Monday, 27 February 2017

Raging Ranter - Risking Death For A Few Mediocre Images & Instagram Loves

Ordinarily, photography news doesn't find it's way into mainstream media, it's usually reserved for sites frequented by photography nuts. For photography news to make it's way onto the 'regular' news it has to be something extraordinary, or something quite stupid. In recent weeks stupidity was taken to extraordinary new heights...pun very much intended!

Photography news outlets, regular news outlets, and the Daily Mail, all shared a story about Russian Instagram model Viktoria Odintcova, her band of merry morons, and their actions atop a skyscraper in Dubai.

For those who haven't seen it...Viktoria, and from what I can gather a photographer and his assistant, broke into a restricted area of the Cayan Tower in Dubai. Once there, Viktoria dangled some 1000ft (if the reports on the building height are correct) above Dubai, from the hand of the photographer's assistant. None of them wearing safety equipment.

You'd be forgiven for thinking the shoot was to promote some sort of extreme sports magazine, extreme sports clothing brand, or some energy drink associated with extreme sports. It wasn't. The shoot was purely to garner Instagram loves...you know, that little heart button that is now more valuable than life itself!

Whilst I'm not a fan of the high visibility jacket wearing, clip board holding, finger wagging people that are the health & safety brigade. In this instance, I'd have to side with them. When you're at a height that would see you turned into a flailing fleshy missile should you fall, you really ought to think about wearing some sort of safety harness. No image, no matter how good you think it may end up, is worth so much unnecessary risk...as I've ranted about before in regards to people shooting on active rail tracks.

This stupidity, I am quite sure, will have the 'celebrity' or 'YouTube' effect too...is that a thing? If not, I'm coining it! It's likely to be only a matter of time before someone sees the video, decides to emulate it, and something goes horribly wrong...and I'm not talking Fail Army wrong, I'm talking that person looks like a Rorschach test on the pavement wrong!

As art is subjective, I try not to express too negative of opinion about images I don't like. I see it, I move on with my life, others may like it. When something like this happens though, and there's this level of stupidity gone into it, I'm more than willing to make an exception. The images created in this stunt, in my mind, are mediocre at best.

Giving benefit of the doubt as to the skills of those involved (I haven't looked at any of their works/Instagram accounts), I think this mediocrity is down to what went into making them. If they hadn't gone about it in such an idiotic, criminal way, they could have got much better shots. With legally attained access to the location, they'd have had plenty of time to shoot, all without having to try avoid security. Not to mention, if they had used safety equipment, and a ickle Photoshop to remove it, they would have had much more creative freedom, so would probably have got some awesome shots. I know it's often said that art is about taking risks, but when people say this, they don't mean risking your head looking like a watermelon that was hit by a bazooka shell!

A few people have tried defending the actions of Viktoria and her cohorts, citing motorbike riding and extreme sports as dangerous activities. The thing is, with the exception of a few fuck wits, most people who partake in these activities do it legally, and they take a lot of precautions. Most of them don't also endanger other people, nor risk leaving their loved ones alone...and with a massive bill for cleaning up their puddle of a carcass.

I realise the above probably makes it seems like I resent just these idiots. I'm don't. I resent all idiots that partake in these kind of shenanigans, especially the ones giving models and photographers a bad name. Too many times on photography news sites do you see CCTV footage of people nearly falling from cranes, nearly getting hit by trains, or doing other similarly stupid shit for a chuffing Instagram post. I'm also laying some of the blame for these situations with the likes of Instagram. When you have these places pushing the concept of getting as many 'loves' as you can, there'll always be some who take things too far in pursuit of them, as it gives them some false sense of popularity that they crave.


Ian
http://facebook.com/guffoggthegeek
http://twitter.com/guffoggthegeek

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Where When How Wednesday - Bill Hume

Welcome to 'Where When How Wednesday'. In these weekly posts I'll be interviewing creatives about their journey into the creative world, their works, and what makes them tick. This week I'm interviewing photographer, Bill Hume.


Firstly, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for me. We should probably start at the beginning...When and how did you come about getting into the world of photography?

'In the late 1950s early 60s I asked for and was given a camera for my birthday. A second hand Kodak Brownie 44A. I was a happy bunny.'


Photography, especially online, tends to fall into specific genres and/or gets described as being a specific style. The trouble with this is it's quite subjective, the style someone views an image to be can often differ to the style the person creating it views it as. How would you describe the work you are putting out there?

'Hopefully...different. I like different and I like experimentation. I've been trying out various combinations of digital and analogue techniques, eg. printing digital negatives on acetate for contact printing. The results can be scanned for more work in Photoshop later and also allows me to experiment with such things as solarization and cyanotypes. I've even done cyano on pieces of driftwood.

Another favourite of mine is printing out on cartridge paper and then laying it on another sheet of cartridge paper when both are wet. Apply a bit of pressure and the results can be 'interesting', particularly after scanning and re-combining with the original in Photoshop. 

More recently I've been creating images on unusual paper substrates e.g. rice paper.'


Photography can have it's share of problems. I personally have a particular problem with self confidence. This confidence issue can and has caused me issues with my photography. Do you find any aspects of photography particularly challenging?

'If my photography is not challenging, I'm doing something wrong. With regard to self confidence, as I only create images for myself, that is, I must like them, the opinion of others is of little concern to me.'


In my series 'Foto Inspiration Friday' I share the people, images, places etc that I find give me inspiration. Who, or what, or where do you draw inspiration from?

'Sometimes from Flickr, there are a few people I follow there. Sometimes it's just something I happen to notice (I tend to walk around in 'stalking' mode when I have a camera with me). At other times it's the camera which dictates what is possible in any situation. I also draw inspiration from art, mostly modern art and try to visit exhibitions when possible.'


Sometimes images hold a special significance to us. It can be the first image we ever made, it can be an image drawing attention to a cause close to our hearts, it can simply be an image of someone we love. Do you have an image or images that hold a special significance to you?

'Difficult to choose just one as I've been making images for over 50 years, but I have an image I called Monotonous Languor...


...which I really like. Nobody else seems to but hey ho.'


Photoshoots can sometimes leave you open to scary or funny situations. What's the scariest or funniest situation you've found yourself in because of photography?

'That's easy because it was scary and funny at the same time. Picture me in a small studio with a rather under dressed young lady model with two 10ft long snakes draped over her... Snakes do not take direction well.'


We've talked about your start in photography, we talked about your current work, let's quickly chat about the future. What have you got coming up this year? More of the same? Any special projects? Plus in regards to a more long term plan, where are you hoping your creative journey will take you in the years to come?

'Who knows, I view my photography as an adventure. You don't need to arrive somewhere to have a good and productive journey.'


We can't really talk photography without discussing gear, so...what is your 'go to' equipment that you find yourself gravitating towards the most on shoots?

'My workhorse is the Canon 7D with a couple of zooms and a fixed 50mm. My 'carry about' is a Canon G11. I also shoot with a Hasselblad 500c/m and a 1937 Leica 35mm. Add to that a few 16mm still cameras and that's about it.'


Now for the shameless self promotion part of the interview...where can people find more of you and your work?

'http://www.flickr.com/photos/billhume_3d_2d/
Ignore the weddings and events as I sometimes get blackmailed into doing these things.'


I'd like to thank Bill again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me.

Ian
http://facebook.com/guffoggthegeek
http://twitter.com/guffoggthegeek

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Where When How Wednesday - Ewan Rollo

Welcome to 'Where When How Wednesday'. In these weekly posts I'll be interviewing creatives about their journey into the creative world, their works, and what makes them tick. This week I'm interviewing photographer, Ewan Rollo.



Firstly, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for me. We should probably start at the beginning...When and how did you come about getting into the world of photography?

'I am a visual sort of person. Like most people I enjoy Art and Film and good photography. I have always had an special affinity with Photography. It is hard to explain why but part of it is being a geek. It's an excuse for buying toys.

I think cameras are pretty amazing machines. Maybe we don't appreciate them so much now because we have them with us everyday. Photography can be seen as something unimportant, trivial, or just a bit of fun...which is a good thing sometimes. The thing is though with a bit of thought it can be special and very valuable. Photography becomes more valuable with time. Just think of looking at old photographs of friends and family, places you have been, maybe someone that you fell in love with. Its kind of amazing. This is a big attraction for me. As a photographer you can be an important part of someones life.

Finally I see photography as a way to be free. You can do it all yourself if you want that. Or involve others if you want to collaborate. I have met a lot of really great people through photography and been to places I would never have seen without photography.'



Photography, especially online, tends to fall into specific genres and/or gets described as being a specific style. The trouble with this is it's quite subjective, the style someone views an image to be can often differ to the style the person creating it views it as. How would you describe the work you are putting out there?

'Don't try to put a label on me man...HA. I think it really depends on what you are doing. If someone is paying you to take photographs, or you are in a collaboration with someone, then it has to fit what they want. Often you are restricted in what you can do. I try not to see this as a bad thing. It forces you to be even more creative to try and get something that everyone is happy with including yourself.

I would say my photography is closest to the fashion genre. I like to have a bit of meaning to my work and a bit of a story. With a bit of a sinister dark side. Not nasty just a bit of an  edge. It can be very simple studio work but with the right person looking the right way it can still have a lot of impact.

Photography is a bit of a bitchy little world. I try to keep out of that and just do my thing and enjoy it.'



Photography can have it's share of problems. I personally have a particular problem with self confidence. This confidence issue can and has caused me issues with my photography. Do you find any aspects of photography particularly challenging?

'I would definitely say I have had confidence problems in the past and still do at times. College was really difficult in this way. People don't realise how much pressure you can be under as a photographer. Sometimes you have to direct a large group of people who don't really want to have there photograph taken. This could be a wedding or a corporate shoot in a large office or factory. Or you are trying something out and it just wont work.

The hardest part for me is organisation. Even getting a few people together can be tough. Everyone is busy and its so hard to get things to work. You might spend ages finding and getting access to a great location then someone can't make it that day. Its a bit of a nightmare.'



In my series 'Foto Inspiration Friday' I share the people, images, places etc that I find give me inspiration. Who, or what, or where do you draw inspiration from?

'I try to take inspiration from everywhere. If I go anywhere I am always looking around for potential places to shoot and to get ideas from what people are wearing or doing. Working with other people like make up artists can help to make something different and its always good to have a model with ideas of there own to contribute. I think this is a sign of a serious model who has done some research.

Watching films and visiting art galleries is always a good source source of ideas. I always try to get inspiration without looking at other photographers work then just trying to copy it. If I had to pick one photographer as an influence I would say it was Tim Walker. Trying to recreate his work without a massive budget is pretty much impossible. I really like his surreal vintage style.'



Sometimes images hold a special significance to us. It can be the first image we ever made, it can be an image drawing attention to a cause close to our hearts, it can simply be an image of someone we love. Do you have an image or images that hold a special significance to you?

'I like this question because some people are intimidated by Photographers or somehow feel insulted by someone calling themselves a photographer. Anyone can take a photograph after all.  Who are we to ask to be paid for it? Or think we are better at it than they are. I think the point of this question is that anyone can take a good photograph or a valuable photograph. A picture, say of your Partner holding your first child is a very valuable and "good" Photograph whatever camera is used. Or who takes the photograph.

This is also a very difficult question. I would say my most valued photographs are very personal to me. Talking about them would mean talking about my feelings and emotions openly. Men are well known for being bad at that, and I'm not sure if anyone would want to hear anyway. "I'm a soppy romantic dreamer type" I don't think I would even want to hear myself. All I can say is my favourite pictures are of someone I Love. Not naked.

They are not always technically good photographs maybe a slightly funny face I might have caught or just messing around. Things she wouldn't want other people to see. Often they are the best photographs.

Another difficulty is there are so many to choose from. I hope its not to obvious a choice'



Photoshoots can sometimes leave you open to scary or funny situations. What's the scariest or funniest situation you've found yourself in because of photography?

'The scariest time I had from photography was tiring to do a corporate shoot for Stewart Brewing. I totally underestimated how hard it would be to try and get a good overview of the company. You need the right people in the right place at the right time.

It is so much harder than I thought to go to a brewery and get good photographs of people at work. They are trying to work for a start and you don't want to get in the way. Its hard to get good shots in a working factory with so much going on. I had to keep going back because things didn't work out and it got more and more embarrassing to go back again and again. I did learn a lot about the importance of being prepared and planning ahead. But it was really difficult at the time.'



We've talked about your start in photography, we talked about your current work, let's quickly chat about the future. What have you got coming up this year? More of the same? Any special projects? Plus in regards to a more long term plan, where are you hoping your creative journey will take you in the years to come?

'For next year I would like to be involved in more films. I have done a few documentary type shoots to record the making of a film and also taking stills to be used as props in the films. It was really enjoyable to work as part of a large creative team and to be part of someone else's vision. I have met a lot of people involved in the film making world in the last couple of years so I will get involved in a few projects this year depending on what comes up. Also I want to develop my portraiture portfolio more even if its just working on exchange. I want to keep it quite simple technically allowing me to focus more on the subject.

My future plans are to keep on developing as a photographer and to try and get more work so I can give up the day job. I would actually really like to do more wedding photography. Some people look down on it, but I like people and being a positive part of there lives so why not. Ok and its a way of getting paid for doing something you love.'



We can't really talk photography without discussing gear, so...what is your 'go to' equipment that you find yourself gravitating towards the most on shoots?

'Ok I'm not prejudiced but I shoot canon. I do use Nikon sometimes but I prefer the way canon captures skin tones and I think the way they handle colour graduation is better. I'm mainly a portrait photographer so it works for me. The more I learn the less I care though. I don't think it matters it just depends on how much you can spend. Great photographers use all sorts of gear. Its how you use it and the work you put in that matters most. OH and again how much money you can spend whatever the brand. But buying a Nikon camera is never going to make me a better photographer.

I'm quite simple really. For most shoots I will use Cannon, 50mm 85mm or the classic 70 - 200mm lens. I have used the 38 MP Hasselblad for a few shoots. its amazing and something I would love to own, but its over the top and more than you need for most shoots. I hardly ever want to print anything larger than A3 so the old Canon is perfect most of the time.'



Now for the shameless self promotion part of the interview...where can people find more of you and your work?

'You can look on Purpleport and contact me through the links or find me at,
http://behance.net/VALDEFERENCE
http://facebook.com/ValdeferencePhotography'



I'd like to thank Ewan again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me.



Ian
http://facebook.com/guffoggthegeek
http://twitter.com/guffoggthegeek

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Where When How Wednesday - Sakura Star

Welcome to 'Where When How Wednesday'. In these weekly posts I'll be interviewing creatives about their journey into the creative world, their works, and what makes them tick. This week I'm interviewing London based photographic model, Sakura Star.

Photographer - Toulouki Orsini


Firstly, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for me. We should probably start at the beginning...when and how did you come about getting into the world of modelling?

'I’ve always been around photography, my dad is still an enthusiast, he bought me my first camera for my 10th birthday: an Olympus OM10 which I still treasure and I went on to university to study film production & theory with animation & photography. But once graduating I got a job to pay the bills & over the years did less & less of my passion. I ended up not pursuing it. In 2007 I moved to Japan to teach English & of course got the photography bug again as it’s so amazing there. While on a photography workshop we took each other’s pictures & someone had an idea with me as the model & it went from there. I did some modelling out there for a shampoo brand & random things, then when I came back to London I did some TV extra work while looking for a full time job. I also joined ModelMayhem, then later PurplePort. Modelling in the UK over the past seven years had been on the side of my day job as a Presentation writer/Business Analyst. However I was made redundant in October 2016 which was a blessing as I was so miserable in my job, so I decided to model full time. I figured ‘why not?’ until I work out my next direction in life.'

Photographer - Harbuzenger


Most things, especially online, tend to fall into specific genres and/or gets described as being a specific style. The trouble with this is it's quite subjective, the style someone views something to be can often differ to the style the person creating it views it as. How would you describe the work you are putting out there?

'Tough question, I don’t know if I fall in to a specific style, I’m opened minded and my work covers a range of genres so I like to think I’m diverse & versatile. Although all of my images have a moody brunette in common! I hope people perceive me as creative when they view my work although the credit of course is to all the photographers I’ve had the privilege to work with. I really enjoy getting into an idea and that Sakura lady is such a character.'

Photographer - Wright Aperture Images


Photography, modelling and their related skills, as with most things, can have their share of problems. I personally have a particular problem with self confidence. This confidence issue can and has caused me issues with my photography. Do you find any aspects of modelling particularly challenging?

'Oh yes, confidence can be a killer and I do suffer from self doubt and am self conscious about things, that’s human right?! But you have to focus on the task, which is no different to what is expected of you when working any job. With modelling it’s also about communication & people managing, and then with my own skill as a model I grow & learn with every shoot. Particular challenges I have; I’m allergic to dairy and have suffered since a baby from eczema and then growing up I also had acne, so I’m forever self conscious about my skin. I’m an ambassador of good skin care! One positive thing I’m often told, people are usually surprised how young I look, makes me think I should probably change the painting in the attic soon!'

Photographer - Harbuzenger


In my series 'Foto Inspiration Friday' I share the people, images, places etc that I find give me inspiration. Who, or what, or where do you draw inspiration from?

'Styles & ideas come from everywhere for me but the model whom I admire is Kate Moss. I visited the Vogue 100: Century of style exhibition last year and there were so many images I recognised from over the years, but the majority were of Kate Moss and I hadn’t realised. Also her work with Alexander McQueen is phenomenal. She’s diverse and a great talent, plus a born South London girl like me!'


Sometimes images hold a special significance to us. It can be the first image we ever made, it can be an image drawing attention to a cause close to our hearts, it can simply be an image of someone we love. Do you have an image or images that hold a special significance to you?

'It would be the leather dress photo shot by Simone Orsini...

Photographer - Simone Orsini.  Make-Up - ASD Makeup


...The image is from the first of many shoots with him. I’d been struggling with the dress as it was so heavy and stiff, so we turned it so that it was on back to front. I just went for it and he captured me and the moment perfectly. He and Chiara/Toulouki Orsini are among my closest friends now and this is why I love what I do as I get to meet and work with amazing people.'


Photoshoots can sometimes leave you open to scary or funny situations. What's the scariest or funniest situation you've found yourself in on a shoot?

'I have many funny stories which usually involve me slipping or falling over! The funniest & probably most embarrassing was shooting with Biffsnr in 2014, we were in an abandoned factory that had no roof and it was snowing. Aside from freezing I was posing in what was the men’s toilets wearing only pink heels and the floor was icy....

Photographer - BiffSnr


...While posing my foot on the urinals (so classy I know) I slipped backwards, grabbed the urinal but slid onto the floor while totally nude. Biff panicked & came running but I was sprawled & he was trying to help and not look at the same time. I was laughing but he was mortified. Oops!'

Photographer - ManCave


We've talked about your start, we've talked about your current work, let's quickly chat about the future. What have you got coming up this year, more of the same? Any special projects? Plus in regards to a more long term plan, where are you hoping your creative journey will take you in the years to come?

'I never imagined or expected I’d be a full time model! I have loads of shoots and studio days and events coming up this year. As for my creative journey I’m continuing my own photography. Though don’t worry I’m not a modelographer, my passion is travel photography & I'm actually off to Peru in February. I’m also learning web design, so a new direction there but I had also been thinking of going freelance offering my business skills the last few years anyway. So if anyone needs a website designed, has some spreadsheets that need looking at, data mining or a PowerPoint/Keynote presentation produced - I’m totally your girl!'

Photographer - Martin C Photos


When I speak to photographers I ask about their gear, it's only fair you get to geek out too...do you have any go to items you can't live without?

'I’m addicted to shoes so could go on about that, but it would have to be skin care products I can’t live without. I could open my own Boots store from my bathroom. I’d love to be sponsored by Dermalogica or Simple! Cleansing and moisturising your skin after a shoot, especially if baked under studio lights is a must!'

Photographer - Kestrel.  Second Model - Oryx.  Make-Up & Styling - Crake


Now for the shameless self promotion part of the interview...where can people find you and your work?

'Aside from profiles on PurplePort, ModelMayhem & MadCowModels I’m on Facebook & Instagram: “SakuraStarModel” and I’m designing my own website at the moment! I’ll be at Studlands for a weekend in March, The Hacienda in London in April and then at The Natural Light Studio in Northampton in June.'

Photographer - Arrow Photography London


I'd like to thank Sakura again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me, be sure to check out all the links above for more of her work, as well as the links attached to the images for the other creatives involved in creating them.

Ian
http://facebook.com/guffoggthegeek
http://twitter.com/guffoggthegeek

Monday, 6 February 2017

Raging Ranter - A Tale Of F**k Ups & Bullying AKA Why I No Longer Advertise Amazon On My Blog

Fair warning, the writing style of this post is going to be a little different from the norm. Truth be told, it's partly for my own amusement, and partly because I realise that to some, the subject matter may seem ridiculous...so I'm rolling with the ridiculous. Whilst to many the issues I raise may not seem like problems, as someone who is the carer for a disabled person who also suffers mental health issues, they are problems to me.


PROLOGUE...

The following tale of woe, is a tale of the fate that befell a blogger and his wife. It is a tale that spans long back, back to the year 2015. It is a tale of an ongoing battle, a battle between the bloggers, a villainous corporation, and it's minions...


Chapter One - The Obligatory Backstory...

There once was a blogger and his wife. They lived a simple, quiet life in the town of Bolton. A town made famous by a man whom said 'gaaar...lic bread, gaaaaaaar...lic bread?!' and 'cheeeeese...cake?!' (PRW - by the way, we do sound like that! Ian didn't realise til he met me and my family that it's all spot on! Also, Peter Kay is a very shy man if you meet him! Anyway, onwards with the tale of woe...).

The blogger's wife was not a well woman. Not many months into marriage she was taken ill. It was revealed she had Fibromyalgia, a condition that rendered her disabled, confining her to a bed bound state a large portion of the time. For many years before, the wife had battled both depression and severe anxiety, conditions Fibromyalgia worsened...The blogger's wife had other ailments too, but for our tale, it is unnecessary to list them.

Because of the wife's conditions, the blogger spent as little time away from home as he could. Trips to the likes of the apothecary, or mail carrier were completed post-haste. The collection of goods from the local market became like gazing upon the spectacle 'Supermarket Sweep'.

In an attempt to make their lives easier, the blogger contacted a corporation called Amazon, signing up for a service they called Amazon Prime...this, this, dear reader, was a mistake!


Chapter Two - What Are These "Delivery Instructions" You Speak Of...

Upon the ordering system for Amazon, there appears a section titled 'provide delivery instructions'. Within this section, one tells Amazon what you wish them to do, should you be out. The trouble with this ordering system, the outcome would be greater should you express your wishes to the nearest wall.

One might cry the blogger should have conversed with customer services regarding his instructions. He tried this. He found it as advantageous as wishing while blowing out birthday candles. There was also times when the blogger, for varying reasons, had to change the date goods would arrive. Almost every time, despite customer services assuring him this would be actioned, he would receive a notification of 'failure to deliver'.

Should the blogger be out, his wife, in her bed bound state, found it impossible to reach the door. Due to this, upon the ordering system for Amazon, he asked that parcels be left in his enclosed, rear yard. Time and time again, those wishes went ungranted.

Upon a few occasions, the blogger's goods could be found with a neighbour. Upon the majority of these occasions, as will be revealed shortly, this was not due to the courier visiting the neighbour. Once, the blogger's goods were left with a stranger who lived two lanes down, simply because, they happened to be in the lane when the courier arrived.

As any reasonable person does when they don't receive the service offered, and whilst at the request of his wife being careful to not go full Yorkshire, the blogger complained. This seemingly reasonable action lead to more problems for the blogger and his wife...


Chapter Three - How Dare You Complain, We're Going To Make Your Life Hell...

Before continuing this tale, we must go back a little way...

The blogger's wife suffered from severe anxiety for a number of years. Should people talk loudly as they passed the house, she would, at times, descend into a panic. One of the reasons the blogger decided to sign up for Amazon's Prime service, was the knowledge of the date the goods would arrive. That way his wife could mentally prepare herself as best she could for someone at the door.

Another coping mechanism they used, or at least tried to use, on the door, where one would see a door knocker, was a polite notice asking people to use the bell...and explaining why!

Now, on with our tale...

Whilst most people respected this, couriers from Amazon displayed the attitude that they were above this. One acted particularly worse than the others.

After giving what they believed to be sufficient 'benefit of the doubt' regarding the ignoring of the delivery instructions, and the ignoring of the sign, the blogger complained to Amazon. After many times of having to calm his wife down, he had reached the end of his tether.

Expecting that to be the end of that, the blogger and his wife went on with their lives. The calm however, was soon interrupted with the arrival of their next delivery. The driver, upon arrival with their goods, pounded on the door so loud, the neighbour three doors away rushed into the lane expecting to see an accident.

Things got so bad, the blogger wrote to the Amazon UK CEO. The CEO palmed the blogger off to his secretary, who in turn gave him the generic, customer services template answer, minus the month free Prime membership (sometimes when you complain, to keep you using them, they give you a month free extra membership to Prime...the blogger had received at least 12 months worth)...and the behaviour continued.

At this point in the tale, continuing to use Amazon probably seems a little daft to you. Ordinarily in this situation, the blogger would have not bothered ordering from them again. Sadly, due to the nature of his wife's needs, Amazon was the only financially viable source for some things. Because of this, the blogger was forced to continue using their services, all the while looking for better alternatives.

Unlike many delivery companies in the land, Amazon did not supply the blogger with a delivery window. All they would tell him was the date the courier would attempt delivery. Because of this, on days when goods were due, he was unable to perform his duties fully. Having to leave his errands as late as possible into the day. As the carer for his wife, this was not always possible. Many times he would have to visit the apothecary, or the market before it closed. Without fail, whilst the blogger was out performing necessary tasks, the courier would turn up. Ignoring the sign, the courier would knock, loudly. Then, when nobody answered, he would proceed to knock even louder, to the the extent that the door frame, and the windows in the front of the house would shake. The knocking would get so loud, the neighbour three doors up would hear it. He also, on multiple occasions, ripped the sign off the blogger's door.


Chapter Four - The Plot Twist AKA Let's Change Our Policy But Not Tell Our Customers AKA Things Start To Look Up...

On one outing to the apothecary the blogger received a telephone call. The telephone call was from a courier trying to deliver from Amazon. Having read the note on the door, he thought it best he tried calling the blogger. Much to the blogger's shock, after the history he had with Amazon couriers, the courier said he would wait as the blogger was less than five minutes away.

Upon the bloggers arrival he and the courier had a chinwag, the courier telling him all about recent changes implemented by Amazon. The courier told him how Amazon recently informed the drivers, they were no longer allowed to leave parcels in customer's designated safe place if they were what Amazon deemed 'unsecure'. This was despite the fact, they still, to this day, offer the option as part of the ordering process. As best the courier could tell, these changes came about because Amazon wanted to 'downsize' it's logistics department.

This was the courier's first time on the route that included the blogger's house. He was under the impression that from that day forward, that was to become his route, having heard rumours the driver who used to do it, was fired...he was wrong.


Chapter Five - Ignore Previous Chapter AKA The F**k Ups Continue...

A few days passed and things looked like they may improve. An arrangement was made between customer services and the blogger. They'd phone him in advance of a delivery, that way he could get home to receive the goods, and they wouldn't take them away. This arrangement lasted one delivery attempt before it broke down...

Unbeknownst to the blogger, on the first delivery with this new arrangement, when the courier tried ringing him, his phone had no signal. He thought nothing of this. The courier had done as was asked, it hadn't worked, it was just one of those things. Whilst out the following day the blogger made sure his phone had a signal, but no call came. Again, he thought nothing of this, the courier was probably not near delivering his goods yet. When the blogger arrived home however, he found a 'delivery unsuccessful' notification, and his wife in a panic. Despite countless assurances from customer services, and the glimmer of hope offered by the previous days delivery attempt, it was back to service as usual...


Epilogue...

I'll wrap this up in my 'normal' writing style...

I realise to many the issues I've raised may seem trivial. You may be right. The thing is, as a carer, and from my wife, Jan's, standpoint, as a disabled person, life is quite difficult at times to start with. Amazon offered a service promising, amongst other things, convenience. A convenience we thought would help improve our lives. Because of this we paid them money for a service, a service which they have, on many occasions, failed to deliver. Not only this, when we complained about the behaviour of the driver, behaviour which I can't get across to you how bad it is (two of our neighbours have wanted to 'readjust his attitude'), nothing meaningful was done about it.

As I said in my 'story', it may also seem stupid to keep ordering from them. The trouble is, without going into too much detail, Jan requires certain things to live comfortably due to her conditions. Things that aren't available either as readily, or in the same quantity, or a cheaply as they are on Amazon. Because of this, until I find something else, we're stuck with them.

Having spoken to our neighbours, and having looked online, this poor service, the behaviour of the drivers, and the lack of giving a shit about it isn't limited to our route. Nor are these issues limited to Amazon UK. It seems to be bordering on worldwide pandemic.

Whilst I can't make people not use Amazon's services, you have to decide for yourselves..if you receive excellent service, that's great. I envy you! What I can, and have done, is remove the Amazon adverts from my blog. I don't want to find that my blog was responsible for someone ordering from them, and having the same issues we have had...I don't want to find myself responsible for Amazon causing someone else distress. Please also bear in mind that this is the truncated version of a very very long story, going into each and every time this has happened would take too long. For example, the last delivery mentioned above, my wife fell ill and needed to go to hospital (PRW - despite my repeated refusals! I was taken kicking and screaming....well, screaming, my legs don't work well enough to stand or walk never mind kick!) so we tried to change the delivery date. We were promised the request had been actioned yet for 4 days straight they attempted to deliver despite the numerous emails and phone calls over the issue. In our mind there was no point dragging the drivers out to us when we knew we wouldn't be in was a waste of their time. Apparently, they disagreed!

So, in conclusion, we are still locked in a battle to the death (dramatic? Me?) with Amazon and Amazon Logistics with no resolution or happy ending in sight....which will annoy my wife as she won't watch a film that doesn't have a somewhat happy ending so this is driving her insane!


Ian
http://facebook.com/guffoggthegeek
http://twitter.com/guffoggthegeek

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Where When How Wednesday - Nicky Photographer

Welcome to 'Where When How Wednesday'. In these weekly posts I'll be interviewing creatives about their journey into the creative world, their works, and what makes them tick. This week I'm interviewing Glasgow based photographer, NickyPhotographer.



Firstly, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for me. We should probably start at the beginning...When and how did you come about getting into the world of photography?

'I had failed at everything else in life so I had nothing really to lose. When I was a kid I had dreamed of being a photographer, captivated by photographs in old books and annuals once owned by my father which he had passed on to me which featured everything from old cowboy photo-stories to football images from the 1950s. The only real link to all the photographs is that they were all black & white and growing up in the beige 1970s and the garish 1980s I viewed all those pictures as an exiting alien world. Unfortunately, back in those days photography was expensive not least the cost of film as 36 mistakes added up to an entire roll of wasted film rather than just 120MB of memory which can be quickly freed up anyway in this digital age, so sadly I was unable to afford to get into photography. Many years past, not least my years of teenage vices, twenty-something relationships and focusing on a career in my 30s and i just never seemed to have the time for photography and my dream was put to one side and largely forgotten until my 40th birthday when I had some kind of mid-life crisis as I was passing a CEX store and saw a 2nd hand silver coloured Canon 400D that seemed to call to me. And that was it!'



Photography, especially online, tends to fall into specific genres and/or gets described as being a specific style. The trouble with this is it's quite subjective, the style someone views an image to be can often differ to the style the person creating it views it as. How would you describe the work you are putting out there?

'I would definitely describe my photography as awesome, verging on the genius but most people would not agree with me! Even most models I work with are not very impressed with the photographs I send on to them after each shoot but I think that's due to the fact that I don't Photoshop or do any post-editing short of cropping. I'm quite certain that many a model has been disappointed at opening those email attachments and not seeing themselves in front of some Mad Max post-apocalyptic style backdrop with a baby swan perched on their shoulder and glitter emanating from their bottoms and it's a pity as I would love for the models to fall in love with the images I lovingly create but I know what I want to shoot and I am convinced that I am treading the right path, completely undaunted by what all other photographers are doing.'



Photography can have it's share of problems. I personally have a particular problem with self confidence. This confidence issue can and has caused me issues with my photography. Do you find any aspects of photography particularly challenging?

'If truth be told I would love to be a wildlife photographer, but unfortunately, I have had to admit to myself that I am rubbish at wildlife photography. My rudimentary camera equipment would rule me out of this particular style of photography anyway, and even if I did have the patience to sit around for days waiting for a golden eagle to swoop past, something invariably would go wrong. Which is why I decided instead to photograph nude women who are far less likely to hide themselves behind a rocky outcropping or poop on my camera. I think it's really important to acknowledge your limitations so that you can concentrate on the things you are good at.'



In my series 'Foto Inspiration Friday' I share the people, images, places etc that I find give me inspiration. Who, or what, or where do you draw inspiration from?

'My inspiration comes from the knowledge that when I take a photograph it's an original image and the first and only time that moment has been captured. Nobody will ever take the exact same photo from the exact same angle in the exact same place of the exact same person so that image will always be my creation.'



Sometimes images hold a special significance to us. It can be the first image we ever made, it can be an image drawing attention to a cause close to our hearts, it can simply be an image of someone we love. Do you have an image or images that hold a special significance to you?

'That's a good question! Only old family photographs ever used to held any significance to me and as most of my family have passed away so most of the photographs have been put away. Stieglitz's horse and cart photograph does hold some significance for me however, as it's the first time I saw how a photograph could be like a living breathing image, a doorway you could almost pass through into another moment in another world. I swear every time I see that photograph the steam from that horse moves!'



Photoshoots can sometimes leave you open to scary or funny situations. What's the scariest or funniest situation you've found yourself in because of photography?

'Every photoshoot scares me as I've always been pretty socially inept and I often end up talking for the sake of talking, the result of which makes me sound like a serial killer who has drank too much Sunny D. Once, during a shoot with a model who had a partner in attendance, the lovely young lady told me that if we ever arranged another photoshoot together she would be 'more than happy to do penetration'. I immediately blushed and replied "I'm afraid I'm a bit too old for all that and besides I'm not sure if I would be able to hold the camera steady". She laughed and said that she had meant a more adult shoot with her partner involved but as I don't shoot adult/glamour photography I had to pass on that offer (yes, poor jokes are an important prop on every one of my shoots...)'



We've talked about your start in photography, we talked about your current work, let's quickly chat about the future. What have you got coming up this year? More of the same? Any special projects? Plus in regards to a more long term plan, where are you hoping your creative journey will take you in the years to come?

'More than anything I want my photography to be remembered, so I will continue to follow no conventions or indeed any rules. Are there any rules? If I'd had any formal training in photography I would probably know the answer to that! I sometimes compare myself to Mother Theresa in so much as she didn't often look like she had a clue how she could pull something off but importantly she was able to get people to sit up and take notice of what she was doing, and like Mother Theresa I also sometimes wear a scarf when it's chilly. I definitely plan to continue bringing more and more elaborate ideas to each new shoot and as time goes by I would also like to do more outdoor work but as i live in Scotland that is dependent on whether I can find models who don't mind suffering a wee bit of frostbite for their art...'



We can't really talk photography without discussing gear, so...what is your 'go to' equipment that you find yourself gravitating towards the most on shoots?

'Due to financial restraints I use a 12-year-old 2nd-hand Canon 400D and an even older Canon 40D. In terms of props I have used everything from silly string to Bacofoil, football scarves to curdled milk, as well as various elaborate outfits bought from charity shops which often leads to the assistant behind the counter inquiring as to whether I'm just a cheapskate husband or a very prudent cross-dresser (my long hair doesn't exactly help me with my protestations about the latter...) I believe that every photoshoot calls for a different set-up each time, as each model is unique and the dynamics behind the ideas you start out with are quite likely to change during the shoot.'



Now for the shameless self promotion part of the interview...where can people find more of you and your work?

'I'm keeping most of my work under wraps in preparation of an exhibition, which I will hopefully get my finger out for in the near future, but I do have a thousand or so up on Viewbug as an example of some of my work. I hope everyone likes it but if they don't then that's okay too! Art is subjective and my art is very subjective...'



I'd like to thank Nicky again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me.

Ian
http://facebook.com/guffoggthegeek
http://twitter.com/guffoggthegeek