How I got the Shot – Pink & Red

How I got the Shot – Pink & Red

Shooting for yourself is something I talk about a lot, I talk about it a lot but I have struggled to do over the last 12 months.

In 2016 I shot maybe 20-30 shoots which were for myself to try new skills, develop my work and give myself a break for the paid work I was doing.

In 2017 I did only 4 shoots like this. Now a little of that is because I was a victim of my own success, my commercial work grew massively and became my biggest photography year on earnings and hours worked. This meant my own personal work had to take a little bit of a back seat. Well not a little, it wasn’t even in the back seat, it was left at home in a cupboard which was locked and nailed shut!

Although I don’t really care for new years resolutions I wanted to make 2018 the year that I got a better balance on this. 2016 was too much shooting for myself, 2017 was not enough, 2018 needs to be just right.

So I got in touch with the team. Steph my hair stylist (well not my hair stylist I’m bald) and Rachel my MUA.



Planning the shoot

I’ve probably got 40 Pinterest boards full of ideas for shoots which have never made it beyond the planning stage for one reason or another. None of those ideals really tickled my fancy for this shoot. I needed something new, something that I could create relatively easy with quite an impactful result.


I turned the source I often do when I need inspiration. Not Google. The Wife.

She’s an avid follower up fashion and makeup trends, and when I asked for an idea she came up with it very quickly. It was simple. It was bold and it was relatively easy to put together; Pink & Red.


Shopping for girls clothes

Clothing was quite important on this shoot, I would say it was make or break. If the clothing didn’t compliment the colour and the feel of the shoot it would have let it down.

I didn’t have a huge budget for the clothing so I had to use a couple of different tactics. ASOS’ returns policy and the hope that Primarni had something that fit with the theme.

I don’t have a great experience in shopping for female clothing, but the fact that I was looking for just two colours made it a whole load easier to search for what I wanted.

Add to that the ability to search by price on ASOS, it meant I could get the selection down from thousands of items to just a few.


I ordered two outfits from ASOS before heading out into what felt like the abyss in Primark looking for items that would work.

Now just like searching online by colour, it became much easier to do this in the shop too, pretty much just tuning in my eyes to the colours I was looking for enabled me to cut out all of the noise and just head to the colours that would work for me. It was a relatively painless 10 minutes. Although it took longer for the wife to find slippers for our son…. that’s another story though.

I added a few accessories with ear rings that would help add to the overall feel and style but stopped short of purchasing bags and coats. If I was shooting for a client it would be a different matter as I could pass on these costs, but when shooting for myself it didn’t make that much sense to add this extra expense at this stage.


The Set Up

Keeping with the simple but effective theme, I had a look in my head on what I wanted to create with the background. Block colour was the main thing in my head, no patterns, no complications, just two block colours. Pink and Red.

I already had some Red paper from Creativity Backgrounds (Cherry Red) which I know photographs well. Its deep, it’s not too cheesy and I knew it would compliment what I wanted from the soft Carnation Pink paper roll.

Now having these paper rolls wasn’t enough, I didn’t just want to shoot against block colour, one at a time. Its boring, it doesn’t push me and it doesn’t really do anything for the viewer.

So I used a couple of old diffuser frames which are fairly large and lined them with the paper, one in each colour. This then gave me shapes to use, if they stood up it was a tall frame, if laid down it was a step, if stood on its side it was a base of a wall. Using something like this meant I could change the look of each set with minimal effort and time.


I also used some off-cuts of red paper to use as a “challenge prop” for the models. Harriotte even used it as an awe in a rowing boat while trying to think of ways to use it.

The only other prop I used were some apple crates I bought recently, to help break up the colour a tiny bit but also add a little size context to the scene and to put a little texture back.



Lighting wise I already had the general idea of what I wanted from the shots and how I wanted to light it. Being a creature of simplicity I didn’t want a huge set up, and baring in mind the majority of shots would be taken around the same sort of place, I wanted a fairly static set up.

I opted for my key light being a Pixapro CITI600 with a 90cm Deep Para Box with the outer diffusion removed. This meant that I was getting a slightly harder and more contrasting light rather than using the two diffusion panels and getting a softer light. I did this because I wanted the skin to pop and wanted a little more shadow in the back of the image behind the subject. I used a Pixapro CITI600 and a Pixapro 170cm Octabox as my fill light so soften those shadows ever so slightly and also fill some of the shadows on the models face, although I wanted punch, I didn’t want a lot of shadow on the face.

In terms of the light powers, they were both set to the same power, because the outer diffuser was removed on the Deep Para I gained a little more output on that light and with the 170cm Octa being such a big surface area, it spread the light out a lot more so was less powerful so filled the shadows just the right amount.


Whenever working on shoots like this, especially with a big team involved I try to shoot Tethered wherever I can, onto a large monitor. This means the full team can see what it looks like, if we need to adjust hair and makeup or change an outfit. It also makes it much easier to communicate with the model because they can see exactly what I see from the image.



The majority of the shoot was to take place within the width of the pink backdrop which meant there was minimal movement of lighting and the tethering equipment, which made it a whole lot easier to go between outfits and looks.

The two models, Kandace and Harriotte, took it in turns to be shot in each of their outfits. I changed each set up very subtly in order to still convey the look I wanted but to have enough variation to create an interesting set up images. Things like adding in boxes, taking out screens, etc.


If you’ve followed my work before you’ll know I don’t use light meters, so setting the exposure for the scene was very much a manual process of Test shot > Adjust >Test shot > Accept.

The images were shot at F8 1/160sec ISO 100 – just to save anyone asking.

When we’d finished shooting the full length shots we moved to another area where I’d also hand-made another background. I used an 8ft x 4ft V Flat and stuck dark red sheets of paper so it, so that I had a different colour background but also a little texture through the edges of the paper.

The lighting for this set up was very simple. I added the front diffusion panel back to the front of the Deep Para Box and set it up about 1ft above the subject, 45degrees to the camera left. This helped to create some nice soft deep shadows on our models.

Post Production 

Editing wise I had an idea in my head on what I wanted to create but wasn’t 100% sure on the route I wanted to take. The problem with shooting against large blocks of paper is that there is no texture so it can look a little plan and can sometimes lead to banding in the file.

Due to the outfits the models were wearing, I knew an older film edit would work quite well to slightly desaturate the colours and also add in some texture through the grain of the film.

I don’t often use Lightroom to edit anything, but I have some VSCO presets saved in there. I took the images through to Photoshop to tidy them up, remove any creases in the paper and do a minimal retouch on the models before taking it back into Lightroom to apply the preset.

I settled on the Kodak Portra 800 ++ preset, this gave me a level of desaturation I was after but still maintained a richness to the skin. It also put a level of grain into the image that I was happy with.

Straight out of Camera Vs Kodak Portra 800 ++ Preset
Notice the difference in the grain


So there you have it, a bit of a breakdown of just what goes into the planning and production of a shoot like this.


Watch out on my social media over the next few weeks as this shoot will be featured in an American Fashion Magazine.


Thanks for reading and don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter to see more behind the scenes like this.


Five Easy Ways to use V-Flats in the Studio

Five Easy Ways to use V-Flats in the Studio

V- Flats, screens, flags, boards, whatever you want to call them. They can be really inexpensive but have a huge value in portrait photography in the studio.


I bought these polystyrene sheets from a local DIY shop costing around £40 for the pair. I used shelving brackets on the base to help give some level of sturdiness and make sure they are free standing. Not the best solution for the base, but, in two years they’ve never fallen, never broken and have worked a treat.



The Window V


Shooting directly into window light can sometimes be a bit of a challenge for exposure, especially when you still want a good level of detail in the skin and not to just blow out the highlights massively.

One way I’ve found of utilising the window light as a backlight is to shoot with the window on the opposite side to the camera creating a backlit effect.


I positioned the V Flats to create a triangle with a space no more than the width of the lens at the shooting position. This bounces the light evenly back into the subject and creates a lovely soft light effect.

One thing to watch out for on this techniques is “cats eyes”. Because of the placement of the panels, it can sometimes give the effect of cats eyes which isn’t always the most flattering look.


With V Flats and Without V Flats


Slither of Light


I couldn’t come up with a better name while writing this blog, so feel free to call it whatever you like..

This is a technique I like to use when shooting set ups in the studio or teaching lighting workshops as it is a very simple way to create a dramatic effect without needing a lot of equipment. One light is enough for the light source, and you really don’t even need V Flats; you could use a doorway, curtains, furniture or a couple of big books!


Changing the position of the screens and the light can drastically change the look of this set up, creating harder and softer shadows.

This can also work really well on a smaller scale shooting head shots with the same sort of effect to create a very small slither of light on the face.


Single Window Bounce


This window space is one of my favourite places in my studio to shoot. In the afternoon I get a beautiful soft light coming through the window and I usually place my subject about 1ft back from the edge of the window, this means the light isn’t too harsh and falls off very subtly.


I shoot this one in a mix of ways, often I will shoot with the need for the V Flat which gives quite a lot of contrast to the skin with light coming from one direction in the window, and a tiny little bit of bounce coming back from the wall on the other side of the room. However, I will also use a V Flat to give a little variance and add more softness to the skin on the opposite side to the window.

Without V Flat —- With V Flat

I generally place the V Flat within 2ft of the subject and it essentially becomes a big soft box.


Adding Colour with Gels

This set up us a little more involved utilising three strobes in the studio (flashes could be used) The idea with this set up is to build up from using one light above camera position. I tend to use a Gridded 90cm Octabox, this allows me to bring the skin tone to a good level of exposure.

Two panels are placed either side of the subject with strobes placed behind and angled very slightly toward the centre. This creates the effect of adding four light.

The V Flats help the light to bounce back onto the background to bring up the exposure slightly, and add some gradient to it, and the lights angled slightly toward our subject also create a rim light on each side to add separation against the background.

lighting-diagram-1518608853.jpgUsing this effect adds a subtle rim and hair light to the subject when shooting with just reflectors fitted an no gels.

Adding coloured gels to the back strobes then adds some extra interest to the image. The V Flats bounce some colour onto the background while also casting the colour onto the subject. Any area that is in view of the back lights and not that of the front light will pick up the colour which gives it a totally different dimension to not using the gels.

Fill Light

Without V Flat Vs With V Flat

This one works in a very similar way to the Single Window Bounce technique above. The light source is coming from one direction, but instead of a window it is now a soft box, and a very big one at that. It has two diffusion panels, inner and outer, but no grid. This allows me a very soft light, especially when place within a foot of the subject. The V Flat is placed around 4ft away from the subject on the opposite side to the light.



The effect is very subtle in comparison to the window light shot, but, it still adds a fill light that give the shadows a little lift where needed on the face and a little on the background too.

Changing the distance of the V Flat to the subject can change the look of the image in terms of how much light is being bounced back into the scene.


So there you have it, 5 very simple but effective ways to use V Flats for Portraits.


I’ll be sharing more tips and tutorials in the coming weeks, make sure you sign up for the Newsletter to receive Blogs and Videos as soon as they release;



How I got the Shot – Commercial Food Photography

How I got the Shot – Commercial Food Photography


I was recently booked to capture images for a North East food retailer who have a specialist butchery within their store. In total I had 150 items to capture over a two-day period.


First and foremost as with any commission its important to plan and prepare for the shoot ahead.

I had an idea on what I wanted the set up to look like, simple, sleek and a slightly modern feel to it. Although the images were to be used for their e-commerce website; I didn’t want them to be plain white background shots. I was shooting Raw Meat products, they needed to look appetising and make the consumer want to buy them.

As with most things when I’m doing research, I turned to google for ideas and inspiration. There was a significant lack of images of this type on google with maybe only two or three available for reference. My idea in my head was still the same before I googled it so that meant I could continue on the same route.

The room I was go shoot in wasn’t the biggest, maybe 2m x 2m in total. There was no natural light, no windows and it was cold. That actually played to my benefit.



As I said above I had a specific look in mind for this shoot, and while I didn’t want to make it really obvious that I’d used props in this shoot, I needed something to help fill the frame for some of the smaller meat items as well as something of texture to shoot on.

The first and most important part in my mind was a chopping board. It needed to be sealed so that the juice/blood from the meat didn’t immediately seep into it and give a “wet look”. I googled a few different suppliers, looked on Amazon and visited some cooking retailers, none of which had what I wanted.



If Ikea don’t sell it, it ain’t available. I had a quick look on their website and found the perfect board. Small wood grain, sealed, shallow and relatively cheap too. It meant that the pattern wasn’t so strong that it took the eye away from the product on top of it.

I bought quite a few of these to take to the job.


I also purchased small jars with the idea of adding spices, herbs, salt etc to them to help give the impression of a kitchen.

Although I was shooting on a chopping board, I still needed a table or bench. I didn’t want to use a traditional butchers metal countertop as it would have reflected the light too much and taken away from the shot.

I have a few different types of textured laminate flooring that I tend to buy on trips to B&Q. If you can find a split pack with a couple missing its even better as they’ll knock a couple of quid off too.

I added the flooring to the frame with the grain running toward the camera rather than away so that the light wasn’t creating shadows on the joints. I also added one of my favourite textures. Hessian. In fact it was a sandbag that cost me £1 from B&Q, it’s barely visible in the frame of the finished shots but helps to break up the background that tiny little bit.


Set Up

With jobs like this it’s always batter to take too much stuff than not take enough as by the time you get set up you may want to change modifiers, add lights and change set ups.

It took me four trips to the car to carry all the equipment in before I realised there was an abundance of flat-bed trolleys that I could have used to carry it in one. Next time.

So I started to get the set up in place. Luckily there was a small dining table in the room I was using (I think it was a staff room ) so this was the perfect height to shoot at. I pulled that to one side, set up two stands and a background bar with a white PVC background from Pixapro to use if I needed to bounce a little extra light in.

Photo 25-01-2018, 08 53 27

I added the flooring to the table running towards camera, and clamped it to the table to ensure I didn’t knock it while setting up. I clamped the hessian sand bag to one corner and placed the chopping board in the sort of position I wanted it.

Photo 26-01-2018, 09 14 11



As I’ve already mentioned, there was no natural light in this room whatsoever, so, I had to create my own window light.

The look I wanted was light and airy as if on the bench next to a large natural light source. This is where the Pixapro 170cm Octabox came in.

Photo 25-01-2018, 08 53 27Photo 25-01-2018, 09 44 01


Positioned at the end of the table on the opposite side to the camera it was placed on a Pixapro CITI600 strobe, battery-powered which meant I didn’t have to mess about with cables and extension leads.

So with the back light in place, I then needed a fill light. I used another CITI600 with a 90cm Octabox to the camera left, touching the table.

As you can see from the images both of these lights are very close to the product, this was to give the softest light possible. The further away from the product the harsher and deeper the shadows would be and it would look much more obvious that I had used artificial lighting on them.

Photo 26-01-2018, 09 14 00

One of the most important parts of the lighting set up was probably the cheapest too. Foam Board. I used two A4 Foam boards just out of frame on the right of camera to bounce the tiniest bit of light back into the product to lift the shadows ever so slightly. It didn’t need much but it made a huge difference when we had it compared to when we didn’t.

Left With Foam Board – – – Right Without Foam Board

The Shoot

So the scene is set so to speak (that a lot of S’s) and I’m ready for the product to come in. Before it does though there are a couple of aspects I need to ensure. Having already set the light powers (1/16th on the key light and 1/32nd on the fill) I need to give myself the best chance of viewing the images I capture in the most detail. The easiest way to do that is to shoot tethered.

I set up my MacBook with a TetherPro Cable to show the images directly in Lightroom. This meant both the client and I could see the images, I could check for exposure and composition and they could let me know if they like them or if changes are needed.


Now some of the items were fairly simple to identify, even some of the more specialist items like chicken feet and pig trotters. But, there were 15 different types of Sausages and a lot of them looked the same. As part of my job, I needed to ensure that these sorts of items were labelled correctly in the metadata to allow the web designer to input them correctly into the website. The easiest way to do that…. a bit of paper of course. Then when it comes to editing I can rename each type appropriately.

Geordie Bangers

It was hard to estimate to the client just how long this shoot would take. It wasn’t just the shooting time but it was also the cleaning down after each product, changing chopping boards, making sure the links of sausages fell in an aesthetically pleasing way. There was a lot to it.

Cleaning definitely took the most time. I would have loved to have used an assistant to help me set up each shot, but there just wasn’t the space to have someone with me. So, I had to set up and place each item of meat product on the set, clean my hands and then capture the images.

“Could you have worn gloves?”

Well yes but I would have had to change between each type of product, and would have still had to take them off to operate the camera. So I found this to be the easiest way. I went through a bumper pack of Kitchen roll within two hours on the first day just drying my hands!

It’s not often I use a Macro lens, but I opted for a 100mm Canon Macro for this shoot. I needed the detail that a lens like this gives you. I was shooting up at F11 (which is alien for someone like me who shoots wide open most of the time) and this allowed me to get a lot of detail into the shots, showing the texture of the meat and give lots of opportunity to crop in when required.

Photo 25-01-2018, 09 57 16



Getting everything right in camera was essential on a job like this, I wanted minimal work in post. So I had to be very pedantic about drops of blood/juice showing on the board, no matter how small, any residue left behind after adjusting the position of the meat and even the placement of the props around the frame which were changed every couple of items to give a big variation.

With that all in mind the post production was more about adjusting crops to make sure I wasn’t catching the edges of the flooring or foam board and to take out any tiny bits of dust or salt that I spilt.

I used a custom edit to get the finish I wanted to the shot and very slightly desaturate the image, but not so much that it made the meat look too pale.

Before and After Edit


So all in all this was a challenging but interesting shoot to be a part of. I learnt a lot about Sausage and my Wife now knows how well I can actually clean the kitchen…

In all of the shoots I do, I always look back and think what could I do differently, and with this shoot there probably isn’t a great deal I would change. I’d probably try to use a bigger room as it felt very cramped once the lights and tripod was set up, my standing space was about 2ft x 2ft and I’m a size 12 so that ain’t a lot of room!


Ruskims-613Ruskims-549Gluten Free Sausage_004


How I made my new background….

How I made my new background….


So last week I set about creating a new background in the studio. I had a spare wall and some wood panels lying around from an old room set I had created


So I started with four 8ftx2ft MDF panels which were already painted white from an old room set. I fixed these to the wall using 3×2″ CLS timber, I used plasterboard jointing tape between the joints to prevent it cracking when the paint was applied. I gave this a base coat of black matt paint.


Just before that coat was dry I went over it with a light grey silk paint. There is a reason I used silk… I’ll explain further down.

I bought rapid set Tile Adhesive, now unfortunately I mixed this way to wet (added too much water) so instead of being able to use a trowel to apply the adhesive to the wall I had to use a paint roller. What a mess that made!

But actually it worked out really well, it meant the adhesive wasn’t going on as thickly meaning it wouldn’t need much to sand it back to let the silk paint show through from below. I used Silk because it would pick up and reflect the light through some of the concrete on top of it to help make parts of the background stand out.


As the adhesive started to dry out, I used another paint roller to soften some of the edges of the adhesive and this helped to add a little texture to it, it was also easy to wipe the drips of adhesive away to give it more of a concrete look.

It was -2 in the studio when I did this so it was taking a long time for the adhesive to set, I used two fans to help dry off the adhesive.

For the sake of 3 or 4 hours work, and a little mess this background worked quite well. Including the original price of the MDF this cost around £50 to build which is a lot cheaper than some of the hand painted backgrounds that are available.



I couldn’t help but test it on my boys when they arrived at the studio, it was still wet at this point!




My Top 25 Photography Gifts for Christmas…

I seem to get more and more messages each year asking “What is a good gift to buy for a photographer?..”

So I thought I would compile a list of what I think is a good mix of gifts for every budget…

(All of the products are linked to Amazon for the added bonus if you have Prime you also receive free delivery on Prime items)

**All prices correct as of November 27th 2017

Under £10

14-in-1 Cleaning Kit – £6.99

SD Memory Card Case – £8.99

5cm Prism – £6.99

20 piece Flash Gel Kit – £4.99

Microfibre Cleaning Cloth – £5.95

Under £25

24″ Speedlight Softbox – £24.99

Timelapse Turner for Mobile – £12.40

Camera Z Flex Tilt Head – £16.99

Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs Of People Book – £10.49

Waterproof Camera Rucksack – £22.99

Under £100

4TB External Hard Drive – £99.95

18″ LED Ring Light – £69.99

Pixapro Triflector Kit – £89.99 + £4.99 Delivery

Wacom Intuos Graphic Tablet – £79.99

Spyder Screen Calibration Tool – £88.99

I’m on the Good List this year

K&F Concept Tripod – £99.99

Pixapro Speedlight and Trigger – £179.99 + £4.99 Delivery

Photoshop & Lightroom CC 1 Year Subscription – £99.99

DJI Phantom 3 Standard – £479.00

128GB Compact Flash – £187.99

All of my Christmases Just Came At Once…

Pixapro Citi600 With Extension Head & Bag – £500

DJI Mavic Pro Kit – £1,209

Sigma Art 35mm 1.4 – £549.00

Canon 80d & 18-55 Lens – £1049.11

Pixapro Storm 3 Head Kit – £899.99 + £4.99 Delivery

If you are not yet signed up to Amazon Prime ( I would highly recommend it not only for the free delivery on loads of items but the TV too!) You can sign up for a 30 day Free trial here and even cancel it after that just to use the free delivery….

Hope you’ve found the list useful, and let me know if you receive any of these goodies for Christmas!

Exposure – It does not pay the bills…

At 30 years old I like to think of myself as fairly well experienced in the world of business. I spent 10 years in retail management as well as running my own business for 6 years (3 years full time now) and I think this has given me a pretty decent “apprenticeship” to life in business.

Now this is probably true in all aspects of creative businesses from web design to singing to photography, but one of the great mistakes I see photographers make these days, particularly those new to the industry or those looking to make a name for themselves is; pretty much taking on every single bit of work they can, whether that be paid or unpaid.

Even as I look around the Industry in the North East of England, I can think of a couple of photographers in particular, and don’t get me wrong here I’m not bad mouthing them or saying they’re wrong, who shoot a whole lot. For Free. With the other party commercially gaining from the images.


There is a time and a place for this in my honest opinion. You may do this once or twice within your career in order to get some images in an industry or genre you’re not experienced in, to give you a “leg up” for future work. I get the thinking behind that. I have done this myself.

However, the time to stop doing this is when the other party continually gains from your effort and all you have to show for it are images for your portfolio. I ask, “What is the point”

Most creatives these days know that “Exposure” doesn’t pay the bills. I learnt that lesson quite hard a few years back thinking I was going to get fame and fortune working with a big name.

That. Didn’t. Happen.

One of the strongest things you can do in your photography business is to say NO to the stuff that won’t benefit you and concentrate on the stuff that will help you. If you get offered the chance to work for “exposure” its a simple process for me. I ask myself a couple of questions;

Will I enjoy it?

Will it really lead to more work? (99 times out of 100 this is a big fat fuck no)

Do I have something better to do with this time?

If I answer Yes, Yes & No, then its worth thinking about. If I won’t enjoy it, and it won’t lead to more work then what is the point of doing it? Just to show off on social media and say “Look at me I shot this today” when everyone really knows you did it for free anyway?

Now there is a wider issue as to why this happens. Some of it is the fault of photographers and some of it is due to a lack of value in photography as seen by the client.


I see it week in week out on Facebook groups where someone will ask for a service, a host of pro’s will offer their services and links to their websites etc and then you’ll get a random guy or gal comment “I’ll do it for free”

FFS- At this point you do really want to give them a swift kick to the lens pouch.

I have to refrain from commenting or messaging these people, not that it would be out of nastiness or anger, it would literally be to ask what were they thinking???

There should be a level of common courtesy around this sort of stuff with photographers. If there are “pro’s” offering their services, they most likely do this for a living, they need that money to pay the bills, put food on the table and live. Why on earth would you jump in there and offer to do it for free and take work away from these people? This is why the industry is getting harder to work in, particularly with charity and event work.

I’m not going to go down the route of calling out charities, but you can guarantee the Executives in these charities get paid, usually a fairly handsome sum. I’m all for raising money for charity but don’t do it by working for free. Go and do a fun run if you want to clear your conscience.

Well thats just my opinion on it anyway.


So I’ve deviated fairly widely from my original point, but I guess its because there is a huge spectrum to this issue and so many opportunities to work for that all elusive exposure.

All I would suggest is that you have a look at your photography, whether you be in business or not, and think to yourself. Does this benefit me? Is it worth me doing it? What would be a better use of my time?

Hey, if you do it for the fun of it then do it for that but think of the wider implications you’re having on an already growing industry with a shrinking value against it.



What the F*ck Are You doing?….

It’s 7.15am on Sunday morning.

I’m driving through the middle of Newcastle on my way to shoot wedding prep at a venue just over an hour away from my home.

I pull over to the hard shoulder. Head in hands, crying and asking myself;

“Chris, What the F*ck are you doing?”


Let me rewind 70 hours.

It’s 9.15am on Friday morning.

I’m sat in the waiting room of the children A&E at the Royal Victoria Infirmary Hospital in Newcastle.

My youngest son is very ill. He was in hospital on the Wednesday with something called HSP. Some reaction to an infection he had. Over night on the Thursday into the Friday he had got significantly more poorly.

Vomiting blood, screaming in pain, covered in a horrible rash. Pretty much the worst things you could see happen to your 4 year old.

“We need to admit your son..”


The doctors quickly realise there needs to be some intervention with my son to stop him getting any more poorly. He’s the most distressed I’d ever seen. He even asked if he was going to die. Heart wrenching stuff.

First and foremost I am a Dad. That is THE most important job in my life.

But, what happens when you’ve got to make that decision between being by your son’s side while he’s going through this awful illness or keeping your commitment to photograph a wedding which has been booked for over a year.

This was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make.

On one hand how could I possibly leave my son? What if he got worse? What if he needed me? What if my wife needed me there to support her?

On the other hand how could I possibly let this lovely couple down? How would that impact their day? How would it impact my reputation as a photographer? What If I couldn’t find someone to cover it?



All day Friday all of this was racing through my head, I reached out to some amazing photographers I know to see who is available if I can’t get there. Luckily four came back to say it wasn’t a problem and they would sort it. Amazing photographers indeed.


This was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make.

It’s Saturday lunch time. He’s not really getting any better. His heart rate is up, his kidney function is down and he’s having to have Morphine for the pain in his tummy.

How do you make this decision? It’s not like when I was employed by a big business, I couldn’t have cared less if I was off work then. It wouldn’t even have crossed my mind not to be at the hospital with the boy. But this is different. This is all on me.



Even though I had great photographers willing to cover the day, how could I do that to my couple? We’ve built a relationship, a rapport and an understanding on how the day will be. Taking that away from them with less than 24 hours notice could have ruined the happiest day of their lives.

It’s Saturday night. I’m still not certain on what to do. I look to the Wife for the answer knowing fine well that she would tell me to go. I look to my Dad. He tells me the same.

I get home. The guilt is real.

How could I leave him?

I cry myself to sleep.

It’s 7.15am on Sunday morning.

I’m driving through the middle of Newcastle on my way to shoot wedding prep at a venue just over an hour away from my home.

I pass the turn off to the hospital.

I pull over to the hard shoulder. Head in hands, crying and asking myself;

“Chris, What the F*ck are you doing?”

I give myself a shake. Take a big gulp of my coffee and get back on the road.

As soon as I get there I check in with the wife to see how he is. He didn’t have a good night and was really unsettled. He was in pain.

I took a minute outside before going to see my lovely bride. I tried to rationalise in my head what I was doing.

Could I actually make him feel any better by being there, like actually physically better? No I couldn’t. He was with my Wife,  very strong, very smart and very much in control of the situation. He was surrounded by Doctors who are doing everything they can to make him feel better.

He is in the best place possible.


It’s 10.30pm on Sunday evening.

I arrive back at the hospital to see my son flat out asleep in the bed. I sit down next to him and cry my eyes out again. The guilt is real.

The saving grace is that my couple we amazing. The wedding was amazing. The venue was amazing and we got some amazing images of their stunning wedding day.

Still. This was the one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make.



Eight days in and we are still in hospital with the little fella. He’s looking loads better but its going to be a long road to a full recovery.