Well, Obama shook hands with Castro in Havana today. The US national anthem is played over and over in front of José Martí’s memorial in Independence square. Historic day indeed, as President Obama is the first US president to set foot in Cuba since 1928.

The people of Cuba long for a better life with less restrictions, to travel and run businesses. Only 90miles from US soil, young Cubans hang out on the Malecón sea wall in the evenings, to cool off, but mainly to drink, sing and just chill with mates.

I brought a group of keen photographers to Cuba in 2011 to photograph Havana and the countryside. The Cubans are warm and friendly but in a wary way. The service industry is patchy and the food is only average (apart from several amazing restaurants) but the music and smiles will charm you.

Take a look at what our group photographed in 10-days here.

100 Days

Just 100 days to the Brexit referendum, on June 23rd. The public is getting informed by polls and opinions from both sides of the campaign. No one really knows what the effects would be for Britain if there was an ‘out’ victory.

Sign Posts

What does photography mean to you?

I am starting a response thread on Facebook here with the above question, to which I am posing to all my photographer friends, contacts and acquaintances and those that are involved in the imaging, curatorial and journalism disciplines. We now begin a new year soon, and the flood of images that are being shared on social media and the rest of the internet, no less,  in printed publications, television and commercials continue to saturate our collective minds on a daily basis.

This wild statistic is mind-boggling!

If you printed off the 21.9 billion photos uploaded to Instagram
in a year, it would reach 6,351 kilometres.
That’s a whole lot of selfies!

[Check it out here]

So, in search for more clarity, I would love to learn about your thoughts on photography, to you personally, either a consumer of images, or perhaps as a creator.

What is it about photography that makes you tick, go weak in the knees, perhaps break out in a cold sweat, or just feel chilled. Perhaps it isn’t a tangible thing, like cradling a vintage camera and hearing the moving gears within as you cock its shutter. Could it be the amazing deep blacks from a fine silver gelatin print that moves you to tears, or the heady smell of developer and fixers  fumes wafting through your makeshift darkroom?

Maybe you like to collect photo books and smell the new pages as you sample its contents. You may be into gear fetish, always acquiring new equipment as soon as they hit the stores, or a pixel peeper, demanding to view everything on your giant 25 inch screen at 100%. You could be in love with Photoshop and like to tweak every possible parameter to create your masterpieces in your darkened room, perhaps?

I would also like to know what is the most significant photograph you have ever taken and why.  This does not have to be a masterpiece, a good image, or even a memorable image.  Just an image that has played an important role in your photographic journey, or made an impression to others along the way? Please do share.

I will run this thread for a few months and hope by the end of it, we could have a collection of  interesting writing, photographs and viewpoints to share but I will need your honest involvement and response.


Best wishes for 2016…



Absence of silence

Day 6 -Haste Ye Back! The slogan greets us on a road sign as we drive out of Brora on the A9, heading South and back into England. First, the long drive towards Inverness, Perth and then Stirling, by-passing Glasgow over into Carlisle on the M74. The scenery is spectacular, as you can imagine. Hills, valleys, meandering rivers and streams, snow-capped mountains, sheep and cattle. We had brilliant sunshine, rain, sleet and snow all within a few minutes of leaving. That is the weather in the Highlands in winter time, according to the locals we met, ah, nothing to worry about.

I leave Scotland with a heavy heart, with the Paris attacks fresh in my mind as we watched it unfold on live tv on Friday evening last. Had I not planned this Scottish road trip, I would have gone to Paris Photo this very same weekend, as did several of my photography friends. Thank God they are all safe.

Photographically, I didn’t shoot much on this 1,500-mile road trip, save to say the weather foiled many attempts at trying, what with Storm Abigail blowing 90mph winds on the Days 2 and 3 whilst we sat out the Amber warning. Cameras and horizontal rain do not get along well.


Under leaden skies


Day 3 – After the awful event in Paris last night, a city so close and familiar to me, I couldn’t really sleep, but managed to get a few hours rest from watching the streaming breaking news on TV. We had a 4 hour drive the next morning, which was today, 14th November.  Leaving the West coast and crossing the Highlands down to Brora on the East coast, under leaden skies. It had been raining and sleeting non-stop the whole night, and the clouds are low and menacing.

There is a light dusting of snow on the mountain peaks above 500m and the temperature is hovering around 5C. So no ice. More particularly, no black ice. The A832 to A835 route across from Poolewe to Lairg via Ullapool is spectacular. We practically encounter no other motorists for at least 50 miles on this route. Amazingly raw landscapes of valleys, and mountains, rivers, streams, waterfalls, sheep and huge black cattle. Boggy heather knolls and dark grey granite crags.  Just hoping the car not breaking down or the tyres getting a puncture.



Occupied Pleasures by Tanya Habjouqa

Christmas came early!


Any day now.

Today, November 8th.

Phone rang, postman delivered.

I was hoping and expecting to receive my copy of Tanya Habjouqa’s amazing book called Occupied Pleasures, a collection of candid photographs of Palestine and it’s people, which was funded through Kickstarter, which had a planned release date in November 2015. Like an eager kid, I opened the package sent by FotoEvidence from Sofia, and voila here it is!






“Each image avows aliveness and desolation” – Foreword by Nathalie Handal

Every photo is so well taken and composed, and the colour is simply mesmerizing. I seldom buy photobooks nowadays, simply because I have no more bookshelf space, and also the costs of the ones I like to collect. Another reason is that I also like trees. Once in a while, however, comes a publication worth supporting and this is one.

Tanya Habjouqa


Charlie Burns, king of Bacon Street.


Wandered through the streets around Brick Lane again this Saturday with participants from the City Academy street photography class and caught this enigmatic image of a tourist photographing the Charlie Burns mural. Charlie Burns, as I later discovered is a long time resident of Shoreditch, a well-respected gentleman, who had lived here since 1915, and had seen the gradual changes over the years. He established a paper mill business and later ran a boxing club locally.  Charlie passed away in 2012, aged 96.

More below :

Mural by Ben Shaw, artist See here

So Long, Charlie Burns

City Academy Photography Classes

InstantLondon. London welcomes refugees


At least 50,000 people marched to Downing Street today in London and as many in other European capitals to demand more be done for the refugee crisis facing Europe currently. The atmosphere was festive, with many families and small children taking part in the march from Marble Arch to Parliament Square.

Leviathan 2 – Death in the Med

L9998834Nice Pontoon, France

Over 800 migrants, men, women and children, from North Africa – Libya, Syria and Eritrea, drowned yesterday in the southern Mediterranean Sea, whilst attempting an illegal night crossing, near Libya’s coast and also, another boat sunk in southern Greece. According to reports, there are an estimated 1,000,000 migrants amassed in Libyan ports waiting to take these perilous journeys to cross over to Europe. These people pay thousands of dollars each to human traffickers to get onboard unseaworthy boats, with little or no food, medicine and technical skills, hoping they will be be picked up by Italian coastguards. They are desperate to escape persecution, civil war, famine and disease, but exploited by ruthless gangs to come to Europe, where, supposedly, life is better.

‘More than 1,750 migrants have perished in the Mediterranean since the start of the year – more than 30 times higher than during the same period of 2014, the International Organisation for Migration said on Tuesday.’ – The Times.

The figures are staggering.

‘It is thought that the Italian Navy saved some 170,000 boat people in 2014 and brought them to Italy. It is also thought Italy’s centre-Left government then lost all trace of 100,000 of them once inside Italy.’

I can’t even attempt to guess what the solution to this will be. Stop the boats? How? Accept the migrants? Where to house them? When people are desperate to survive they will leave everything, risk everything to seek ‘Eldorado’. Then, there’s always the threat from ISIS using this guise to enter Europe.