Month: June 2018

Feeling the Craic

I’ve just spent a couple of days in Dublin on a shoot for a very famous alcohol brand, and as I arrived in the fair city, I pondered on the changes that had taken place since I last visited 26 years ago.
From what I could remember Dublin used to feel like a British city, a slightly greyer version of Leeds or Liverpool, but with significantly more pubs; but now it felt like a much more European city than I realised. A crazy cross between Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Prague, vibrant with life on a Sunday night as if no one had to worry about the next day’s work.
I forgot how pretty the Georgian architecture was, how friendly and open the people were and how wonderfully musical the accent is. It was relaxed yet full of energy, and lots of people smiled. No one smiles in London. It was lovely.

Never trust someone who either doesn't smoke or doesn't drink.

They are hiding some much more batshit crazy vice.

Does a dog in the office increase productivity or destroy it? pt 2

Is a happy workplace an effective workplace? Common sense would say yes, but there is a difference between happy and effective, and sometimes happy creates a sense of wellness and positivity that means you can’t always see what needs to be done. Imagine working all day as the ecstasy kicks in. It might feel nice but you are highly unlikely to finish that e-mail.
I’m not advocating an authoritarian work environment, but sometimes, having a deadline, being concerned about your role, ensuring that are competing with your colleagues can drive you on better than joy.
But forget all that, it was nice having Truffle in the office, despite what Jamie says.

Does a dog in the office increase productivity or destroy it?

Recently, Truffle, my giant Goldendoodle puppy spend the day in the office. Understandably there was a concern that she would distract everyone from work, but equally we thought that the positive vibe of having a loving, friendly, cuddly hound wandering about would produce enough endorphins to ensure that everyone was working better.
Was there a correct answer? We think it was positive, as everyone was happy (almost everyone), but does a happy workplace equate to an effective workplace? we’ll ponder that one tomorrow.

Why your kids are smarter than you pt2

We have a French au pair. Last year we had a French au pair. Next year we will have a French au pair. We are also lucky enough to have a house in France where the kids spend all summer. As a consequence of this my son has an awesome grasp of french.
He can say bonjour, pain au chocolat and Disneyland Paris.
He’s an idiot.
But: he also has a half Japanese girlfriend (he’s 6, they are just good friends…) and now he’s come home speaking entire Japanese sentences, and criticising my accent when I try to copy him.
Clearly the lesson here is that when you want to do something and you are in love, you can pretty much do anything you put your mind to.

Putting the con in content

Apparently every agency in London does content. PR agencies, ad agencies, branding agencies, media agencies and now even photographic agencies! So how come all of these different styles of agencies are suddenly experts across this specific skill?

It’s because no one is really sure what content means and what it really is. It’s the broadest church in all modern comms. It can be a 6 million pound spot for Johnny Walker featuring international movie stars or a behind the scenes gif grabbed on a mobile phone by the office junior. It’s the wild west out there with no rules and boundaries, so in theory all of these agencies can be experts.

It’s the brief that truly defines who would be the best team to work on a project, so putting my client hat on, I’d like to have as many options as possible every time I began a project and work out who was placed to answer my question. This is the most exciting and conversely the scariest time to be working in this industry. And that’s what makes it truly thrilling.

Why your kids are smarter than you.

Frequently I’m confronted by a creative puzzle. A bit of strategy that doesn’t make sense, some words that won’t hold together, or an idea that just won’t flow. That’s natural, creativity isn’t an ever-open tap, it comes and goes like the wind.
I have various ways of kick-starting the process; i go for a ride on my bike, I take a shower, I watch a bad movie that i’ve already seen, but my current favourite method is to ask my kids.

They have a way of cutting through the nonsense and asking the questions I’m afraid of asking.
Why is that lady eating a hot dog in her pants?
Why is that man saying boring stuff?
Why is that dog talking when dogs can’t talk?

These are all very fair questions that for some reason no-one at the client or agency ever thought to ask.

Recently, Isaac, my 6 year-old, designed an obstacle course in the lounge for him and Truffle, the dog, to traverse. He created a design, and mapped out the cushions based on it’s plan.
I’ve pictured it above.
It’s shit.
It’s essentially just a line of pillows and cushions and fails in its basic task of providing any obstacles.

But I loved the way he spelt obstacle course.
It’s so wrong yet feels so right.
It’s in the ballpark of phonetically correct, but whatever it is, I want it to be way obstacle course is spelled for all eternity.

When you get stuck trying to write something, ask your kids, or a friend’s kids or your neighbours kids to write it for you, and I bet they’ll provide you with the inspiration to get your brain onto gear and write what you really want to write. There’s no harm trying….

Why Sweden is the worst place in the world.

Have you ever been to Sweden? Don’t, unless you are a supermodel or Thor’s more handsome cousin. When you go to a 7/11 in Sweden you are served by Claudia Schiffer and David Gandy is your taxi driver. It is a land of breathtaking beauty that makes you feel so inadequate you want to hide back under the bridge you feel like you are living under.

So much natural and physical beauty should be good for the soul, but it makes me feel like the runt of the human litter and slices through my fragile ego like a knife through herring.

Plus their salted licourice tastes like the devil’s droppings.

Just because I take photographs, this does not mean I am a photographer.

3.5 billion other people uploaded a photograph to social media today. Mine was lovely, it was of my son sticking his tongue out. It made me laugh, and once i’d filtered the shit out of it, it looked pretty good. I put the coloured version on Facebook and the b&w version on Instagram. People have liked it. Pretty awesome.

Does that make me a photographer? Not really. In fact not at all. So what makes a photographer different?

There might be many answers to this, but I’d like to proffer one. It’s not technical ability, it’s not posh equipment, and it’s not the ability to shout loudest in the room (though that clearly helps).

My feeling is that it comes from the ability to create a narrative in every image they produce. Like all great artists, the single image is just the starting point for a whole series of emotions that are triggered in your brain, creating meanings that take you to a different place than you were before you started looking. Great photograraphy tells stories that go far beyond a single image.

On rare occasions I might produce some of that in my photos, but I can’t do it with consistency. Great photographers can.