Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Twenty-nine years of celebrating Thanksgiving in the UK and it is still my favourite holiday. I have even managed to bring my English family and friends round to my way of thinking. So here’s to appreciating our loved ones and whatever it is that we have to be thankful for – there is always something.

For those of you not in the US, eat something nice today with someone you love and you too will have entered into the spirit of the holiday. For my American subscribers, you already know exactly what to do.

Please get in touch if you have an event, a celebration, a portrait or a building project you would like to have photographed.

28-year-old photos come into their own

28-year-old photos come into their own

Photographs that I took almost 30 years ago of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry have been published recently in several articles about the proposed future of this historic site.

A battle has been raging about planning permission for the building that housed this famous foundry from 1738 until 2017. This is Britain’s oldest manufacturing company, around since the 1570s, and has cast some of the most famous bells in the world, including the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and London’s Big Ben. A planning application was approved last month to turn the building into a bell-themed boutique hotel, despite a strong campaign against it.

Yesterday an unexpected temporary intervention came through from the Secretary of State, so there is a chance the building will be saved.

The foundry was an incredible place to photograph. I remember wandering wherever I liked and photographing whatever I liked. No one seemed to mind, or even pay me much attention. The place felt full of history – even the casting methods were ancient and included sand, dung, hair and bone. You can find more of the photos here.

Please get in touch if you have a workplace, an event, a celebration, a portrait or a building project you would like to have photographed.

Do you know what gig rowing is?

Do you know what gig rowing is?

This week’s photo is a small glimpse into the world of gig rowing, a sport I have only recently discovered. Pilot gigs originated in Cornwall in the 18th century as shore-based lifeboats. Manned by six rowers and a coxswain, they are rowed and raced along the British coast and further afield, with the number of clubs totaling less than 100 worldwide. The new Lewes gig club is now a member of this small group.

I joined only a few weeks ago but am already a devotee. We row on a small local lake, but also on the tidal River Ouse that flows through Lewes and on the open sea. A noticeable element of the club is the strong sense of working together, both on the water and on shore. A gig can’t move forward unless the crew arecompletely in sync. This sense of teamwork is mirrored in the camaraderie and dedication of the members. You can find more photos here to see what gig rowing is all about.

300 years of history in one blacksmith shop

300 years of history in one blacksmith shop

12.07.2019: I am very sad to report that Ben Autie passed away about six months after this photo was taken. It is too soon to know what will happen to his forge.

23.11.2018: I have been itching to photograph the Lewes Forge for years now, ever since I spotted it tucked away in a hidden corner off one of the most traffic-filled streets in town. By the time I got around to it, Ben Autie, the blacksmith, was ill and unable to work. Two years later and Ben is back and the forge is up and running full time again so I arranged a visit.

It was extraordinary to walk through a quiet courtyard and into a building that has been a blacksmithing site for 300 years. The main room has high ceilings and old whitewashed walls and is filled with equipment.

Three huge bellows, now redundant, hang high up above the two forges. A large manual drill dating from the 18th century sits at the back of the room.Two walls are covered with horseshoes, from when Lewes was a town with a racecourse and horses would line up on the road outside, waiting to be shod. Photographs of the former blacksmiths who worked here line one wall. And many dozens of pliers and hammers of varying shapes and sizes hang in convenient places around the room.

The amazing thing is that, although this space is filled with history, it is a living, working forge. Ben is here five days a week, busy with sculptures, weathervanes, furniture and anything else he is commissioned to make out of iron. It is definitely not a museum, it is just a business with a lot of history. You can see the rest of the photos here. You can find more of my photographs of people at work here.

How to make focaccia

How to make focaccia

After showing you how to pour concrete in my last newsletter, my lessons continue with Genovese focaccia, made the authentic way at Caccia & Tails, our new Italian deli in Lewes. Elisa, the owner, stretched the dough until it was translucent and draping like an opulent piece of fabric. This was a skilled process that I found fascinating to watch. Obviously my single photo cannot teach you the technique needed to try this at home but it may inspire you to ponder the craft of lovingly-made food.

More photographs from this shoot are here. Proof of my fascination with photographing workplaces can be found here. And this is where you can find a gallery of working portraits.

If you have a workplace, project or event that you are thinking of photographing, please get in touch. I deliver photographs that delve deeper than showing just the surface of things.

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How to pour concrete

How to pour concrete

I am in the saddle again after a needed break over the summer. Two days after I returned from holiday I was back photographing the Arndale Shopping Centre in Eastbourne where I am documenting a large-scale new build project.

I love seeing the process of concrete being poured. It is so satisfying watching skilled workers transform what looks like muck into a perfect finish that dries looking just the same but is as hard as rock. It’s like magic.

You can see all stages of the action here: the concrete mix comes out of the hose and fills the metal grid, directed by the man using the purple strap; the man behind him shifts the main weight of the hose; the other three workers level and smooth the surface to get it to look like the beautiful finish of the top left corner of the photo. They all wear wellies and are usually almost up to their knees in the stuff. You can find more of my working portraits here and my new build projects can be found here.

If you have a workplace, project or event that you are thinking of having documented, please get in touch. I deliver photographs that can make your business shine.

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