A walk through the place I live …

A walk from where I live to the center of the city takes around 35 to 40 minutes. This all depends on much of a rush I’m in.

If I’m really pressed for time I cycle, if I’m really, really pressed for time and/or lazy I grab the bus. It’s through walking though that really opens my eyes to the world between my home and the center of the city.

So that’s what I’m going to talk about I this post, that walk.

The journey starts in a quiet side street that ends at at a large recreation park full of dog walkers and fitness fanatics.

Once you reach the other end of the street you’re greeted with what is usually a very busy road.

This particular thoroughfare take traffic from the city center out to the ring road, where it emerges by a large car factory that makes mini cars.

Heading towards town the road is initially lined with mostly suburban semi detached houses, with the occasional shops and places of business as well.

After about 15 minutes of walking you pass an old cinema on your left, that then became a bingo hall, which then became a nightclub and is now a place of worship. It is here that first marks the first big change in surroundings.

There are less houses here. More cafes, shops, restaurants and other places of business. You’ll be hard pressed to miss both the church on the left and the mosque on the right. It is also this stretch of road which plays host to a yearly street carnival.

Not much changes for another 20 minutes or so, the diversity of businesses along here is quite astounding when you consider how most High Streets are currently faring. You can quite literally find every kind of shop, and every kind of cuisine. It’s here that you’ll find the only record shop in the entire city as well.

The landscape around you once again makes a big change once you arrive at the end of this particular road. Ending at a very green and leafy roundabout, that was one a cemetery.

After a short walk across a wide bridge, the first big sign that the world around you has changed is the tall, rectangular and often noisy tower on the right hand side.

Once you past this tower you’ll head up the Main Street where you’re greeted with even more ancient ancient buildings. All kinds of towers and structures penetrate the skyline. Square buildings, triangular spires and round reading rooms.

Keep going for a few more minutes and you’ll eventually arrive at a crossroads. Not a metaphorical one, a literal meeting of four roads. X marks the spot, the center of the city.

This too has its very own tower. One that used to have its very own church.

A more different place you couldn’t get from the place we began.

What is a walk through the place you live like? I’d love to hear about it, why not drop me a line.


William is a professional photographer, a podcast host and workshop facilitator. You can sign up to his newsletter by following this link.

Music to Walk Home By (and photograph as you go …)

Having all your senses open at once can be a daunting experience. It can leave you feeling overwhelmed, not knowing what to concentrate on.

During a workshop I recently ran, I extolled the virtues of how opening your senses contributes to creating better imagery. Being aware of what is around you at all times in my opinion is a useful skill to have as a photographer. It can equally be an overwhelming experience.

How can you minimise that overwhelm?

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One trick I use when out on a photo shoot is to listen to music.

Pick your favourite track/artist/album and get out there and allow the music to lead you. It helps detach you from the any noise distraction around you and helps you focus on your sight, being able to spot any unusual movement in your peripheral vision, spot colours, and diminish one of your senses.

So why not give it a try for ten minutes, find your favourite track, out your headphones and and see where it takes you.

[warning! always, always be careful when you’re walking around with headphones on. Be aware of what is around you at all times, especially if you’re near a road, railway or any water!]

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Get out with your camera!

Need an excuse to get out with your camera? What better one is there when the weather is good? There is something about a nice, calm, clear morning that inspires not only photography but sets you up nicely for a good day ahead.

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Even a clear morning might not be enough to get you out, so be prepared. Check the weather forecast, get your camera ready with a full battery and empty memory card, leave it in a place where it is easy to pick up on your way out.

Make it simple and easy so that all you need to do is get up, grab your camera and get out. This can just be for a short walk around your local area, or you can grab a bus into the city centre. You can head to a familiar area, somewhere you know inside out.

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Once you are out, don’t feel you need to start taking shots as soon as you leave home. Give yourself a few minutes, you can even time this if you like. Use this time to bring yourself into the now.

Forget the past, forget what the day, week, month ahead. Be in the moment and begin to see the world around you. Then, start shooting.

The next step is then to share it was us with our growing Facebook community, we’d like to see what you capture.

If you’re after inspiration have a look at this blog, What happens when I pick up my camera.

Like what you’ve read in this post, then I invite you to sign up to my email newsletter as well, where I share with you more news, stories and offers. You can sign up by clicking the following link email newsletter signup link

 

What I’ve learnt trying to sell my artwork at a market stall

Running a stall to sell your artwork, which in my case is photography, can feel like a daunting challenge. You can feel to begin with well out of your comfort zone, and if you’ve never done one before it might even feel too big for you.

Well this is where I was a couple of years ago, however being one that enjoys pushing myself into situations that make me face my fears (I do this every time I fly for example) I approached a local market here in Oxford to have a stall.

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Now at that point I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to sell, I had a decent idea that it would be prints, greetings cards. The clearest I could be about what I hoped to achieve from the exercise was to.

  1. Sell my photography as a physical product. I love the idea of my photography being on someone’s living room wall, or as a colouful centre piece in the lobby of a hotel, or wherever it might end up.
  2. To meet people face to face, to engage with anybody interested in my photography or the medium in general.

What I’ve found out since my first stall has taken me by surprise. Firstly is how honest people can be about what they see. I’ve had some interesting conversations, sparked purely from seeing one of my photos.

Also it’s been fascinating to listen to those who have purchased a print from me and why they’ve picked what they have. One in particular sticks out in my memory where a lady walked up to the stall after previously browsing. She purchased 4 greetings cards with the words “I have a great idea for these cards”, intriguing right? I wonder what that idea was?

But it isn’t just about selling for me, as I stated it is just to meet people face to face, listen to their story and their opinion.

So what have I learnt from holding a stall? Be bold, be creative and if you have a creation you’d like to share with the world, go for it.

Let me know if this has inspired you, I’d also like to hear from you if you’ve also ran a stall and what your experience has been like.

Process, process, process …

I’m very much a process person. What I mean by that is I like to keep everything simple and effective, if I’m doing somethings perhaps from habit that doesn’t help me I either change it or in some cases remove it entirely.

The reason is simple, I want to be able to concentrate on what I do which is to allow my creativity to flow when I have my camera in my hand and not to have that hindered.

For example when reviewing photos from a shoot, I’d often keep everything, every single shot in case I needed one of them. Today though I’m far more picky about what I keep and what I discard. It leaves me with the best shots, I know what I’m after with each shoot and therefore only need the shots that reflect that idea.

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Keeping the process simple and more importantly consistent means that they become second nature. I know each shoot, I understand the conditions I’ll be working in and how they’ll affect my shots, my equipment is planned in advance, what I’ll be using, where and when I’ll need it.

But even when I feel that I’m as efficient in these processes as I can be, I still look at what I do, try to spot any one thing that could make my life easier, to help the creative moment flow. I know that I have a split second to get a shot, I want it to be as instinctive as blinking. The best moment always happen once, there is rarely an encore.

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So my question to you is what do you do out of habit? How do you streamline what you do that allows you to concentrate on what you do?

What happens when I pick up my camera.

This blog post was prompted by a question from a client. Being a fellow creative, they were interested to hear about my creative process, in essence how I work.

Now I’m not going to pretend that I’ll even scratch the surface as for it’s very deep subject. It’s not that I’m locking it away, it is just that there is so much going on at any one time, that inspiration for creativity comes from more than one source.

To keep it simple then, I’ll tell you a story. The story of what happens when I pick up my camera.

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It’s safe to say this happens every time. I’m at my most content with a camera in hand, wherever I am, whatever I’m doing. Even after years of photographing, I just love being in the moment, this is where the story really begins to take shape. Light is all around me, I know where it’s coming from, I know where to be and where to position myself. I’m looking out for frames everywhere, this can be as simple as a doorway or two trees or more complex.

The next part might make you feel a little uncomfortable, I’ve seen the shot, I’ve got the framing perfect and just before I press the shutter I emotionally disconnect myself from the world around me, I’m only an observer, I’m not judging what I’m capturing which allows me to be free from my own inner critic and detach myself from my own prejudices. Once I’m in this world I need to make the most of it, this is where the magic happens, where the best shots come from.

Now let’s dig a little deeper into what makes a really good photo. For me it’s eliciting an emotional response, if I fail this test, then I’ve not achieved my own personal target. The great thing though is being detached, being distant and allowing my subject to be themselves, only interacting when I feel they need it, that is when the best shots happen.

I hope this goes someway to asnwering the question.

Storm Ophelia, the Sahara and why was everything yellow earlier today …

The 16th October 2017 has been a day of real contrasts when it comes to the weather and in particular the colour of the daylight here in the South of England. For long spells it has almost felt like a perpetual twilight has descended over the world. So why did everything turn so yellow, orange and red?171016--© William Mankelow-2
The answer to this as is always the case here in the UK, is the weather. It’s always the weather isn’t it! In this instance two particular meteorological factors have played their part in creating these conditions. The first of them being the jet stream which is currently sitting just over the north of the British Isles. This system often dictates just what kind of weather we’ll be having here in the UK relative to it’s position.

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Position of the jet stream as of 06:00am 16th October 2017.

The second is Ophelia, or more specifically ex-Hurricane Ophelia which is currently blowing and blustering its way, once again across the north of these islands. The combination of both has lead to a vast amount of dust, sand and debris from the Sahara being blown further north than is usual.

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The predicted path of the centre of storm Ohpelia 

This matter in the sky has in turn diffused and scattered the light, which has caused the slightly eerie light we had earlier in the day. Turning what should be the brightest part of the day, into dusk. In fact the very same factors are at play here then to those that create those beautiful sunsets.

Now as a photographer I saw this as a great opportunity to photograph the sun during the day as it’s strength was very much diminished. Here are a few shots that I managed to capture of this unique and interesting atmospheric event.

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What did you make of it all? Did you get out and take any shots yourself? Did you know what was causing it or like me turned to social media and in internet to find out what exactly had happened to our skies?

What I’ve learnt from collaborating as a creative …

There is always a certain amount of self discovery when working alongside other creatives, watching how they work, what processes they have and most importantly what makes them tick as a creative. Recently I’ve been working alongside Ross Arrowsmith and Stuart Mabbutt on our joint project the People’s Countryside.

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The work lately has been pretty intense as we’re currently building up to launching our first crowdfund campaign in November that will see us filming, recording and capturing the current state of nature at Holywell Cemetery, Oxford in the New Year.

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Working alongside Ross and Stuart has lead to a greater understanding for us all on how we work together and what the dynamic is like between us. There will be challenges ahead but so far we’ve worked well together, helped along with a healthy dose of humour and silliness that will stand us in good stead as we move this project forward.

What I’ve learnt in 5 years of working for myself … [spoilers, it’s not how to turn water into wine …] it’s far simpler than that …

And if that isn’t an overly long blog title I don’t know what is …

… but when I became a self employed photographer I had no idea what would lie ahead of me. What I’d be doing, how I’d be doing it, how life would work even. 5 years down the line and I still am learning about myself, I still challenge myself but also congratulate myself on where I’ve come from, what I have achieved. Though I firmly believe that it hasn’t really been a learning process, but more an unlearning process.

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You know are capable of anything you put my mind to, and so it should be. We’re only hamstrung by those habits that keep us where we are, only stopped doing what we want by ourselves.

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So, there will be challenges in the future, times when we all need to graft to make a living, but there will be those other times when you’re in the flow, loving everything that is happening to you and giving back to the world around what it has given to you.

If this resonates with you, why not share it and feel free to share your story with me, I’d love to hear what you’re up to.

 

Create as a journey, not as destination.

Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines” Roger Waters

So you’re out and about, or at home and you have an idea. It just pops into your head and you know at that moment, right then that it will work. You enjoy that moment, that it something that will get you out there, being creative, showing what you’re capable of, that you’re capable of coming up with original and interesting ideas.

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BUT then what happens next? Have a read of this story and let me know if it sounds familiar to you.

An idea comes to you, for a particular project. It’s pretty simple but you’re seeing it from your own point of view, you’re giving it your own twist, that little extra piece of you gives it something new and refreshing. At that point you know it will work, it cannot fail.

You follow this idea through to it’s eventual conclusion, success and this success is from your own point of view of course.

But then what happens next?

You stop. You analyze the idea, turn it over in your head and that’s when doubt starts to creep in. Maybe the idea isn’t as good as you originally thought. Isn’t as big as you would like. That actually it isn’t new, it’s been done a million times before and better than you can ever do yourself.

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Does that sound familiar? We can have so many ideas, some good, some bad, some borrowed, some stolen, some created from thin air. But what good is an idea if it just stays as that.

You’re probably expecting me to tell you to just take the plunge, what can go wrong? Go for it, take the idea and run with it etc etc. Good advice, but think of it more simply.

Creation leads to creation. I play video games, I’ve created cities and civilizations (and destroyed a few as well!) but it’s creation for the sake of creation. Hell, even writing this blog post came from a separate photography idea that I had this morning.

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I think to sum this all up in one line. Create to create. Create as a journey, not as destination. AND do it, whatever that idea is.