I’ve been with my Parisian agency Picturetank for 4 years now. A few weeks ago, Vasantha (my picture editor there) got in touch to let me know that Julia, the bubbly English translator and staunch Tottenham Hotspur fan was leaving for pastures new. He asked if I would be willing to donate a print for her as a leaving gift – it was a no-brainer to be honest, so we got things moving so that the image was printed, mounted and framed in time for her leaving party.

I got a lovely email from Julia at the end of last week – she had to cart the work back to the French Alps from Paris –

After much wrestling on the bus, metro and two trains it is now on my wall at home and Martin loves it and the kids love it (great taste they have) and I’m just bowled over to sit on my sofa and look at it whenever I want and whichever house I live in forever after.’

It’s getting letters like this that makes the effort the I put into my long term projects worth it! Here’s the finished piece on Julia’s wall.

This past weekend I took a trip up to Sheffield in Yorkshire to visit some friends and add some variety to my London Marathon training. My mates Oli and Rob took me on a 12 mile adventure through the ice and snow. I took a few photographs on the way; I didn’t think that I’d have any long runs in the UK that would rival the scenery that I experienced in Morocco, but it turns out I was wrong!

The view of Lose Hill from Thornhill Brink

Crossing a stream in Woodlands Valley

Amazing ice formations formed by a burst pipe below Derwent Reservoir dam.

Rob on a rock formation known as 'The Salt Cellar' on Derwent Edge

Three Portraits



As some of you may be aware, I’m currently in training for the London Marathon; As part of my preparation for this, I took off at the end of January for a 9 day running holiday in Morocco. Over the last few years, the bulk of my overseas travel has been very photo-centric, so it was great to head away to a new place with no deadlines, shot lists or clients to please!

Of course, that didn’t stop me taking a few photographs here and there; I’ve got 13 rolls of 120 being developed by the wonderful chaps at Labyrinth, and both my iPhone and G12 got a decent workout. Here’s a few highlights, and if you want to lose 5 minutes of your life there’s a wee video too.


ready to board EasyJet flight 8895 to Marrakech

First meal in Morroco - Lentils! Perfect running fuel.

first moroccan breakfast - super strong black coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. magic!

View from the balcony at the Dar Adrar mountain lodge in Imlil, High Atlas.

Adrar Tamalaroute - 2724m and our mission for the next day's run.

The wardens of the mountain hut that sits atop the pass above Imlil. These guys made us moroccan mint tea on our return descent.

Ewan showing good running form in the tough Moroccan terrain.

The view over the Atlas towards Mt. Toubkal from the summit of Adrar Tamalaroute.

The aforementioned Moroccan mint tea!

Berber mountain guide Aithamou Hassan rocking an old school Nevica jacket!

Shattered after 3hrs 30mins of mountain running.

Ewan perfecting the mystical art of pouring mint tea.

Is it legal in Morocco to squeeze 9 people into a Hyundai i10? Possibly not, but it was worth it to foster UK/Berber relations!

The Maziq family proudly show off their new Scottish butler.

A twilight arrival into Oukaimeden, Africa's highest ski resort!

Seriously ready for dinner in the Hotel Chez Juju, Oukaimeden. As you can see, it wasn't exactly high season...

Official Oukaimeden ski transportation.

'The Limo' - probably not the perfect vehicle for high altitude, challenging roads - but heck, we're both still alive!

For all those who want to learn about photography - that's how you stand on the edge of a steep slope holding a Mamiya 7. Class over.

A change of scene - 5 hours driving out from the High Atlas to the seaside resort of Essaouira.

Big Tasty Prawns. I was later informed by a friend that these bad boys like to dine on Whale Poo. Nice.

Ewan on the receiving end of a particularly severe 'Long Back and Sides'.

Ewan's new haircut was so intense that his head literally exploded when out training that evening on Essaouira beach.

Breakfast on the roof of Villa Maroc in Essaouira. If you ever get the opportunity to stay at this hotel, I cannot recommend it enough. Seriously.

Back to Marrakech, and a day and a half to relax before running the 23rd Marrakech Half Marathon.

The courtyard in Marrakech's marvellous 'Maison De La Photographie' - a collection of historic prints and glass plates showing Moroccan life in the early 1900's.

The view from the roof terrace at Cafe d'Epices, Marrakech.

I'm fundraising for the charity Bliss as part of my London Marathon effort - this was a first run out for the team vest.

Good spirits post race - Ewan ran a cracking 76 minutes, and I crossed the line 5 minutes later in 81. Time for a beer!


It was a great trip – if you’re planning on visiting Morocco, here’s some useful links:

Marrakech Marathon and Half Marathon

Riad Dar Adrar, Imlil

Villa Maroc, Essaouira

Hotel Chez Juju, Oukaimeden

Car Rental Ltd., Marrakech

Earth Cafe, Marrakech

Riad Jakoura, Marrakech

Some of my Notting Hill Carnival Photographs are featured in The Church of London’s special edition newspaper ‘The Good Times’ – it’s out today.

Today is supposedly the most depressing day of the year; ‘The Good Times’ is a breath of fresh air and a call to be optimistic in 2012! You can pick up a free copy in a number of outlets in London (today onwards) and Leeds/Glasgow from tomorrow. More details of where you can get your mitts on a copy can be found here……

If you can’t get to one of the stockists, there’s a limited number of copies available for the cost of postage only (Just £1 in the UK, £3.00 for EU, and £3.50 for the rest of the world) via the Stack Magazines Shop

enjoy, and smile!

Here is a cold hard fact:

‘Exposure’ won’t buy you shit.

Before you look away, let me elaborate a little bit. As creatives, we do all need a certain amount of exposure; if you want those people who commission photography to hire you, then you need to get your work in front of them. There’s plenty of ways of doing this while preserving your integrity – there’s a number of good blogs with a wide reach, and you could even (gasp) just pound the pavements with a portfolio or a box of well presented prints.

However. Please, please, please – don’t give your stuff away for free to organisations that should be paying you for it.

Here is a little case study that happened to me earlier this week.

I got a mail in my inbox titled ‘Photo Request’.. this is what it said:


Hello there,

I work for global creative agency XXXXXXX in London. We love your work, and would like to feature your photo (attached) in our printed publication as the title page to our ‘Technology’ section. We just wondered whether we could have permission to use a hi-res version? We can of course give you a full credit. You can see an online version of the publication here (weblink) We distribute 10,000 of our audience surveys globally to our clients (brands ranging from Nike to Hennessy), independent shops, magazines and buyers.

We are on a very deadline with this project so would be great to hear from you ASAP!

Thanks so much for your help!

From the series 'Spin' by Ben Roberts

This was my response:


Hi Xxxxxx

Thanks for your interest in my work. I’d be happy to supply the hi-res version of this image for a non-exclusive single usage fee of £xxx.

I look forward to hearing from you. 

kind regards

Ben Roberts


Of course, I pretty much knew what the response would be to that – and sure enough, the following day i received this:


Hi Ben!

Unfortunately we don’t have much of a budget for this new publication, so were hoping to give you exposure to our clients and brands and a credit for use of the photo. However, if this isn’t suitable we understand.

Thanks for your help!



You know what? I stewed on this for a while. Of course, my expectations had been met; I hadn’t been seduced by the ‘incredible opportunity’ to have my work exposed to ‘clients and brands’. My integrity was intact. However, I’ve received so many of these crappy ‘opportunities’ from tight wadded ‘creative’ agencies, I thought it was about time that I told one of them exactly what I thought of their ‘generosity’.
Dear Xxxxxx
thanks for your response. I’ve been in this business way too long, and my ability is (obviously, or you wouldn’t want to use my photographs) too valuable to just be given away for free. do me a favour and watch this video:

perhaps it will make you and your organisation think twice about approaching content creators like me with frankly insulting ‘opportunities’ such as this;

or maybe not, but hell, sending this email will brighten my day slightly.



Students and young aspiring photographers; Whatever you do with your work, do not give it away for free to goddam leeches like these people. Don’t be seduced by false promises and the tantalising, mystical allure of your name in lights – ‘Jonny Knobhead, superstar photographer‘ – this will not fucking happen unless you are Ryan Effing McGinley. And you’re (probably) not.

Clients who truly value what you do and the content that you create will PAY YOU in ACTUAL MONEY for the work that you do for them, or the work that you have already done that they want to use.

A credit won’t buy you a new skateboard. A credit won’t help you get your film developed. A credit won’t buy you shit.

You can create your own buzz and exposure by collaborating with designers, illustrators and stylists in your peer groups; be your own publicity machine.

But when the big agencies come knocking with their cap in hand, be strong. Insist on payment in a polite, straightforward manner. If they pass this opportunity up, then move on with your head held high and your ass intact. Or maybe send them Mr Ellison’s video.

Two nights ago, I did something that for me is quite different. I took 5 hours out of my day to execute a well planned photographic shoot. Most of my photography is very unplanned, and relies on a heavy dose of chance combined with many miles of walking. The photographs that I made at the OccupyLSX camp at St. Paul’s Cathedral were the opposite to this – I had clear intentions, had established media contacts on the ground, and while I wasn’t sure exactly how the photographs were going to look, I was 95% certain that I could come back with an interesting set of images.

You can see the photographs here: Occupied Spaces.

Café Tent, St. Paul’s Camp, 31st October 2011.

The process of making the work was really interesting; while the actual taking of the photographs was fairly routine, the conversations that I had to enable me to gain access were varied – sometimes the people I spoke to just ‘got it’ immediately, and welcomed me to take photographs almost straight away. Others needed to know more, and I had to engage in some serious ideological and theoretical debates to gain access. Some people just gave me a straight ‘no’, and had very little interest in getting involved. There was a strong mistrust of press photographers from some sections of the protestors.

What I am now finding interesting (and a good experiment) is how the work is disseminating itself. Around midday yesterday, I sent the full story to my contact at the Guardian Weekend magazine, who had previously expressed an interest in the work even before I had shot it. All credit to my contact – while the ultimate response was a ‘no’ on publication (no room in the upcoming issues) – their response was quick and helpful, and included contacts for other sections of the Guardian newspaper. I then pitched it out to G2, the main Guardian Newspaper, The Independent New Review and the NYT Lens Blog. I waited for 15 hours, heard nothing back, and decided to change my approach.

I got the story live on my website, gave full responsibility for syndication to my Parisian rep Picturetank, and then did a simple social media blast on all the usual networks – twitter, facebook, flickr and G+.


the original tweet about 'Occupied Spaces'


In the last 3 hours, the traffic to my website has been brisk, and links back to the work have proliferated on both facebook and twitter. It’s also been picked up by Alison Zavos at Featureshoot.com – a blog I’ve wanted to show my work on for a while. I’ve had almost 900 unique visits to my website in the 3 hours since I posted the first tweet.


screen grab from google analytics showing the upsurge in visits to my website.


Ultimately, I’m not overly concerned about traffic to my website or any personal (imaginary!) fame from the work – my intention was (and still is!) to shine a light on an issue and get that issue seen by as many people as possible. I know that mainstream media is still the best way to reach a huge audience, but I was also aware that my photographs were of a very current issue, and there was a limited time span to get the work out there. When the response from the media outlets that I contacted was so muted, I had little choice but to go it alone.

This all brings me back to a very pertinent statement made by Jason Larkin at a panel discussion that we were both involved in:

“If my work is only ever going to be seen by photographers, then I might as well just give in now.”

If I have one goal for this work, it’s that it can reach out to a wider audience than just the closely-knit photography community. It will be interesting to see whether a ‘new-media’ approach can deliver this dream!