Backstory 11

Like the lone ranger in a spaghetti western, photographers drop out of a solitary existence to dip into the lives of others lives to shoot at stuff.

At least it sounds kinda cool that way.

[and yup – that is me above, in a Nepalese town in the Himalayas back in 1998]

In reality we spend 5+ days a week in a darkened room, touching people up.

On Lightroom & Photoshop, of course.

In fact, many of us are quite sociable beings, and rather miss the camaraderie of office life.

Fortunately for me (and my business), I’ve always preferred to befriend other photographers rather than feel threatened.  Essentially, it boils down to wedding photography being a big cake that I can only slice so much off, whereas it’s hard to have too many pals.  A few choice buddies (such as my homie Phil Barber, Tom Arber, Rob Booker amongst others) led onto meeting more, and before long I crossed paths with the lovely York tog Rebecca Honeywell and she put me forward to become a member of the like-minded & forward thinking Randall Network.  It was originally conceived, by the excellent Barnsley based snapper Stewart Randall, as a way to keep in contact with fellow coursemates from his original Contemporary Photographic Training Anabelle Williams course.

Now it’s a bustling network of around 50 carefully selected photographers of various disciplines (of generally similar mindsets) from all over the UK.  For me it’s a great support network, a means for cross-referral & a social outlet.

Every once in a while we like to meet for a social.  We had one in March, before the season in London (blog post here) and as well as geeking & pouring over each others albums, we set ourselves a photo challenge on the streets of London and let down out hair over a few scoops.

Last Tuesday to Thursday we had our post season R-Net social at Roaches Hall in Staffordshire.

The wonderful Hayley Ruth somehow unearthed this wicked, 30-sleeper country mansion in the most stunning location

Check this fishy view from up the hill.

Basically, after a catch-up, an excitable meal and some noisy late night drinking, we had the next couple of days to do what we wanted.

For some it was a day off, but amongst other potential activities, one Network member & his fiancee offered up their services as models & Stewart brought along a past bride interested in a trash-the-dress session!

Here she is getting her makeup done by a makeup artist also up for a bit of fun.

As fun as the idea of trashing the dress is (which needn’t mean the dress is destroyed, only used again for a photoshoot somewhere a bit fun) I don’t shoot many.

So it was fun to get out & play

Especially as fellow Leeds based Randallite, Cris Matthews had the forsight to bring some smoke grenades for a bit of photographic drama!

What a legend!

Up on the hill in the forest behind the Hall we got stunners like this!

The landscape alone was like something out of Lord of the Rings.

I can imagine Gandalf the White leaping out & flashing at hobbits.

The Manc based R-Netter & excellently named Tobiah Tayo & his fiancee Laura were fun to shoot.

Especially in the smoke & low Autumn sunshine

I rather like this one

Here are a few of R-gang in action

One I like of T&L showing the love.

I love their size in proportion to the landscape in this one, which is also brought to life by a nice bit of reflector work by Pete of Lawson Photography.  Check out his and Laura’s inspiring images of these two here.

I asked them to walk away and rather like this snap

I wirelessly tuned into Ian Olsson‘s off camera slave with my ST-E2 transmitter and popped a few off camera flashes

This puppy was basically over-flarred, but I like the rock star leaving a bar under paparazzi glare flavour

Laura giving it pensive kneel & look at the floor.

More used to shooting fast with available light, I was reminded how much difference a reflector makes


These two jokers, Carrie Bugg & Emily Hancock made me laugh a lot.

Another opportunity quite a few of us took, as we were in the company of possibly the countries finest portrait and wedding photographers, was to get a few new profile snaps of ourselves.

Check me looking all serious!

This one was courtesy of Derby-based Jennifer Claire

I thought I’d have a go at being shot by a few different togs, and rather like this offering from Mr Booker.

It was definitely an interesting experience being on, for me,  ‘the wrong side of the camera’.

Especially when in such dire need of a haircut…

Working my ‘being thoughtful yet trustworthy in the grasses’ flex

I returned the flavour for Booker & rather like these ones.


Significantly less serious on one of the sofas we pulled out of Roaches Hall lounge

Lord Randall himself, givin’ it regal…

…and relaxed

Randall’s take on me.

And as we wedding photographers LOVE groupshots, here’s the team pic.

As well as one of us being divs.

[If any of you’d like to download the full-res versions of the teamshots: arms down is here and up here]

Finally, before I sign off, another photo element I thoroughly enjoyed about the R-GTG was getting chance to play with Laura Lawson’s Canon 45mm TS-E tilt-shift lens and get images like this…

I’m gonna do a whole post about it tomorrow, so stay tuned…


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