What’s in a portrait?

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I’m not a photographer of people. I prefer the ease and reliability of landscapes, architecture and, well, objects. If figures do make their way into my frames, it’s in moments of candour or they just happen to waft into the frame.

So this is a rare venture. Mike is sitting on a favourite armchair in my apartment, gazing out at the canal. He looks serious yet relaxed. While he knew I was there with the camera, the only direction from me was not to pose, just to let the photograph happen.

What’s made me interested in portraiture? Well, it’s when you find yourself a willing sitter who is actually pleased that you want to take their photograph. It helps if you have a connection to them and want to capture their likeness, mood and their moments. Sharing the results with them and ensuring you’re both happy completes the circle of portrait creation. Can you really do this with a building?…

A garden in the north

Manchester is a sturdy, handsome city packed with great buildings and urban power. But it’s relatively quick and easy to escape to the country and find green fields, hills and more.

Dunham Massey is a modest stately pile within the boundaries of Greater Manchester. We made a beeline for the formal gardens, which in Spring are bursting with colour. The tulips and rhododendron are out in force, while it’s that special moment of the year when the native bluebells carpet the woods. It’s soothing for the soul and easy to get snap-happy…

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A walk in Manchester

The canal path linking my Manchester community of Castlefield to the heart of the city recently opened up again. I explored its length for the first time since moving north. Its dark stretches can be a little daunting and desolate, while areas of the Rochdale Canal need tidying up. 

But this waterside walk takes you past the back side of some of Manchester’s powerful industrial buildings and recent musical heritage. It’s a route to the Northern Quarter – a grungy, vibrant place full of life and youthful businesses. This was a great northern photo walk with plenty to capture…

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Gulf sunrise

Getting up early to witness the sunrise takes a lot of effort, but it’s ultimately worth it. This particular morning I was in Doha, the capital of Qatar. I walked through the empty, grand corridors of the St Regis Hotel to the jetty next to the waters of the Arabian Gulf.

The tall buildings of this showcase city – which pulsate with colour at night – looked steely in the early light, but it soon gradually turned lustrous and golden, shared by the occasional bird and little else. The sunrise belonged to me and I was privileged to capture a little of its essence. Well worth the early alarm call…

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The naked pier

This was my first visit to England’s north-west coast since resettling in Manchester. I chose the resort of Southport on the Merseyside coast, famed for its long, graceful pier.

The day was anything but promising, with a chill wind and a thick cover of cloud. It looked likely to be a day of moody photographs, with flat skies and little sunlight. But something else happened. The tide gradually ebbed away, leaving beautiful expanses of sand and the pier entirely exposed.

The colour palette was grey and a pale blue, giving a serenity you wouldn’t expect from a busy seaside resort. I’ll just have to go back when the sky is screaming blue and the sunshine is cascading down…

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