.
This is one of the best examples of a royal hunting forest, with many varied and ancient trees.
It is a place of sanctuary for many people and over the years I have enjoyed taking my camera in to try and capture some of the ancient and beautiful trees which are dotted around the forest.
In April 2016 I flew to Benidorm to document the changing face of this town, embraced by mass tourism and virtually unrecognisable from its fishing village origins, which can be traced back to Roman times, though the first established settlements appeared in the 13th century.
It’s geographical location in the centre of Spain’s Mediterranean coast left the town vulnerable to attack from Ottoman and Barbary pirates, which forced many residents to flee; only fishermen stayed behind in their beach huts.
In the 18th century Benidorm became famous for it’s prodigious fishermen who predominantly caught tuna using the ancient arabian ‘almadraba’ technique. The town remained a tour de force in the european fishing industry until it’s decline and demise in the 1950s.
This decline pushed the town down a new path of revenue - tourism. This new venture would irrevocably change Benidorm.
The seeds of the tourism industry were sown in the Victorian era, when a major connecting highway between Valencia and Alicante opened. A train also connected Benidorm with Madrid, allowing city dwellers to escape to the coast.
It was the vision of Mayor Pedro Zaragoza Orts which gave us the Benidorm we recognise today. In 1956 his ‘General Urban Development Plan’ - the first of its kind in Spain - was approved, paving the way for an entirely modern town.
Torre Coblanca 1 was the first high rise building in Benidorm. Designed by Juan Guardiola Gaya the Coblanca blueprint opened the floodgates for the town we see today. The construction of further towers and a new airport allowed mass tourism to flourish as northern Europeans flocked to the guaranteed sunshine of the Costa Blanca. Supply could barely meet demand; high rise hotels were thrown up at an astonishing rate.
The Benidorm of today is a hotchpotch of architecture, from the original, beautifully internally-appointed towers of Gaya, to the new breed of super tower. Edificio Intempo, finished in 2013, looks like it has been transplanted from Dubai or Las Vegas.
The community of Jaywick, on the Essex coast near Clacton-on-Sea, was created in 1928 by the Fabian property developer, Frank Stedman. It is one of the few remaining “Plotlands” – an initiative of the 1920s and 30s that saw areas of land sold off in small strips. In Jaywick, working class Londoners bought these small plots, and on them built self-designed holiday chalets in which to enjoy summer holidays. Some decided to stay. After the extensive bombing of London during the Second World War, many residents of the capital found themselves homeless and also moved out to Jaywick permanently.
In contrast to its altruistic beginnings, this seaside town is now best known for being the most deprived area in England, according to English indices of deprivation 2015 - House prices are anomalously low for a coastal town situated so close to London.
Jaywick is caught between two worlds – its original designation as temporary seasonal accommodation, and its gradual evolution into a permanent community. This has caused a number of problems which have contributed to its current situation. For many years initially, the local authorities refused to recognise Jaywick as a permanent settlement. It was largely off the grid until the 1950s, and mains drainage was only installed in the late seventies. Even now, several main roads are in disrepair, as they remain ‘unadopted’ by the local council.
Despite this, community spirit is strong in Jaywick. It always has been. In 1970 a High Court order was won to prevent to entire site from being bulldozed. Residents still lobby energetically for funding to develop their existing infrastructure, whilst fiercely resisting the all-out redevelopment that councils and private developers desire. They have survived compulsory purchase orders, crippling planning permission regulations and financial backpeddling from funding sources, as well as existing perilously close to the sea. Despite Jaywick’s problems, its residents largely have faith in its future and feel it is worth fighting for. They would like to see their shops and pubs reopen and the local economy reignite.
In 2018 Jaywick made the news when a US republican congressional candidate sited a photograph of Jaywick with a warning saying “Only president Trump can keep this from becoming a reality”
A curious field on the edge of Essex, containing a collection of dead oak trees.
One of these images was selected for the 2022 Royal Academy Summer exhibition.
A set of images from one of the more mysterious corners of Essex.
The Dengie Peninsular is an area of salt marsh at the edge of the Blackwater Estuary in Essex. Part of the Dengie National Nature Reserve, it is a site of major ecological importance. It is also an area which is vulnerable to flooding. There have been various attempts to create solutions to the risings tides here. A sea wall was built around the entire peninsular decades ago, to protect low lying farms and properties. In the 1990s, a row of Thames barges were semi-sunk into the sand just off the beach to diffuse the force of the incoming tide and reduce the effects of erosion.
Areas of the beach are now closed to the public, as conditions are hazardous. There are the remains of wooden walkways, long since rotted and collapsed, where fishermen used to walk out to their moored boats. At low tide, in the early morning fog, there is an unnerving feeling of being displaced to an alien environment.
Painting with light has always been a form of escapism for me, heading out in to the night and illuminating the landscape or a building and changing the way something looks by adding light and colour. Things can appear very different at night, our eyes become hyper sensitive and views which are familiar during daylight are changed with the addition of a sense of fear and caution.
The night adds extra layers, drawing on our more basic instincts of protection and caution, which all together make a more heightened sense of awareness.
My son and I found a bluebell wood, right next to where we were moored on the River Stort in Essex and we decided to charge up my Lykos LED panels and carefully find our way in to the woods. When we took these photos it was almost completely black, it was a very slight crescent moon and there was a fair amount of cloud so no ambient light.
Bluebell woods are always beautiful to see, but lighting them up against the darkness really made the colours pop out. Using one or two directional lights also can completely change the form of the subject you are looking at. So something familiar like a tree or bed of flowers can suddenly appear more 3D as opposed to when you see the same sight during the day with all around multi directional sun light.
We will be doing more of these works over the coming months and will update this blog with the new work.
The set of images above are an expression of being locked in and looking out from a restricted point of view. Finding patterns, shapes and seeing pretend landscapes in the average small town structures as a form of escapism. All of these are taken at night when it feels safer to be wondering around the town and as there are less people, this adds to the feeling of solitude. Sometimes I don’t even see a single other person, although in some shots there are people, just hidden away inside the buildings.
The project has developed in to a way of seeing the town I live in from a different point of view, see new views I haven’t recognised before even though Ive been here for 16 years. I was always looking elsewhere and never really gave this place any thought or time. My head was turned by a desire to find and show something different.
Im going to expand this project in a different way possibly bringing it even closer to home..
Like allot of people I am taking this third lockdown quite allot harder than the first two. January is always a tough month for many reasons, and this added confinement really is a test.
Although we all know why we are being asked to “lockdown”… Continued fudging, half measures and a long series of late calls by the government are giving me a deep sense of mistrust in their leadership and it’s hard to see a clear way out of this crisis. Sometimes it really does look like they either don’t care, or are simply not up to the job. What recourse do we have? four years time will be far too late for many people sadly.. In my opinion ministerial sackings or resignations are an important part of the political process. It allows a chance for fresh blood to try new ideas, and the fact that not one minister has left post due to the poor handling of this crisis (not to mention the use of OUR money) is quite worrying. Unity Government?
Another difference in this winter lockdown is the fact that I personally know at least twenty five people who have now contracted the virus (including me), where as in the first two lockdowns I didn’t know anyone who had suffered with it which has certainly brought it closer to home.
All we can do is struggle through, follow the simple rules, trust the science and along with the arrival of spring hope that the vaccine works as well as it is supposed to and things start to improve.
I can remember in the first lockdown people were talking about how we can try and embrace the fact that things may not go back to the way they were, finding positives from the situation. But I have to say the more I have thought about this the more I can see those points of view come from places of privilege, a group of people for whom the world changing dramatically wouldn’t really be affected. A group who are already in a position to be able to transition to a remote way of life. Even down to those who can afford to isolate properly, have food delivered, adequate tech devices etc and those who are not. There has always been a big divide between the haves and have nots, but this will probably become more and more apparent as the fallout from the pandemic starts to bite.
It may be sensible to mentally prepare for the fact that this is probably going to go on for quite a long time, and things may well not go back to the way they were, especially travel and international work.
Through this time I have been looking through some old work, especially images which I have taken around the side of my professional commissions. usually whilst travelling and on days in-between shoots. I have a Fuji Xpro1 which I only really use for this kind of work, it usually sits gathering dust and is picked up at the last minuet to join me on a trip… when I remember!
This range of Fuji Xpro cameras are designed with analogue controls, like an old style body, but also have a digital viewfinder so you can take photos in the traditional way but with the control to have as little amount of exposure info in the viewfinder as you want. It is also possible to use them with pre-sets to match the Fuji film types such as Velvia, Provia etc.. And I do think that they have succeeded in making a very emotive feeling to the raw images even before you put them through your editing process.
This re-edited set of images was taken during a trip to Tokyo in 2018. I barely had any time in between the shoots, so most of these are taken from taxis, en route to a location via public transport or at night during my down time. I really do enjoy shooting quickly, and trying to capture the experience of a new place through images and hopefully that comes across in this set.
What a difficult year that has been. I really do hope 2021 is brighter, but I do think there are lots of issues ahead which are going to make things tough. Not just Covid but political too, with the true effects of Brexit starting to bite.
Anybody running a business or working in the creative industries will have found the past twelve months extremely challenging, especially if your work involved travelling, or working on location and It’s hard to see how things are going to pan out. As George Monbiot described himself, I am a “reluctant remainer” as there are lots of structures and hugely complex EU laws which are in fact damaging the natural world. In particular the Farming quotas and bizarre rules around the management of land which in turn seem to damage and maintain a barren landscape where the natural world may otherwise be allowed to regain control. If you are interested in this kind of thing I can reccomened his brilliant book “Feral” (which incidentally features a great cover shot by Julia Fullerton-Batton)
To be clear, my conclusion was that Europe offered the UK allot more than it took away and we were stronger in than we will be outside the EU.
I do however think there will eventually be a big bounce back when we get Covid under control, and I am sure that we will start to make deals and arrangements with the EU which will bring back some of the freedoms we have lost, the main one to affect the photo industry seems to be the need for a Carnet for each EU country we pass through!
The images above have all been taken since the first lockdown was imposed, and are all taken within walking distance of my home. I decided to take a set of images looking at my hometown in a new and interesting way. As I walked around, usually at night, I started to see new urban landscapes appearing and structures and views that I am very familiar with started to look new and exciting.
This is a series I plan to continue and possibly to expand the subject matter. It feels like a good time to publish a selection here.
After feeling trapped and unable to work, this project certainly has reignited my passion for pursuing my own projects within photography. And in turn a great way to try and turn a difficult situation in to a creative opportunity.
To anyone who reads this, please do get in touch, I am always available for a chat, whether its to discuss photography or not!!!!
Good luck for 2021 and beyond.
An architectural flourish over the marshes and railway in Harlow, Essex. Surprising to see something public and functional looking so interesting. Modern versions rarely share the same level of visual care and attention.
Apparently this was designed and built along with the station, which is about half a mile from this site.
I have been walking over and taking photos of this bridge for a decade or so. For me it is a great example of how form and function + material come together, alongside an interesting landscape, to make something beautiful. The bridge connects Harlow Town park to the river Stort valley. It sits nestled amongst the trees and marshes alongside the mainline railway from London Liverpool Street to Cambridge. It is a ramped bridge, with no steps, which gently rises up and over the railway and takes you down over a pond and in to the marshes next to the river.
Recently we had heavy snow, the first for many years, and this really helped to pick out the delicate shape of the bridge against the backdrop of trees. The soft snow
and ice was a direct contrast to the concrete solid form rising out of the frozen pond”
Temporary or permanent, the new socially distant ways of living are going to have an effect.
Spaces we inhabit, both physical and digital, will become even more critical to our mental wellbeing.
The real experiences of the world around us are being temporarily reduced, our viewpoints narrowed and with our reliance on the digital world increased. Might there be a far more acute practice with our digital experiences and time.
There is an irony that so much of my work involves travelling to and experiencing new places in the real world which are then viewed primarily in the cyber environment.
If you are a photographer, or do anything as a freelancer, or are self employed. Don’t break yer ankle! (and get yourself loss of earnings insurance)
These images are representing my 8 days in Woolwich hospital. I had to stay on a ward until the swelling around my ankle went down enough. I then had to undergo surgery to repair the bone, which included having a metal splint and a bolt fitted. I now have approximately six weeks of non weight baring, before I can slowly start to use my leg again.
I should say a big thank you to the nursing staff at the hospital, who are fighting against all sorts of issues and problems before they even start to worry about nursing. From the experience I had and from what I could see the biggest problem facing the NHS is dementia. In my ward, there were at any time at least two dementia patients who needed almost constant care (Bare in mind I was in a medical ward which is usually used to keep patients who are awaiting surgery) Its an awful disease, not knowing where they were, why they were there and what was happening to them made them extremely agitated. And at some points aggressive and violent, only for the whole process to be repeated a few hours later, 24 hours a day.
It must be exhausting to have to be responsible for people suffering from this as well as having to carry out all of the other duties expected of hospital staff.
Most people are thinking about the weather at this time of year. The nights a closing in and temperatures are dropping, or should be, and the rain becomes a more regular occurrence, especially in the UK!
Light is probably at its best for photography at this time of year, with the sun staying lower in the sky. Dramatic weather and beautiful colour on the trees all come together to create a powerful and enigmatic backdrop to any architectural project.
Hopefully I will be able to share some more projects I am being commissioned to shoot over the next few months.
Its the 50th anniversary of the luna landings, and there has been allot of media attention directed towards NASA’s achievement. My children and I have been fortunate enough to have a fairly decent home telescope to play with in the back garden, and over the last few years we have managed to capture some amazing shots of the moon.
But last night, we managed to capture this shot of Jupiter and some of its moons.
This image was taken with my canon 5DSR, handheld, looking through the view finder of the telescope.
I wonder if, through technological advances, the ability to easily view the middle reaches of our solar system will have some sort of effect on how we see ourselves within the universe? and possibly give us a sense of our fragility and loneliness and the importance of looking after the miraculous planet we live on.
I am now selling prints.
Please contact me directly using the contact form on my website for prices and options.
These are a few of the prints available. There are a mixture of limited edition and unlimited prints.
Power and architecture - 1995-96. Power structures, Bradwell, Sizewell and Battersea power stations. This was my first planned photography project whilst studying at Ware college. After watching a documentary by Jonathan Meades I decided to look at the impact structures can have on the landscape, and how huge buildings like these tend to have a sense of awe and foreboding about them… This was all shot on B&W 35mm film.
Taken from the top of the Walkie Talkie (don’t look at the sun)
We all like to capture the world around us in unique and intriguing ways. Showing otherwise mundane and normal views, and capturing them in a way which gives a new sense of atmosphere and feeling. The twilight view, where low light plays tricks on the eye and mind. It is never the same.
This is a series of vignettes, looking through a wooden box, with only the sun, beaming through a pinhole, projecting the scene on to photographic paper. The cold and steely print might might seem like an image of mid winter. Whereas many of these were taken in stark sun.
These images were taken on hand cut paper neg, developed in chemical trays under the stairs.
The combination of long exposure, paper neg, and a lack of lens sharpness helps give a natural grounded image.