Not every assignment has me photographing a research project that is developing a revolutionary approach to an ever-increasing requirement with a sustainably responsible solution. Not every assignment is on the coast in a beautiful part of the world. Not every assignment has me working alongside extremely talented and creative individuals (and teams), that are appreciative of myself.
Microsoft Project Natick was all the above and more. We were working out at sea, on the dock side and in an energy park, on the Orkney Islands and mainland Scotland.
Microsoft assigned Photobanks to capture the retrieval of the underwater datacentre and data analysis with stills photography, drone, and film. Do not get me wrong this was not all plain sailing. Logistically we were at the mercy of the weather, there were major travelling and working challenges to overcome with the current pandemic, and technically this was extremely difficult to capture; flying a drone from a boat out at sea, photographing inside the vessel with a portable flash system and filming interviews on the key side in between ferry horns, seagulls and fishermen.
However, despite all these niggles, I returned to the Airbnb every evening throughout the shoot thinking … I love my job.
To read about the project and see the photos, film and drone pictures –
In times like these it is beneficial to be diverse and adaptable. If you look at my website then you will see reportage, travel photography and portraits for magazines; annual report stock photography, portraits and commercial photography for corporate clients; architecture and interiors for designers; and humanitarian and campaign photography for charitable organisations. I really enjoy the range of work.
I do not think this dilutes my focus, in fact I believe that it is a strength for the people I work with, and for my position in the professional world of photography. I apply the same enthusiasm of seeking to capture the best photos possible for every assignment. This seems to have worked so far, receiving international awards in all sectors of my work.
It means I can supply clients with every aspect of photography. So, as well as photographing interiors and architecture, I can also photograph the designers behind the projects. Here are some of the creatives that I have photographed alongside photographing the architect’s projects.
The SIPA Awards are a celebration of photography where Siena becomes the heart of the festival during October and November. The event is organised into personal and collective exhibitions, workshops, seminars and conferences. After five years Luca Venturi has created one of the most important international photography contests in the world. The SIPA Awards provide a unique opportunity for photographers to share their creativity and knowledge with likeminded photographers.
I was asked to speak at the Sipa conference along with six other distinguished photographers. The conference was held in the University of Siena with an audience of 200. I spoke alongside fellow speakers, Mary Calvert (documentary photographer), Philip Coburn (Editorial Photographer), Florian Ledoux (Nature and Wildlife Photographer), Alessio Paduano (Editorial Photographer), Hannes Lochner (Wildlife Photographer) and Constanza Portnoy (Documentary Photographer).
The conference had an overall title of “The Storytelling Power of Photography” and the talks included human impact in the environment, new ways of approaching journalism, social justice in photography, the coverage of migration issues, modern ways of storytelling, ethical storytelling and more.
I spoke about the challenges of being a humanitarian photographer. I recognise the confines of my working practice, being impartial within photojournalism / humanitarian photography, being commissioned by charitable organisations to produce images that are positive to their efforts and balancing my charitable photography with commercial photography. The tiresome debate over the politics of photography is in danger of overshadowing the real challenges of making a difference.
I also sat on the panel for a question and answer session. The conference was attended by captains of the industry and students of photography. It was great to be part of Luca’s vision of sharing photography with the world.
Thanks to Mario Llorca for the photos.
For more details about the conference check out SIPA Awards
My photograph titled “A boy from the crowd” of a Liberian child trying to retrieve his ball is the overall winner of the fifth Siena International Photography Awards, the photography contest that has the widest international participation
Jurors selected the winning image from photographers from 161 countries.
I received my award at an incredible ceremony on Saturday 26th October, in the historic Teatro dei Rinnovati theatre in Siena, Italy. The event was attended by over 300 photographers plus distinguished guests from all over the world, once again consecrating SIPA as one of the most important photographic awards in the world.
The picture was photographed for the peacebuilding organisation, International Alert who works with people directly affected by conflict to build lasting peace. I had been asked to document their work in Liberia where they supported various programmes to build stability.
One of the projects that I covered was the annual Cultural Festival which sees people from difference cultural, linguistic and ethnic groups coming together to celebrate peace in a country that was torn apart by 14 years of brutal conflict.
In this three-day festival, on the outskirts of Monrovia, the crowd was tens of thousands of people. I was interested in photographing the people attending and the West African peacekeeping troops who were keeping order, as well as the performances themselves.
With any subject, I observe what is happening whilst trying to determine how I can best show what is front of me. I have revisited the digital series of photographs to see how I came to this particular photograph. I am normally so immersed in seeing how to frame the picture and capture the moment that I am unaware of everything else.
I started by photographing the soldiers, but then changed to what was more interesting in the crowd. I had been circling this soldier, when I sensed something occurring behind. Suddenly out of the crowd leaned this boy reaching for his precious ball. This was a child who had grown up in war and had good reason to be scared of soldiers and their guns. He wanted to get his ball back, but his eyes were fixed on the soldier. This all happened in the blink of an eye and resulted in this picture, which seems to represent the precariousness of peace, as seen through the eyes of a young child with little understanding of the greater dynamics at play. All he knew was, he wanted his ball back, but also to stay safe.
“In just a few years the Siena International Photo Awards has become one of the most important photographic competitions in the world - explains Luca Venturi, creator and artistic director of the Festival - A success not only linked to the enthusiasm, dedication and passion of the participants , but also to the fact of wanting to keep in the heart of the "Siena Awards" what was the initial dream. From the beginning we had the courage to imagine that Siena could and should become the capital of photography. and by virtue of this 'crazy idea' we have chosen to organize a festival capable of bringing together photographers from all over the world. We are happy to have created a large family, a community with photography at its centre, as a form of international language that connects people of every culture and social background. A dream come true, supported by partners and institutions that together with us continue to invest in the power of imagination and the power that images have to be able to tell stories full of meaning ".
In addition to the shots of the Sipa, until Sunday December 1 the city of the Palio hosts exhibitions and exhibition events with the protagonists of the images and extraordinary reportages made by the most important international photographers. A unique body of images that will make Siena the world capital of photography.
- Exhibition info: Siena International Photo Awards 2019
- When: 28 October - 1 December 2019.
- Where: Siena , various locations .