Private gardens or sheep?

Yeah that title is a bit strange isn’t it…. Sorry about that.


I was planning on doing a bit of a post about London’s private gardens. The squares that should in my opinion be open to the public to enjoy but instead are there for the privileged that can afford to buy or rent homes in the areas that have these large open green spaces within our concrete jungle. There just for those that can also afford to pay the annual key costs; not the average working class person, not your average Londoner.

This beautiful looking green space is Eccelston square in London, SW1. Increasingly it feels like I need to move away from my city. Increasingly it feels like you need to be earning a huge income or next to nothing – topped up with housing benefits, tax credits, child allowance and other benefits that people wouldn’t need if they were given a decent London Living Wage.

Increasingly I find things like these private gardens frustrating. Perhaps its my shifting political opinions, perhaps its because I just think its bloody unfair the way hard working people that fall within that middle income seem to be the worst off in this bloody city I love.

These park areas are dotted around and closed to the hoi polloi; God forbid that the elite should have to mingle with commoners… Don’t get me wrong here, I have nothing against wealth but I do have what some might call ‘a chip on my shoulder’ about particular issues.   I don’t have the time to do a full personal project on these gardens and perhaps that is just as well.

You might be wondering where do sheep come into this? You might have even forgot that the word sheep is in the title?

I read a post on one of the blogs I follow, how this chap came across some fish leaving the  water as they ate, he stood and watched for a while because he had not seen this before. His post reminded me of seeing a long line of sheep walking across a field. One by one they stopped under a tree and looked up before they carried on with their journey across the field. Have you ever heard of the saying ‘People are like sheep’?

Well its true. I stopped to take the image above and people stopped to see what I was photographing. Its not the first time; it happens a lot. It amuses me that I will stop to take a photo and then two three or more people will stop to take the same photo. I’m not talking about the tourist attractions or something spectacular but just normal things like concrete stairs. What is that about, why on earth does that happen and what do they think they are missing?

Want to try an experiment?  You and a friend stand in the street and look up at something and I guarantee people will join you.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Getting to know the photographer..

You know those great photos that you see…. You know the ones that evoke an emotion, make you stop and think about the image, the story,  the one that just has something about it; that something you may not even be able to put a finger on the exact reason you like it… you know what I mean don’t you.

Well I am starting to look at some of those images a bit more deeply and getting to know the photographer. Not literally getting to know them! But rather getting to know their work.

I watched a short TV documentary shown by the BBC by filmmaker Marisa Murdoch about a photographer called Dennis Morris.

I spotted a number of images that I had seen before and researched a little further into his work.

Not for the first time, as I have looked at photographers other work in the past, I have realised that I have seen and like several images all from the same photographer but had never known it was that particular photographer that had taken any of those particular images that I liked. (I think that makes sense??).

So  in the future I will be making a point of taking a better look at photographers I like.

Dennis Morris had a small exhibition in London and was giving one of these question and answer sessions following an informal talk about his work as a photographer.

Interestingly he was brought up in my old manor where I was dragged up (I wonder if we’d ever passed each other in the street?). Living in sunny Hackney (pronounced ‘Ackney’ by all proper Londoners) might be the only thing we have in common.

Unlike me, Dennis had someone that sparked an interest and enthusiasm in photography. Luckily for him, he also gave him a camera and set him off on his career path.

My careers advisor at school looked at me aged fourteen or fifteen and said ‘Army’!

That was that!

No questions such as, what are you interested in, what are your exam grades predicted to be?

No question of what I might be interested in doing and advising me on the route I should take.


I ended up leaving school with no qualifications but got a trade, ended up going to night college and later went on to earn myself a degree.

Army! I went to the first school closed by OFSTED. Far too late in my opinion. It should have been closed many many years before OFSTED did the right thing.

Back on track……… As an adult starting off in photography I’m not sure the same opportunities are around today as they were in the 1970s and ’80s. The world is a very different place. London is a very different place.

When Dennis was starting off as a very young child, film was expensive, so I guess in that respect it is easier for people to access cameras and take more images now. But is it harder to get those iconic shots?

Is it harder to access people now?

The world doesn’t seem as exciting as it was thirty years ago, London does not seem as exciting. Its not derelict, its sanitised and people seem content with their lot. I’m not sure that anything exciting is going to happy anytime soon.

I don’t know if Dennis ever liked punk or if he was just in the right place at the right time? London was changing, there were various youth and subcultures. People had something to say and did things, people were out and about, people were being creative….. London was very different.

I went to his talk and asked whether or not he thought the opportunities are there for youngsters to start a career in photography.

As a 40+ individual this was just a general question,  I was interested to hear his opinion because I do think the world has moved on so much; especially with technology and it being more difficult to have your work stand out.

Its as easy as anything to get your work seen but not necessarily seen by the people that can change your hobby into a career.

I’m actually happy that his response was that he would just advise youngsters to shoot what they want in a way that they want.

At the end of the interview and Q&A people were invited to go up and have items signed. I didn’t have an old album cover or article so thought I’d push my luck….. I did have a camera with me and asked Mr. Morris to take my photo.

All I am going to say about the photo is that the circumstances were less than ideal, but hey, I had my photo taken by Dennis Morris….


photo by jim jimmy james

Dennis Morris © 2016 Jim Jimmy James

Dennis said he wanted to be a war photographer and ended up within the music industry by chance. With tongue in cheek he likened his early music photography career in the mosh-pit as dangerous as being a war correspondent.

I wonder what his worst mosh pit injury was?


© 2016

I’ve had a few bruises from the mosh-pit but this scratch was the first time I’ve had blood drawn. The joke of this is that it was a nurse that caused the injury. Well, a nurse wearing a studded leather jacket!

I recently got my hands on a canon powershot G5X and thought I would see how it coped with low lights found in many music venues.

Drummer of band called The Last Resort. Photo taken at punk & disorderly in Berlin. April 2016

Testing the Canon G5X in low light. © 2016 Jim Jimmy James

I’m fairly certain I could have got a cleaner / sharper shot if not in the mosh-pit. The image was shot at a high ISO and the only real issues I found were with auto focusing, which the camera had real problems with in this challenging light.

Thanks for stopping and reading.

If you have any low light or gig photos using a G5X that you wish to share please feel free to add a link in the comments.

Constructive critique is always welcome.

FAO Dennis Morris: If you happen to read this. Thank you for taking my birthday photo & if you are shooting in London and need a pair of hands from Ackney…. Jim Jimmy James 😉

A year!

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 19.25.49

Flickr is a funny old place to be. For those that do not know it, Flickr is a photo-sharing domain with many group pages such as those dedicated to street photography, macro photography or with images using a particular lens such as a canon fixed 50mm. Of those some will specify that the fixed 50 must be used on a full frame sensor and others don’t seem to mind.

Anyway its a funny place to be. Some photographers go there to show off how good they are. I don’t mean show off as in saying look at how wonderful I am, I am a sh!t hot photog. I mean they only put their absolute best images on there and they show off their images like an online portfolio and free webpage.

Others seem to use the site to upload everything and anything. I refuse to say rubbish photos because that would be a tad harsh. Just because it looks like 30 shots of a car moving from left to right does not mean its rubbish and I would rather think of it as that person experimenting and learning. In any case, if they put too many images like that on their page they do not get followed and they do not get feed back. So the images range from poor through to average and onto those that are just stunning and to a professional standard.

When I started out with poor to very average photographs I joined a 52 week project. My hope was that I would learn from others by looking at their images and getting feedback from the others in the group. Naturally this would mean giving feed back on their images. I felt a little uncomfortable at first but some of the members were really pro active and I started to feel like I could comment on composition and maybe suggesting a crop or even changing something to black and white.

It was all very polite and naturally I only really commented on the images that I liked. What I did also do, was make a point of commenting on images belonging to people who made comments on my pictures.

The second 52 week project didn’t have the same ‘community feel’ about it, so, I dropped out and concentrated on my 100 candid strangers project. I only have fourteen more candid portraits, street shots and its done, Finito!! As I read in another photographers blog Ian Gibson said “even lazy photographers should have a project”. Well I have a few planned and it is my intention to try and get some more feed back.

I’m just not sure how to go about it. I tried the small Flickr groups thinking if they have few members people might be more receptive to feed back and more inclined give to feed back.

I have commented on photo blogs and blogs with bugger all to do with photography, all in the hope of getting some useful and constructive critiques of my efforts.

On Flickr, where the world and its wife shares images of everything from insects to galaxies I make a point of visiting everyones page that favours or comments on one of my images.

I always try to find something to comment on. However, a change in tact is called for. I decided to look at some other images that these people have clicked like or clicked as a favourite…. What I noticed on one was that on the same day they had clicked about 30 images after mine and who knows how many prior. I looked a bit further and it looks like a few others have done that too. Not many, just a couple. Its like the few that click follow but you know they are not; its a way of increasing traffic to their pages to see what they have to say or in the hope that we will comment on their images.

I will still visit these pages but I will be more selective in the ones I give my time to comment on.

In terms of quantity I don’t really care about getting exposure of my images on Flickr to hundreds of viewers; what I would like is quality exposure of my pictures that allows for constructive feed back, the sort that will help me grow my skills and develop an understanding of photography on the whole.

One year on and I don’t think I’ve done too badly but a change in tact may be required.

Maybe just an invite? Other newbies to photography looking for feedback, comment on this blog with a link to your Flickr, Tumblr account and I will visit. I might even comment on your images or click like because I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts.

As always, whoever you are, wherever you are, thanks for stopping by and reading.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James