Poets, Perspectives, Triathlons and a Solstice…….June 2015



Well it was a packed month looking back!

First up was the YOUYOU Mentoring ‘I’M A STORY TELLER’ project.

Stars from stage and screen gathered in the the historic home of poet John Keats to lend their support and read short stories and poems penned by young writers, mentored under the YOUYOU Mentoring scheme.

Nyasha Duri, Phoebe Thomson, Olivia Maxwell, Louella Ward and Poppy Turner were beneficiaries of the scheme and had their poems and short stories read by:

Nicholas Pinnock, Charlene White, Leanne Best, Georgina Campbell, Daisy Lewis and Laura Pradelska.

The wonderful Laura Pradelska is a long time supporter of YOUYOU MENTORING and her reading of Nyasha Duri’s beautiful short story is available to listen to on SOUND CLOUD HERE:

Thank you to all those who attended and gave their time, it was a lovely event.

You can see more about the event and about YOUYOU MENTORING HERE: and also HERE: YOUYOUMENTORING

YouYou Mentoring Story teller

Leanne Best, Nicholas Pinnock, Laura Pradelska and Georgina Campbell. (Photo Sam Errington.)

YouYou Mentoring Story teller

                                               (Photo: Chloe Thacker.)


A few days later and we are off to the My Perspectives awards ceremony, held each year at the Orangery in Kew gardens.

This is possibly my favourite night of the year.

Of the 250 entries entered into the competition I am tasked to ‘whittle’ it down to 25 images which are then sent off to a panel of judges to select their favourites. The annual competition is open to anyone with Down’s syndrome and the only rules are that:

1. You must have Down’s syndrome.

2. You must have taken the photograph yourself.

This years entries were outstanding and it was very difficult to edit them down. The eventual winner was David Kenward.

David has entered the competition before with very strong images, so it was great to see him win. You can see more of his work by clicking HERE: David Kenward Facebook page.

Thanks once again to Katie Pinnock and her team at GlaxoSmithKline for their continued support of this competition and the ceremony.

Winning photo by David Kenward

Winning photo by David Kenward

Photo by Klay Green

Photo by Klay Green

Photo by Jabbar Jamil

Photo by Jabbar Jamil

Photo by Carlos Biggeman

Photo by Carlos Biggeman

Photo by Hubert Lawless

Photo by Hubert Lawless

Then the Blenheim Triathlon loomed it’s head, a bit quicker than expected and with my twin brother racing I was going to have to put some effort in, especially as he is now a member of  a ‘tri-club’ and competing in Olympic distance races!

We had great weather and although he did beat me, it was only by a minute and a half, we raised a ton of money for the charity ‘I Can Dance’, so it was a great day all round.

Here we are just before the swim and me on the last leg of the run.

Blenheim Triathlon 2015

Blenheim Triathlon

And then……..there was a trip to STONEHENGE for the Summer solstice!

I hired a 17 seater minibus, filled it with family and friends and headed down to Wiltshire on a Saturday afternoon.

We wandered in and out of the stones, mingled with Druids, hippies and hula hoopers, got about an hour of sleep and then up again to see the sunrise. We were very lucky that there was a ten minute window where the clouds cleared long enough for us to see the sun come over the horizon, before disappearing behind the clouds again.

It was a truly memorable experience, lots of ‘characters’, banging of drums, and there was something really very special about being able to walk in, around, and to touch the actual stones. I think I must be a punk turned hippy, or at least a ‘cynical mystic’!

Stonehenge_Summer Solstice 2015

Stonehenge_Summer Solstice 2015

Stonehenge_Summer Solstice 2015

And it doesn’t stop there, as the following week I was in Hamburg, for a very enjoyable time shooting animals for a Greenpeace calendar…….but that can wait for another time!

Pigs and Parties…….December 2013


Oh Dear into February and I’m already late.

Note to self….Must keep blog up to date, must keep blog up to date!

Well….Goats, Sheep, Chickens………forget about all of them, it’s now all about the pig!

Those good people at Modern Farmer have got me photographing the wonderful pig, in all it’s variety of sizes and shapes. Clare and Robin, at Oakland Pigs, open their farm gate to me and we spend a lovely day photographing their prize pigs.

It was a real treat to visit their farm and see how well looked after their animals are. We photographed British Saddleback’s, Tamworth’s, Gloucestershire Old Spots and lots of little piglets. The very noisy Tamworth was my favourite, not least because it’s ears don’t fall over it’s face.

Can’t show you any just yet as the magazine hasn’t gone to print, but below is my assistant for the day (school holidays) holding a baby British Saddleback.

After the success of the Shifting Perspectives exhibition in Osaka last year, the Japanese Down Syndrome Association have asked for a larger exhibition to travel out to Tokyo……and they have invited me out there as well…….which is nice! I have spent a lot of time organising the exhibition, designing posters etc, but am ahead of the game and can now just get excited about going!

They are publicising the exhibition really well and have shot and produced a ‘365’ using Japanese children, which is quite wonderful and also a little film, with a bit of me and some ‘interesting’ music.

YOUYOU Mentoring host a small Christmas party at The Premises Studios in the East End. The more than wonderful Laura Pradelska, from Game of Thrones, comes along to lend her support and to read a Christmassy poem, beautifully! Our young Poetry Mentees are there as well and also read a Christmassy poem. (Stuff about that here.)

And then, long-time friend of YOUYOU, Dan Gillespie-Sells from The Feeling , gets up to perform a solo acoustic set, which is just AMAZING and gets us all in the mood for a VERY MERRY XMAS!

Daniel & Pig

Daniel and a Saddleback piglet.

Dan Gillespie Sells.Premises Studios

Dan Gillespie-Sells, acoustic set at the Premises Studios. (Photo: Susannah Altimes)

Shifting Perspectives in Japan

Japanese Down Syndrome Association poster for the Shifting Perspectives exhibition in Tokyo.

Sheep, sheep and more sheep……and Vivienne Westwood…….October 2013


Modern Farmer magazine have got me taking photographs of sheep and I am enjoying running around the country seeing these quite lovely creatures. They gave me the front cover again, which was nice!

In between doing work for the wonderful RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) and a visit to Cheltenham for the University of Gloucester, there was a visit to Buckingham Palace to see Prince Philip (who was delightful!) and a trip to Keats House where Dame Vivienne Westwood graced us with her presence. (She was not quite so delightful!)

I know I go on about the RNIB, but they are brilliant. This was a quick trip to a school they run in Coventry, where children of various special needs are looked after and educated with great care and attention.

A lovely week was spent in Cheltenham for the University of Gloucester, taking photographs for their new prospectus. Always great fun and a really nice vibe there.

A friend of mine has just taken over as Chief Exec. of The Lord’s Taverners. He has been involved with them for a long time and is a mad cricket fan, so it his perfect job. The Taverners do a great job raising money for the underprivileged and I know that he will take them onto bigger and better projects. Every so often he has called me along to take a few snaps for him and this time it was a trip to Buck Palace for a ‘do’ hosted by Prince Phillip. I’m not a great royalist, but there was something quite nice about wandering through the gates at the front, into the inner courtyard and then into The Palace proper. It is ‘rather splendid’ inside and not a spot of dust to be seen! Prince Phillip was on good form too, considering he wasn’t long out of hospital.

And then there was Dame Vivienne Westwood…..hmmmmm.

I am a trustee of a very small non-for-profit scheme called YouYou mentoring. This year we had the opportunity to partner with the fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood and her ‘Climate Revolution’ project, by giving five young poets the chance to develop their poetry and create a collection of poems to inspire others to consider their own relationship to the environment.

Climate Revolution is an inspiring project that Dame Vivienne founded and is doing great work in keeping this issue in the public domain.

As part of the poets development they had their photographs taken with Dame Vivienne at Holborn Studios, (see August post) and recorded their poems at a solar powered studio and had their poems published, by Dame Vivienne, in a little poetry book .

The poets also gained guidance from a leading literary editor of a top magazine and were voice coached. All this was to climax in a special event at Keats House in Hampstead, where they would read out their poems, alongside YOUYOU’s supporter, BAFTA  Rising Star Award-winning actress Juno Temple (premiered here on iD magazine) and to an invited VIP audience, including the poets mums and dads.

Dame Vivienne was invited along to say a few words about the ‘Climate Revolution’ project, a few words about YouYou Mentoring and then to have a nice evening….or so we thought.

So, after the young poets, who are aged 17-21, had finished reading their poems in front of the audience, Vivienne gets up to host a Q &A discussion with them.

Her first words were: “Well, people keep talking about talent, but I don’t see any here…..”

… she then told one of the 18 year old’s, that she didn’t think her poem was any good and she didn’t understand a word of it!

Vivienne’s staff and her guests were sniggering and chuckling, obviously thinking this was hilarious. Eventually a few people in the audience, including myself, decided to stand up for the poets, and she started to be a bit more pleasant.

Although there seemed to be an attempt to humiliate them publicly, each of the poets were dignified and were able to talk about the poems and the story behind them with great passion.

(Remember that Dame Vivienne’s company was a partner in the project, she took part in the official photo shoot and media, had very kindly printed the poems in a little booklet, with its ‘Climate Revolution’ branding on the cover and on the night she had her photograph taken with the young poets for the press. )

I don’t know, maybe Ms Westwood, thought this was good fun, maybe she thought this was the right thing to do, maybe that is a normal Saturday night out, maybe trying to make people feel small is something that occurs regularly in her world…?

What I do know, is that YouYou Mentoring has very strong values and strives to develop and encourage young people to get on to the first rung of their chosen career. With high youth unemployment it is schemes like YOUYOU that are helping to make a real difference and we always offer POSITIVE encouragement.

The journey of the poets development and other creative mentee’s involved in the project was documented by YOUYOU Mentoring. You can view the promo films, stills and read the poets poems here on the designated Facebook page.

As I say…..And then there was Dame Vivienne Westwood…..hmmmmm.

Blue-Faced Leicester Blue Faced Leicester Blue-Faced Leicester sheep Blue Faced Leicester Dorset sheep Dorset Ewe Friesland sheep Friesland Ewe Friesland lamb Friesland Lamb Merino Ram Merino Ram Suffolk Ewe Suffolk Ewe Suffolk Ram Suffolk Ram Wiltshire Long horn ram Wiltshire Longhorn Ram Modern farmer covers

Climate Revolution, Vivienne Westwood and YouYou Mentoring…….August 2013


Summer’s still here and is quite brilliant.

Lots of swimming in Lido’s and general running around with the kids.

YOUYOU Mentoring have started a new project with a group of young poets.

We have teamed up with Vivienne Westwood and the Climate Revolution. Five young poets head off to Holborn Studios where they have a poetry masterclass and meet up with Ms Westwood.

Now they go away to work on their poems and it all culminates in a poetry reading event at Keats House in Hampstead at the end of October.

Below is a shot of Vivienne and the young poets, taken by YOUYOU mentee Chloe Thacker assisted and aided by YOUYOU Mentor, and my good friend Adam Lawrence.

On the YOUYOU front, I have Just re-visited this lovely video portrait of Fergus Henderson, shot by Joseph Turpin. Only a minute long, but really very special.

Watch it HERE.     

Climate Revolution Poets

Poppy Turner, Danien Charles, Phil Coales, Pheobe Thomas, Laura O’Driscoll with Dame Vivienne Westwood. Photo by Chloe Thacker.

Day Trips to Paris, New York Pigeons and Osaka…….February 2013



Paris isn’t that far!

It’s birthday time of year, so we jumped onto the Eurostar at St.Pancras, wandered through Place De La Concorde, had dinner on the Eiffell Tower and sauntered back via the Arc de Triomphe. Home by 9.30. Really very Tres Bon!

My pigeons hit New York. Well The New York Times. They were running a piece on genetics, (why I started taking photographs of pigeons in the first place) and called to ask if they could use some of my photos. Well, since then, everyone is after them. And not just the pigeons, the chickens too!

Modern Farmer magazine is a brand new magazine and they are running a piece on fancy chickens and I’m very proud to say that they are putting one of my cocks on their cover! All under wraps until the first issue comes out in April, but he is a very handsome chap, and you will see him soon. In the meantime here are some of his friends below.

Chicken photos are clearly the way ahead…… so decide to build a website for them. Still a few more to put up, but here they are:

 I have mentioned the RNIB before and will do again now. No images to show, but I have been taking photographs in their residential homes for a number of years. The level of care is just outstanding and the young people, who over the years I have seen growing up, are looked after so well, it always makes me think how lucky they were to be born here in the UK.

YOUYOU Mentoring had a masterclass held by HarleyMoon Kemp at Holborn Studios. Harley is a wonderful young photographer, who is producing some great work. She has been mentoring a young person and they photographed Tyler James and her dad Martin Kemp. A big thanks to all of them for giving of their time so freely.

Looking forward to March 20th when we have a retrospective of the Shifting Perspectives work from 2005-2012. We will be taking over the gallery@oxo and three floors of The Bargehouse.  Also, sending work out to Canada and designing boards for an exhibition in Osaka Japan.

Black German Lanshun

Black Lanshun Cockerel

Buff Orpington

Buff Orpington

Light Brown Dutch Bantam Hen

Light Brown Dutch Bantam Hen

Blue Part Dutch Cockerel

Blue Part Dutch Cockerel

And…….big sigh……a snap of my neighbours Boxer puppy, Monty Dog.

Monty Dog

Monty Dog

Bonfire Night, YouYou Mentoring and Swimming Galas…….November 2012


Earlier in the year I became a trustee of YOUYOU Mentoring a small mentoring charity that I have been involved in. This month we had a small fundraising event and quiz at the Paradise bar in Kensal Green. The wonderful Amal Fashanu and Gordon Kennedy were the comperes, Guy Chambers came along with his mentee Farhan to do a short set, as did Tim Arnold – ‘The Soho Hobo’. Both did great sets and a big thank you to everyone who turned up.

The Paradise Bar is very intimate venue and the last I saw of Guy Chambers was of him carrying his own equipment down the stairs with Farhan. The very next evening, at the O2, he was on stage in front of thousands with Robbie Williams….! That’s a good man, right there!

DSC_5829Farhan and Guy Chambers



DSC_5848Tim Arnold – ‘The Soho Hobo’

DSC_5858Brenda Ramsey – Founder of YOUYOU Mentoring

The Cedars, Guy Chambers and Tennis…….April 2012


Go to see The Cedars at The Green Note in Camden.

They are really great slice of UK Americana and with the wonderful Chantal Hill leading the way, with her beautiful voice and stage presence, they are a perfect night out and one that will stay long in the memory. (Accompanying them was ‘Stompin Dave Allen’ who was again brilliant and quite extraordinary.)

YOUYOU Mentoring are picking up some big names and giving young people really amazing opportunities. This month sees a group of youngsters turning up at Guy Chambers studio in Primrose Hill for a masterclass in songwriting and the music business, from not only Guy Chambers, but also Paul Rees, editor of Q Magazine. One of my young photography mentees comes along to document the process. A very big thank you to Guy and Paul for their time.

Oh, and am playing a lot of tennis at the moment. Would be on the court everyday if I could!

cedars©Sam Scott-Hunter

DSC_4509©Lauren Pratt


©Lauren Pratt

It’s all Happening!…….January 2012


The first week of the New Year and all the rushing about at the end of last year pays off and we open up The Strand Gallery with YouYou Mentoring‘s ‘Close Up – Discovering Hidden Talent’. The local BBC news pick up on it and run a piece at 6pm, which brings lots of people in. George Muigua is great in front of the camera, as are the brilliant Andy Fallon and Brix Stuart-Smith. Andy is one of Britain’s most well known and respected rock photographers and also a YouYou mentor. The images he took, with his mentees are on display, as are those of Scarlet Paige’s mentees. Scarlet Paige, (daughter of Jimmy Paige), is also a major name in rock photography, as well as always being a pleasure to meet.

For a cold and windy night in the first week of the New Year, the private view is a great success and YOUYOU gets plenty of mentions in the press.

Shifting Perspectives is not far off, so I am trying to get ahead of the game and am travelling all over the country taking photographs of people with Down syndrome, who are in employment. (As well as sorting out prints, frames and text for all the other photographers) I go up to Norwich to see the delightful and extraordinairy Brogan, who works at Norwich Hospital. Full time, five days a week delivering mail around the hospital.

I spend a great morning with her and then rush off to Holkam Beach and shoot a few sheets of 5×4 for my ashes project, which is starting to take shape. More of that later!

The Shifting Perspectives exhibition has been in Doncaster for the last three months and now it is time to take it down. The Point have really made use of it, with local schools and photography students creating work around it. The space has also been used for health professional to have meetings in. The comments book is jam packed with positive words.

The Point, Doncaster