My Top 11 Photos of 2011

I joined Google+ in October and started participating for real about three weeks ago.  I’m enjoying it, not only as a great platform to show off my work and see what other photographers are up to, but also as a place to get a challenge or two.
Recently we were  invited everyone to post our top 11 photographs of the year.
After a lot of sifting through my back catalogue – searching, choosing, discarding, re-choosing – with a sigh of relief (and a big round of applause) here are
my Top 11:

Swimmer
Kitsilano Pool, Vancouver, BC, Canada
May 2011

Academic Bikes

Oxford, UK
October 2011

Canal

Birmingham, UK
December 2011

Windswept

Pacific Rim, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
September 2011

Dawn

Fraser River, Vancouver, BC, Canada
August 2011

Edge of the World

Pacific Rim, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
September 2011

Cottage Country

Six Mile Lake, Ontario, Canada
August 2011

Touching the Sky

Canmore, Alberta, Canada
July 2011

Garlic – Yum!

Burlington, Ontario, Canada
August 2011

The Other Photographer

Pacific Rim, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
September 2011

Not Gone Fishing

Dungeness, Kent, UK
March 2011
I do hope you like them (or at least one of them!!!) and please come and visit me on Google+ as Julie Mellors or The Truly Useful Company.    It’s fun!
Later
J

Why You Should Really Go To New Zealand – Sheep, Shoes and Compostable Loos

Sorry folks.  Giving Social Media “how tos” a rest.  I’m just not in the “zone”.

Beside doing “information” as a profession and as a hobby, I’ve also been know to travel.  
You’ve seen all the gorgeous beaches, the lovely sunsets, the fantastic surf and plethora of vineyards that New Zealand has to offer.   But have you seen the REAL New Zealand?

This is a handpicked selection of my photos on why you should go (as if you even need convincing!). 

Because you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a 15 foot kiwi.

 Intriguing folk art of very large bugs
Punakaiki, South Island

 The fantastic compostable loos at the 
unforgettable Mussel Inn
and something to read while passing the “time”
Onekaka, Golden Bay, South Island
 Always caring, helpful advice
Somewhere west of Riverton, South Island
 The Men’s showers.
For the Girls, Xena is on the other side
Porpoise Bay campsite, South Island
 Waiting for the Post
Dairy farm on the North Island
Traffic jam
East Cape, North Island
Because there aren’t enough sheep 
already, some life like replicants
Havelock, North Island
As promised a very large Kiwi
Somewhere around Wainui Bay, South Island
 Shoes, just shoes
Dunno, was a bit lost – South Island
Beach sculpture 
New Zealand Day celebrations
Fox River, South Island
The most southern point of New Zealand
Just to prove I WAS there
Insightful Social Media revelations back next week.
Maybe.
Later
J

It’s Different in Canada….How they Celebrate the Festive Season – Part 1

Yes, I’ve been away, thus the articles on Cloud Computing and semi successful Location Independence.  Now I have my Mac back and I’ve started sorted through a few of the 1400 photos I took.
Don’t recoil in horror, I won’t make you look at them all!!!
I spent the festive season with my friends and family in British Columbia and Alberta and I thought you like to know how they celebrate in the Great White North.
So for your visual delectation, Christmas in Vancouver, BC
Disclaimer – These are snaps!  Not up to my usual standards are photographic excellence %-)
Jingle Dog!!
 They take pride in their work

Ocean Cement Co., Granville Island
The Gingerbread House at VanDusen Botanical Gardens
Even more lights at VanDusen Botanical Gardens
Decorating the Tree
Kidsbooks – not just books for Kids!
Happy Santa?
Peking Lounge, Chinatown
Even the family vehicle isn’t left out
Next week I’ll regale you with New Year’s in Alberta.  Just 900 more photos to sift through…..

Place Holder Entry – Photographs of Hastings Pier, Before

Just a quick apologetic note because I have been ignoring my readers and I know you’ve missed me.  I’ve missed you.  I’m feeling hugely uninsightful so this entry has very little writing and is mostly photographs.
I’ve chosen a selection of recent pictures I took of Hastings Pier.  I spent a wonderful afternoon on the Hastings’ seafront and enjoyed photographing the pier from every angle.   Very sadly it was destroyed by arsonists only a few days later. 
The gorgeous Victorian buildings have been lost forever.  We can remember them in their glory and hope the town council has the wherewithal to reinvent the seafront with something equally compelling and majestic.
There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is
the sky; there’s one spectacle grander than
the sky, that is the interior of the soul”
Victor Hugo
Hastings Pier 1872 – 2010
 September 25, 2010

Hope you enjoy the photos.  I’ll be back to being insightful soon

J


That Was The Before and This is The After

Whew!  All the prep that was needed for the Canwell Show and now its all over.  Brilliant day.  Biggest, majorest (work with me here, English is a living language) outcome is that yes, I now consider myself a professional photographer (i.e. I sold stuff to non-friends and non-relations, what is the definition anyway?).
So what happened and was all the fuss worth it?
My first stall 🙂
I’ve been excited/stressed for the last few weeks, pretty much since I decided to go forth and see how this new venture would work out.  I’ve been self employed for three years so know some of the ropes but this photography lark was new.  Talk about steep learning curve!  And talk about the nerves of steel required to show people pictures I had taken.  The trauma of possible rejection – The Horror the Horror!
Soaking up the Sun
The culmination of the last few weeks was on Saturday when I went public.  I drove 60 miles from my house – way out of my comfort zone to the wilds of Staffordshire (um not that Staffs is uncomfortable, very nice, friendly people,  but that I was assured that I wouldn’t meet people I know, I wanted uncharted territory for me).  I did a county show with WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprises) and Canwell became my first  because they had a space available on a timeline I could work towards.
Go in then!
I dragged a good friend along for support, comfort and someone to boss me about a bit. Contrary to popular belief I don’t feel comfortable with the throwing oneself around part of self-employment, so when I started lagging a bit, my friend would push me back out there.  She’s a Head Teacher and mostly deals with 8 year olds (and their parents) so is very good with motivating and being a bit strict.
Canwell was a great launch pad.  When I started at 10am I was still doing Market Research and by 11am, I  was well on my way to Yes this is my actual business and Yes I know what I’m doing.  
Canwell Winner Looking Good
Giving Me a Big Wink for the Camera!
Lots of chat, lots of schmoozing, lots of learning.  My primary goal at this show, wasn’t to sell a ton of stuff (but I did sell some) but to find out/confirm in my own mind if this is really really what I want to do.  And Yes it is.  I’m enthusiastic and passionate about my photography, I was comfortable, knowledgeable and waxing away very lyrically.  Oddly, my first business – The Truly Useful Company came up a lot too.  Double the fun 🙂
At this point I feel I should thanks many family friends and colleagues for their support and kind words:
Lucy – for support on the day and on going
Marie Percival – for her belief in me and not saying: “I told you so” too often
Katherine, Clive and Vicky – for putting up with me and my camera
Jill Ming – for the initial push to do a show
Oh list could get too long so I’ll just cover it with a blanket – Thank you Everyone I know!
There will be another show.  Not sure where yet. I have the kit, the confidence, a great product and after the butterflies left, it was kinda fun.
Now back to work.  I must contact my new contacts and track down my next event.
Later
J
Michaelmas Daisy – 2009

Prep Part Three – The Final Installment

Almost there! Just a couple more days before the Canwell Show and I’m putting on the finishing touches.   All my photographs have been mounted, bagged and tagged and now for pricing.

Not exactly Canwell, but a big tent at WOMAD 2009 = same but different
Naturally all my photos are extraordinary and everyone will pay loads and want lots.  Now for the reality check: they’re very good but people are choosy, fickle, discriminating, selective – you name it!  Difficult to know how to give everyone something they want and at realistic (and profitable) price point.
So I hit the Internet (the world at one’s finger tips) and went for stroll around various photography sites to establish some sensible figures.
I’d like to see these sorts of crowds at my stall please.  OK so this is the Louvre and these people are photographing the Mona Lisa.  I have dreams 🙂
Many thanks to the following sites for advice, support and providing a great jumping off platform for a keen amateur photographer going pro.  All you never wanted to know about pricing and copyright from:
and
on  LinkedIn– Photography Business – I haven’t added anything profound to their discussions yet but have been avidly listening in and learning a lot.
I’ve found a few great sites and I’ll stay with them for a bit.  Any more at this point and I’ll get carried away and never leave the house again, spending all my time on the Internet (I haven’t even mentioned magazines and books!).  Not a good option for a photographer who should be out and about.
The list of my essential sites continues:
and of course
The Royal Photographic Society (of which I am a member)
I’m sure there are loads more (and if you have a great one please let me know) but as you can see there are lots of sources to answer lots of questions. 
Right back to pricing:  there is one piece of advice most of these sites agree on regarding pricing –  you have to be realistic and mostly sort it out for yourself, but thankfully within some pretty well determined parameters.  They also agree it is difficult for a new business because you need to know your product and how it relates to your customer.  Good news is they are encouraging and say you will get better with practice.  Hmmmmmm?  So from here it gets easier….. Right?
A car and graffiti in Cuba 2004 – I just like this one
I must make (yet another) aside here.  I have found the online photography world and the real life one, to be very very accommodating to the new businesses.  Its not nearly as cut-throat or competitive as one might expect it to be.  Thank you!
One of the main headaches of being self employed is always pricing.  You’re never quite sure where to put your price point for fear of turning away work you need (particularly during this recession) and you can often be in danger of underselling yourself so you’re at risk of taken advantage of.
Not Staffordshire and not a British cow despite the Underground sign top left – Goa 2009
As for my pricing, I have decided to hit the higher end of the middle road.  I have a small (at the moment) client base that are consistent and and reliable.  I offer a great product, fantastic customer service and people genuinely like doing business with me.  Now if only my current crop of clients had more friends and they all came to the Canwell show.
Sorry, its become a bit of a long blog.  Thank you for staying with me and I hope to see you in Staffordshire this Saturday.  In body or spirit, but body with a cheque book would be preferred!
I’ll let you know next time how it goes.  I’ll bet you can hardly wait.
Later
J
 Up close – Shingle beach in Dungeness Kent 2009

The Prep for Canwell Continues – Being An Information Goddess Helps!

As promised/threatened, welcome to Part Two of the prep for Canwell Show.
Its exactly one month and four days since I decided to go public with my Photography.   Talk about a steep learning curve!  I’m developing skills I never knew were essential;  eg.  converting imperial measurements into metric and visa versa. 
That’s one of my biggest bug bears –  that photographs are measured in inches and mounts and frames in millimeters.  Who decided this was a good idea!?  And what about standardised sizing? Beyond aggravating when you discover that the 6×4 prints you ordered, won’t fit into a 6×4 mounts you already bought.
So I have become adept at cutting and paste.  Always knew those crafty skills would come in handy %-)
Making Christmas cards (the only photo I’ve taken of cutting and pasting in action)
My house has become a hub of activity.  Lots of important piles of stuff – photos, mounts, backing and even a few frames (but not many, I am soooooooooo not getting into that).  Sorry no photo of my cottage industry to show you.  Its not a look I’m proud of as my doppelgänger is an organiser extraordinaire. So I’ll let you have this photo instead. Someone else clutter – at least its an innovative storage solution.
A place to leave your stuff
Begin organised means I have time to be fabulously creative! Not boring at all.
So how do creativity and organising go together?  Very well thank you.  I know where I put the glue.
What being organised gives me:
1.  Peace of mind – as noted, I can find the glue and other essentials
2.  Saves money – not having to buy more glue ’cause I know where I put it
3.  Space for creativity – both physically and mentally – Thanks to a lovely client this is such a great example – “My Tidy Office After Admin Angel Visit” 
4 . Saves time!  Reduces the aimless wandering through miscellaneous stuff and things so I can get to the good stuff quicker.  I need less time (or no time!) to sort through the dross so I can start a project sooner and spend better quality time on achieving a more pleasing/successful result.
Spaghetti


                                 My stuff                                    

There done my sermonising for the day.
Now back to “proper” work and sorting out more of what needs to be done before Aug 7.  Seems like loads of time, but even for organised people like me, time tends to speed up the closer you get to a deadline.
Oh and before I finish, short plug here for the  Church Stretton and South Shropshire Arts Festival.  Yours truly has a few photographs in the exhibition.
Till next time
J


Preparing for My First Photography Show

I’m still reeling from my fairly spontaneous decision to launch my new photography business.  First public exhibition –  Canwell Show, Staffordshire  August 7.  There I said it!

Friends and colleagues have said for ages that I should do something with my photography and I do admit that it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.  But with, well, me being me, without deadlines and something mildly extravagant, I could float on a waffle on a sea of dither forever, regarding my pics!
Trombone
I’m not sure exactly how the decision was made to go public.  It wasn’t one of those earth shattering epiphanies.  All I know for sure is that it started with a prod from a friend saying “I do this why don’t you?”.
Well!  Yes!  Exactly!  Why don’t I?
My admiration and thanks to Jill Ming, (she has a fantastic business which researches the history of your home, so you can find out what went on before you got there.  Any famous owners/visitors/connections?).  Jill’s  Building Beginnings has been doing the rounds of county shows for the last few years and now me too!
After a mad minute, of “OMG what have I done!”, now I’m on to the next more useful and less panicky stage of, “what will I do with this opportunity” .
For the last few weeks I’ve been creating an entirely new business persona –  developing miscellaneous sundries such as business cards, stationery, flyers for my shows (Oh I’ve got four of pieces in the Church Stretton and South Shropshire Arts Festival), sorting out what to sell, which not only means choosing the actual photographs but then going through the process of assessing different professional print labs and paper quality, and generally developing an overall business strategy for a whole new venture.
And the Canwell Show is really just a test, or perhaps I should be using the correct language and say – its Market Research! Big test to see if I really really want to do this.
Right now its going very well.  Many thanks to my business networking colleagues in Ludlow. I did a mini exhibition last week and they helped me choose my top 15 photographs, so I have my product.  They also helped raise my confidence as I’m finding all this “throwing oneself about” more than a bit nerve racking.  Special thanks to the commentator of this memorable line (you know who you are!) – “Well Julie, they’re not crap!”.  Hmmmm, not sure that’s going to be my tag line.
Ludlow WiRE – June 2010
I’m sending out even more thanks to the  Craven Arms Little Big Band and Naomi Payne for letting me shoot their concert last  Sunday at Wheatland in Much Wenlock.  I had a great time and I’ve already had a lot of positive feedback about the photographs. (Note:  as I write this blog my photographs are not on their websites)
Craven Arms Little Big Band – July 2010
Having a Laugh
Naomi singing Summertime
Busy pulling everything together. Latest project is to update my portfolio to encourage  people to not only buy lovely, eclectic photographs but also to also hire me to photograph their products, events, gigs, etc.
Yeah!  This might work.
Wish me luck and watch this space!
Trumpet

The Festival Goers’ Essential Top 10 List

Breezy Flags at the Festivals
Besides a relaxed attitude, your mates and the completely obvious eg, tent, tickets, wellies, first aid kit:
 Wellies – Too essential to list!
1.  Lots of wet wipes. More than you think you need.  Why?  Because loo cleanliness may get a bit dodgy.  Also running water may be scarce/too far away/non existence or you might  just want to freshen up.  There is no stigma to being clean at a festival.  There is no stigma to being filthy either.  Its a personal choice and I know which one I opt for.
2.  A real pillow, an air mattress and earplugs.  Why?  Sleep will inevitably vary in quality and quantity but you can at least be comfortable.  I go all the way and have proper sheets too.  I have camped all over the world.  I can rough it.  At festivals I don’t have to!
Temporary Town
3.  A full sized towel.  Why?  Showers may be available so the obvious use, and towels can double up as blankets, pillows and preserve your modesty.  Douglas Adams knew what he was on about when he elevated the lowly  Towel to heroic status.
4.  A second camera and extra SD (memory) card.  Why?  This might just be essential for me.  Photography is my thing so I always have backup equipment.
5.  Umbrella!  Why?  Relief from the sun (essential if you are as ridiculously pale and interesting as me) and respite from the rain (its gonna fall somewhere at some time).
Happy Festival Goers
6.  Folding camp chair (not to carry around, leave at base camp, probably in the tent when you’re out and about) and a sitting mat.  Why?   It is sooooooooo comfortable to sit down properly after standing, dancing and such a pleasant change from the ground.  Also chairs and mats are generally drier than the ground and contain considerably fewer cow pats.
 
7.  A book/magazine Why?  They don’t need batteries and 4 days is a long time.  You may need a time out here and there.  Festivals are to be enjoyed, not endured.
8.  Bring some food and water. Why?  Are you Rockefeller?!  It costs a lot to eat out for 3-4 days.
9.  Two water/drink bottles.  Why?  One for water and one for  the beverage of your choice.  Extravagant ?  No.   I always think its nice to have a choice.
10.  An extra extra pair of pants/underwear and socks.  Why?  Just in case.  Your mother would be proud
There you go.  The first truly useful practical advice you have received from this site.  Hope it helps 🙂
Have a great festival!
WOMAD 2009

The Music Issue – Sort of

Remember my early warning? I did say this blog would aimlessly (or should that be eclectically?) wander. 

I’ve covered duck racing for charity (don’t worry you’re safe until next year), books (lovin’ Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys if your interested, v v good), some environmental stuff, a bit about photography so now we’ll go on to my next big passion

Music!

I can’t play a thing!  Not even the triangle.  I did try very hard. I bought myself a guitar, got books, took lessons, (tried) to read music and practised and practiced and, well, you get it.  Sadly I am not destine to become a rock legend 😦  (but I could be their photographer)

Oh I can amend one of my previous statements.  I can play the radio (Ha ha!)

I’m off to my first of three festivals (so far contemplating a fourth) very soon, a folk festival (not quite my top genre but I’m open minded).  Looking forward to the Original Steamchicken Jazz Band if for the name only!  However, they look superbly fun.  I’m going with non-festival going friends but everyone has to be a newbie sometime.  Its only for a day so a great time will be had by all and we will not be part of the unwashed.  And then next time, we’ll go for real!

The Night Before (no it didn’t rain this time :-))

My next festival is five days long (they do have nice warm showers) and my last festival (Reading, I’m seeing Guns ‘n Roses on my birthday, this is very deeply odd if you know me)  is house camping (amiable mates with linen and plumbing).  The one I’m contemplating (The Big Chill) probably has showers but I haven’t been before so can’t comment…yet.

Hmm, this episode isn’t so much about music as about festivals and shower facilities.  Well music reviews next time then…..maybe.

The One We Endured

So why am I such a festival addict.  Now, here is where I turn five.  BECAUSE THEY ARE SO GREAT!  I’m in my native habitat with the other off-kilter inmates and there is live music and wild abandon on tap.  Days of being surrounded in a wonderfully noisy world, slightly away from reality and being in the enviable position of not having to strictly behave yourself.  You can wearing multi-coloured, sparkly butterfly wings if you want to and I’ve seen more than one young gentleman running around in a wedding gown.  

 The evidence >-) I think its the flash sun glasses that really make the ensemble

 Indeed sometimes if you aren’t suitably kitted-out you stand out as an oddity.

All Dressed Up and Going Dancing

Lovely break from reality.  I’ll revel in the chaos and then be all refreshed to return to sorting out and organising my people. Pepper Potts eat your heart out!

So, I’m off to the fair, are you coming?  🙂

Oh, as this blog is supposed to be loosely work related, I can happily profess that I‘m a star at sorting music collections!

Gotan Project – WOMAD 2006