Having missed last year because of covid, or at least missed an in-person wassail as we still met up on Zoom, we were back at the Donkeyfield Community Orchard to continue the wassailing tradition. As well as singing wassailing songs with the community choir, people sprinkled some of last year's cider on the tree roots, hung toast in the tree branches enjoyed some hot apple juice and gathered round the fire. The weather stayed dry until we sang our last song, when the rain came. There was also a visit from The Keeper of the Soils in the person of artist Natalie Taylor, wearing the cloak and collecting another soil for the collection.
From the North Light Arts website:
This community created cape, initiated by artist Natalie Taylor along with North Light Arts is for the Keeper of the Soils to wear at celebratory occasions. The Keeper, who may be a different person each time, celebrates Scotland’s rich agricultural and food growing heritage by receiving gifted soil samples from growing areas across East Lothian and the Central Belt, and keeping them safe inside the cape’s many internal pockets. The pockets are being made with the people of Dunbar during workshop sessions led by Natalie.
The cape was first worn on the eve of the Pilgrimage for COP26 at an event in Dunbar organised by North Light Arts, Sustaining Dunbar and John Muir's Birthplace. During the event there was a special soil ceremony, at the Battery in Dunbar Harbour, were the first four donated soils were added to the cape.
Since then over 20 soils from East Lothian, Central Belt and further afield have been collected.
I recently updated my small business photography packages, with three different levels ranging from a very basic option up to a full-on 'Day in The Life'. The entry-level package will concentrate on getting a few great personal portraits of the face of your business to use online and in marketing materials to introduce you to potential customers. Next up is a broader 'portrait of the business', taken over the course of three or four hours and capturing not just the who, but the what and the how of your business, producing a small library of images to use now and in the future. Finally the all-day, Day In the Life option, will give you a comprehensive set of images to tell the story of your business and how you work.
While those options will cover the needs of most small businesses, there are always exceptions, looking for something a little different and needing a completely tailor-made solution. One such case was when Colin got in touch looking for some images to promote his football-based board game, Counter Attack. As well as images to use on the game's own website, he was also looking for images to use on other selling websites and in social media advertising campaigns.
We discussed the sorts of images we might create. Colin wanted product shots of the game as well as people playing the game. However, simply taking shots of a game in progress wouldn't create great pictures, with players hunched over the board, making their moves. Instead I recommended taking 'reaction shots' of players, reflecting the highs and lows of playing the game, as well as players in 'manager mode', to give Colin a series of images to use on social media. This approach had the added advantage of minimising social contact during the COVID pandemic as the images could all be taken outside.
Colin was able to use these in a range of social media posts, like these two examples from Instagram.
The more conventional product shots were taken on my kitchen table, providing Colin with a varied library of images to use online to promote the game. And when the game had a bit of a re-design for the next edition, I took some pictures of the new branding and game elements.
"Jon did a photoshoot for me recently and I'm delighted with the results! It was a combination of product- and people-shots. He is a pleasure to work with and has a keen artistic eye that helped bring the photographs to life. Highly recommended."
A personal flavour of Art Walk Porty 2021 over the past two weekends. Everyone's Art Walk will have been different. How was yours?
Ulrike first got in touch via Instagram some months ago about organising some headshots. Back then there were still restrictions on travel between local authority areas. Playing safe we left it for a few months but when restrictions were eased we arranged to meet in Portobello. She was looking for some basic headshots for a variety of business purposes - smart but perhaps not ultra-formal. She said she liked the look of some other headshots I did earlier so we met at the same place. Shooting outside we could maintain good social distancing, keeping us both safe. Please check out my headshot options if you are interested in refreshing your own images.
A long overdue new entry on this blog and a new project in the making, I hope. Inspired by an in-person and subsequent email-exchanges conversation with one of the photographers featured in the Human Nature photography exhibition currently on the Prom as part of the Edinburgh Science Festival has inspired me to be a bit more systematic about my pictures of people 'On The Edge'. So far, I have just been photographing random strangers I have seen at the water's edge but I think I should try a bit harder to set up my subjects.
I would like continue with the same basic idea, people looking out to sea from the beach, sitting or standing, along or in couples, maybe three or four people at a pinch. But I'd like to put a bit more thought into it. What does the boundary between sand and sea mean to the person in the picture? What are they thinking as they look out? Is the water a barrier or an invitation? And how would they like to appear, photographed from behind? Appropriately dressed for water-based leisure or incongruously dressed to the nines? Expressing personality or anonymous silhouette?
So is anyone interested? I like to walk along the beach most days - often looking for a 'blip' (a whole other story) - and so we could fit in around that. Realistically I recognise I am most likely to be able to persuade current friends to take part, at least to start with. Please get in touch.
I have been sharing triptych images on my Instagram feed for a while now and thought it might be worth seeing if I could sell some via my online shop as we approach the C-word time of year. So I have uploaded a number of the images sets into a new Gallery and created special pricing packages to buy three prints at once. I have also uploaded a few triptychs created from my Football Landmarks series, which is separately available in more conventional print formats (all the way up to A0 size).
This year's regular Art Walk unfortunately had to be cancelled so there were no Art Houses to visit. However a new programme was devised under the banner "All At Sea" and it includes an outdoor photography exhibition on the Prom - Two Places By The Sea. The exhibition is a link between Portobello and the town of Akureyri in Northern Iceland. I have to declare an interest as I, along with a friend in Akureyri, came up with the original idea and organised the Portobello half of the project.
The connection was first made through the photo-sharing site Blipfoto when I saw Gunnlaug's photographs of her home town, somewhere I remembered visiting in the early 1980s. We managed to meet in person a few years ago when she and her family visited Edinburgh on holiday. She is a member of a photography group which has been meeting for ten years and regularly puts on exhibitions in the town. For their tenth anniversary we came up with the idea for a joint exhibition, linking our two places by the sea. With fifteen of the group's members keen to take part I put together an adhoc group of photographers in Portobello - a mixture of other professional photographers like myself and friends who were just interested in photography. The groups were paired up, one from each place, and given themes to work with. Some pairs were able to develop close collaborations while others were a little restricted by the lack of common language. Language became an important part of the project, especially when one of the early images was submitted with a bit of background text as well as a title. I decided it would be great if everyone could write a short bit of extra information about the picture and what it meant to them. And with the help of our Icelandic friends we were able to get all the English translated into Icelandic and the Icelandic translated into English (thanks again, that was a lot of work!) The banner we had planned in Portobello didn't give us a lot of room so I decided to keep the pictures as big as possible for the outdoor exhibition and save the background text for the website. The Icelandic staging of the exhibition was a little different - they had some financial support from the Town's Art Festival and used the same format they had used for previous outdoor exhibitions - large prints mounted on both sides of display boards above a concrete block base. With a bit more room they were able to include the background text beside the images.
The Icelandic exhibition was installed in Akureyri at the end of August and the Portobello one a week later. In Portobello we managed to get permission to put the banner up on the Portobello Sailing and Kayaking Club fence - a prime spot on the Prom for maximum visibility. We COVID-19 restrictions at the time limiting outdoor gatherings to five households we couldn't have a conventional launch event and instead organised a staggered event in twenty-minute time slots, with just three or four of the photographers at each one. Since being installed the exhibition has attracted a lot of attention from passers-by as well as various local media.
Finally, here are a few of the Portobello photographers with their photographs in the exhibition. Now that the group has come together to put on this very successful exhibition perhaps it can continue with another project going forward...
Time for some new headshots? Even with the latest two-household restrictions it is possible to arrange some new headshots. And as long as the Edinburgh weather plays ball (it doesn't really doesn't rain as much as you think) then the safest option at the moment is to take them outdoors.
Will arranged a session in Portobello and we took a few shots at a number of different locations. For a basic headshot to use as a profile picture on LinkedIn or elsewhere you only need a tightly cropped head and shoulders picture. The background doesn't matter too much as long as it isn't too busy. Something with a bit of texture to it, rather than the blank white background of an old-style passport photobooth, seems the preferred option these days and we started at Bellfield, making use of the old walls and the trees.
Will was also interested in getting some shots with a little more context to them to reflect his involvement in a charity concerned with everyday walking on urban streets. We ended up at Marlborough Street, giving Will exactly the sort of street settings he was looking for.
Although pubs have been allowed to reopen, an old favourite in Portobello - The Dalriada, on the Promenade - remains shut. Despite a world wide search to find new owners to run it as a pub it now seems that it will never re-open. A potential deal fell through during lockdown and local gossip now has it that it has been bought by a wealthy individual in the local computer games industry who wants to convert back into a private house. So the local community is missing a venue, especially the musicians who used to meet regularly in the Dal. On one of my evening walks along the beach I stumbled across their current alternative venue - the 'bandstand' at the Joppa end of the Prom - and took a few photos. I have since seen them on a couple of other occasions, the live music a great soundtrack to look out to see to.
Met another friend while out with my camera. She was down there with her partner and daughter and although little O didn't stay still for long, I did manage a few pictures. It's another example of the sort of candid shots it's possible to get during an outdoor family photo session. If this looks like something you might be interested in please check out my family portrait services and get in touch. If you are having a staycation in Edinburgh there's no better place to get some informal family portraits than Portobello beach!
I'm Jon Davey, a freelance community photographer based in Portobello, Edinburgh's seaside suburb