A Swindon Photographers Experience of Election 2015

First off I want to say that this is not a political article and does not reflect where I stand and which way I voted, it is more about my experience as a freelance photographer in Swindon for the last couple of weeks leading up to Election Day. It has culminated in some 4 images in the Guardian, Sunday Times, The Sun and in a number of political blogs, and that is all of what I know about there could be others. With the exception of one image of the P.M. all were of Labour personalities.

It started off by my understanding of the fact that both Swindon South and North were marginal seats and that the major parties were going to send their ‘Big Guns’ down to help and support the campaign.
I had to sort of bully my way in to get on invite lists. I was not comfortable with this as it is not my style and it could have gone the wrong way and I could have ended up being excluded from everything. Fortunately persistence paid off and I got on the press lists.
Interestingly the Conservative campaign was being run from a central office whereas the Labour campaign was run from a local South West Office. I wanted to point this out as it turned out there was only one Conservative event whilst there was several Labour.

The Conservative Party decided to launch their party manifesto in Swindon. Which I attended and photographed. Security was very tight as not only David Cameron was there but most of the Cabinet and other MP’s from the South West. It was really interesting to say the least.
Apart from meeting Robert Buckland whilst out campaigning and at the poling station that was it for the Conservatives.

Labour were much better as once I was on the list then I got invited to everything that was going on in (mainly) South Swindon.
I ended up photographing Dan Jarvis, Tristram Hunt, Caroline Flint, Andy Burnham and Ed Miliband.
Anne Snelgrove was great, once she knew who I was and trusted me she made sure that at any shoots the ‘Big Gun’ posed for me and in some cases introduced me to them.

The Green party, Tony Hillier local campaign manager, I met by accident not by planning and so got invited to a couple of activities but very low key. Interestingly whilst I was sat in a local Cafe having coffee before meeting a Green Party activist who was going to cycle around The Magic Roundabout with a placard, I saw Talis Kimberly-Fairbourn the Green Party Candidate sat in the Cafe knitting and drinking coffee. This was the day before the election. (Shouldn’t she have been campaigning)?

I saw nothing of the Lib Dems or UKIP at all.

I really got to respect Anne Snelgrove,(Labour) and Robert Buckland,(Conservative). Not only were they very accommodating to me and my requests they both seemed very genuine, caring, hard working and committed to their respective causes and parties. Should I have been surprised, I don’t know but my experience was that they were really nice people and not ‘hard nosed politicians’ which the media can sometime have us believe. I would like to say a big thank you to both Anne and Robert.

Just one more little story which I am not sure how to take. Did I understand it correctly? Is this really what went on? Whilst photographing mainly Asian Labour supporters in a mainly Asian part of Swindon I found myself outside the Poling station, The Asian Liberal Democrat candidate was asked if he had voted for Labour (jokingly) and he answered yes, when asked further was he joking he said no. Begs the question, did he understand what he was being asked? Asian vote, family or politics, real understanding?? I am not sure.

Well, that is it for this Election 2015 and my experience of it. I can only look forward to the Referendum and photographing the campaign for it.

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I Love Christmas in Swindon

Dont you just love Christmas, well I certainly did on Thursday night at the Swindon Lights Switch on. Back stage with the girls from Swindon Ovation dance group.

Reminds me of the song All I Want For Christmas ……

Swindon Farmers Market Returns

Well for a number of reasons I have not blogged for a while. I have been in Spain for a couple of weeks and since being back I have carried out some photo shoots that I am not contractually allowed to use yet. But I am back now and will be blogging again on a more regular basis.

This shoot was for and about the first day of the return of the Farmers Market in Swindon. The market has not been held for about a year and was greatly missed. The market has now been reinstated and will be held every Thursday from now on.
It was interesting from my point of view as the stall holders were very friendly and happy to pose but it was so good to see how positive they were about the economy and the future. The bread sold out in the first few hours and the vegetables were not far behind either. I had heard that generally people are starting to spend a little more on quality rather than quantity and from what I could see they could be right.

So get yourself down there on Thursdays and get not just fresh but really tasty (yes I did try everything whilst I was there)!!! fruit, veg, bread etc.

Bristol Save the NHS and Anti Austerity Protest March

Today I spent a few hours in Bristol at the Save The NHS and Anti Austerity Measures protest march and rally. There were a good few hundred protestors from various groups including The Radical Bloc, Save The NHS, many of the Trades Unions and other supporters. It was quite a loud march but peaceful and good natured and included The Radical Bloc Group stopping outside of Primark to protest and show their solidarity with the Bangladesh workers who ae suffering quite a lot at the moment, well probably all the time to be honest!!

This is just a small selection of all of my images which if anybody is interested more can be found at http://www.DEMOTIX.com or
please feel free to contact me directly.

Bar Riva in Swindon Opens for Business

Well not quite as last night was the VIP Trade night opening and tonight is the real opening. It was a nice couple of hours with nice people. Generally I try to avoid the Fleet Street area, well at night anyway, but it wasnt that bad. (Reputation worse than reality)??? Anyway despite my clubbing days being well over, I liked the place, music was great (I am a big lover of music), customers were really nice and very friendly hence the atmosphere was really nice.
What I also think is really important is in the present state of the economy and austerity it is really nice to see a new business starting up.

These are just a small selection of images I took whilst I was there.

Bar Riva Go Visit

Swindon Britain From Above Event at Wharf Green

Yesterday I spent a fun couple of hours at the Britain From Above event in Wharf Green Swindon. The event was put on by English Heritage to introduce the public to the archive of 1.5M images of Britain taken from the air and yesterday was specifically images of Swindon from the air. The event which was organised by http://kirstyhebersmith.com/ for InSwindon and despite the cold weather was a great success. For me it was nice to see that once some of the older ‘kids’ had decided it was not embarrasing to get involved and make paper aeroplanes that they actually enjoyed it, so well done to all the children and adults that launched in and enjoyed themselves. (Launched in, did you get it)!!!!! 🙂
Jokes were never my thing.
Anyway another thumbs up for Swindon.

Swindon when one door shuts another door opens…….

Well, this post just reflects what I believe to be true in life in general.

Today a new store opened in Swindon Town Centre. Peacocks the clothing retailer opened up a new store. Nice and clean and warm, with plenty of stock and nice staff. Whilst only a few doors down HMV is closing down, selling off all of it’s stock at hugely discounted prices. What a shame for not just the staff that work there but for Swindon Town.

I believe in progress and new technology and the internet etc but I also do not want to see the High Street become a ghost town and I will support it as much as I can. However what I do believe in is:-

When one door shuts another one opens …..

Sunday Project – No More

Well no photo of Sunday anymore. Why? I have been carrying out quite a bit of research and despite it being only the 4th Sunday of the year I have decided to bin it because it is not providing any benefit to me or anybody else. Stats are showing very few hits on those posts and to be honest I can understand why. There is no theme and is therefore completely random and unless I am on another assignment then I am just taking an image just for the sake of it with very little thought behind it. With very little information around the photo, why it was taken etc then why would anybody actually be interested in reading it.

What I should be doing more of is explaining things and why I do them, how I do them etc.

So as a start, I did a small photo shoot this morning. It was only mug shots for the person to send off as part of his profile as part of a competition. It was carried out in a gym, (in the squash court to be precise) where lighting is just awful. And short of getting the flash and umbrellas out it was a case of the ISO at 3200 and hope for the best. I just did not feel happy with the results which prob will suffice for what it was for but I just did not feel satisfied. Which at the end of the day is what it is all about for me. I have to feel emotionally involved in what I am doing and I didnt. Is that true of all professional photographers? I dont want to just earn money and not feel as though I have not done a good job.

So this blog is going to go back to the Swindon News/Photojournalism and I am not going to try to combine other things with it.

Likewise I am going to re-design my website to provide a better experience, better show case for my better images from both the UK and Spain and try to make it more interesting.

Swindon Economy Positive, Negative or Neutral ???

Well in line with latest news about results from Argos, Curry’s/Dixon, Mothercare etc I thought I would take a quick look at what is going on in Swindon.

To me it looks about Neutral. Some places are struggling and closing, others are opening and others are keeping their heads above water. It is too early to say what the effects of the redundancies at Honda and other local companies will be but I can see more closing than opening. Just wandering around Swindon as I do the Town Centre does not seem to be getting the footfall through the day that it used to.

What does it look like to you ???

The Pain in Spain …….

Well, this isn´t a blog about news in Swindon but the other place I spend a lot of time. My girlfriend lives in a small village in rural Andalucia, Spain called Freila. It is not the Spain of tourists and English bars, but one where there are very few other English people and you really need to be able to speak Spanish. In England we hear all about how the Spanish are having it really hard at the moment. Well it is true. There is a very limited social welfare system here in Spain and it is very easy and very common for people here to have absolutely no income whatsoever nor any benefits. Entire families are thrown out on to the streets and it is only because it is a very family orientated society and families look after each other that most are just about surviving. But what about those who have no family. Suicides have already taken place by some of the homeless.
The photos above are just a small view of what is happening. The mainstay of the local income has been hardhit by the early heavy rains and the intense heat of the summer leading to shrivelled and dry olives. Some small land owners are not harvesting their olives at all as the sale price is so low it is not economically worth it and so the olives are left to rot on the trees. Also even in a tiny rural village like Freila where houses and caves are very cheap, they are not selling or being left half way through being built.
In England we get the impression that all Spaniards live on the coast, own bars or hotels and earn quite a lot of money from tourists. That is definitely not my experience of what is going on over here.