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Norfolk sacred ruins

Norfolk photography course
Last weekend I spent a great Sunday in Norfolk with my friend Inese (below), discovering sites and photographing locations that are almost mystical, certainly ethereal, but I knew not of!

The county of Norfolk in the East of England boasts the highest concentration of Medieval churches in the world, with just over 650 in total. Travel to any place in Norfolk, and you are very likely to find at least one such church. Norwich, the county’s main city, has enough Churches for worshippers to visit a different one each week for the year!

This ruined church sits hidden away in a wood and even when within 40 metres, it was unapparent. It is aways a pleasure and delight to come across such a wonderful photo opportunity. We followed this by travelling to the coast to check whether the seal colony was in place, but apparently we were a little early in the season. So a return is planned!

Italia foto holiday


Italia foto holiday
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Photo guiding in Italy

Photography training Italy
I recently returned from a week of photography in Southern Italy and on this occasion, as a photography guide. Usually I’m booked to instruct as well as guide, but this time the team were all well established photographers. “Just take us to your best kept secrets”, was their mantra. However, they did concede that the Amalfi Coast could not be ignored and discovering great foods, was high on their list.

The food at our Agriturismo hotel, true to the ‘Agri’ concept, was all freshly produced from their own stock. Several days we dined at some rather extraordinary restaurants, from an exquisite Italian equivalent of ‘nouvelle cuisine’, to a Pizzaria. The latter, allegedly funded by the Mafia, always finds itself voted into the ‘top three’ in Italy. Perhaps that’s just because it could be risky to place one’s vote elsewhere, but nevertheless it was fabulous!

Other special ‘off the beaten track’ destinations included a dawn raid on a Roman mountain Amphitheatre, to gather fine morning light (see above). You can see more of these shots on my ‘Italian photography holiday’ page.

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Walberswick photo course

essex photography course
I led a great group of budding photographers for my Walberswick photo course last weekend, as we explored on the shoulders of giants. The one-time fishing village was once home to Charles Rennie Macintosh with Phillip Wilson Steer and JMW Turner having both painted there. Walberswick proved once again, to be the perfect location for learning and improving those photo skills.

For more info on my courses and I’m now also offering courses in London as well as Norwich, please click here.
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Dance sculptures

Someone once said that ‘dance is sculpture visible for only a moment’ and Tango is perhaps that perfect moment. Gill and Nigel asked me to photograph and design a promotion for their joint Tango passion. The above is a double-sided DL format promo card (⅓ A4).

Gill and Nigel are both Argentine Tango fanatics who just happen to love playing, as well as dancing, to Argentine Tango. Having retired early, they hit on the idea of DJing to raise money for the ‘Maggies Cancer Centres’. Nigel Allen said: “Roland designed and photographed the most amazing promotional tango card for us. His photography is breathtaking, and his suggestions on design and format were so inventive, I cannot thank him enough, he is a delight to work with, thank you again Roland for everything”.

The centre (above) designed by Norman Foster for no fee, is part of a 21 nationwide group of Centres created to help anyone affected by cancer. By travelling anywhere and everywhere in the UK, as well as putting 100% of their performance income towards Maggies, they have been able to raise considerable sums for their local Centre in Cheshire. If you wish to book the two for a bespoke Tango event, you will find their contact details on the card above.

Goodwood, true to its name

I recently spent a few days in Sussex near Chichester and catching the tail end of the summer was a great treat for my camera.

The first four of these shots were either side of sun-up near the Goodwood racecourses, whilst the final shot was taken later that day in the Chichester Cathedral gardens. A perfect day!
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Lost Horizon

This mountain Roman Amphitheatre has only very recently been rediscovered, having been buried from view by vegetation, for probably more than a millennia.

I have visited this location several times now, both reconnoitering and guiding group students as a part of my Italian Photography Course. Below, the early morning southerly view towards Naples, some 30 miles away and just out of view. However the valley between the two peaks to the right is Vesuvius, which gives an idea of just how much mountain was actually blown away. The photos showing recently abandoned derelict Roman homes in what was probably once a Roman street supporting the theatrics, are few hundred metres below the Theatre. These illustrate how easily buildings can be hidden from view within a landscape. I climbed up and worked my way through the growth to explore and take these shots. On the way down I snagged my foot on a branch, taking a fall and injuring a leg and shoulder, but no breaks!
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‘Wedding photography’ easy?

Why is ‘Wedding photography’ so disrespected? I’ve just completed another assignment as a Suffolk Wedding photographer and I cannot understand why the genre is treated as the poor relation of photography. The excellent ceremony was given by celebrant Dawn Rees (see b&w photo below).

A number of years ago, my photo partner, Andrew Florides, was commissioned to do a two day fashion shoot in Knightsbridge. The renowned Bermuda based clothes designer, rented a house with models hired from the much acclaimed ‘Storm Agency’. The house was filled with quite an entourage from the fashion world. Andrew set up a large backdrop with several studio lights and took a few test shots with the models. The owner of the company was delighted with the first test shots and after seeing another batch of images, said she would like to give Andrew some advice. Expecting feedback from the day’s shoot, she proceeded to critique his website: “Andrew darling, you must remove your wedding images from your site, if you want to be considered a serious photographer”. Andrew was taken aback with this and asked: “Why?” She then lit his fuse by saying: “Anyone can be a wedding photographer”.

Andrew, a Suffolk Wedding photographer, then responded with: “I beg to differ and the best way I can explain myself, is by referring to our fashion shoot. Look around us, there is a controlled studio lighting rig, where we have tested the results and it’s a constant. Also, there are plenty of staff around all focused on making our fashion shoot a successful one. In direct contrast, weddings are full of variables. Different lighting conditions, unfamiliar locations, changing characters all expectant and within a thoroughly ruthless schedule. Additionally, you are being hired by people who are likely to be employing a professional photographer for the first time. Unlike this fashion shoot, there are no opportunities to reshoot, so the photographer must really know his camera well. On top of this, one must coordinate sometimes several hundred wedding guests, whilst the venue caterers are breathing down your neck. From arriving at the bride’s home to sitting down at the reception, the work load is relentless, sometimes going on to 2 or 3am. Then after the wedding the topic of conversation is usually how everyone is looking forward to seeing the results, the memories. A giant responsibility. Isn’t it ironic that the hardest and most skilful work on my website, is the one you wish me to remove. The fashion shoot is ‘a walk in the park’ compared to a wedding photographer providing excellence, for his clients.” There followed a silence that rarely can have been so articulate. It was a ‘touché’ moment on a grand scale and on behalf of all belittled wedding photographers everywhere.

If you have an up and coming wedding in the family, I urge you to read our ‘Wedding prices’ 
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A hard rain…

Don’t we all, deep down, truly despise conformity. Who’s spine does not quiver at the sound from Mozart’s ‘Figaro’ being blasted over the prison tannoy in ‘Shawshank’, or Schoolboys being coaxed into standing on their desks in ‘Dead Poets’. Without art, we are not human. The ability to imagine and to take that imagination and turn it into reality, is one of the things that is really unique about humanity.

When Dylan wrote ‘A hard rain’s a-gonna fall’ in the summer of ’62 at the impossibly young age of just 21, he opened the window for creative liberation within everyone, taking people out of their domestic entrapment and into a wider utopia. And to put this song into contemporary context for younger readers, we were weeks away from what many feared would be nuclear war between Russia and USA. Dylan, the myth goes, wrote each line as if it were the title of a song, fearing he would never have time to write more.

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well-hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

By Roland Blunk, well just the blog. Dylan wrote the lyrics, although I would be happy to claim them!

Traditional skills

I watched intrigued as Suffolk ‘Thatcher’ Tim Ellis went about his work. In this case it’s a top-up to the more complete job of 18 years ago. And of course a great photo opportunity.

Tim Ellis learnt his Thatching skills more than thirty years ago under the stewardship of Peter Buckley, from the Cambridgeshire village of Elsworth. Peter lived in Elsworth most of his life, working with his Father Sidney Buckley. Peter had a ‘disagreement’ early in his life with his father and was bundled off to Norfolk on a five year apprenticeship. This was at Farnhams Thatching Company with a history going back centuries and a client list that included the Royal family. Sid died around 1970, literally whilst thatching, whilst his son Peter died in 1992. Tim has now been working entirely on his own for more than than twenty-six years.

Tim told me that everything he does and the tools he uses, have not changed for over four hundred years. The one change is that he has a Mercedes truck, to replace horse power.
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A night at the Circus

I was recently invited to enjoy an evening of Circus theatrics and naturally I took my camera. I took these shots and many more from just one vantage point, being seated a few rows back.

It’s unlikely that anyone will have a need for ‘Circus photography’, but if I can deliver this from one fixed point, I could so much more with a broader brief. If you have an event that you would like to treasure, please just contact me. Read more …