Photo Assignment: Primary School head teacher Ralf Smits

Photo assignment: Primary School head teacher

In any job, it’s easy to get into a routine and just do things the way you’ve always done them – which is fine to some extent, but in a creative field like photography I think it’s important to keep moving forward, learning new techniques and ways of seeing, with the aim of constantly improving your skills and your work.

To that end I try to attend workshops and seminars whenever I can, to pick up ideas and methods and get out of my comfort zone a bit. I’m lucky enough to be a member of the My Vision group, an invitation-only collective of professional photographers who share with each other through an online forum and also through regular get-togethers. MV’s biggest event is the annual documentary photography workshop, where participants are given an assignment (usually a single person) and have two days in which to create a set of 30 photographs that tell that person’s story. Earlier this year about 20 of us gathered in Keswick, Cumbria for this year’s workshop…


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Tour de France 2014 stage 3 London

Tour de France 2014 stage 3 London

I happened to be in central London yesterday so decided to watch the end of stage 3 of this year’s Tour de France professional cycle race. “Le Tour” has been a huge hit in the UK this year with literally millions of spectators turning out to watch, and as you might expect it was pretty crowded along the route towards the finish in central London!

I didn’t even attempt to fight my way through the crowds to the finish line on The Mall – instead I decided to head for the Embankment instead. (more…)

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Dubai – my day as a tourist!

Last week I was in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to photograph a wedding (of which more later!) – but in between the wedding photo shoots I had a day to myself to do a bit of sightseeing and explore this amazing modern city.

I wish I’d had time to explore the older part of town, especially the souks in Deira – but there’s only so much you can do in a day – hopefully I’ll get to shoot another wedding in Dubai soon and can explore that part of the city.

Dubai is a city that has undergone huge growth in the last few years, with the construction of some amazing modern buildings, including the famous Palm Island and of course the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. (more…)

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Birmingham’s German Christmas Market

A couple of weeks ago I was up in Birmingham for a commercial job, and as I was at a loose end the evening before the shoot I decided to go for a wander around the City Centre.

I spent four years living in Birmingham as a student, and really enjoyed my time there, but haven’t been back for many years, so I was curious to see how the city had changed. As it happens, I didn’t get very far, because the whole of New Street and Victoria Square was jam-packed with people – the annual Christmas Market was in residence, and you could hardly move!

For the past 12 years the Market has been held in conjunction with Birmingham’s twin city Frankfurt in Germany, and most of the stalls have a German flavour – literally, with bratwurst, gluhwein, pretzels and other delicacies on sale. It’s now the largest Christmas market in the country, and well worth a visit – as long as you don’t mind crowds! (more…)

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Back in time on the Bluebell Railway

When you live in an area that has lots of tourist attractions (I am less than an hour from London, and Surrey Kent and Sussex have plenty of stately homes and historic castles) it’s odd how you don’t tend to visit them unless you have friends come to visit!

I haven’t been to the Bluebell Railway since I was a child, which is more years ago than I care to mention, but yesterday it seemed like a good place to take some Canadian friends who were over for a visit. We had a great time – riding slowly on a steam-hauled special through the countryside, and exploring the old station and engine sheds at Sheffield Park. (more…)

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2012 Tour of Britain pro cycle race came through our village!

The last stage of this year’s Tour of Britain professional cycle race came through our village of Wonersh today – twice in fact (once on the outskirts and then, on the second loop around Surrey, through the village itself) – so of course I had to go and get some photos. The stage itself ran from Reigate to Guildford, taking in two loops around the Surrey countryside.

The Tour of Britain is not quite such a big deal as the Tour de France (it only lasts one week instead of three) – but it still attracts some big names – this year both World Champion Mark Cavendish and Olympic time-trial gold medallist Bradley Wiggins competed (though Wiggins unfortunately wasn’t riding today as he was forced to drop out of the race a few days ago due to illness).

Lots of people turned out to watch the race and it was great to see such a big sporting event so close to home – I only had to walk about 150 yards to watch the action! (more…)

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London 2012 Olympic Cycling Men’s Road Race

Well it would be silly not to… when the Olympic cycle race passes by less than 6 miles from your home, it’s a must-watch – especially when Team GB had a good chance of medals!

So on Saturday morning I put my Canon 1D and a couple of lenses in my backpack, jumped on the mountain bike, and headed through the leafy villages of Chilworth and Albury to the A25 just outside Gomshall… (more…)

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La Samanna resort in St. Martin, French West Indies

Last week I flew out to the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, to shoot a corporate video for an American company at the five-star resort of La Samanna, on Baie Longue on the French side of the island (St. Martin is shared between the Dutch and French – the northern part being under French jurisdiction while the southern side – known as “Sint Maarten” – is Dutch).

It was a fun assignment, although there wasn’t much time for admiring the scenery, especially as I had to edit the video on the spot ready to show at the company’s gala dinner on the final evening.

However, I did manage to find time on Friday morning to take a few photos of the resort before heading to the airport for the flights back home… (more…)

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Read more about the article MyVision photo workshop in Guernsey
photo by Guy Hearn for MyVision 2012

MyVision photo workshop in Guernsey

A year goes by so quickly – it hardly seems like 12 months since I was in Brighton helping to run the 2011 MyVision photo workshop – an annual event that gives professional wedding and portrait photographers a chance to flex their photographic muscles and try something different by documenting a local business or person.

This year the workshop was held in Guernsey – a blessing as we avoided the snow and freezing weather that’s gripped the rest of the country – and this time I was participating as a photographer rather than as a “backroom boy”. (more…)

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Selwyn College Choir & International Harp Ensemble in Wonersh

On Saturday June 25th residents of Wonersh enjoyed a concert at St. John’s Parish Church given by the Choir of Selwyn College Cambridge and the International Harp Ensemble.

Selwyn College has a connection with St. John’s as a patron of the parish church, so it was appropriate for St. John’s to feature on the chapel choir’s current tour. The International Harp Ensemble is the only one of its kind in Europe, and has toured several European countries and performed at many UK venues including the Barbican, Royal Albert Hall, and Guildford Cathedral, under its Director, Luisa-Maria Cordell. Selwyn College Choir, who have also performed in many prestigious venues including Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and toured in New Zealand, Canada and Europe, was conducted by Sarah MacDonald. (more…)

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doing the “tourist thing” in London

When you live in or near a big city like London, I think it’s easy to take it for granted – you are familiar with all the famous locations and facilities like theatres, art galleries and museums, so you don’t always appreciate them.

But when you spend a day just waling around London with a visitor from out of town – like my friend and fellow photographer Randy Kepple, who is from Vancouver, Washington state in the USA – you see the city through their eyes – and it becomes new and amazing again.


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Our village’s Royal Wedding Fete

Like most of the country, the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was celebrated in Wonersh, the small village in Surrey where I live – but rather than a street party, everyone gathered on the village green for a fete, raising money for new playground equipment for the children’s play area.

So as well as a fun day out it was a good fundraising event for a worthwhile project.


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