So, Christmas now well out of the way, as is New Year and we are off again. Firstly a big thank you all my wonderful customers who trusted me with their beloved and treasured pieces over this last year.
The uniqui thing about the way we do business is that, because we do not have a retail premises and all our work is done from our custom design studio at home, I get to visit our customers in their homes. This means they can discuss their query, whether it’s a repair or a commission in their own relaxed atmosphere with no pressure and, they can include their spouse, partner or any other family members in helping them make their decisions. It also means that I get to meet their family and all will tell you I am a dog lover! So as well as becoming ‘friends’ with my customers I’m also friends with their dogs AND cats! 🙂 .
Some of the jobs I have had the pleasure of working on this year have included:
Taking all the unwanted jewellery of the mother and making wedding band for the daughter.
Taking a beautiful 22ct yellow gold Welsh Dragon and mounting it on a 9ct yellow gold textured backing plate. The customer loved the dragon that her husband had made for her, but because of the shape and design, it meant that the dragon pendant would catch in her clothes. So this way by being set on a backing plate it meant that she could wear it with anything.
I have made another witches heart pendant. Some readers may recall the original 9ct gold Witches Heart I made for a customer a couple of years ago from her unworn jewellery and her mother’s engagement ring. This was similar only smaller, lighter and the stone was a very pretty pear shaped opal.
Plus plenty of others which I will talk about later, and hopefully publish some photos of the pieces.
I thought I should say something on my blog before the year ends!! Ok…I know I am in the bottom five of consistent and professional bloggers but Time is my enemy. And I love him/her but they/he seems to always be working against me. 🙂
It’s just over a week to Christmas 2018 and I pleased to say I am almost up to date on all the repairs that have been coming in of late.
Just a couple left now and they will be finished over the weekend and delivered on Monday.
I would like to take this opportuity to wish all a healthy and happy Christmas and a joyous New Year.
Hi all once again I find myself apologising for late blogging. However, I’m actually here now and for the first time I’m writing it on my iPhone, never done this before do we will see where it takes us.
As far as Change goes, I was thinking of changing my blog into a website, and I was wondering what your views on that would be? Do you have one ‘outlet’ or do you have both? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments, the reason I was considering it, is because I do not have a Sales site for my jewellery other than Etsy.
I suppose there is a possibility of selling my goods from the Blog, but I’m not sufficiently converse with WP to be able to do that, but probably worth investigating.
Firstly an apology to all my faithful blogging friends, an apology for being so delinquent is blogging! I promise I will do better in the coming year (please God)!
Some of you may remember that when I was working as a Management & Training Consultant I was always preaching about how change for the better is always good for business. And one of the books I remember reading was entitled ‘If it ain’t broke, break it’. Which basically meant that one shouldn’t take for granted that because things are going swimmingly at the moment, it doesn’t mean they will be the same this time (say) next year. And, that we should always be prepared to re-visit our business plan and our marketing plan, and review all the major areas of the business such as:
Sales targets (must be S.M.A.R.T)
Customer service & management
So, being one who does practice what he preaches I looked inward and wasn’t very happy with what I saw. The competition in my chosen field of Wildlife Photography was such – due to the technological advancement of digital cameras – that every body and his dog was becoming a wildlife and nature photographer. All this was doing to me was creating stress which I did not want, and I had stopped enjoying going out with may camera and seeking special shots. So I took the big step and decided to CHANGE.
The change I made was to do something I had thought about for about 12 months. And that was to learn to become a working metalsmith, a Jeweller, someone who can design pieces and the make them at a standard that would be acceptable within the industry. There is of course a Bona Fide entrance to the craft which requires something like a 5 year apprenticeship, but obviously being too old for this I started to investigate other ways of learning.
I was very lucky because I actually found a working Jeweller who actually taught the craft and was living and working in Wales, not more than 20 miles from where I live. His name is Andrew Berry and his boutique working jewellery store is in the beautiful Welsh valley town of Ystrad Mynach. Check out Andrew Berry. If any of you are interested in learning a little more about the learning process, let me know and I will give the link to Andrew’s teaching site.
So, there we are a major change and I have found a new passion. I have partially converted my old photographic studio into a proper workshop/studio. There is a lot more to do to get it right, but it’s working and, I have actually started making sales! Only small ones, but enough to give me confidence in my work and confirmation that I must be doing something right!
I was having a couple of weeks break over the past fortnight and decided to try and digitise some more of my slides & negs. However, I didn’t have that much success!
One of my main problems is this. For as long as I can remember I have been a Nikon user, so much so that when I needed a slide and negative scanner, I automatically chose a Nikon. And very good it has been as well except, when I tried to update the software and drivers etc, I was very politely informed that Nikon do not make scanners anymore and hence, there is no updates to the software! Now I fully understand about product loyalty, but I wonder what the head(s) at Nikon think about Customer Loyalty? Or does that not exist anymore at that level? Perhaps they expect their distributors to handle that tricky end of the deal!
Having said all that, here is a dreadful pic of a wonderful occasion. The original slide is perfect but the scan which I had to do on my all-in-one ain’t so good. The occasion was the first photo session of a brand new idea and invention in percussion, specifically Arbiter Auto-Tune Drums. This pic shows l-to-r, Ivor Arbiter the inventor and Music Industry legend, me (with a droop face as I am suffering from Bells Palsy at the time) and the great Carl Palmer, he of ELP holding a Snare Drum. Carl was a tremendous help during the final stages of testing the equipment, as was many other fine drummers including Jon Hiseman who toured the kit all over Europe with his various bands, Coliseum II. and Tempest with the late and great Irish guitarist Gary Moore. I guess the photo was taken around 1977/8.
Hi everyone, as you will be well aware, once again I am guilty of NOT posting to my blog on a regular basis. There are so many of you out there that I follow who are able to post every day! I only wish that I had the same…..whatever!
This time I have plenty of good reasons, but that is no excuse for not dropping the odd line now and then, and I am sorry for that.
Most of the time I have been attempting to get a website up and running. Somewhere, where clients and prospective clients could go and take a look at what it is I do. I have finished part of it and published, but I feel I should have waited a little longer and added more content before publishing. But what is done is done. I would appreciate it if you took a look and I would welcome your feedback. You can find it here http://www.magphotopix.co.uk .
I finished the photo shoot for Queenie May the young girl singer I told you about, and a shoot that I did last year for another album was for a singer named Robert Garney. That album is due out next week. And then last week I spent an evening shooting a heavy metal band named DeadManSugar. Talk about tough lighting conditions. I think the lighting crew had two scenarios, On or Off!!
It was very difficult for me, and a long time since I have shot any kind of concert or performance.
I had an enquiry from an old client who is a serial entrepreneur. In the past I have shot antique wristwatches for him, then he started a Sola Panel company and now his latest venture required my photo skills. He rang me to say that this was urgent and he needed me to shoot between 8 and 10 models for his new website and business. As it happens, I couldn’t fit it into my schedule and I had to politely refuse, but I passed him on to a fellow photographer – who as it turned out was also too busy. Imagine my surprise, when he sent me an email to tell me that the site was up and running and he gave me the address. It is an ESCORT AGENCY! The actual photos of both male and female straight and gay, are actually very good. The photographer he found in the end does nothing else except shoot glamour pics, and I must say that the photos are really very tastefully done. But when one starts to read the text on the site it soon becomes very clear what it is he is selling. When he rang me to ask my opinion I called him a Pimp! I said it in a half hearted kind of jokey way, but I meant it just the same. Needless-to-say, he was not amused and proclaimed his businesslike enterprise as being very much a service industry.
I am pleased that I didn’t do the shoot. Firstly, I have no experience in that genre and the pressure would have been to much. And secondly, it’s not a side of photography that I personally would enjoy, give me the outdoors and nature & wildlife every time. And I will leave the glamour stuff to those who are good at it and enjoy their work.
My Local Stomping Ground
As many of you will know I have been away a lot this year shooting wildlife and nature from the comfort of our new Caravan, hence I hadn’t visited my local wildlife area for a number of weeks. Imagine my surprise when I visited last week and found that people had been down there and ‘tidied’ up! Not only have they removed 90% of the reeds growing naturally in the water way, they have also poisoned all the Budleia which the butterflies absolutely adore. They have also, dredged the waterbed and dumped all the silt on the banks. Unfortunately, I didn’t see one Damselfly or one Dragonfly. No butterflies at all, whereas last year I took one photo of 7 butterflies on one bush! As a fully paid up member of my local Wildlife Trust I immediately got on the phone to enquire who had wreaked this havoc on the local wildlife. Yes it looks very pretty down there now, all the nettles cut and carted away great for people to walk their dogs and drag their kids, but nowhere for the insect life and the Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers to build their nests.
The charming young lady I spoke to at the Trust was as alarmed as I was and said that she would investigate and come back to me with an explanation. Watch this space I guess.
Well I turned up an hour before the shoot was due to start and was directed to the ‘Guard Room’. It was just inside the portcullis. I got a backdrop up and a couple of strobes and did a few test shots and waited. The Record company boss turned up on time with the Make-Up Artiste and his assistant, we then waited for Queenie to show. Unfortunately, she had an art exam that morning and was late getting away from school but she duly arrived with her Mum about 45 minutes late.
Next the Make-up girl had to do her thing, unfortunately (unbeknown to me) Queenie is having some trouble with her skin/complexion at the moment and requested the make-up girl to use Queenie’s make-up. So by the time all was finished I guess we must have started the shoot proper about an hour late!
I had a couple of main problems:-
The record company had no specific requirements. Now this may sound fine, as I have free rein, however, if you don’t know what the customer wants, how are you supposed to give it to them? I would have liked to have had an idea of what the forthcoming album was going to be like. I mean was it going to be Katy Perry or Ethel Merman?
The Guard Room was cold and it was giving Queenie goose-bumps on her bare arms.
We had too many people in the ‘studio’ which was having an effect on Queenie, bearing in mind she is only 15 years old (hence the skin probs).
The complexion and the Goose-bumps caused me so many problems, trying to hide them as much as I could via the camera, to save me time in post production.
Anyway, we finally finished, Queenie was a little angel. She never once complained (even though it was obvious she hadn’t done any modelling before) and she just tried everything that people were shouting out to her (including me, but I was allowed). The last thing she said to me as she left was “thank you very much and can you please touch-up my skin before you submit them?” I repied that I would add a little blur here and there if it was needed, she said “NO not a little blur a whole lotta a blur!” And she was deadly serious.
I must say that I did need a lot of time in the digital darkroom but at the end of the day the record boss selected about six or seven shots that he liked and that was that. As many photographers will know, it is strange how the client never choses the photos that you think are the best. They always chose the ones that you wished they hadn’t for various reasons.
I have included a small number herewith, not fantastic I know but chosen by the company. Please feel free to comment, I would welcome any feedback good, bad or indifferent.
Yes it has been very wet and very windy here, but it seems to be quietening down now, I even ventured out with the camera yesterday for an hour, however the rain soon came and drove me away. On the up side – because of the bad weather – it has given me a chance to dig through and sort some of my old photos out.
First up is a photo I found from a time when I was young and single and thought the world was my Oyster. It’s a pic of me and a band member in a group called the Rikki Alan Trio. We were quite ahead of our time in Wales and unusual for a rock group in as much as we all read music. This came in very handy later when we ventured up to the big city (London) to become ‘Professional’ Musicians. Anyway, that is a long story and I don’t know if this is the right place to start digging it all up in any detail, but maybe bits from time to time. Suffice to say that this photo shows me and one of the guys – Gerry Smith – in about 1957. We are way up in the Welsh Valleys in a place called Aberaman and we are bottom of the bill which is headlined by a British Rock star named Marty Wilde. The interesting thing about this pic is, looking at the kids who are watching us and the way they are dressed etc, you would think it was taken in the 1930’s.
This was at a time when coal mining was still a huge industry in Wales and the biggest employer. However, today there are no mines, well maybe one or two private mines, but there are lots of bits of bits of memorabilia around, this next pic is just one such piece. This was taken in a place called Mysycymmer (at least I think that’s how it is spelled) and it is of some of the coal trucks that were left when the mine was closed. Rather than dump them some clever person decided to make a memorial out of them.
Lastly, for this blog, is another photo of me (well it’s my blog). We started with a pic of when I was a young whipper snapper who thought he was God’s gift (soon found out that he wasn’t when he got to the city)! And, we end with a photo taken some 15 years later. Picture is me on drums, the late Peter Bocking on guitar and the late and very great Lonnie Donegan out front. This was taken in Lounge at the Riviera Hotel in Vegas where we were supporting Vic Damone. Very briefly Lonnie was known as the King of Skiffle, he was responsible for every kid in the UK buying a guitar and starting Skiffle groups. We all had a Skiffle group. Even the Beatles started as a Skiffle group, they were called the Quarrymen, but I guess my dear readers will all know that.
Whatever, to this day Lonnie is hailed as the one man who started the whole British Rock and Blues industry because, after the Skiffle groups, all the budding musicians – as they became more and more proficient – turned into rock groups. Many of the stars of today name Lonnie as the one reason for starting them off in their chosen profession including: Eric Clapton, Brian May, Elton John, Paul McCartney et al. The list is endless. I was very fortunate when that day he walked past my drum kit in a London music store where I was demonstrating the product, and dropped his visiting card on my floor tom-tom and said, “if you ever need a gig give me a call”. Needless to say, I called him the very next day.
I just wonder what this does for the credibility of Flickr. Here is a guy who posts a couple of pics of himself on his Flickr account, only to find that in real terms, he has been ripped off by possibly 100’s of 1000’s of pounds/dollars.
It would be nice to hear from Flickr and what there take on this is.