Shad takes a trip to London

This weekend, the Saga Louts met 5 of their music idols in the zany form of AC/DC at Wembley Stadium.  To remind you, the Saga Louts consist of 4 mature men with a talent for music and a passion for rock (not the geological kind)!  I wrote about the Saga Louts some time ago when John and I went to see them in concert.  By that I mean jammin’ it at one of their gigs in the pub!  So John and the Saga Louts invited me to London to hit the curry house and watch one of their favourite heavy metal bands performing on stage.  While we waited for the guys to meet us at Kings Cross train station, I amused myself by wondering where platform 9 ¾ might be until the sound of bears bellowing caught my attention.  The happy hollering noises came from John and his brother and pals greeting each other warmly and exclaiming their joy at the upcoming show.  I hopped back in my basket and we made our way to the hotel for a rest and refreshments.  Next stop, Wembley Stadium!

We arrived early and the place was enormous, filled with rows and rows of bandstand seating, a huge stage at one end and a floor for standing in the middle which John referred to jokingly as the ‘mosh pit’.  As time went on, more people arrived and after John explained what ‘moshing’ was, I decided this wasn’t my cup of tea, too crowded and noisy.  So John put me in a taxi back to the hotel where a nice bowl of fish flakes was waiting for me.  He arrived back in the room at 1am looking happy and sweaty!  Apparently AC/DC slammed out a relentless celebration of rock and roll while the masses heaved in delight.  Fireworks, explosions and confetti accompanied the grand slam of distorted electric guitar and thunderous drums.  Despite their age (most of the band members are in their sixties), they strutted up and down the stage, gurning and grinning with their straggly hair stuck to their wet faces, often making a wild noise that seemed to leave the crowd mesmerised.  Apparently they came to rock!

I awoke in the morning bright and breezy, unlike John and the rest of the crew who were very tired so after a hearty breakfast to fuel the fires, we headed across to Hyde Park for a leisurely walk.  Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in London, situated next to Kensington Gardens close to the main entrance to Buckingham Palace and the Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall.  Aside from a few joggers and dog walkers, we had the park to ourselves possibly due to the dark clouds and refreshing spots of rain that were starting to fall on us.  One hot cup of coffee (and a warm saucer of cat milk for me) later, more hugs and manly taps on the shoulder indicated it was time to go our separate ways.  I suspect John’s ears are still ringing from the concert but he would tell you that it was totally worth it.

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Shad takes a walk around the garden

I’ve got ‘the wild’ right on my doorstep in the form of a rather overgrown back garden.  John says he’s let it get back to nature, but I suspect this noble sentiment is an excuse for not mowing the lawn!  Nevertheless, we both enjoy looking at the garden and all the treasures it holds which is why I like to take a stroll around it from time to time, admiring Mother Nature while I think about my work.  In the 2 ½ years that John and I have been running Shadow Photography, I’ve been involved with happy couples planning their wedding day, excited exhausted mothers eager to have pictures of their young baby for the mantelpiece, highly strung horses next to shiny horse boxes and wily creatures who shy away from the camera. You can find stories about my experiences and examples of the colourful and dynamic images I have produced during my work if you look back at https://shadthecat.wordpress.com/.

 

Weddings are great because people are always happy and the atmosphere is one of romance and optimism.  A bit like the mood created by these adorable garden birds who decided to have a splash together in the bath while I was crouching under the shrubbery with my camera.  Some of the birds in the garden (like the sparrows, blue tits and great tits featured in the photos) are so small I’m amazed they don’t get blown away by the wind.  Don’t worry, I’m not tempted to chase them, I’m far too busy analysing the light and shade in the frame, judging depth of field and generally perfecting my photography skills to be dashing around after my feathered friends.  I was really lucky to catch a glimpse of a green woodpecker as you can see from the picture and I would have taken more shots only this worker bee kept buzzing around the flowers right next to me and it really put me off!

 

I like to take pictures of the flowers because I can play with the focus and emphasise the colour to create some striking shots, like these views of the cherry blossom and bluebell-type plants in the garden.  I have produced a number of beautiful prints from these shots as well as more abstract images from the magnificent architecture that lies at the heart of history in this country.   They make a lovely gift to yourself or someone you care about so if you’re tempted, check out http://www.shadow-photography.com/.  On the website you’ll also discover the portfolio of work that John and I have developed over the last couple of years which gives you a flavour of our style.  Please remember us if you want a professional portrait at a preferential rate, or if you have a friend who plays in a band or a family member getting married and you want to capture the fun on film.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to share my thoughts and snapshots with you in this blog while I beaver away at building the business.  Shadow Photography is there for all your photographic needs and John and I only require a cup of coffee and a saucer of cat milk to keep us happy and working hard!

 

Shad shoots a charity gig

As you know, John and I have a strong affinity for nature and we support animal welfare charities in as many ways as we can, but this time it was the animal supporting a human cause in my role as official photographer for the Saga Louts.  Please note that although I have just referred to myself as an animal, it’s on the understanding that I meant it in the most sophisticated sense!  Regular readers will be familiar with the Saga Louts, a motley crew of middle-aged crooners who love music and happily give their time to worthy causes like the Ocean Youth Trust South (OYTS).

 

The OYTS works in partnership with other organisations like youth clubs, schools and social work teams to identify young people, many of whom will be disadvantaged or vulnerable in some way, and offer them a unique opportunity for personal growth.  It involves being part of a crew that sails a 72-foot long yacht across the seas for a few days and extends a long-term programme of work to participants, ensuring lessons are learned and achievements are celebrated.  The youngsters (aged between 12 and 25 years) include children who have been bullied or bereaved, young carers, victims of crime, those with family situations affected by substance abuse, or those who simply wish to broaden their experience and face new challenges.

 

I’m no expert but I have eyes and I see a desperate need in many young people these days to learn essential life skills such as cooking, confidence, coping with unfamiliar situations, learning to communicate with others and dealing with conflict so that they can lead a more healthy and constructive existence.  I can only imagine the joy and the trials faced by the staff and volunteers who organise and facilitate these adventures so hat’s off to them for making a difference to all those children’s lives.

 

 

The venue was the Fareham Sailing and Motorboat Club at the back of Portsmouth Harbour looking out on to the Solent.  The Club’s history dates back to the 1800’s when ladies and gentlemen took to the water in leisure sailing craft and rowing boats.  These days the clubhouse has space for cruising yachts and motor boats, and room in the workshop for a band and a bunch of enthusiastic ladies doing their version of a handbag-shuffle!  It was great to see these lovely ladies shimmy the night away while the Creekers played folk music and shanty songs in their top-hats and waist-coats.  They were followed by the Saga Louts playing their crazy mix of punk, rock and 80’s dance.  The gig was held as part of an Ocean Youth Trust South campaign to raise funds to buy a new boat so they can continue the remarkable and life-changing work they do.  Sounds like a great excuse to get stuck into the BBQ.  Get your wallet out John, I’m buying burgers to raise money for a good cause.  Well the photographer needs to keep his strength up you know!

Shad Interviews John

I recently decided it was time to put Mr John Jefferies on the couch, under the spotlight, if you like.  Let’s find out a bit more about the mastermind behind Shadow Photography, and ask John a few questions too!

 

  1. What’s it like to live with a cat like me?

Its challenging, but they say creative types can be eccentric and you certainly have your idiosyncrasies!!

A little cheeky, but I can’t deny it!!

  1. Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Two brothers, both younger than me

                Colin is a lead singer in a band called the Saga Louts

                Paul is married and emigrated to Perth in Australia

 

  1. Have you always been a photographer?

I’ve always enjoyed photography and have owned a camera since my first home-made pin-hole camera at the age of 10.  Over the years it has been a hobby and my main job involved working in the airline industry.  However, in recent years photography has become a real passion and is now my second job.

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  1. What’s your favourite thing to photograph?

I wouldn’t say I have a favourite subject to shoot, however I enjoy wildlife and the challenge that taking pictures of animals brings.  They don’t pose for you and they always look away at the wrong moment, but with patience and a bit of luck, the results can be very rewarding.  I also love to work with people, watching them enjoy each other’s company and knowing that the special moments they share can be captured on film to be remembered forever.

 

  1. Where is your favourite place to relax?

I love sitting on a beach watching the sunset, listening to the calm sway of the waves and breathing the salty air, enjoying the peace and quiet.

  1. Which picture are you most proud of?

Good question.  I have many big cat pictures that I love and some lovely landscapes hanging in my wall-gallery.  I think my proudest moment is my first wedding as the primary shooter where I had all the responsibility of getting the wedding photos and albums together and seeing the smile on the bride’s face when she saw the finished product.

Oh so nothing with me in it then?!

  1. Are you inspired by any other photographers or famous icons?

There are a quite few photographers from history like Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson that I admire.  I have also learned a great deal from more modern photographers like Ted Forbes and Zack Arias. In terms of artists, I enjoy the work of Monet and De Vinci.  I also have the greatest respect for humanitarians like Paul Newman, the Hollywood actor who donated millions of dollars in profits to charities all over the world.

I never knew you had such a philosophical side.  It appears there’s more to you than meets the eye.

  1. What music do you like?

Rock and heavy metal are my favourite genres but I listen to anything from classical to country.  I’ve driven passengers in my car crazy crooning to the likes of Singing Doll and Yellow Submarine, as well as the deep notes of M People and Seal.  My music tastes have been described as eclectic.

John seriously, that Dolly Parton album I had to endure the other day was taking the biscuit.

  1. What’s your favourite big cat and why?

The tiger – power, agility and beauty, all in one cat

Stick a few orange stripes on me and we’d be identical!

10. Why do you like trains so much?

As a kid I loved to travel on trains and collect their numbers (and no I did not wear an anorak!).  There’s something magnificent about a steam engine though, it’s might and the way the moving parts work in synergy have always fascinated me.

I just enjoy the chuffing.

11. What 3 words would you use to describe me?

Charismatic / playful / lovable

That’s very kind.  I’d describe you as determined, compassionate and honourable.  Bet that surprised you!

12. What is the most challenging aspect of being official photographer at weddings?

Time management, making sure you get that shot but not holding up the proceedings, and being in the right place at the right time

13. Next time you have crispy duck pancakes, can you please leave a bit more for me?

Of course, I know how you like it.