2013 in 12

I'll save on the words, and leave this clichéd year-end blog post with 12 photos that sum up my 2013. All I can say is, I wish I had taken more photos in the second half of the year.

I hope you all enjoy some amazing celebrations to usher in 2014, and that the new year is everything you can hope it will be.

2014 for me is to forgive, to embrace, and to live. What is 2014 for you?

University: A Summary

Like many other photographers, I'm notoriously awful at printing my photos. How could I possibly decide, out of the tens of thousands on my hard drive, which images to spend my hard cash printing out? I made a great, and treasured, photo book after my first year of university. I planned on doing one for each year of my student life. Funny how I just never got round to it again.

My bedroom walls at home have also laid bare since I arrived back two months ago. Well, besides two Ikea filmstrips holding a few frames from my first year at Keele - over 3 years ago. It's probably time for a change.

So I started there. But first, after four years, it was finally time to go back through over 15,000 images of life at Keele, and summarise my life as a student.

14 slots meant 3 photos a year, and 2 for graduations. Not every image chosen is a masterpiece, but each means a lot to me. From the very first day, to the last weeks holed up in the library at 3am. The final space is saved for my MA graduation.

Looking back, those were the easily best four years of my life. I made some incredible friends and did amazing things. I could easily regale this blog with many stories, anecdotes and emotions, but I'll restrain myself. I thought you may like to see the images I chose though. The next mission - fill the remaining space with framed prints!

Are you terrible with printing your photos? Do you have a timeline on your wall (not Facebook)? Why not leave a comment after the photos.

No Pressure, No Problem

Last month my family and I took our first holiday together in years - and where better than St Lucia? We had an amazing time basking in the Caribbean sun, sea and sand, and would recommend the Sandals Grande St Lucian to anybody!

We spent nearly all our time either on, or under the gorgeously warm water. We found our new GoPro Hero3+ to be insanely worth the money - capturing hundreds of photos and hours of video! I've thrown some video together that sums up the amazing time we had, and stunning views underwater. Hope you like it!

Have you made any videos of your family holidays? If so, drop the link in the comments so we can check it out!

Welcome to the 'real world'

The real world has hit me harder than Muhammad Ali high on Red Bull. I've finally left Keele University after 4 years of BSc's, MA's, independence, partying, SnapShot, and many great friends. I now have a BSc in Forensic Science & Human Biology, and an MA in International Business, to my name. That's pretty sweet, and something I'll probably blog about later.

Being home has been tough! Coming back to my small bedroom with no money and sky high dreams, is one way to quickly bring yourself crashing straight down to earth. I'd love to be a photographer full time, and now would be the perfect opportunity. At least, it would have been if I hadn't built up so much debt from my Masters, while solidifying this dream. I'm back to square one here in Milton Keynes.

I hate to start something if I know I can't give it my all. While I search for careers that can make the most of my degrees, I'm struggling to dedicate myself to my passion - I guess through fear that if I get the ball rolling, I'd have to let it go. Aside from my Masters taking over my life this summer, it's this fear that has held me back from producing new photography. I hate this feeling.

But on a brighter note, I've actually finished my Masters!! That 55 page behemoth in my hands, is the fruition of a year of studying business - where I learnt more from developing MGThompson Photography than I ever did in the classroom. Watching me build my business through 2013 has been Issy, my ever patient blogger girlfriend, who has now returned to Keele to continue living the dream. It's been hard watching her live the Keele life without me so far, but it's just brilliant to watch someone else grow through and enjoy the experience I cherish. Last week, those guys I grew up at Keele with were reunited for the first time in months too. It's good to know we won't be letting time slip away that quickly again, anytime soon.

And don't worry, I haven't  abandoned my love of photography.  As difficult as it is finding contacts and arranging photoshoots at the moment, I still found time to assist the awesome Felix Kunze on a celebrity shoot in London. I live for those exhausting yet great days!

So what's next? After making it to the final rounds for two awesome jobs, I'm still looking for new and amazing opportunities. In the meanwhile, the Keele SPEED Plus workshops are going to help me continue building my business. It's going to be an interesting few months! Watch this space.  


 What've you been up to over the last few months?
Are you a graduate? How have you found adjusting to the 'real world'? Good luck to you if so!!

Promoting KeeleSU

Seeing my pictures in print is always great, particularly when they're promoting KeeleSU to thousands. It's such a great feeling to walk through the campus' hub and see the images I've taken. It's been a pleasure working with them during my time at Keele University, especially in the last year. I'm hoping we can work together a lot more in the future. It'd be awesome to have another excuse to drop by the Uni that made me who I am today.

The internet is no place to be shy

It was a strange feeling adapting my CV to reflect just how much I used social media. Rather than spend my time practising the well honed responses that millions do every day, defending the hours we whittle away on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, there I was detailing how I tweeted, pinned, shared and liked. I was tailoring my résumé for a new job application, where I'd be heading up the social media strategy for a multinational life sciences business. Somehow combining my scientific background, with my addiction to social media, for money? It's almost too good to be true.

But it got me thinking. Just how many social media networks do we need, and how much do we need to share? As I spoke to the recruiter about the websites I regularly use, the length of the list inevitably saw me forget a few. That was a surprising realisation in itself.

 How a wedding photographer spends their time (2009)

How a wedding photographer spends their time (2009)

As a photographer, the internet has been a complete game changer. Our art can now be reached by millions within seconds, all by the click of a button (a goal we all hope to achieve). Clients can be booked from the other side of the world! But like shops where you can buy the milk for your cereal, there's just so many places to look! It's a challenge to keep up. Just look at this piechart, drawn back in 2009, even before the days of 500px, Pinterest and Google Plus. 8.7% was allocated just then to social media and blogging, for a wedding photographer. That's 3.5hrs in a very reasonable 40hr week! It'd probably be scary to measure up how much we, especially creative professionals, are surfing between the likes of Facebook and Flickr today. 

Who else uses Pinterest to create moodboards, ModelMayhem to find models, Twitter to follow inspiring individuals, Facebook to connect with collaborators and friends, and Flickr/500px to show off your artwork (assuming you don't use Vimeo/YouTube for video)? Not to forget Instagram/Vine-ing while you're on the move? It's a strange world. We've become more connected and inspired than ever before, but at the sacrifice of looking at a screen rather than the world, and often faces around us. I absolutely adore the ability to marvel at my favourite photographer's latest work as soon as they publish it, but being present on Twitter to see it is ironically eating into the time I could be using to prepare my own masterpiece, or just talk to a friend.

I'll admit I'm rather a quiet photographer in comparison to some; I've preferred to observe rather than share every thought. I sometimes suffer from a lot of 'who cares about what I think/did?', which my 365 Project helped defeat slightly. That's not great for a photographer. I guess I figured I'd rather spare people the 3 seconds it'd take to read my tweet, than advertise myself. I was terrified of being labelled as 'spam'. I was worried my images simply wouldn't measure up to the amazing, inspiring photographs lauded by millions. In the age of massive digital noise, with tweets and pins flying all over the place, it's obvious we need to make our voices louder though, just to be heard. I wonder how much louder we'll have to shout in 3 years time? Will any more networks take off and demand our attention?

How much do you love/hate social media? If you're a social butterfly like me, drop your networking links in the comment box so I can say hey! If you're interested, you can find and follow me on:

 Just some of the networks I have open daily

Just some of the networks I have open daily

New Sights on the Horizon

It's been a crazy ol' week, which has been a refreshing change from the daily monotony that comes bundled with my management consultancy internship. My, I guess you can call it 'trigger finger', has been itching to shoot some new photos for weeks, and I finally got my chance last weekend! Say hello to the newest member of the Thompson clan - Daisy (the white pooch). An older, abandoned stray my animal-loving mum just had to pull over and take home, has now joined Honey and Polly as the ying to their yang. She's adorable!

Issy has been here for a whole week now. We've not found time to shoot anything besides a few iPhone selfies yet, but I'm sure we'll get around to it soon. After 2 months apart, it's just awesome to eat dinner and watch some Family Guy with someone else *cue lonely music*. We've a few ideas in mind, which will hopefully look pretty spectacular.

Perhaps I'll use it as practise for a project I have lined up for later this year with Keele University Marketing. We had a great chat earlier today, that looks like I'll be working with them closer than ever - ironic considering I'm now leaving. For those of you around Keele, or maybe not, you should hopefully see far more of my photos soon.

Now, unfortunately what I have planned with Keele isn't where I ultimately end up photography-wise. As excited as I am for that project, the vision I have for 5 years time is ultimately crazy, yet phenomenal. After bouncing across the spectrum of the shutterbug universe, I finally feel like I have a niche I can focus on. I now know what kind of photographer I want to be. How incredible is that?! It's a freakin' challenge, but that makes it that little bit more delicious.

I want, scratch that, am a photographer. That's a given that I established in 'I love being a creative', and reinforced with the knights of Gondor by my corporate internship. I can't be contained by four walls in an office or lab. I have new sights on the horizon, and I can't wait to take my first steps towards them.

Now why haven't I told you what I want to be? Because I'm taking you along for the ride. Hang on.


Hanah's Graduation

Two weeks ago, I had the joy of photographing Hanah for her graduation. As I'd spent the day cooped up in a boring office, I wasted no time in leading Hanah and her family to the cliche-but-oh-so-beautiful lawns of Keele Hall. I was ecstatic that I'd managed to arrange at least one graduation shoot, after my plans were scuppered by my 9-5 internship. 

Summer was truly out in full force, and it made for a wonderful backdrop! Hanah and her family were more than happy to get stuck in, holding reflectors and making sure the gorgeous sunshine didn't blind us. We made our way around the blossoming grounds, in the first tour that Hanah's family had ever taken. There really was no better day for it!

Check out just some of the images we captured that day, below!  

The MK Tattoo Convention

The Milton Keynes Tattoo Convention was the perfect excuse for me to drop back home and indulge in some creature comforts over the weekend. I was hoping to see Scarlett, one of my models for Academink, get inked that day but she, and my girlfriend unfortunately couldn't make it. Needless to say, that didn't stop me checking out MK Ink's annual event to find out some more info on young people with tattoos for Academink II.

I stepped into the Artists area a little daunted. Various conference rooms were crammed full of booths tattooing an incredible array of models, flanked by a restaurant that would later hold a disco into the night. I'm not exactly the most inked of men, and for the first few minutes, felt both slightly nervous and a fraud in comparison. These were immediately laid to rest as I spoke to Alex and Jules, the coffee vendors, who were awesome to talk to. Every time I explained my project, it was met with resounding support; none more so than from Jules. Over a quick coffee, they opened my eyes even further to the inked community. 

 Jules and Alex of 'Vagabond Coffee'

Jules and Alex of 'Vagabond Coffee'

With Academink II in mind, I explored the convention looking for younger models to find out why and what they were having tattooed. I found Bianca having her incredible sleeve's penultimate ink by Esme. Bianca works for a courier firm, and is a huge fan of the story of snow white. By replacing snow white's face with that of a barbie's, in a vividly pink design, it truly was a work of art!

I quickly saw Cory afterwards, where his Iron Man mask was being completed by Tattoo Guy. A qualified chef working at Nandos, Cory's love for Marvel characters screamed out from the sleeve on his other arm. He was keen to see my tattoo and hear about the project, and and more than happy to pose for a photo with his finished piece. 

Demi was listening to her iPod just opposite Cory, while Paul worked on her alice in wonderland piece. She's a support worker aiming to become a nurse,  and so felt she needed to be able to easily hide the artwork she so loves. She didn't mind the fact it was just for her though. 

It wasn't easy to miss Claudia's fire-red hair, as she sketched a portrait of Jim Morrison. I've never been able to draw, so I was amazed at the accuracy she was able to copy from the photograph. The other models and artists found this hilarious because here I was marvelling at an apprentice's artwork, and ignoring the real tattooing just behind her. But that's exactly it - I was curious about her. At 17, she doesn't have any tattoos yet, but was following the path to become a fully fledged tattoo artist; and the skill she was already showing was fantastic. She told me it seemed the logical step for her after realising she could draw.

My visit to the convention was unfortunately cut short, but it was a fantastic event. Everyone was an absolute pleasure to chat to! I'll definitely be going next year, hopefully with Academink II to exhibit! I've picked up a few business cards, including a creative make-up artists', so fingers are crossed that we can collaborate sometime. If you have the chance to attend one of these conventions, tattooed or not, check it out!

I love being a creative

I love being a creative for so many reasons. Last week, at the end of two very unproductive weeks at home, I dropped into London to see Felix Kunze give a talk on Stories in Portraiture. Nine months earlier, I'd assisted him photograph Olympic gamesmakers outside Hyde Park, after which he went on to capture and share 650 portraits for free. I'd been meaning to message him for months, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to catch up. 

I love being a creative because every day you're surprised and inspired. I'm not sure what I was expecting from Felix's talk. Perhaps a few stories of people he's photographed, how the shoots went and what he's learnt are the best tips to capturing the best portraits. And I was right, but so wrong! Felix's stories were packed with his ethos behind the images, little tricks to reveal the true subject and inspiring lessons to  absorb. I related completely to his preference of photographing real people, rather than models; my Academink project came to mind on more than one occasion. The challenge of capturing someone's true self, is sometimes far more satisfying than moulding a model's blank canvas. It's made me completely reevaluate what it is to be a portraiture photographer, or at least the kind I aspire to be. I couldn't be happier!

I love being a creative because every day and every person is so deliciously different. Of course, after the only lecture I've ever paid 100% attention to (after 4 years at uni), we went out for some Thai food. My meal almost went cold from chatting to Felix and the Nikon Owner subscribers so much, but the sweet and sour pork with egg fried rice was still fantastic! It's moments like that, relaxing and chatting with other inspiring creatives, blurring the lines between business and pleasure, that makes any hope of following a corporate career drain away. I feel both more confident and more terrified about the path I'm looking to travel now, but I can't wait to finish my masters and get stuck in. I'll probably look back on those words in a few years time and ask myself what on earth I was thinking.

I love being a creative because the challenge of creating something beautiful from nothing is euphoric. I also have tendency to wrestle with perfection, knowing I'll inevitably lose. I relish the struggle, because every choice and mistake breathes life into the final body. You may have noticed the website has changed a tad. I've opened it up, and tightened it down in preparation for when I become the photographer I aspire to be. That's right, I have big plans. You'll find out what those are soon enough! In the meantime, I hope you like the new layout and styling, because I certainly do. This post could easily stretch on for a thousand miles, but I'll likely springboard off it a few times in the future.

I love being a creative, because I finally feel like the person I was meant to be.

Are you a creative? Tell me how you feel about it below!
 If you'd like a taster of Felix's inspiring talk, check out his article in Nikon Owner magazine here.
Title image of Felix talking, by David Gordon-Smith.


Apologies for disappearing

Apologies for disappearing

Wow life has been crazy!! Even more so than usual! It's been almost a month since I blogged, and there's nothing I can say except sorry. I could easily natter on about everything I've been up to, but I'll try to keep this short and sweet so I actually post it before next week!

First off, exams! Dissertation proposals and two exams were probably the death of me, this blog and my 365 project. From that point, things were looking down. I was simply too busy and too tired to keep on top of my photography, when my final educational exams drew near. Thankfully I think they went well! Two days after the last exam finished, I was whisked away to the back-end of nowhere on a business and creativity module trip, where I guttingly couldn't bring my camera. Oh how I wish I had it! The views from the rock climbs and scenery surrounding the camp were gorgeous, especially at sunset. There were so many opportunities for brilliant images over that exhausting week, that I just couldn't take advantage of. Not to mention, it pushed me even further back on my 365 days of awesome! Thankfully I wasn't photographing Woodstoke, like I did last year, the day I returned - I was absolutely shattered. But that didn't stop me journeying to Plymouth for my uncle's wedding two days later! Of course my camera was out for that!