RedEye HotHouse18

This weekend I was invited to talk at the RedEye Network HotHouse 2018 event at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester. HotHouse talks bring together a range of photographers who are given ten minutes to share their process, experiences and stories about their practice. I have attended a number of HotHouse events before as a member of the audience, they have even inspired similar two minutes talks that I require my own students to deliver at the end of each project, it was time for me to step up myself. 

I decided to present on my teaching practice and share some of the projects that I have delivered to try and engage my students in darkroom processes. The ten minutes seemed to go like lightning and after sharing stories of making paper negatives, building handmade cameras and crating chemigrams, my time was up. It was great to be able to field a few questions about my work and the comments from people afterwards were really nice to hear. I may even apply to present again in the future. 

Thanks again to RedEye for the opportunity, check out their website and see the other great things that they do. 


Mushrooms and Fungi in Finland

Images from a trip to Finland in August. Fantastic national parks and walking trails abundant with photographic opportunities. 


Yellow Trail Eteläkonneveden National Park

Hidden in the lake areas of Finland, the yellow trail of the Eteläkonneveden National Park guides you around Vuori Kalaja taking in carpets of wild blueberries, great views and forest treks. 


Art Argile, Fes

A trip to the Art Argile Ceramics co-operative just outside the old town of Fes

TALENT Magazine

One of my main targets for this year was to further promote the work of our most able students both within school and the wider community. Along side our social media presence I decided to create and self publish a small zine that would be released on a termly basis. Issue one focused on the work of Photographers in Y11 who had just completed their mock exam, it was enthusiastically received by the students an more importantly staff from other faculties who may not usually get to see a different side of the learners in their classes. Nurturing aspiration is an important part of my practice and the key purpose of the zine is to encourage and inspire the students featured and show them the value of their work. 

Issue two features work from students of Photography, Art and Graphics and involves work from across the department. A new element to this issue was to include information about further education and feature a preview of our upcoming trip to local degree shows. 

Below is a repost from our Faculty blog explaining the  aims and ethos of the zine. 


Released this week is Issue 2 of the FLHS TALENT magazine. The Summer term incarnation of the magazine focuses on work by students in Y10 who are studying GCSE Art, Photography and Graphics, this issue celebrates the diversity and and creativity that is fostered in our successful department. 
We believe that it is vitally important for our students to see their work celebrated and promoted as much as possible so this year has seen the creation of our first foray into print media that is designed to go hand in hand with our online presences including Twitter, Instagram and Flickr. Copies of the magazine are distributed to all faculties in order for students to share their achievements with all of their teachers. There are also copies available in the school reception so that the work can be shared with the wider local community and visitors to the school.
As part of our commitment to encourage our students future aspirations of a career in the creative sectors, this terms magazine includes a feature on the Manchester Metropolitan University School of Art Degree shows. A number of our Y10 students will be visiting the shows as part of a department organised trip but information is also provided for those who would like to make their own visit.

- FLHS Arts Faculty blog

Future aims are to continue to publish on a termly basis and to extend the readership by getting copies out into the local community through small business etc. I will also be looking into a special edition in a newspaper format allowing us the ability to include the work of even more students. 

New Lesson plan on #PhotoPedagogy

Just added to the PhotoPedagogy site, my new lesson plan LIGHT AS THE SUBJECT. Navigate over to for the pdf and check out many other great lesson ideas.

The camera is a device for capturing light. This short project aims to bring light back to the forefront of the creative process and make it the main character in photographic works.
Students will be encouraged to notice and study light in its various forms before moving on to manipulating it to serve their creativity.

PGCE Workshop 2016

Another very successful PGCE workshop on digital photography delivered for ITT students from MMU yesterday. A great group of trainees who were full of questions and enthusiasm for the activities during the day. 

This year as an addition we were able to insert a non digital element to the day through the creation of chemigrams. Assisted by our artist in residence the group explored the painterly process and started to create ideas for projects that they could deliver themselves. 

Good luck on placement B to all of the trainees.

Printing iPhone photographs

After seeing the Enfojer enlarger for using smartphones to create darkroom prints and discovering that they were not yet available, I decided to do some experimenting with our existing equipment.

I found that the iPhone fits snugly into the space left by the negative holder of our enlarger and when the brightness is turned up projects a very good image that can be printed from. 

Ensure that your phone image has been inverted either through a negative app or through the accessibility settings on the phone and focus the image using the enlarger bellows. Cover the lens whilst the photo paper is positioned then expose according to a test strip that you should make. 

The images below were exposed for around three seconds. 

The next step is to find an enlarger that can be converted to hold the phone in a tray like the Enfojer. This could be a great way to introduce students to the darkroom combining old and new technology. 

Victoria Baths Creative Day

Had a great day on Saturday shooting at Victoria Baths in Manchester. The session was organised by Marc from the great Velocity Studios who arranged four excellent models and the loan of some fantastic lighting kit from The Flash Centre for us to try out. I'd been on a taught session at Velocity before but this was my first time working with professional models and with lots of creative control. I learnt loads throughout the day and arrived home exhausted but really pleased with the results of the shoot. A big thanks to Zara, Jen, Tilly and Holly for all of their help and input and to Si and Bri form the Flash Centre for their great support. Also a big thanks to the other photographers on the day, especially Nicola and Martin who were in my group.

Pinterest, any good?

I'm a bit behind the times on this one but I've recently started to use Pinterest for sharing artists and photographers with my GCSE students. I've found it really quick and easy especially when delivering the exam projects where students will all be studying different themes, it helps me to resource the questions at a fast pace and also instantly as I'm discussing work with students. Rather than students finding Google thumbnails of images they wish to write about, I can direct them straight to the original work on the photographers own site. My only problem with Pinterest is that users who are not logged in (students on the school network) get an annoying popup asking them to log in making it pretty unusable at school or for those who don't want to sign up. Apparently this is a fairly recent addition to the site causing some to abandon it, I'll keep looking for a workaround or an alternative but for now I'll press on with it.

UPDATE: Just looked back through posts so have got round to an update on this topic. After consulting with out IT team we have unblocked Pinterest in our network, I now get all students to create an account and they use it on a regular basis.  

Paper negative samples

Lizzie and I have been prepping for a Y10 paper negatives workshop after half term. We've tried both traditional paper and direct positive in the holga and a box brownie. The normal paper is producing good results but the ositive is very lacking in contrast. Through research we've come to the conclusion that the positive  paper needs very fresh developer to perform at its best. It would be good to use it for the workshop so the pupils get instant (ish) results but I think we'll stick to normal paper and invert the scans. Below are examples of our tests both before and after post. 

Direct pos portrait - low contrast



Classroom inverted

MMU PGCE Workshop

Delivered my first workshop of 2015 today. 27 trainee Art & Design teachers from Manchester Metropolitan University visited our Art department to see how I deliver GCSE Photography. The day consisted of an insight into our department, our ethos for delivering photography and a range of practical activities that illustrated how our students experience the course.

After a practical demonstration of the software that we use to both post process work and create digital sketchbooks, delegates had time to discuss and plan possible units of work for delivery in their block B placements.

Great to have an enthusiastic and committed group of teachers to work with again this year, good luck on your next placements. 

Look out for more workshops to come this year, sign up for updates on the workshops page.

Paper Negatives

Inspired by Ian Ruhter's video of him using a Holga as a wet plate camera, I decided to try the decidedly easier and cheaper version of using a paper negative.
I used a piece of tracing paper as ground glass to compose and 'focus' the scene before loading the camera with direct positive paper, I also sealed up the seams of the back to combat too many light leaks.
The self portrait was just lit by the lights in the room and was a 4min exposure (I even survived a cat attack), the still life of pears in a bowl was lit with a table lamp very close up and was a 9sec exposure.
Lizzie our artists in residence and I developed the paper today and I was really pleased with the results. I think this could be the beginnings of a workshop for a few GCSE students, it gives much better results that pinhole in terms of being in focus and is much more predictable. All you need is any old camera that has bulb mode so that the shutter can be held open. Direct positive paper is great as you see the results immediately rather than having to reprint or scan first.


I was introduced to a new process by our artist in residence just before Christmas. Chemigrams are related to photo-grammes but can be done in daylight, rather than placing objects onto the paper we experimented with a range of solutions. The examples below were covered in salt then splashed with water, once exposed the paper is fixed in the normal way then scanned. 

Fixed and scanned

Fixed and scanned

Levels and curves

Levels and curves



The students really enjoyed the experimentation, a great workshop which would lead on nicely to other traditional methods.

There are lots of good examples to be found on the web, a good place to start is