Category Archives: Portraiture

SeaPeople Project (5) The Switzer Tug Guys

I spent a couple of days at Sheerness a while back and had a great session on board Svitzer Victory with Captain Steven Goodyear and Chief Engineer Shawn Scutts.  These are singular vessels with only one function and everything is geared to performing that function.  At 34m LOA it is not a very large boat but it’s with it’s two 4894bhp engines it is certainly up to the job.  The view from the command station is just that – commanding – with pretty much every part of the boat visible and most of the controls, it seemed to me, were to do with power management.

Steven Goodyear though, was a quiet unassuming guy who oozed calm and confidence, just the kind of guy you would hope and expect to be in charge of a very powerful machine!

SeaPeople Project, Steve Goodyear, Svitzer Victory, Sheerness, Port of London

SeaPeople Project, Steve Goodyear, Svitzer Victory, Sheerness, Port of London

SeaPeople Project, Shawn Scutts, Svitzer Victory, Sheerness, Port of London

SeaPeople Project, Shawn Scutts, Svitzer Victory, Sheerness, Port of London

Comic Con Experience at Excel, London May 2013

Yesterday we spent the day drinking coffee at London’s huge Excel convention centre, whilst our son availed himself of the multiplicity of pleasures to be fond within the 6 monthly Comic Con.  We are obviously not the target audience but it was nevertheless an illuminating experience and one that left us surprisingly animated (sic) and with much greater insight into the world of comic fantasy.

To start at the beginning, the queue to buy tickets which was without doubt the longest queue I have ever endured filling up an entire exhibition hall, with a long line of people snaking back a forth over the entire floor area.  It occurred to us that this could only happen in Britain, a nation reknowned for it’s fondness for queuing, anywhere else there would have been a riot.  Still, after nearly three hours of orderly shuffling we were the proud owners of a ticket and the (by now exhausted) teenager found renewed energy and launched off into the mayhem that was the actual exhibiton hall.  We, on the other hand made for the nearest purveyor of fine coffee, grabbed a table and glued ourselves to the seats, to enjoy the wonderful pageant of weird and wonderful creatures that streamed past us in all directions.

For those who are not familiar with this event, it is a huge gathering of people who all have one thing in common: Comic and comic fantasy.  They are mostly but by no means exclusively young and are all equally enthusiastic for their chosen genre be it Manga, Anime, Sesame Street, Marvel etc etc.  The event itself is actually a kind of trade fair but in reality and like so many cultural events the real activity is outside the hall on the fringes.  It was a glorious day so the garden outside was thronging with oddly dressed people and the music (Death Metal when we arrived and some kind of Deadpool rap as we left) was loud

It was interesting to watch these people stride by and even more interesting to try and understand the driving forces behind such groupthink.  On one level one can understand that this was a very safe environment to be in, where everybody will accept you no matter how outlandish you look.  On another level, participants also had an instant connection and bond with others and together this reminded me of what going to church may have been like a few decades ago!  Certainly everybody was evidently looking for something bigger than themselves and for a sense of community and belonging.

From a photography point of view I found it interesting too because whereas  in my normal work life I am constantly aware of privacy and not shooting people who might not want to be in shot etc,  here photography and being photographed is really part of the game and to not take pictures would have been somewhat odd.

So from my position glued to the chair outside Costas, I snapped a few of the passersbys, there wasn’t much light and the coffee certainly affected my hand-holding ability but here are some of the people who walked past my field of vision yesterday.  A great day was had by all!

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Another one from the SeaPeople project:

AlanStaley-001

Alan Stanley has been building wooden boats all his life and is something of an institution at Chambers Wharf, where his workshop is located on the banks of Oare Creek.  His workshop is a wonderful hands-on environment where people really get to grips with their material.  Not a iPhone, computer, gigabyte, pixel or router in sight, just lots of tools and wood dust and some fantastic looking boats. (And that marvellous smell of freshly cut timber!)

SeaPeople Project (3) RNLI Sheerness, Kent

Back to some portraits for a change…

Quite early on in the SeaPeople Project, I visited the RNLI base at Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey where I photographed a number of the volunteers.  They are a great bunch of guys and I had a fantastic time shooting them.  They also treated me to a very speedy spin in their Trent Class lifeboat, which was somewhat quicker than the little 8m yacht I sailed at the time. (See their site for more info:  http://www.sheernesslifeboats.org.uk/lifeboats.htm)

The first portrait is Stuart Smith, a crew member aboard “George and Ivy Swanson”

Stuart Smith, RNLI Sheerness

Stuart Smith, RNLI Sheerness

Next up is Andy Mathews who is crew and mechanic:

Andy Mathews, RNLI Sheerness

Andy Mathews, RNLI Sheerness

and Deputy Second Cox, Paul Sands:

Paul Sands - RNLI Sheerness

Paul Sands – RNLI Sheerness

and finally to finish off, a group shot done whilst blasting around on the Medway!

RNLIGroupBlog

Another one from SeaPeople:

AndyBlog

Andy is a fisherman and has been one most of his life. He sails out of Whitstable Harbour on the Kent coast just along from Faversham and is one of the few fisherman still plying his trade from that port. This portrait was shot in the cabin of his vessel “Misty” which to an outsiders eye looks so full of marine stuff it is hard to see how it can function as the nerve centre of his boat but Andy knows exactly where everything is and I think would not have it any other way.

To make a change from architecture and landscapesI thought I might start sharing some of the images from my SeaPeople Project.  I’ll do this one portrait at a time.

This project began about three or four years ago and has lain dormant for a while although I now have a couple of new shoots in the pipeline which has given it a exciting boost.  It is a portraiture project photographing ordinary people who earn a living from working on the sea, either aboard boats or in a supporting role.

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This first portrait features Martin Cox, the Engineer Superintendent aboard Union Pluto, one of seven vessels for which he is responsible.  Originally he trained as an agricultural engineer before becoming a Cadet Engineer in 1989 working aboard a variety of large tanker and container ships on deepsea routes.  I photographed Martin at Whitstable Harbour on a very wet day in 2010.