The Beast From The East, Snowy Days.

Yes it’s been snowing how could we not notice, as they called it the beast from the east, so driving up into the dales was a no go as a lot of the roads were blocked. And I would probably spend more time sitting in the car going nowhere than I would travelling. So challenged myself to just explore around my door step, and see what I could come up with image wise that really appealed to me and was not just taken for the sake of taking images. (Not that I ever just shoot for the sake of taking a image) An image when I am shooting for myself has to have substance to it telling some sort of story or have some visual impact that people can connect to, in some way.

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Dene Howl Motorcycle Trial

I attended my first Motorcycle trial for the first time in a few years hosted by Middle England Classic Vehicle Club.

The weather was promising to be quite good for this time of year, and not to cold, with a slight chance of rain, the event held at Dean Howl, near Castleside in Consett, I arrived parked up and introduced myself to Peter one of the organisers of the event, who pointed me in the right direction to some new sections that had not been ridden before. The ground was still frozen in places, making it slippy underfoot. I managed to navigate to the sections while also walking with veteran Marshall Dave Thompson, who’s enthusiasm for the events was amazing and he gave me some background into how he ended up doing marshalling for these and other motor sport events. So the time arrives and you can hear the first bikes making there way through the woods to the section, stopping at the top to walk down and check which would be the best line to take so they could hopefully ride a clean line through the section. It has been a long time since I have photographed a trials event so trying to get my eye back in for the best shots proved to be quite difficult, what I did notice was how many young ladies were riding, as I say the last time I photographed a trial event I think there might have been two ladies riding, and the amount of very young riders was impressive as well with their adult helpers running along to help and encourage them through the sections, and also being encouraged by the older riders, as the young are the future blood of any sport. I have to admit to be fascinated by the fact the very young were riding electric trials bikes, it felt a bit eary as the bike glides along and everything is so quiet no noise, but think that is a testament to how far technology has come.

Dean Howl -SDB_2641Dean Howl -SDB_2761Dean Howl -SDB_2702Dean Howl -SDB_2858Dean Howl -SDB_2635It was a great day had by all that rode and so friendly with great respect shown to the marshal’s as each rider finished their 4 laps thanking the marshal’s for marshalling the section and keeping score. I must thank everyone who made me feel so welcome and I did recognise one or two riders from when I photographed trials all those years ago and they are still going strong. I can only see this event going from strength to strength as time goes on.

Jumping Dogs and Flyball

It doesn’t matter what size your dog is they can all participate in the dog event called flyball. This means basically you have an obstacle course where the dog runs down and over the obstacles, and retrieves a ball at the end and runs back up over the hurdles where another dog goes till the whole team have retrieved a ball.Flyball -SDB_5446Flyball -SDB_5490Flyball -SDB_5615Flyball -SDB_5640Flyball -SDB_5665

02 Academy

I was asked if i would like to come along and photograph an up and coming band know as Black Nevada at the 02 Academy in Newcastle, with support from other local bands. I hadn’t done much band photography and I am looking  to photograph more bands. I also received  my first official pass for a gig that would allow me to go where the public were not allowed, so giving me access to places that meant I could get really close to where the band were performing and move around freely without any obstruction, as the room we were in did not have a *Pit, The light was challenging to say the least, but the night was excellent as was the music. The other bands use the drums of  Black Nevada as they were the headline group and the others were supporting acts.

*PIT A place where photographers can stand to take images usually at the front of the stage.

Bands : Black Nevada : Singapore Safehouse : Fallen Mafia.

First Photo Pass


Testing A Saal Digital Product

I had the opportunity to try a wall decor product from “@SaalDigital” for free I had heard of Saal Digital but never tried one of their products.

After looking at their wall decor products I decided to try the Alu-Dibond Butlerfinish print in a 40x50c size.

As this can be used for wall decor, in the home or office and is for indoor and outdoor use. With the direct UV printing, it is especially sun fade and water resistant, so if you hung it in your house you would not have to think about hanging it somewhere where the sun would not hit it directly.

I had just done a wedding dress shoot with Atusa at Hardwick park on the Monday and thought this would be a good type of image to try on their product, as it was something a little different and also it would give me a sample to show clients who were wanting a different type of print from the regular framed with glass. So I loaded the image into photoshop and downloaded the colour profiles supplied by Saal so I could do a proof check on the image once I had it to how I wanted it to look .

So once I was happy with the way the colours and image looked with the proof I saved the image and moved to the Saal website to order my print, and the ordering process was very easy to follow.

I ordered my print on the evening and I was suprised to find an email the next day to say that my print had been processed and and sent out, I ordered it on a Wednesday night and it arrived on Monday morning and this came from Germany. That is good service. I must admit when I recieved the email to say that it had been processed and printed that night what type of quality was the finished product going to be like with that sort of fast turn around. So I waited with trepidation to see what the quality was going to be like and also the colour quality and finish of the product when it arrived. So the package arrives it is well wrapped and protected from damage so the next stage is to open it and see what the print looks like. Well I am absolutely thrilled with the finished item, the quality of the materials and printing are excellent, the image looks excellent on the Alu-Dibond Butlerfinish, it has a slight surreal look to it and when you look at it from different angles it feels like the image has a movement to it. The construction is quite thin with it being of a sandwich type material an aluminum then a a type of foam board then aluminum, but is very strong and sturdy, it can be purchased with different types of mountings , but I chose to go with no types of mounting as I am wanting to use it to show clients, so decided I did not need to be able to hang it. The price it isn’t cheap, but then again I go from what my mother taught me “if you buy cheap you usually get cheap”. The mounting would have added a bit more depending on the type of mounting you went for but at the end of the day the quality is excellent and it looks really good. You could go for a smaller size or for an even larger size as long as the Mega Byte was good enough to give you the quality of a bigger print.

There a lots of labs out their offering all types of products but not many giving you the chance to try one of their products for free, it shows they have great faith in their workmanship, will I use Saal Digital in the future, I can quite honestly say yes, I have been impressed with the whole process from their website to delivery, I might have to test some of their other products to make sure they meet the same high standards but I am confident they will. So “@SaalDigital” if you would like me to test some more of your products for you I would be most willing, and it looks like I have found a new supplier for my printing work.

I have included a link to the Saal Digital Page for the Alu-Dibond Butlerfinish and available mounting types.

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Wet Day

We love a bit of sunshine and a nice day especially when doing head shots for a client outdoors, but that is the thing about British weather you can never guarantee you are going to get what you want. So unfortunately we had to do this head shot session on a wet day, as the client was needing the images and we had had to move both our schedules round to get a day that we could both do. With being a Durham born person she was keen to have the head shots done in her local city of Durham.. It may have rained but we managed too get the images we wanted and keep on smiling through.

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Weekend Of MTB

It was the  Kingud/ Borderline  DH Series Rd1 at Hamsterley forest at the weekend. Unfortunately the weather was not going to be as nice as the weekend before with the temperatures failing to break higher than 5 degrees but it was dry. The track best way to describe it in some places it was nearly impossible to walk down with the steepness, rock drop offs and tree roots, to ride a course like this was  going to take some nerve, I managed to talk to one rider and asked how do you get down here and he said “go as fast as you dare and don’t brake”. Saturday was a day of practice and offered many a good photo opportunity with many crashes on one of the steeper parts luckily all riders seemed to bounce well and after picking themselves and the bike back up rode on. Sunday started of promising with the sun showing itself and some light cloud, but with in an hour the cloud had swallowed the sun and any warmth that was there had now totally gone, it was going to be a long cold day. By mid morning we had a few spots of rain and it kept on threatening to rain but held off until it was race time by then it was just raining and raining, making the rocks slippy but the riders did not let off the pace, still managing to get plenty of air and the braver ones taking the line between two trees after clearing the table top in one massive leap. Danny Hart* the new owner of the Descend bike park was also racing in the elite category and can these people ride you never heard there bikes approach it was if they were floating on air as they picked the fastest line and flew past.

*Danny Hart 2016 World Cup Downhill Champion

One of many scrapes picked up on the steep sections while getting to a good position for photographs

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Start of the crash 1
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Danny Hart World Champion
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Two trees one bike

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Lying it down as you head round the berm

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Table top clearance




I was offered the chance to come and take some photographs at a local bands practice session, as I had said I was wanting to expand my music photography portfolio. This is just a few of the images from the session.

Band Members, Colin Lynch, Geoff Rose, Micky Pearson, Peter Atherton, Neil Nattris

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So this is a piece I wrote when I had been in BNI Champions core group for about two months, have toyed with publishing it for a long time, but never had the courage to. But today is a landmark day so I thought it might help others who struggle. Who Knows.

Good questions and I hope I can give you the answer, basically I was invited to attend a BNI meeting by a friend I was watching one of his You Tube videos and he kept on mentioning this BNI, so I got in touch with him and said what is this BNI you keep talking about, so he invited me along I visited, talked to people and found out it is so much more than just networking organisation, they informed me that someone called Russ Sawdon would give me a ring about a chapter closer to where I lived. So Russ rang we talked about the BNI he told me they were launching a new group, would I like to go along. So I said yes, I am glad he could not see the terror I was feeling.  I have to say I wasn’t a confident person at the time so I am very good at agreeing to do things and then think about it afterwards so I quickly Googled BNI, and to say some of the stories I read from people who had been in or claimed to have been members were not very positive but there were plenty of positive ones as well, but I decided I had said I would go, and a lot of the stories I had read on the internet were a good few years old and you have to sometimes take what you read with a pinch of salt so to speak.

So the day arrives there was a room full of people that I didn’t know and terrified would be an understatement, I hadn’t really mixed in a big group of people for a few years, but that is another story which I might tell sometime. So there I am in this room like a rabbit in a headlight convinced  everybody was looking at me, but of course they were not so I do what I think is networking basically talk to the first person that I catch their eye and this helps me relax sort off, as time goes on I get introduced to a person called Alan Foster, we have a quick chat about what I did and what Alan’s company was and I was invited to join my first BNI that’s was located at a very nice hotel and country park. It started well but unfortunately it did not work out as a Core Group.

So I decided not to join another BNI for a while due to personnel reasons and I needed to decide whether I wanted to carry on with my photography, so time passed and Alan dropped me a line telling me about a new core group he was launching with 50 members at the time I turned him down for certain personnel reasons but it was always in the back of my mind. So time passed and we were due to renew our mortgage so I said I will get in touch with Karen from the core group  I was in previously not realising that Karen was now a member of Alan’s new core group that he was building. So Karen came we talked mortgage’s and also BNI, Karen asked if I would like to come along, I said I would think about it, then Karen asked me to Sub for her at a meeting, I talked to Tracy about it and she said go and sub for Karen, so Karen invited me to attend a meeting before subbing for her so it was a chance to meet other Core Group members so I wasn’t walking in blind as well, I knew one or two people from the last Core group I was in, but the nerves were there and the fear as well. The meeting went well, and then I went back and subbed for Karen. What it made me realise was how much I had let myself get isolated from the outside world all the confidence I had built in the last core group had almost gone my passion for my photography had waned and I felt I had lost my way with my photography and business. I felt like I had come almost full circle, back to where I was before the BNI. So many an hours went by chatting to Tracy about things and deep down I knew I wanted to re-join but I wasn’t sure I could contribute what was needed to help grow the group. So I had my one to one with Alan over coffee, and the positive help and feedback I received off Alan was great. When a successful businessman can have faith in someone like me there must be something I was doing that was right or he saw something that I couldn’t.

So where are we know I have learnt that I have the creative passion back for my photography, but the business side is something I have to work on but the group is so supportive, advice and help is there you only need to ask. I feel like I am contributing to the group in a small way, but with time I am sure my contribution will grow.

It is very easy to let yourself doubt, and lack of confidence hold you back, and it still does in some areas, I am now learning to ask someone for help is not a sign of weakness or stupidity. Where do I see myself in a couple of year’s time successful not just as a photographer, not just in the work I do but in the way I help others in my Chapter and people in general.

The core chapter that I am in is called Champions we meet at Sedgefield Racecourse on a Friday morning we are going for 50+ members and are well on the way to achieving this, I feel I have made so many new friends in the group and grown as a person in confidence and direction, I have been in the group for just over two months now.

What would I say to people? “don’t let your self-doubts and fears hold you back, don’t believe everything that someone tells you about an organisation or what you read, the best way is to experience it for yourself., my lack of confidence and self-belief nearly stopped me don’t let it stop you.

Thank you Tracy, Karen and Alan.

So Where Is The Chapter Now

And to all my fellow BNI members in Champions Chapter, the future is bright for us all.

So today we have locked down the chapter, the vision Alan Foster had and has worked hard to achieve with Andrew Simpson, and Gemma Taylor is now a reality. Exciting times are ahead for all the Champions, and the future is looking bright.

Stephen D Brian From Core to BNI Champion Member


Bring On The Dancing Girls

I was asked to take some images at a burlesque and drag/comedy night.For Dukes Cabaret & Showdolls, I am always looking to expand my photographic experience, so how could I turn down the opportunity. So we arrive at the venue about an hour before it is due to start, just to check out good vantage points and see how good the lighting would be, the venue was quite good but the lighting consisted of six spotlights with different colour gels on them quite away back from the stage and throwing really poor light out, I noticed that there were two white spots not on so I asked the venue in the hope that they would say the two spot lights would be switched on for the start, but as I suspected no that was all the light I was getting, so it was basically High ISO, and a low a speed as I dared go with out getting any blur or minimal in arm and leg movement. So the night progressed the acts were brilliant and I really enjoyed photographing the show, as with all things new learned a lot, so am looking to do some music and other entertainment events, and who know the lighting can only get better. Hopefully.

Just a few images from the evening