Embodying The Light


I shot another album cover (above) for Tommy Smith recently and I just got my hands on a pre-release CD of the album. Nadja Von Moscow of Nadworks did the design and the recording is released on Tommy's own record label 'Spartacus Records'. I already did a lengthy 3 part post on the last CD cover I shot for Tommy, so I'll try to keep this one brief. You can find links to those other posts at the bottom of this piece, but in the meantime here's a beautiful version of Coltrane's Dear Lord from the CD to listen to while you read this and take in the pictures.


It was around the beginning of Febuary this year (2017) that Tommy Smith asked me to go along to the recording studio and photograph three different records being made over a single weekend. One with The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, another with a duo and the one you see here, The Tommy Smith Quartet

After having limited space to move on the first day while shooting the big band, the quartet setup was minimalist, but not without it's own set of problems. Tommy was recording his saxophone parts in the main room of the studio, while Pete Johnstone (piano), Calum Gourlay (double bass) and Sebastiaan De Krom (drums) recorded their parts in soundproof booths in each corner. Photographing through glass (especially without a polarising filter) is a big challenge, so I took it in turn to go inside each of the booths for a track or two.

Unlike the pop world where each musician records their parts separately, this was old school recording with everybody playing together as a band (i.e. at the same time), which means each musician needs to be on their game. I was mostly hearing one instrument at a time as I shot my pictures, but I knew the quartet were on form and sounding great. It wasn't until Tommy sent me the mixed audio files of each track that I realised just how good this album was. The CD is a dedication to the late great John Coltrane, who died at the same age as Tommy is now. The album is not out yet, but pre-release copies have gone out to the music press and the 5 star reviews are rolling in.


The quartet were booked to play at the BBC, which would go out on radio and internet as part of International Jazz Day. Tommy wanted it documented and thought it might be a good idea to shoot some pictures of the band outside the BBC building before the gig. The hope was that there would be something suitable for the CD cover. But the wind was too high and there would have been no point in trying to shoot four guys with hair blowing all over the place. So I opted to shoot inside the BBC building, which is an amazing place to photograph in.

We went beyond the public section and into a massive open plan area. There's a lot of glass, steel and concrete at the BBC and thankfully a good amount of light coming down from the ceiling. I didn't have any flash guns or modifiers with me, so the available light of the late afternoon Scottish sky would have to be enough (that and a higher ISO). Straight off, I decided to walk on the opposite side of the building from the band. I had a 16mm f1.4 and a 56mm f1.2 on my X-T2 and X-Pro2, which was just as well. I knew time was limited as the band would need to be backstage soon to get ready to play their spot. The gig was being recorded in front of a live audience, so there would be no chance of them being late.

I shot a few pictures of the band from across the building and then met up with them at the other side. I took more shots of them standing against a steel and glass railing with the epic backdrop of the BBC building in the background. Then we made good use of a metal staircase and connected corridor. But all too soon an assistant came looking for the band and the promo shoot was over (although I still had the gig to shoot). 

Four years into this one day project and great memories of interesting shoots just keep stacking up. Sometimes I don’t realise it till later, but quite often I am fully present in the moment and appreciate the varied and interesting things that appear in front of my lens. Last week I shot a gig with The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and actor Tam Dean Burn performing the poetry of Tam McGrath over some classic jazz tunes. That one was part of the Edinburgh Film Festival. Who knows what will be next :o)



There's a special tradition in the Scandinavian countries for celebrating midsummers eve. This traditional celebration doesn't coincide with the summer solstice itself. The dates differ from country to country.  In Denmark it's called the celebration of Skt. Hans, and it takes place on the evening of the 23rd of June. - It's quite customary in Denmark to celebrate on the evening before the actual holiday.  

We gather around the bond fire, sing songs, drink and feast. 

It's tradition. 

Welcome to Paradise

Welcome to Paradise

"Would the swimmers to the south," crackled the bored voice from the speaker above me, "please return to the shore. It is not safe to swim outside the flags. Please, come back to the shore and swim between the flags ONLY."

Anyone who's been to Florida (or seen Miami Vice) will be familiar with the collision of natural beauty, tourism, and commercial development. If Australia has an equivalent, it's here - Surfers Paradise, on the Gold Coast in Queensland.

A place once known for unending white sand stretching off into the distance has, in recent years, become better known for theme parks, marine animal shows, 'schoolies' (school holiday binge-drinking sessions), 'bikies' (motorcycle gangs), and gold-bikini-clad meter maids...

I Live To See Another Day


I Live

I live with cancer. My life was turned upside down with that diagnosis five months ago. I struggled to get to grips with a life possibly curtailed to 12 months or so. Actually, I can't get to grips with that idea at all. It sits in my mind as a dark point in time, not that far ahead.

I am, or was, a reasonably successful photographer shooting mostly weddings - 30 a year or so. I made a painless transition to working with a brace of XPro2s, and a bevy of primes. I closed the business. I began the endurance test that is chemotherapy every three weeks - feeling crap, feeling ok, feeling good, then doing it all again. During the feeling good week, I am able to focus on my well-being a little more - enjoying my food, having more energy to see friends, and getting out with my camera, my beloved X100F. I live

To See

to see my two daughters growing into capable young women. To see my grandchildren one day. To see everything with more clarity, understanding and meaning and distil all of that into a photograph. My state of mind affects my image making profoundly, some days are better than others. Street photography isn't easy, and for a long time I avoided including people, not having the nerve, thinking it was too confrontational. I was simply looking for light, shapes, and textures. That's changing. The near invisibility of the X100F makes any shot possible. It all comes down to my own vision and reflexes.

Photographing on the street makes me happy. It's a brilliant distraction from the legal, financial and medical paperwork that needs my attention. It fulfils me creatively. The more I look the more I see. I'm getting bolder at including people in my images, and I complicate things further by seeking colour combinations and juxtapositions that I hope will lift the images to another level. To see

Another Day

another day is now a gift I seize with both hands and which I no longer take for granted. Cancer is an insidious disease, creeping malignantly and silently along its deadly course, robbing my life to feed its own. I have had four months of chemotherapy, along with the expected side effects (hair loss and fatigue) and some unexpected (a twice-torn retina and numb finger tips). I am very fortunate to now know that the treatment is working, and the tumours are shrinking. I have a temporary reprieve, and can relax a little. I have time to rebuild my body, and build on this body of work.

Yes, cancer has changed me. I'm more focussed. I try to cut through life's clutter more decisively. I make sure I have things planned and things to look forward to. I spend time with my family and friends, without whom I would have crumbled psychologically weeks ago. I have a joint exhibition next year to focus on, a couple of self-published books to plan, and a lot more images to create. I feel positive and excited and more conscious. Street photography is both rewarding and frustrating. That's its appeal - I never know what's round the corner. And if I don't get the shot this time, there's nearly always another day.

Editors note: Take a look at Steve's impressive celebrity portraits HERE and make sure to follow his personal blog HERE

The Hissing of...

She could see the valley barbecues
From her window sill
See the blue pools in the squinting sun
Hear the hissing of summer lawns
— Joni Mitchell

By Patrick La Roque

My mind inevitably jumps to the opening scene of Edward Scissorhands—those pastel greens and baby blues, the prim and proper cult of summer lawns in full mechanical display. Modern life may have broken up rhythms but the ritual remains: North American suburbia is lawnmower country, through and through.

It’s messy, annoying, loud...and yet for me, the smell of freshly mowed grass IS summer. It’s pool water, buzzing cicadas and kids in the park, shouting at each other over popsicles. It’s my dad in his Kodiak boots, cigarette dangling from his mouth, planting tomatoes in the garden. Briquettes turning white hot in the family BBQ. My parents having tea outside as the sun sets and the bugs invade—damn mosquitoes.

So many promises and seasons gone,
     thru a haze of flies and a splash of gasoline.

The First 10 Seconds

There must be an incredible sense of hiraeth for a baby when it is born.  Perhaps, also, a complete misunderstanding of what has just occurred.  From the comfort and calm of the womb to the bright lights and noise of real life.

Birth itself if ephemeral.  The story that continues thereafter, lasts forever.  At the moment of a birth, love is created and bonds that can never be broken are generated with the ironic breaking of the physical ties between mother and child.

I spend a great deal of my time photographing people.  A majority of it as a storytelling wedding photographer, but I have a deep rooted passion for simply documenting people, being people.

I don't have the opportunity, nor perhaps skill, to shoot the types of beautiful stories that my Kage buddies shoot on a regular basis but when I can shoot true moments, like these, I feel rejuvenated.

This is The First 10 Seconds of a life.  Actually, not "a" life, but "Lenny's" life.  

Every human being is born naked to the world and equal.  

Our 24 Hour rolling news channels will have us think that mankind is doomed, and good humanity can't be derived from all the murder, hate and violence (apart from when the commercial breaks are on of course).

Actually, I think the world is safe.  We are a people of love.  We are a people of emotion and we are a good people that bring, other good people into this world.

All images shot on X-T2 with XF 23mm F2 Lens.



We want to evolve
We want to keep pushing
We want to achieve
We want to move

Us and them

We require
We do
We try
We might

Achieve through partial reflection

Last Tournament


2 days, 8 games and then it was over. The seemingly endless season of my son's soccer team but also the team in his current configuration. Next month will mark the start of the preparations for a new season, with a new team. But first there's one month of soccerless peace and quiet. 


It's My Birthday  Kevin Mullins | GFX 50S, 1/125 sec at f2.8, ISO 160 (GF 63mm f2.8 R WR)

It's My Birthday

Kevin Mullins | GFX 50S, 1/125 sec at f2.8, ISO 160 (GF 63mm f2.8 R WR)

OPPOSITEs  Jonas Rask | X-Pro2 Graphite - Mitakon 35mm - f/0.95 - 1/500 sec - ISO200


Jonas Rask | X-Pro2 Graphite - Mitakon 35mm - f/0.95 - 1/500 sec - ISO200

By the lake  Bert Stephani | GFX50S - Minolta Rokkor 200mm - f/3.5 - 1/1000 sec - ISO100

By the lake

Bert Stephani | GFX50S - Minolta Rokkor 200mm - f/3.5 - 1/1000 sec - ISO100

Vertical Fire  Robert Catto | X-Pro 1, 1/300th at f/8, 800ISO (35mm f/1.4R)

Vertical Fire

Robert Catto | X-Pro 1, 1/300th at f/8, 800ISO (35mm f/1.4R)

Vape  Derek Clark | X70 -1/500 sec - f/8 - ISO250 (18.5mm)   


Derek Clark | X70 -1/500 sec - f/8 - ISO250 (18.5mm)


YARD PARTY  Patrick La Roque | X100F, 1/170 sec at f7.1, ISO 400.


Patrick La Roque | X100F, 1/170 sec at f7.1, ISO 400.