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Monday 17th February 2020 // The Life of a Working Pro
My last couple have weeks have so far been this:
I flew to the UK to celebrate my daughter’s 21st birthday and to share some blessed time with my kids. In the middle of that madness, I jumped on a train to Yorkshire, and had the enormous pleasure of giving a talk about my thoughts on photography called - ‘Photography - What’s the $*@#1%=̈ Point?’ - to the northern members of the BIPP.
After a couple of days avoiding being stabbed to death in Nottingham, I got up early on the Friday morning, the day of Brexit, to wend my weary way to Strasbourg in eastern France. My taxi arrived outside my Airbnb at 5:30 am and took me to Birmingham airport, from where I flew to Frankfurt. I then grabbed a bus to Strasbourg, and on arrival, jumped into a taxi and arrived at the studios of Arte TV, the Franco German arts and news channel.
I presented myself at reception, and was immediately in a flurry of live TV moments. First off, a live piece to camera promoting my appearance on that evening’s news. Then, three meetings; with the head of news, the overall head of news and reportage, and the editor in chief of reportage. From there, a meeting with the news editor, a quick trip to makeup (my first - it's easy being a girl), a meeting with the presenter for the German news show, and the same for the French live version - and before I knew it, I was live on TV being translated into German, followed immediately by the French news - all with an invisible earpiece - it was pandemonium. That finished, I headed for dinner with the senior Arte management and finally hit the sack at 1am.
I woke early in Strasbourg and stared out on a rainy grey day, and realised that I was suddenly no longer European, in the most European town there is - Strasbourg, the seat of the European parliament. I had my breakfast, packed my bag and headed for a meeting with the Director of Production - where we continued the planning process for a new series we have been working on for some months now. From there, I headed to the train station, and arrived back in Paris late on Saturday afternoon.
And on Sunday, I was invited to watch England being battered by the French rugby team at Stade de France. By Monday I was full of cold and on my knees. I have since then, been setting up my new workshops in Snowdonia, and finalised my project proposals for Arte, for Israel and Palestine.
I had a trip to Myanmar book and cancel, all in 24 hours. Which was very annoying.
And then on Valentine’s day, at La Défense in Paris, I photographed a Guinness World Record event - the most couples eating the same piece of spaghetti at the same time - it doesn't get bigger or better for your career portfolio than that. I arrived on site at 9am, started to shoot all the back stage setup and shot through until the event ended at 3pm. Found a quiet corner in the restaurant, edited the first cut of my pictures, sent to the head of press, and went home. Saturday I finished my complete edit - and this morning I sent the final cut, and the invoice to the client.
It’s just gone 10am here on Monday 17th February, and I have fired off a dozen emails and written this blog piece, and set up a couple of meetings. I think it’s time for another coffee.
Thursday 13th February 2020 // Martin Middlebrook Launches Photography Workshops
A couple of weeks back, I was in the UK giving a talk to members of the British Institute of Professional Photographers (BIPP), North East division. And what a pleasure it was too - to join in conversation and to share ideas.
Most photographers work alone, and interaction is at best, limited, often absent altogether. My key area of involvement is in mentoring other photographers, mostly online, though occasionally face-to-face. But I realised after giving my talk recently, how much useful knowledge I had acquired throughout my career, much of it unique.
Now, as with all these things, there were people who attended my talk who were open to a different way of thinking, and those less so - and that’s normal and perfectly fine. Who’s to say I have the answers. As I said in my presentation, you wouldn’t ask a fish to climb a tree - what works for me will not necessarily work for other photographers.
But for those who did find inspiration, the good news is that I also found inspiration, and the result will be new workshops. The first is planned in Snowdonia in May 2020. Based in Llanberis, on the borders of the Snowdonia National Park and situated just a few minutes from the Welsh coast and the island of Anglesey, we can shoot both seascapes and landscapes, depending on the weather conditions. This spectacular region provides the perfect backdrop to explore the concepts I recently shared at the BIPP talk, which hopefully will allow us to rethink the way we shoot.