Monday, 9 February 2015

My White Ink Tattoo

Some of you might be looking at the title and be thinking all sorts of weird and wonderful things, and wondering, "Why oh why did Amanda get a tattoo?'

A few years ago (I can't remember the exact year to hand) I suffered severe tennis elbow, possibly a result of a joint dislocation when I fell 13ft fall onto a cement floor whilst I was in my 20's. Months of Dicofenac and Co-Dydramol did little to ease the pain. The wearing of an Epi-clasp for 'a couple of months' - turned into a couple of years, numerous steroid injections into the joint failed to make any difference and so the elbow (and the rest of me) ended up on the operating table to try and surgically correct what mother nature couldn't fix.

Although the operation made things a little better (it still hurts and there's still weakness in the joint) the elbow isn't what it used to be and I was left with a thick white two inch scar (complete with a 'dot' where the 'It will be invisible once it's healed) - continuous stitch' was sewn into my skin.
Yeh right!

The above photo was taken after our lovely long hot summer of 2014 (a rarity in the UK) and the ugly scar stood out a mile on my nicely tanned arm.

Previous summers hadn't bothered me. Being one to feel the slightest chill, I'd always kept my arm (and the rest of me) covered up. But this summer the scar seemed to get noticed and I became more aware of it. Foundation make-up failed to cover it and only resulted in a brown mess on my work blouses. The Scar and Tattoo Camouflage off eBay, resulted in an itchy, red rash.

Just before Christmas I decided that I would like a tattoo, not just any tattoo but one sketched in white ink - A white ink tattoo.

I read up on white ink tattoos, the pros and the cons, how white ink is thicker than coloured ink and leaves a risen mark, that itself resembles a raised scar.  How you have to protect it from the sun to prevent it turning yellow, and how they can fade significantly as time goes by.

I like the delicateness of white tattoos, resembling lace and they looked rather 'ladylike'.

It didn't take long to find a brilliant tattoo artist. I called into Liquid Ink one Sunday and discussed my odd request with a lovely tattooist called Gemma 

So on the day of the tattoo I felt nervous and my stomach had butterflies.  We found a nice style of peacock feather on the web and Gemma made a sketch of the small, floaty feather, just long enough to cover the scar.


 If you look close enough you can just see the scar behind the purple template. I grit my teeth and looked the other way.

The needle felt like a cat scratch, the sort that a nasty cat gives you as he swipes at you with his paw and catches you unaware. And that's it - it feels like a continuous cat scratch, until the machine stops buzzing and the tattooist stands back to admire their work.

This was taken right after Gemma had finished. It was going to take two weeks of Bepanthen Cream and lots of TLC for it to settle.

And as you can see - No hideous scar - Perfect!



* Those of you who know me will know that I'm a member of the Disabled Photographers Society, due to an accident in my 20's that left me with a hand disability.

You can find out more about the DPS here:

Sunday, 2 November 2014

2014 got off to a quiet start. but within a few week s I found myself at the Club Academy shooting The Strypes.  What an energetic band they are...

I didn't stay until the end , but wish I had. Prince was playing next door and there were still tickets on sale.

I shot Toy again in February, for their performance at Gorilla in Manchester. Another very low light gig of theirs, making getting a good shot difficult. But I managed to get one of Tom Dougall.

March was the month I photographed the lovely Nina Nesbitt during her set at the Ritz. I only stayed for the first 3, as Shirley our reviewer was writing the review, but after reading her review I wish I had stayed :(

Later on in March and I got to shoot Toy again, this time a portrait shoot, on location at Liverpool 1. The venue had a lovely fireplace with a little light coming from a window high up on the right.  I got this shot...

... and then had a little play on Photoshop to get the additional effects.

A couple of days later I got to shoot Nile Marr during his band,Man Made's, performance at the Night and Day Cafe.

A few weeks later Gareth from Night & Day asked if my image could be used for a poster here:

John Cooper Clarke, The Punk Poet, performed at the Palace Theatre in May. An untraditional gig as such, poetry is an art within itself,  but what a hilariously fun packed night it was.

Summer came and the festivals started, so the gig venues in town have a break and the photographers don their wellies and go shooting outdoors.

September came round and the sun was still shining as we headed out to the Welsh mountains to Festival Number 6 in Portmerion.

 The Main stage by night

 The Doc Martens Shop

 Viv Albertine  (Book signing)


 Jimi Goodwin

 The Undertones

 Martha and the Vandellas

Looking up towards the main stage

What a fabulous venue this was, the setting was perfect, the weather couldn't have been better.  I met up with some other tog friends from Twitter, Ken Harrison, Hayley Taylor and Andrew Benge. The only downside was that I couldn't shoot the main artists Beck and the Pet Shop Boys (Agencies Only) and Peter Hook and the Light had a rights grab contract, so I didn't shoot them either - My choice!

Some months come and go with no shoots at all, then, like buses, they all come at once. October brought Caro Emerald performing at the Manchester Arena. A venue I love to shoot at - mainly because the lighting is good...

... and Johnny Marr at the Apollo 

So... what does November have in store?

Well you'll just have to wait and see...

Sunday, 29 December 2013

2013 - Looking Back
2012 threw in some unexpected surprises towards the end. The sort that make you reassess and count your blessings.
The arrival of 2013 found me sporting crutches and a plaster-cast but not only this, as a family we struggled though an event that would make us stronger, but at the time we couldn't see that. 

My priorities at the start of 2013 were a lot different from those of previous years. Resolutions weren't made this time, we entered 2013 with hope in our hearts and our fingers crossed that the Great British justice system would work it's magic, and to some extent it did. But that's another story for another day.

So 2013 was going to be a quiet year - my second to last photo shoot of 2012 was Crystal Castles at the Manchester Academy. If you remember less than a week later I broke my foot. Whilst feeling sorry for myself hobbling around on crutches I was asked if one of my images of Alice Glass could be used as the lead photo in Mix Mags Gigs 3 page, and yes it came with a cheque.

By mid February I was off crutches and back in the pit again, the up and coming Jake Bugg was in front of my lens, a nice little shoot with good lighting to get me back into the swing of things. March brought Johnny Marr and a Saturday night at the Ritz, and within a week of uploading my photos to Flickr I had a notification that one of Johnny Marr was on Flickr Explore. I wasn't exactly sure what Flickr explore was, but I pretty chuffed when I found out.
A Saturday night at the Ritz was followed by a Saturday night in Leeds, this time for The Vaccines. The support act were 'Toy', a band I've gone on to shoot a couple of times now. My latter shoots haven't been as successful as the first. Their love of backlighting and strobes makes photography incredibly difficult, but the open air sunny event in Leeds and the forgiving weather enabled me to get some rare shots of Tom Dougall and the rest of the band. Here they are and more on Toy later.
Another outdoor event this year was Jodrell Bank. I covered the Sunday and @LewiePsMummy (aka Shirley) covered the Saturday.
I'd forgotten how long these days were carrying around a camera and heavy lens with a disabled hand, and it was this same disability that slowed me down somewhat this year. Manually focusing heavy glass on my DSLR was getting more and more difficult.
So I shot Johnny Marr, again, and New Order under the Lovell Telescope and a few weeks later back in Manchester I shot Peter Doherty and Toy again.
During the Summer I also did some freelance work for my local paper. Everyday people - hero's in their own right and each one a joy to work with. One shoot, back in my comfort zone of concert photography, was the Bootleg Beetles performing in Flixton. Funny how I wasn't ever a huge fan, but I knew the words to each and every song. 
I also shot my first Indian Wedding, or a Pakistani Wedding to be precise. It was  a huge honor and my assistant and I stayed on for the celebrations.
Suede were also on my bucket list, that one's ticked off now.
My hero, or should I say heroine from the 1980's Boy George was a darling to shoot and Editors were also ticked off the list.

By this stage my hand disability was becoming evident and shoots were becoming a struggle. The weight of the camera was getting too much for my bad arm and my good hand was now painful at the wrist. I later found out my 'good' wrist was damaged and I'm still having physio to build up the ligaments. I decided that it was about time to go AF - so all my MF lenses went on eBay along with hoards of other stuff.
There's a lot of work involved with manually focusing a lens. I'd learnt on MF (many years ago) and it's all I knew. You have to do everything yourself, there's an art to it and that art makes your pictures more interesting.
As 2013, 'the quiet year', drew in to a close, New Reviews had the annual interview with Carl Barat, this time accompanied by Gary Powell, Charlotte Davies from Hooting and Howling carried out the interview this time - another 1:30am start.
I met up with Shirley again the following night for another shoot with Toy. Shirley interviewed Panda from the band and reviewed Placebo.
I shot Toy again, in dismal red gels and strobes.
And just in case you missed it on Twitter and Facebook;
My image of Alejandra Diez from the band was featured on the insert of their new album 'Join the Dots'... 

...So much for a quiet year!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Saturday Night at The Ritz

Saturday 23rd March
Johnny Marr

Saturday night at the Ritz, where Johnny Marr put on a great performance. I was there to take photos for New reviews and as the reviewer was sick, I wrote the review too. It was a fantastic night, Johnny Marr sang some old 'Smiths' numbers and I went back to being 19 again.

It's here:

The photo seems to have been popular too and was on Flickr Explore this week:

Flickr Explore Gallery:
you have to scroll down a bit...

Turning Down The Courteeners, a Broken Foot and a Rendevouz with Carl Barat

8th December 2012 Carl Barat Interview

Almost a week after photographing Crystal Castles I had  a little mishap on a pair of slippers, in where I managed to break my foot.

Yes...  a proper break right across the base of the 5th Metatarsal and the sort of break that comes with a plaster cast. 

Which means I can't drive, I can't walk without crutches and I wont be shooting another gig until mid January -

and I had to turn down covering the Courteeners on 8th December which left me gutted...


...Shirley Procter needed a photographer to go with her interview with Carl Barat for New Reviews and as everyone else was at The Courteeners, I thought...

I can do that... right?
Anyway... its not everyday you get told your meeting a Libertine at Midnight in Manchester!

11:15pm - a time that I've usually got my PJ's on and I'm ready for bed - Shirley picked me up and we headed into town, crutches and all.

We waited for Carl and his team (which included another ex-Libertine, Gary Powell) and 
Shirley interviewed Carl here: where we chatted about his solo career, life after The Libertines and his new film 'Two Dancers'.

Then I got to take some photos, with my knee resting on the coffee table to balance myself.

 But, I don't recommend breaking your foot just to meet Carl Barat!

 Tonight's lesson: You can do anything if you really want to... despite the obstacles that seem to be in your way!

Crystal Castles and a suprise from MixMag

28th November 2012 Crystal Castles

With all concert photography our biggest challenges are, lighting and the dreaded smoke machine.

We arrived to the Crystal Castles concert and were informed of the following:

  • The band didn't particularly want to be photographed
  • We had to shoot from the side of the stage, actually on stage
  • There would be strobe lighting
  • There would be smoke
  • Alice Glass was going to throw her mic stand in our direction.

There were three photographers this evening and as the crew led me, Mike and Haydn to the side of the stage we did our 'Hail Mary's' and wondered what the hell we'd let ourselves in for!

We sat packed tightly, (lodged between a speaker, the bands water supply and a pile of towels) and because the band were fashionably late on stage, our feet, then legs had started to go numb.
A crew member went through the routine and to our relief said he would be standing near us to catch the flying mic stand (which he did), and we were very happy - particularly Mike, who was getting married a week later and wasn't looking forward to a potential black eye! (Imagine trying to explain that to the new Outlaws!)

Lots of strobes, lots of smoke, lots of clicks of the camera and lots of disappointing shots, then all of a sudden Alice decides to jump into the crowd. Which meant:

  • There was a spotlight on her (very happy)
  • She more or less stayed still for a few moments (even happier)
  • We could stand up YAY! (however, Haydn's legs were dead by this stage)

So as the fans grappled towards Alice, we stood and clicked to our hearts content.

And I got some pretty good shots considering...

A nice surprise, a couple of weeks later, to find that MixMag wanted to buy one of my shots for their February 2013 edition, out January 17th (ish). 

Tonight's lesson... Never underestimate your ability... always expect the unexpected!

The Vaccines, Apollo Manchester

21st November The Vaccines


The Apollo again and this time its a standing concert, which means we get to shoot from the Press Pit, which makes every concert photographer a happy bunny.

Luckily this time I shot The Vaccines there were no flying lagers, although crowd surfers were plentiful.

The Vaccines are very energetic, which makes focusing on my MF lens a challenge, but I came away with some good shots.