"The BLUES ain't bout makin yo self feel better, its bout makin other people feel worse"


I LOVE music, and i absolutely love jazz and "The Blues", there is just something about it that speaks volumes to me. The title of this blog is a quote from the Simpsons, and it is delivered by one of my most fav characters (who unfortunately got killed off) Bleeding Gums Murphy!!! I remember when i first got my guitar, all i wanted to play was the blues, so i started to learn some of Eric Clapton's songs, although there was lightyears worth of distance between my skills and his (i'll let you decide who is better). Somehow through the years i've drifted in to the happy go lucky world of Jazz, which i also love but when i went to "Charlotte Street Blues" (which is the name of the blues bar that i shot these images at, thanx to a fantastic guitarist and drummer friends of mine who are none other than Couros Sheibani and Henry Dobson) the expressions on the musician's faces reminded me of how much i use to love the blues and just how emotional it can get when performing or playing.

From now on i am going to start playing more often, and hopefully start developing more skills and riffs. My problem is that i have the attention span of a squirrel and can never finish learning a scale or chord progression properly so i end up forgetting it a couple of days later, but now if i force myself to learn songs and play with more people regularly then i will have no choice but to get better!!!

All the performers at the bar were incredible both to watch and listen to and i was completely blown away by their skill and passion!!! I was put to shame by a boy who looks no older than 14 playing like a seasoned pro, and seeing that kid play in such an amazing way has inspired me to go back to the guitar & sax and play my ass of every day!!! I will definitely be going back to Charlotte Street to listen to some more amazing music being performed by london's best blues musicians and young talent.


A Fresh Start


Firstly apologies for not having posted this sooner and not being very responsive to people's messages, but in my defence i've been a bit busy and am at a very important point in my life. For the past couple of weeks i have been in training and working for a really great company that i hope i still feel the same about in the next couple of years as i can actually see myself having a future with my current job. When i was younger i absolutely loved the sense of security and routine, it made me efficient and confident but unfortunately it also made me arrogant and while the other kids my age were playing football, tag, jump rope etc... i spent my time reading, doing my multiplication tables and talking with my teachers to see how i can learn more and improve my knowledge of things... in other words i was a teachers Chihuahua!!! It was the same when i first came to england, i tried to keep to myself and also to my studies but little by little i started to change and as i started to go in to higher education, the sense of routine and stable life kind of started to scare me as i had started to improvise and take things as they come instead of mapping my life out before i have even done anything.

Now i have been given an amazing opportunity and i am so very happy to be at a point in my life where i am excited by whats going to happen but i can rest assure that as long as i work hard and keep pushing myself to do better, i can achieve the goals that i set for myself. I love performing and i love photography, but i think above all the thing i love the most is... connecting with people and to me that is the most valuable thing and i am so grateful that i get to be able to balance all of those three things in one job that pushes me to do better, that inspires me to help and inspire others.

Well my point is that life will throw you an obstacle course and you can try to plan what route you are going to take or you can just run through it blind, but if you take a moment look around you and tackle the course section by section and actually enjoy and find away to make the obstacles easier for yourself it no longer becomes an obstacle course but a fascinating maze to explore.

As for the pictures, they are from a recent production titled "She From The Sea" that a very good friend of mine designed. The production is a part of a bigger company which aims to give women who have had a rough journey and have been involved with the justice system a fresh start and a chance to explore a passion weather it is in performance or other aspects. I wish them all the best of luck with their careers and i hope to see more productions in the near future.


Just My Luck!!!!

Sometimes i just want to curl up in a ball and just rock back and forth because just when i think things are going well life throws a spanner in the works, let me explain.... For the past 3 months i have been doing everything i can to try and get a casting by meeting directors/ producers/ designers/ Casting directors etc... i have been waiting, hunting and begging (well not begging) for a casting and NOTHING, absolute ZILCH!!! All would have been well if i wasn't made redundant from my evening job by two very small minded, petty and IDIOTIC managers. Slowly but surely my finances started to dwindle as i desperately tried to get part time work but no luck. Just when i was about to admit defeat and go back to ushering there was a ray of hope, i was offered a really great job with a really great company and so i jumped at the chance. I figured i will work there for hopefully a year and then see weather i want to cary on a career in that company or if i am HEART AND SOUL an actor by returning to the uncertainty of employment!!!

Now that i am ready and looking forward to starting my new job, i get a call from my agent for 2 really great auditions WHICH I CANNOT MAKE!!!!! this was partially my fault as i had forgotten to update them with my availability, but the timing of it COULDN'T BE WORSE!!! if the first audition was a day EARLIER or the second audition a day LATER it would have been alright but 3 DAMN MONTHS of waiting, hunting and begging (well not begging) AND NOW 2 really great auditions come along and I CANT DO IT without jeopardising my new job (which i have been looking forward to starting for over a month now).

If all of that wasn't enough, i think i may have pissed my agent off with my availability, WHICH IS NEVER A GOOD THING!!!!! I have great respect for my agents because they have been very patient with me and they have been getting me seen for a lot of castings, which is seriously making me think... maybe the reasons i am not getting these castings is cause i am not very good as an actor.

Anywho enough about me ranting and raving, lets talk about these images. The pictures you see are from a production of King Lear at Central School of Speech & Drama, by first and second year students. This is the second time i photographed a production of King Lear and this one was an absolute pleasure to photograph as the director gave me freedom to roam wherever i wanted to and if i had missed something we can photograph it later by getting the actors to re do it. I was very impressed with the production (i have yet to read king lear but i will do so hopefully tonight) and the design aspects of it as well, i think all the people involved in the production have something to be proud of because there were times when i was drawn in by whats going on on stage and i almost forgot i had a job to do.

I hope one day i am back performing on stage again like these young talented performers so until then i wish them all the best with their careers and look forward to hearing about them or seeing them in other productions soon.

Svetlana, The Lancashire Lesbians & The Crack Smoking Rabbi


Yesterday i had the pleasure of photographing a group of very talented performers who will be taking their shows up to the biggest arts festival in the world that is the Edinburgh Fringe. The picture at the top is of a comedy sketch about the Lancashire Lesbian society which is performed by two very talented young actresses, who also are in the second image as the eastern European siamese twin sisters one of which is named Svetlana (i don't know why i felt the need to mention that but i guess i just really like the name ).

There were a couple of straight forward monologues and duologues which were performed very well but unfortunately not very memorable, thats not to say their performance was bad, its just there was a 3 minute extract from possibly a whole play, which when taken out of context, unless it is fantastically written, it can be easily forgotten. One of the other acts that stood out for me was a musician (who's name i don't have yet, will update it if he contacts me) who performed his own original song titled "Bad Bad Rabbi" about a rabbi who liked to indulge in the smoking of a certain white powder which is frowned up on by the Metropolitan Police.

It has been 2 years since i went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and i have been itching to go back up there as it was one of THE BEST MONTHS OF MY LIFE!!!! i was fresh out of university and doing what i loved almost every day for 30 days strait, and if things weren't great enough i was meeting so many interesting people and making friends like i've never known before. To me Edinburgh is a turning point because it forced me to find confidence in myself that i never knew existed as i had to grab the attention of hundreds of people who were passing by on a daily basis and when i did grab their attention i would have to keep it and before Edinburgh i would have cowered at the thought of just grabbing a stranger on the street and starting a conversation with them dressed as a white rabbit (don't get me started on the irony) and trying to convince them to come watch me and my colleagues perform the next morning. The show i was in was of-course Finding Alice, which i absolutely miss as i had a blast working on it with the cast and performing to the families. Till now one of my greatest memories is after we had just finished a show, we held a mad hatter's tea party for the families and one of the kids that saw the show ran up to me and said "Mr Rabbit, (correcting herself) MR, W Rabbit... could i have your autograph" and my immediate thought was, Why do you want my autograph i am WORTHLESS!!! but i didn't say that, i gave her my autograph and she ran to show her brother and mum, and i'll never forget that, Finding Alice was the show that showed me the Fringe Festival so for that i am forever thankful to all who were involved and those that came to watch it.

I now wish all the performers going up (including the cast of The Lesbian Bath House, who are also going up to the fringe) all the best of luck with their shows and i hope they really enjoy what edinburgh has to offer when the sun has set..... cause its ONE HELL OF A PARTY!!!!

Self Discovery?


I love theatre, there is just an amazing attraction i have towards it that i just can't explain, i love the fact it is never the same ever again. I am now at a point where i am really learning and discovering who i am, and i know at least that i want theatre to be a big part of my life in one way or another. I love the relationships and friendships you build with your fellow actors during the rehearsals and the run of the show, and you develop a small family with the people you are performing with, and that is something that i don't want to sacrifice because it has given me many fantastic friends whom i respect and really appreciate. Now i have been more of a photographer than an actor but to me that is still alright because it is another great passion of mine and i love that i get to take pictures of my other passion.

The Pictures you are seeing are from a production of "Richard The Third" at Central School of Speech & Drama, by the second year students most of which i recognised from a previous production i photographed which was fantastic... it was called "The Emperor of The Moon". It was a massive challenge to photograph these talented performers as there was quite a lot of seating in the way so i couldn't move around as much as i would have liked and the lowest i could push my ISO down was 1250 but that was for like 40% of the shots, the rest was either 1600 or the dreaded 3200. I would have never ever thought of shooting at ISO 3200 but with really great glass, full frame sensor & some careful nose reduction you can get a VERY USEABLE image but it must be processed very carefully.

Ow and SHOOT RAW!!!! it will save your ass later on in post processing, it will give you the best results out of your images, yea....yea....yea i know, i know.... its a pain to process as the files are huge but would you rather have the best possible results out of your images and a very happy client, or more time to play on Guitar Hero?

i'll leave you to answer that question....


R.E.S.P.E.C.T.


Ok the title will explain itself as you read on so let me start at the beginning.....

I once again had to grab my trusty Lowe Pro bag with all my gear in it and run to Central School of Speech & Drama, and this time i was helping out a friend of Suzi's who i now consider a friend of mine as well, ow and her name is Rachel. Rachel is a costume/set/ Graphic designer and an all round genius when it comes to the world of art and creativity. I of-course once again unaware of what it is that i have to shoot grab most of the gear i think i will need and turn up to see the challenge set for me and this time there was a good enough challenge. The challenge was the seriously low lighting (i am in no way criticising the lighting design as it really helped set the mood and tone of the production) as theatre photographers know this is an absolute pain that we have to work through. So far the human eye is the most advanced lens out there as it can see detail in extreme contrasts and make out shapes in almost pitch black scenarios, this is somewhat of a very TALL order for modern day DSLRs.

The production was King Lear, now i have never read or seen a production of King Lear but from what i saw i really like it. I love shakespeare (when i can understand it), i love the relationship between the characters, the misunderstandings, the supernatural aspects etc... the list goes on, but it takes me at least 3 reads of the same play to get a good grasp of the story and relationships. The lovely rachel grabbed me from reception and got me in to the performance studio and everything was going fine until i snapped two frames and this really frustrating director motions me over and whispers into my ears (yet still in a commanding tone)

"Your shutter is too loud, Make sure if you are going to take a picture, you know exactly what picture you want to take before you press that button, don't just click randomly!!!"

Now i'm a very easy going person and i like most other normal people out there show respect to other professionals when i am working with them, to me that was a HUGE insult because A) i'm going there to help out, B) I've invested money in to USM lenses as they are virtually silent, there is very little i can do about the camera shutter sound since its a REHEARSAL!!!! not a live performance, so i can't justify spending a tone of money on a camera body noise dampener, and C) I didn't walk over to the actors and tell them what lines to cut, where to stand or who to look at as they are saying specific lines so WHAT gives him the right to tell me "don't just click randomly".... like i just press the button for 2 hours and hope for the best!!! IMBECILE!!!!

Ahh..... sorry about the ranting on, i just needed to vent, Rachel and the other creatives did a fantastic job with the production and i wish i hadn't seen the production through a viewfinder and got the chance to sit among the audience and really enjoy it, but no doubt one day i will hunt down a production of King Lear and hopefully be FRONT ROW for the experience.

Thank you for reading.

Train To Jordan

I know, i know, the titles for my blogs are getting stranger and stranger, but hey call it my humour. I chose that title because it happens to be the title of the song i am listening to on itunes, "Train to jordan" by Aretha Franklin, its one of my most favourite songs so i love listening to it when ever i'm feeling a bit down or just want to sit back, relax and let my mind wonder.

A couple of days ago i went to take pictures of my friend's show at SHUNT VAULTS and the pictures above are from that same production, it was one of the most challenging productions i've photographed because i had no way to prepare and neither did the actors as the lighting was purely controlled by the audience. As you can see from the first image the production is dependent on audience interaction, an individual can highlight a specific actor and watch and if that does not interest them then they can just fade the lights out and move on to someone else. The production was called Lautes Licht, and was directed by my friend Adrian Figueroa whom i worked with at the Gielgud Theatre. The venue was incredible, i've been there before for another production but i lost all the info i had on it and had been trying to find out what it was called and more information about it but as i didn't know what it was called i was at a dead end. It is a huge series of corridors and small rooms, its like a complete other world tucked away through a small door by London Bridge tube station. To all those that haven't been to the Shunt Vaults.... YOU HAVE TO CATCH THE NEXT SHOW!!!!! it is an incredible venue that i cannot believe is hidden away. One day i plan to do a shoot there.

So till next time :D

"Just when i thought i was out....."

I thought i would have probably given up blogging by now, but i kind of find it a bit relaxing so i guess its here to stay. Yesterday i had 2 different shoots, both of which were favours to friends of mine (to whom i now officially am their photographic wench, meaning shall they have any photographic needs i will be getting a phone call, which is JUST FINE WITH ME). The first one was with Susannah Lombardelli & Helen Broughton who were working on a show at the White Bear Theatre, called Le Silence. Helen was the director and Susannah the designer, i knew helen from university and Susannah from The Gielgud Theatre where we worked together so i was excited to take pictures of their production. As you can figure out the first two pictures are from that same production.

About a week and a half a go a very good old friend of mine sent me a message asking me to go and take pictures of a fashion show she was modelling. its been a very long time since i saw or spoke to Chumma so i jumped at the chance, plus it was another opportunity for some great pictures and new people to meet. So after i finished taking pictures of Le Silence i jumped on the bus and headed towards the fashion show. When i got there i saw Chumma and within seconds it was like we never even lost contact, now here is where the story gets interesting, now Chumma had no idea that photography was only allowed for the official photographers and they told me and her this as soon as i got there. So at this point i figured eh well so much for the pictures but at least i A) get to see Chumma again B) Meet new people & C) Get to watch a fashion show for free :). but right when i was about to pack my gear away a good friend of mine Ola Yiwola turns up with all his equipment. To put things in to context Ola is a friend of mine from Jessops, where we worked together and ever since i left we have stayed in contact as i respect him as a photographer and he i hope does the same of me, so the chances of me just randomly bumping in to him were quite SLIM. To make things more interesting Ola is the main Official photographer of the event, and as soon as the producers of the show turn up Ola Gets me a pass as a photographer. Maybe this is where all my recent bad luck will start to take a turn, but hey just gotta wait and see now.

Before i go, i gotta say a very big well done to all that were involved in both Le Silence and the African Fashion Show, as there was a lot of talent and hard work put in to these two events. Le Silence will be running at the White Bear Theatre for the next three weeks so go and grab a ticket before they sell out.

Till next time :D

You Are My Religion



I have a great love for the arts, i love music, photography, performance, poetry, comedy, films, writing, theatre....... the list goes on. Yesterday two friends of mine organised a fundraiser for a show they are both working on which will be performed at the White Bear theatre titled "Le Silence". The night was a roaring success as there were many talented comedians who rocked the audience. The venue was "The Battersea Barge" which is this wonderful little boat/restaurant on the thames river but its on the shore so those of you who get a lil motion sick don't have an excuse to not go there as its a really lovely little venue. The line up included......... Ben Hewis, Kate Lucas, Dave Bibby, Andy Gibbons, Alex Perry, Laura Carr, Tom Adams and compere: Inel Tomlinson. The night was organised by Helen Broughton, Emma Jane Green & Susannah Lombardelli.

I am and have been listening to one song for the past 2 hours, yea SAD i know, but this song speaks to me (now don't get alarmed i don't mean I AM HEARING VOICES, well i am but its the voice of the singer singing, not like voices telling me to do stuff...... ok ill stop now) and i can't stop letting it play on and on. It is one of the songs from a show i am currently rehearsing in called "Rainbow Beach" and the song is "One and Only Love" it is perhaps one of the most beautiful ballads i have heard, and it reminds me of the first girl i adored, i say the first but like the title declares she really was my "One and Only Love". Now i'm not saying i can't or wont love anyone else, its just she is the first, the one and only first, the one that made my heart beat so fast i thought it was going to burst out of my chest. I can't display the whole lyrics due to copyright reasons but there is one snippet that speaks volumes to me and its "You are my religion". I simply don't want to stop listening to this song because it reminds me of a time where i could have been the living definition of the word happy. She was and will always be the one that has left the first mark, and she will always be the first one i think of when ever i hear a love song.

She was my religion, now i long to find my faith.


Urbanographer

For the past couple of days i have had this word (which is actually two separate words put together) stuck in my head, i don't know weather i thought of it or saw it somewhere but it absolutely fascinated me and got me thinking about what avenue my photography is heading towards. Yesterday i had a shoot with a very dear friend of mine who is on her way to bright lights and loads of £££ signs, I have known Amy for almost seven years and i have yet to tire of hearing her amazing singing voice. I took pictures of Amy a long time ago when i was just finding my feet in photography and i figured its about time we updated her portfolio since a lot of industry people are showing an interest in her so why not.

Our make up artist of the day was Abbie who is a friend of Amy's and she did a fantastic job and also assisted Amy with changing, I of course was assisted by Jamie McLaren who is a fantastic photographer himself and i trust no other than him with my equipment. The highlight of the shoot i have to say is after about 20 minutes of walking to the location we found this fantastic little ally way which had a curved door way, which for a photographer SCREAMS shoot me!!! so we decide this would be the best place to start the shoot and so Amy and Abbie start to work on make up while me and Jamie go through the lighting set ups we thought of to get a visual idea of what it will look like and to get ball park figures of the settings we will use. The girls had just finished their make up and me and Jamie were very happy with the results of the tests so we decided lets start, and as we walk literally 6 steps around the corner to the ally way a DRUNKEN MAN HAD URINATED ON OUR SHOOTING LOCATION it even started to trickle down all the way to our second area of shooting....... THANKS THANKS A LOT!!!!
The pictures are not done yet but here is a sneak peak as to what to look forward to.

Being The Industrious Mouse



Today i had a shoot with three young but very talented guys, first up were Gianni & Alex from SuperhumanEnt who will be releasing an album shortly, and straight after them was none other than Samuel Furniss who is an up and coming comedian currently touring the comedy circuit. The location was set and it was in the back roads of Farringdon (not too far away from Tinsletown which have some AMAZING milkshakes, a little on the £££££ side though but still worth it as a once in a while treat). Today i was stepping out of my comfort zone of shooting in doors where i can control lighting as it allows me to start from black and then build lights as i go to get the right look that i want, but as we were shooting outside from 2pm till 6pm with the blazing sun above us i thought to myself I NEED TO GO BACK TO strobist.com or maybe send a prayer to the GOD of lighting that is Joe McNally.


I think it is important to challenge yourself and i think you learn soooo much more when things don't go as you thought they would because it prepares you for a situation that you may encounter in the future and that experience will make you a better photographer and give you something to joke about with whom ever you are photographing (if your subject is alive and can understand you that is). I am a big believer in getting your client/subject comfortable with you from the get go, even before you take out your camera or drop a light stand. The person you are photographing has to feel secure with you and trust you to know what you are doing, and i think this will open up so much more options for you and it will even encourage your client/ subject to suggest some ideas to you.

I watch these Photographic Savants like Joe McNally, David Hobby, Zach Arias, Chase Jarvis, Isak Koval, Patric Demachelier.... the list goes on and i see a potential that i could achieve, if i work hard and always strive to learn more by pushing myself and teaching what i know then maybe one day i will be an inspiration to a young breed of photographers. Like any other photographer i have gear envy but i think the most important lesson i've learned is that TOP quality gear will open up more options for you but having it doesn't mean it will make your pictures better. What will make your pictures better is looking at other photographer's work and deconstructing them to figure out how that picture works and then recreate it but add something of yours (now i don't mean take someone's unique work and call it your own, if you like something then do it, but give credit when it is deserved) . Shoot more especially now in the digital age, because it doesn't cost you anything to process other than time and believe me if you do it right and organise it well enough then it is TWS (Time Well Spent).

(ow by the way i titled this the Industrious Mouse, mainly because i think these guys are gonna be Big in the coming years and i think the pictures i have of them will have great weight then)


Till Next Time

Minyahil