Composition itself I love and have no problems with, but when it comes to describing it I struggle. So here goes….


I am experienced enough to know that there is no definition of composition that will prove to be universally true. Sometimes rules of thirds works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes negative space is incredible other times it is not appropriate. Square, rectangle, panoramic, circle… these are all fluid in their effect on an image. It all changes depending on what you are photographing, who is photographing and who is looking.


Nothing is universal.

Composition is very instinctive for me. I don’t think about composition I just go by feel. I envision and look at what I want to photograph then I position myself and then my camera until everything in the frame feels proper and it is all in the right place. It is hard to describe instincts to other people as something more than an abstract notion. At the same time, I stress that if something feels right to you as a photographer, trust those instincts, even if they are in disagreement with some text you just read about how composition should be done. Go with your gut, it is right there in the scene with you, it knows what is going on, even if you cannot always explain it.


I do encourage flexibility though when it comes to composition. Never take never for an answer from anybody (including me). If someone says you should never compose in a certain fashion, I suggest taking that advice with a huge grain of salt. A creative photographer can do largely whatever they want when it comes to composition. It is all just a matter of how powerful an imagination you have. Be careful about imprison yourself into mental corners by believing that one way is more proper or better than another.


Articles on composition arguing for the use of the rule of thirds generally tell you that you should never centre your composition. There is nothing wrong with centred, it is just all in how you put it to use.


Now if you have read this far, let me give you perhaps my best piece of advice. When it comes to composition, Composition is not the C-word you should be thinking primarily about. That C-word is Content, otherwise known as subject.


It is the thought, idea, emotion, mood, that moment in time in which you are building an image. It is your message. It is what you are trying to say. Your content is the most important element. Your composition is simply there to support it, to let it make sense to the viewer. Concentrate more on your content and once you get good at that you will find that it drives your composition. Don’t try to squeeze ideas into a composition formula, rather let those ideas dictate the shape of the frame, the inclusion and placement of elements. Let the ideas guide your hands, feet and eyes.


Yet one last way perhaps to think about composition is that one good method of composing images is to figure out your subject and then eliminate everything from the composition that doesn’t pertain to the content, because if it is not supporting it, it is weakening it through distraction.


I make images like this because I am on what will be an eternally unsuccessful quest to capture, in a photograph, how much I love moments like this. It won’t ever be possible to do, not in its entirety for that entirety is just too vast and deep, but success in this endeavour is not necessary to the pursuit. Thankfully.


And there you have it, a summary of sorts.

Return To Plato’s Room


Blame the long winter nights for this latest excursion into my early days as a photographer. Or maybe not, as I wanted to write a little piece about my very first assignment anyway.

Back in the early 80s I had just finished a Black and White Photography course with the New York School of Photography and was looking forward to putting all that I have learned into practice.


I lived in Didsbury at the time in the middle of student land and slap bang at the centre of the Madchester movement. Next door lived a  young musician trying to get his band of the ground, and was in need for some promo shots and hence my becoming involved with them. The only guidance I got was Plato’s Room. I can’t remember if that was the name of the Band, the song or why it was even suggested. But I ran with it.


I found a disused and abandoned Library and we made our way there one glorious spring day. Feeling Free, excited and with the belief we are standing at the beginning of something special. Looking back over those old Photographs I can still smell the building, the stale books and hear the shutter of the trusted Nikon. I am being transported some 30 years into the past.


What happened to the Band? Did they make it? I don’t know and it does not matter. Our paths crossed, we had a wonderful day and we made some nice images which got them a foot in the door. I like the images for what they represent to me. It does not matter that today I would shoot differently and so it should be. One should not be the same person as one was 30 years ago.


Something remained with me though. I always follow instinct and will not be swayed by fashion or ever enter contests or competitions, and I avoid activities or situations where there are clear winners and losers.

So don’t be a slave to the opinions of others.

Always shoot for yourself.

The Power Of One


I  believe that photographers who create great art rely mainly on their own intuition and self-worth. An expert photographer, a great artist or a talented and relevant musician will not be swayed by the opinions of others whether a piece of work is good or not. Rather, they consult their own judgement, and trust their guide inside.


So what if we lived a life where we did not feel the need to keep score?

What if we did not count the amount of stuff that we own?

What if we didn’t count the number of accomplishments, awards, or degrees we achieved?


Modern life loves counting. Modernity has made counting the essence of society, economics, and life. Men would count their wealth by how much life stock they owned, or how many wives they married. Today, we are told to value our self-worth by how much money we earn, how much property we own, and how many followers we have – however mediocre.


What if we lived a life in which we didn’t count anymore?


I would like to think we would have less stress, anxiety, and frustration in life. We would be more content with what we already own, instead of desiring what was outside of us.


We would work harder in our creative work — because we wouldn’t worry about the amount of external affirmation we would receive and so freakily desire or place such an extraordinary amount of importance on it.


A man is not measured by the size of his field
But by the point of his choice

The grain of his voice
The strength of his yield

The breadth of his vision
The cast of his hand

In a peace filled land.



Here is a small portion of what’s cooking in the kitchen


Spiedini Di Ivoltini Di Agnello

soI hope that some piece will elevate your spirit

Sometimes I feel like I’m playing on the radio

Sometimes I feel like I’m in a travelling road show

Sometimes I got the power of the will and I know my soul is going to be alright


Sometimes I feel like I’m on a freight train
Forever rescued by the mystery rain

The sun will be shining down; push it all away, make it alright
Sometimes in the heart of a long, cold night
It’s all too far out of sight


Hard to know everything’s going to be alright
Everyone thinks you got everything you want
Hard to have and then have not

Silent Cries And Mighty Echoes


Photographs sometimes work on you strangely and simply: at first glance you see things you subsequently discover are not there. Or rather, when you look again you notice things you initially didn’t realise were there. Oil paintings leave a scene strangely silent. Photography on the other hand can be as sensitive to sound as it is to light. Good photographs are there to be listened to as well as looked at; the better the photograph, the more there is to hear. Listen……

sc14Just take a pebble and cast it into the silent Sea.

What does happen?

sc1Have a thought,

Cry a word or pray a silent plea.

Do you know what will happen?

Are we aware in all that we feel or do.

We can’t  escape from the truth of our soul.

Are we actually informed
About the mission of our life?

Do we know that we are composed
By the trinity – of heart soul and mind?

That our dark nights will come to a bright end
Once we have learned, once our common spirit grows.

sc4And all our silent cries,

sc12Our thoughts and deeds will arise in

Mighty Echoes.

Why Be A Song


Why be a song


When you can be a symphony


We encounter images or things on a regular basis and look at them… but we never really see them. We never really think about them or consider them and we don’t realise that we are doing this.


One of the trickiest things about photography is perspective. We wear our perspective like a well worn pair of boots or a favourite shirt. We know exactly how it fits and we are sometimes hesitant to get rid of it. Sometimes it is like a second skin and we don’t even know it is there… but it is. And it is how we look at the world and think of the world. It governs what we can see and what remains invisible to our eyes. And yes, there are things other people can see that you cannot, just like there are things apparent to you that are completely invisible to others.


This is what I like about photography. At least for me it encourages perspective stretching and growth. It encourages me to see things, not just look at them. To wonder and ask questions. To contemplate. To try to catch what was and may still be invisible to me. To not just shuffle along in line, getting on the ride, having my thrills and then shuffling along into oblivion.


So here is my wish for 2017. Take a bad year (2016) and make a good one


….and be a symphony.