March 2022 has been a bit of bleak month for global events. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sent shockwaves around the world and illustrates just how cruel a species we can be. Many stand by feeling utterly helpless, wishing they could do more to ease the suffering of those across in Ukraine as the bullets continue to fly. Ironically, horrific events such as this often show the worst and best of our civilisation and, despite the dark days, there’s always a glimour of light that provides hope that we are not beyond compassion and love for our fellow man.
On the March the 13th my family and I attended a rally of support outside the Westgate Hotel in Newport town centre as a statement of solidarity for the families in Ukraine. It wasn’t much; a modest turnout of about 250 people, but it was a way to feel like we were doing something ot help. Even if that just meant waving flags and making small donations into buckets carried by young local children.
Newport is not always know for being the most, uhhhhhh, desirable place but it was incredibly uplifting to see such a diverse group of people showing up to show their love and offer refuge. It was a moving display of solidarity and equally powerful reminder that no matter our age, race, gender or occupation, we’re all human and we’re capable of amazing things when we combine positive energy with love and a desire to do good.
Of course, with such a poignantly powerful event, I had to discreetly capture what may well go on to become part of an extremely important moment in global history.
If you’d like to make a donation of support to the people of Ukraine, you can visit: https://www.dec.org.uk/ to make a payment. Alternatively, if you’d like to offer your home as sanctuary to Ukrainian families then visit: https://gov.wales/ukraine-support-people-affected
At the start of October I was approached by Gareth Rees, an acoustic musician who specialises in re-working traditional Welsh music into modern arrangements. He wanted to shoot some images to promote his work, capturing the mood and melancholy of the songs in a remote Welsh setting. Given that autumn was fast approaching, he felt that shooting up in Brecon Beacons would lend itself to the perfect backdrop.
Having grown up in the town of Llangynidir, a small village on the East side of the Beacons, Gareth knew a particular location he wanted to use on the mountain side that he felt would provide the moody aesthetic he was looking for. Keeping an eye on the weather on the days leading up to the shoot, it looked as though we’d only have a fine window of time between bouts of rain. On arrival I was concerned that the whole shoot could be a grey-out as the rain started to set in, but thankfully it held out long enough to capture some portraits against a misty valley and ended up providing the perfect level of gloom. We wandered about in the light drizzle, chatting and taking snaps as and when we saw an opportunity, all the while surrounded by an eerie stillness that was strangely calm.
Shoots like this can sometimes be a little disconcerting at the time. I instinctively knew looking at the screen on my camera I’d caught some strong portraits, but was worried that the flat grey background might ruin them beyond repair. As it turns out I actually love the grey mist and the bleak yet calm emotion that it adds. The autumnal tones and minimalist landscape definitely captures the atmosphere of the morning and Gareth was thrilled seeing his vision come to life.
Beauty in the bleak.
It’s always a pleasure shooting someone with character; someone with a real personality about them.
John is one of those wonderful people who’s energy can light up a room and make everyone within smile. His enthusiasm and good nature is infectious and an encounter with him is always guaranteed to make things seem a little brighter.
John runs a hypnotherapy and NLP performance coaching business but is also a lifelong musician and singer songwriter, looking for some fresh imagery to market both of these aspects. The challenge was to capture the warm, inspiring side of his personality that would perfectly lend itself to his coaching, while also shedding a light into the more intimate, stoic nature often associated with song writing.
I spent an hour at his quirky home chatting with him, drinking coffee, playing guitars and shooting as we went. It was definitely one of those jobs that couldn’t have felt any less like ‘work’ and I’m grateful to John for going with the flow and being a fabulous model.
You can check out John’s music on Spotify and I’d highly recommend going to watch him playing live if ever you get the chance.