I am featured in the latest Nikon Pro Magazine, the tri-annual publication from Nikon Europe read by over 75,000 professional photographers and serious enthusiasts worldwide.
The magazine carries news and features that are intended to inspire, inform and engages its readers. Each issue selects “eight superb photos” and discusses “the motivations of the people who created them.
My picture of a school boy in a village in Rwanda, photographed for the organisation DelAgua, was selected for a two page spread. DelAgua’s project in Rwanda will provide individual households with a ready supply of clean water and a safer, more efficient means of cooking.
The water filters eliminate bacterial contamination - providing safe water for drinking and washing. The cookstoves use less wood and burn more efficiently - this helps prevent diseases caused by air pollution and reduces carbon emissions.
Occasionally I am asked to photograph events that cannot be discussed until after, interiors that are not to be seen by anyone other than the client and people whose portraits are restricted ... I can now add top secret food to that list!
I have been photographing for Pladis for a while now and earlier this year they contacted me to see if I would like to photograph a project as commissioned by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
In 1947, McVitie and Price made the official wedding cake for the young royal couple. Parent company Pladis offered its services to Buckingham Palace to provide a cake to celebrate the royal milestone, and in July, Pladis received a letter from the Master of the Household, stating that “Her Majesty would be very pleased to receive the cake.”
Pladis’s team of chefs created the one-of-a-kind cake on Hopwood Lane in Halifax, which was decorated in High Wycombe and has been delivered to Windsor Castle.
It was created by a team of specialist bakers lead by Esther Gamble, Product Design Lead, and Mark Schomberg, Global Development Chef at Pladis.
The cake includes intricate handmade sugar work details such as flowers replicating the Myrtle used in The Queen’s original wedding bouquet and intertwining initials to represent their union.
The cake is a fruit cake, weighs 35kgs, is 24 inches at its widest point and stands almost 2 feet tall.
Towards the end of last year I worked with DRAX Biomass at their Baton Rouge Port operation and the Morehouse Bioenergy pellet production fascility in Texas.
I was commissioned through Vismedia to photograph and capture the manufacturing process of compressed wood pellets from sustainable working forests in the U.S. south. These high density wood pellets are then used as a low carbon alternative to coal in the upgraded biomass units in their power station.
Corporate photography has changed drastically in recent times with more content being online. The annual report has been the traditional sales tool of companies, but it makes financial sense to capture images which become part of a larger media library for the client.
I have been photographing corporate photography for twenty years and have come to understand that value for money means exceptional photography delivering the companies ethos.
Corporate photography has to communicate a company’s business from the manufacturing, distribution and sales, through to the personality of the people that make that business. This is often highly diverse photography from a photojournalistic style, to portraits, studio, interior and architectural photography. The corporate photographer has to be technically competent in all fields of photography.
The knee jerk alternative for photography is to look towards stock agencies for imagery. Generic images of people working or communicating in a workspace that is not that of the companies can create doubt in the mind of the viewer and raise questions of professionalism. Commissioned, dynamic photography of a company’s activities and employees shows their individuality and personality.
A corporate photographer is not just someone who has an expensive camera who will record whatever they are shown. A corporate photographer works with the client prior to the shoot to determine what they want to capture and then will assist with the logistics of achieving this. The corporate photographer needs to understand a company’s business production so that they can come away with a set of pictures that invoke a clear strong statement about the company. Equally the photographs have to demand the attention of the viewer by catching the moment in an arresting manner. The photographs should be worthy of the many international corporate photography awards.
I recently worked with the talented journalist, Allison Linn, on “Project Torino” in which Microsoft is creating a physical programming language for the visually impaired. I spent an afternoon with the design team plus, Lexy Ryan, aged 13, Theo Holroyd, aged 10 and Louisa Turtill, aged 9, and Khadijah Pinto Atkin, also aged 9 who have been using coding pods.
These days, most kids get their first introduction to coding through simplified tools that let them drag and drop blocks of commands, creating programs that can do things like navigate mazes or speed through space.
The Microsoft team have created what they are calling a physical programming language. It’s a way for kids to physically create code by connecting pods together to build programs.
The system, called Project Torino, is designed to make sure that kids who have visual impairments or other challenges can participate in coding classes along with all their classmates. But Cecily Morrison, one of the researchers working on the project, is hoping the system also will be appealing and useful for all learners, regardless of whether they have visual impairments or other challenges.
“One of our key design principles was inclusion. We didn’t want to isolate these kids again,” she said. “The idea was to create something that a whole mainstream class could use, and they could use together.”
The ultimate goal is even more ambitious: To get more kids with visual impairments and other challenges, such as dyslexia or autism, on the path to becoming software engineers and computer scientists.
“It’s clear that there’s a huge opportunity in professional computing jobs,” Morrison said. “This is a great career for a lot of kids who might have difficulty accessing other careers.”
A project like this can serve two goals: Technology companies say they are struggling with a “digital skills gap” that is leaving them without enough engineers and coders to meet their needs, and experts say it can be difficult for visually impaired people to find meaningful, accessible career paths.
The World Health Organization estimates that 285 million people worldwide are blind or visually impaired, and the vast majority of those people live in low-income settings. In the United Kingdom alone, the Royal National Institute of Blind People says only one in four working age adults who are blind or partially sighted are doing paid work.
Steve Tyler, head of solutions, strategy and planning for the Royal National Institute of Blind People, which is working with Morrison on the project, said coding has often been thought of as a promising career path for people with visual impairments. In recent years, however, computer science has come to rely much more on pictorial, graphical and conceptual coding methods, making it harder for kids with visual impairments to get exposed to the field.
Tyler said systems like Project Torino could help provide that path.
“This, for us, was a core reason for running with a project like this and supporting it,” Tyler said.
Tyler, who has a background in education, also said there is currently a woeful lack of resources for visually impaired children who have an interest in coding or more generally are ready for an introduction to mathematical and strategic thinking. That’s a huge problem because a child’s first introduction to these concepts can be a make or break moment for whether they end up being interested in pursuing a career in those types of fields.
Traditionally, Tyler said teachers have used chess to teach those kinds of strategic concepts to visually impaired children.
“I see this project a little bit like that,” he said. “It brings to life, in a 21st century way, that kind of ability to teach children these new concepts.”
The Microsoft team has spent the last year or so testing the system with a small group of about a dozen students. Nicolas Villar, a senior researcher in the UK lab who was instrumental in designing Project Torino, said one of the unexpected pleasures of the project is the opportunity to work with kids who have a very different way of experiencing the world.
For example, he said, the team originally made the pods all white, until the kids with limited vision told them that more colors would help them. And although in electronics there’s often a push to make things as small as possible, with this project they found the kids were more engaged when the pods were larger, in part because two kids working together would often both physically hold the pod and touch hands as part of that teamwork.
“We really honestly designed it with them. It was a collaboration,” Villar said of working with the group of kids. “We thought we were going to be doing something for them but we ended up designing with them.”
Now, they are working with RNIB to do an expanded beta trial of about 100 students. The researchers and the RNIB will be recruiting potential participants for the trial in mid-March at the VIEW conference for educators in the United Kingdom who work with visually impaired children.
For now, the beta is focused only on the UK, which has spearheaded a massive effort to get more kids interesting in coding. Eventually, they hope to make it more broadly available to teachers and students outside of the UK.
A lesson in computational thinking
Project Torino is geared toward kids age 7 to 11. Using the coding tools, students can do things like make songs, even incorporating silly noises, poetry and sounds they create themselves.
As they build their code, Morrison said they learn the kind of programming concepts that will lead to careers in computer science or related fields.
“It is very specifically about building up concepts that will enable them to become computer scientists, programmers, software engineers, computational thinkers,” she said. “It gives them that computational base to whatever direction they go, and a shared vocabulary about what computing is.”
Morrison and her colleagues also have created a curriculum for teachers who want to use Project Torino. She said the teachers do not need to have a computer science background to use the curriculum – in fact, they assume that most teachers will not have any expertise in coding.
The system also is designed to grow with kids. Once they have mastered the physical programming language, Morrison said they also have created an app that allows kids to transfer the coding they have done with the physical system into text-based code, and then use other assistive technologies to continue coding.
“We’re mapping a pathway from the physical to something that a professional software engineer could use,” she said.