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Better Photography 101 – Part 1 Intent – Take better photos

Posted on May 8, 2018 by Admin under Better Photography 101, Photography, Tips
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Have you ever wished that you could take better photos?

This series of ‘better photography 101’ blogs will help you improve your skills

Basic composition and lighting principles can vastly improve the quality and impact of your photos, whatever your camera.

Pentax - better photos

Pentax

Facebook and Instagram Stories, and Storytelling have become very important in raising your profile. Improving your photos, to give your images more impact makes sense.

“It’s not the camera but who’s behind the camera.”

 Create better photos – create meaningful images – find your voice.

Here are a few basic tips that will help you improve your skills and help you create better images.

Martin Parr exhibition Paris - better photos

This photo was taken in Paris at the open air Martin Parr exhibition. I waited for ages until I saw someone start using their mobile phone (the lady in purple) next to Martin Parr’s photo of people on phones. She wasn’t quite as close as I’d hoped though.

Better photos – Your intent

List all the things you like about photography, why you like taking photos, what message or story do you want the world to hear?

Do you have a cause you’re passionate about and want to highlight? Are you happy just to capture family parties and events for posterity?

Do you take photos of your kids’ sports events? Or are you captivated by the natural world?

Snaps and selfies have their place, but even they can be vastly improved by learning some photographic techniques and considering the message you’re trying to convey.

Bring out your inner artist and find your Voice. Do a google search for famous photographers for inspiration, or look on Pinterest or Instagram for ideas.

Taken in India in Mandawa in India - better photos

Taken in India in Mandawa in India.

Exercises for better photos

  1. Take a photo a day for a month, don’t think about it just do it. At the end of the month review your images. What themes have started to emerge? What did you like photographing the most?
  2. This one is very interesting to do. Take your camera and 2 dice out for a walk. Roll the dice and walk the number of steps the dice say. Roll the dice again and take the number of photos the dice tell you, but think about what you want to say about what you’re photographing. Use position, angle, distance from your subject and so on.
    You’ll be surprised at what images you can create. To vary it, use more dice.

I once did a variation of this exercise and ended up under a very boring railway bridge, having to take 10 photos in the one spot. I had to think very creatively to get interesting shots that said something.

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Learn why cropping your photos is a great way to improve them.

Nervous about your photoshoot? Check out my blog giving tips to make you feel more comfortable.

Check out some of my previous work at www.iconiccreative.co.uk

To find out how I can help you create atmospheric portraits, or event coverage, call me on 0775 341 3005 or email info@iconiccreative.co.uk

The benefits of using good design

Posted on May 1, 2018 by Admin under Design, Tips
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The benefits of good design for your brand, your products and services are sometimes difficult to quantify, especially when you’re thinking about starting or rebranding a business.

Star Wars exhibition panel - good design

Star Wars exhibition panel

Used as a strategic and emotional tool, good design can help a business communicate effectively with its customers, whilst meeting their needs and delivering quality products and services.

Here’s a list of some of the other benefits investing in good design can bring to a business:

New brand for Vieri - good design

New brand for Vieri

• It builds a stronger identity for your brand and business

We are surrounded and bombarded daily by imagery all competing for our attention. Each person had roughly 100 brands that have relevance daily to their life. For instance supermarkets, clothing, money services and so on. Spending money on developing a quality brand, helps a company stand out and hopefully become a ‘go to’ brand.

• Simplifies and clarifies your message

Companies come in all shapes and sizes with messages for all sorts of potential customers, so to stand out from the crowd and from the general noise, using good design helps to simplify and clarify your message.

Joanne Sumner Wellbeing leaflet - good design

Joanne Sumner Wellbeing leaflet

• It helps increase sales and differentiates you from your competion

The more customers and clients see your brand, the more it affects their perception of your company. In a situation where two companies offering equal or similar services or products, they are more likely to remember you and more likely to purchase your services, thus increasing your sales.

• It helps increase the value of your venue, products and services

By investing in good design, as well as a rise in sales, it helps raise customer perception of your company, helping you stand out from your competition and helping increase the perceived value of your products, making them more valuable. Customers are often prepared to pay more for products or services that look better, work better and are more sustainable.

Dawn Petherick leaflet - good design

Dawn Petherick leaflet

• It helps increases visitor numbers

As with helping to raise sales and the value of your offering, good design helps increase your visitor numbers if you are a venue such as a museum, event or heritage company. Signage at these locations  benefits immensely from good design, allowing customers to find their way around the venue more easily.

• Helps customers remember your venue, product or service and improves your market position

Think of a popular cola drink and what is the main one that comes to mind? With it’s red colour and iconic typography Coca Cola is recognised around the world. Good design can help you create and improve customer recognition and gain more significance for your products, through regular exposure.

• It helps boost customer loyalty – creates goodwill and trust

Using good design to improve your brand look and feel helps to raise your company profile, making you more visible. This helps raise peoples’ perception of the company as well as trust and goodwill. Supported by great customer service, it can help boost customer loyalty. By solving your customers’ needs good design helps reduce customer dissatisfaction.

Worzel colouring sheet for Harvester - good design

Worzel colouring sheet for Harvester

• It boosts staff loyalty

Good design isn’t just about creating a great logo, brand or collateral. By creating environments that work well for and look after staff, good design helps improve staff loyalty, as well as customer loyalty.

• It helps reduce costs

By reviewing your business and brand, revamping and implementing a new look or a new system, you can save money. Ensuring that your brand collateral (digital or print) is clear and easy to read, allows customers to find answers to their questions and helps companies cut down on helpline requirements, staff costs and so on.

• Grabs and keeps attention

   Well designed products and services capture potential customer attention and supported by captivating point of sale materials are even more attractive. This helps your company/brand stand out in a competitive market.

Debeare patisserie leaflet - good design

Debeare patisserie leaflet

• Create more products and open up new markets, or bring new products to market more quickly

Creating a well designed brand that customers recognise and trust, allows you to launch new products and services more quickly, and can even open up new markets.

Check out the ’13 key steps in the design process’ in this blog

Or read about “Understanding designer speak’” in this blog

To see more examples of the extensive design work I’ve carried out for my clients visit the Design page of www.iconiccreative.co.uk.

To discuss your design requirements email me at info @ iconiccreative.co.uk or call 0775 341 3005.

What your designer needs from you

Posted on April 16, 2018 by Admin under Design, Tips

Once you’ve chosen your designer for your next project, you need to know what your designer needs from you.

Every project is different, but the basic requirements will be the same. Usually a designer will supply a briefing document they will ask you to fill in to gain a clearer idea about this.

  1. What type of product is it?

    The first thing your designer needs to know is the type of product the project is. Is it a D/S (double sided) leaflet? A roller banner? Is it a catalogue or magazine? Or something else?

  2. What size is it?

    Paper folds for your designer

    Paper folds in a leaflet

    The next thing your designer needs to know is the size: is it A4, A5, A0 or a custom size? Most projects use the standard A Paper Sizes, such as A5, A4 or DL (1/3 A4).

    Others can be custom sizes: ie a client may need exhibition panels for the shell display units in an Expo. These aren’t standard sizes and so your designer will need the specification from the exhibition organiser.

    Or, you may want your designer to create a custom pack for your new jewellery product, or a label to go on the pack. They can either create that totally from scratch after measuring your product, or, if you’ve researched packaging manufacturers of specialised packaging, the manufacturer needs to supply you and your designer with a pack template.

  3. What is the product for?

    Is the product going to be used to advertise an event, or a service? Does it showcase a product range? Is it for an exhibition? Is it a giveaway/freebie/lead magnet to raise your profile? Knowing this helps your designer create the product with your end goal in mind.

  4. Do you have an overall feel you would like the project to have?

    Knowing the overall feel that you want to create is also helpful for your designer. It gives them more information to work with visually. For instance if you’re a more corporate company, you might want the item to have a more serious, corporate feel to it, whereas if you’re a family services provider, you would want a bright, fun, friendly feel to the product.

    Or, you might want to shake things up a bit. I once designed a die cut, hand glued invite of a sporran, for an international property company, as a bit of fun, which the client loved.

  5. Do you have brand colours?

    Example of colours swatches for your designer

    Example of colours swatches

    Pantone colour chart - designer speak

    Pantone colour chart

    This is a core requirement to sure that the final printed project is consistent with your brand. If the project is a printed project, your designer will need to know either your Pantone Colours or the CMYK colours. If you haven’t got those, you need to supply a sample swatch of a colour you want to use.

    RGB is a screen format so those colours aren’t suitable for print. They need to be converted to CMYK to ensure they print properly. Sometimes, depending on which colour it is, the colour can go really flat when converted. This is because RGB is light and CMYK is pigment. Your designer will try and match it the closest they can.

  6. If not what sort of colours would you like?

    If the designer has no idea of your brand colours, or your colour preference, they will have to make a creative judgement call and use their own preferences based on experience. This may not be exactly what you want, so leads to miscommunication and more amends.

  7. Do you have brand fonts?

    Your designer needs to know the fonts you need

    Your designer needs to know the fonts you need

    As with brand colours, the designer will need to know if you have specific brand fonts that you want to use. This again helps create brand consistency. If the fonts are very unusual, the designer may not have the actual font files available, so will need you to supply them.

    If you don’t have the actual font files, but still require that that particular font needs to be used, the designer will either a) find a suitable version online and ask you to purchase it, or b) purchase it for you and add the cost to your invoice.

    There are multiple font libraries available online, some paid and some offering free options.

  8. What is your deadline?

    Your designer needs to know your deadline

    Your designer needs to know your deadline

    This is one of the key pieces of information your designer needs to know. They will work backwards from that date, working out how long it would take to print (allow a minimum of 5 days to be safe), time to stick labels on if you’re designing a label for cosmetics, time for proofs to go back and forwards between the designer and yourself, and any others who need to see it and so on.

    I don’t know about other designers, but I work out the absolute latest date that a job can go to print, but I give my clients at least one day before as the final date. This gives us/me leeway in case something goes wrong ie a final mistake has been spotted, etc. Life happens and building in a safety margin is always a good thing.

  9. What is the budget?

    Knowing your budget helps your designer

    Knowing your budget helps your designer

    Again, this is a critical piece of information. As with anything, the bigger the budget, the more flexibility it gives both you and your designer. A bigger budget allows your designer more time to: research trends and potential images, create more solutions for you to view and so on. It also allows them more creative scope.

    As I mentioned above, I created a sporran invite for a property company – having a bigger budget allowed me to be more creative in my creative problem solving, thus creating a totally unique and unusual solution to their problem, rather than just a plain A5 invite.

Your designer also needs:

  1. Final approved copy/text

    Your designer needs final approved copy

    Your designer needs final approved copy

    This is a major bug bare for any designer. The number of times I’ve been asked to ‘just knock something up and I’ll get the text to you later”. This is like trying to design with one hand tied behind my back.

    Ideally the designer should be given final approved copy/text. They can then design the item in one go with all the elements that will be needed, without having to add in placeholder text, or guessing what might be needed.

    Using the final text also helps keep your costs low, as any amends you make are usually charged on top, once your 1st round of amends that most designers use, has been used up.

  2. Images

    Your designer needs suitable images

    Your designer needs suitable images

    This is another area which can be problematic. Often images that are supplied are images which come from the company website. These are NOT suitable for print. They are far too small and won’t print well. You need to supply good quality large files: at least an MB in size (kb is tiny, mb is better, gb is huge).

    Another issue that needs to be stressed is that of copyright. You need to use images that you either hold the copyright to, or the right to use. Taking a random image off the web and using it is theft, and leaves you open to potential law suits. Getty Images is particularly hot on this at the moment.

    Don’t take the risk.

    If you need images, there are plenty of image libraries available, both paid and free: Shutterstock, Getty Images, Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash and for vectors Vecteezy is good too. Or, you can commission me to shoot images specific to your needs :-).

  3. Logos

    Iconic Creative peacock icon

    Iconic Creative peacock logo

    The designer who designed your logo should have supplied you will suitable files for use both in print and online. These are usually in formats such as .ai (Illustrator), .psd, .eps, .jpeg, .png etc

    The best ones for print are .ai, .psd, .eps and .jpeg (depending on size). .AI is a vector format which means it is good for icons and logos with clear edges, and can be enlarged without any lose of definition. The other formats are pixel based and so lose quality when enlarged – if you start with a small image (ie a web image – kb), you lose quality when it’s blown up, to the point it pixelates.

    A .psd is a layered photoshop format which allows different effect layers. An .eps can either be a vector, or pixel based format, depending on how it was created and what the contents of the file are. PNGs are NOT suitable for print and you designer may have to convert them if you supply them, which means a potential loss of quality.

  4. Quick responses to email

    If you deadline is very tight, your designer will need you to respond promptly to any proofs they send you. To work diligently to meet a client’s timeline, only to have a client sit on a proof for days is not only very frustrating, but also jeopardises your deadline and gives your designer untold stress.

Hopefully this guide has helped you feel more confident in knowing what your designer needs from you.

Check out the ’13 key steps in the design process’ in this blog

Or read about “Understanding designer speak'” in this blog

To see more examples of the extensive design work I’ve carried out for my clients visit the Design page of www.iconiccreative.co.uk.

To discuss your design requirements email me at info @ iconiccreative.co.uk or call 0775 341 3005.

Understanding ‘designer speak’

Posted on April 5, 2018 by Admin under Design, Tips

Every industry has it’s jargon, and this is especially true for ‘designer speak’. It can make it  difficult for ‘outsiders’ to understand.

It makes hiring a designer and understanding exactly what they’re telling even harder, adding to the confusion and stress potential clients often feel when dealing with design.

Here are some of the words and phrases you might hear, and what they mean in ‘designer speak’:

  1. Brief

    The initial instruction that a client gives to a designer, giving all the details that they will need for the design.

  2. Visual/concept

    The design/s that the designer creates, incorporating the client requirements and adding their create flair and expertise

  3. Copy/text

    These are other terms for words, all the words that will be needed in the design, especially if it is a leaflet or brochure. Copy tends to be used for bulk amounts of text such as in a brochure, and text tends to be used for smaller individual pieces of text.

  4. Typography

    Typography also refers to the words in the design, but refers more to how the different aspects such as size, style and alignment are combined together artistically to create a compelling design.

  5. Font family

    Font families - designer speak

    Font families – designer speak

    This is the different style of the font that is used and how it best reflects the aim of the project.
    These are:
    • Serif
    • Sans Serif
    • Script
    • Handwritten.

    Each font family is suitable for a different type of target or sector, and creates a different feel in a design. Bad design often happens when the wrong type of font family is used.

  6. Font

    This is the style of the font itself, how it looks. There are thousands available online, which makes choosing the right one rather overwhelming. As with the font family, some fonts are better used, in one target or sector, than another. Getting it wrong, can again create a dissonance, between your design message and how the client perceives it.

  7. Font weight

    Font weights - designer speak

    Font weights – designer speak

    The weight of a font means whether is is ‘regular’, bold, italic, thin, heavy and so on. Some fonts, often those used for titles, come in just one weight. Others come in bold and italic as well. Some of the larger font families come in the usual weights, and extras such as narrow, condensed, extended and combinations of those such as narrow condensed. The most well known of those is Helvetica Neue and gives you complete flexibility.

  8. Point size

    This is the size of the type and start small and go as large as you need. The minimum point size for a business should be 7pt. However remember your audience and make it easy for them to read your message. The standard size for a leaflet is usually around 11pt, but the RNIB recommends 12pt when designing leaflet for those with sight problems.

  9. Font hierarchy

    Font hierarchy - designer speak

    Font hierarchy – designer speak

    This is the different levels of importance of text in a design or document, such as:
    • Headline
    • Subhead
    • Body text
    • Caption
    • Pull quote (Where you highlight a quote separately as a graphic part of the design)

    Balancing these well means that your document is legible and easy to read, meaning your message is more likely to resonate with your target.

  10. Resolution

    This refers to the size of the image
    • Large resolution – image more detailed and sharper – suitable for print
    • Small resolution – image less details and fizzier – suitable for web

  11. DPI

    This also relates to resolution and the sharpness. This is Dots Per Inch.
    • 150 dpi – sometimes used for print – depends on the type of job
    • 300 dpi – the standard resolution for print
    • 72 dpi – the standard size for web

    Images with 72 dpi load faster on the web, but can’t be used for print, Make sure you supply your designer the right sized file.

  12. Jpeg/tiff/eps/psd/bmp/png/gif

    These are different image formats, some suitable for print and some only for web:

    Print

    • Jpeg – large resolution jpegs can be used in print
    • Tiff – this is a large file and can be layered – not used so much no that jpegs are better quality
    • Eps – this can either be a rasterised file – Photoshop (see below) or a vector file – Illustrator (see below)
    • Psd – this is a layered rasterised Photoshop file
    • Bmp – can be used for print – good if you can to colour up a black graphic

    Web

    • Jpeg – small resolution jpegs can be used on the web
    • PNG – this is used for figures, diagrams basic images and screen shots
    • GIF – these are simple animations

  13. Rasterised/vector

    This is the type of image – how it is made up:
    Rasterised images – pixel based and are usually photos – this is why the resolution is so important. If there aren’t enough pixels in the image, it will be blurred.
    Vector images – made with lines so give sharp edges – good for graphics and illustrations – they are scalable without loss of resolution

  14. CMYK/RGB

    CMYK & RGB colours - designer speak

    CMYK & RGB colours – designer speak

    This refers to the type of colour:
    CMYK – used for print
    RGB – used for web, screen, TV etc

  15. Pantone/spot/PMS colour

    Pantone colour chart - designer speak

    Pantone colour chart – designer speak

    These are different terms for the same thing in print – colour. Pantone Matching System is a colour matching system – hence PMS. Like the paint swatches in DIY stores. Each colour has a number and can be matched by any printer across the country and the world.

    It is a way of ensuring consistency in your brand and your marketing collateral. Each time your commission a piece of design work, you need to inform the designer what your brand Pantone colours are.

  16. Low res pdf

    In full this is low resolution pdf. This is the usual way that designers send proofs to their clients in this digital era. These will be small enough to send via email, and may not show sharp imagery. Do not send them on to a printer if you think the design is finished, they’re not suitable for print.

  17. Bleed

    Iconic Creative leaflet showing crop marks and bleed - designer speak

    Iconic Creative leaflet showing crop marks and bleed – designer speak

    In a design context, this refers to images, shapes, colour and lines that ‘bleed’ over the edge of the design. When the printer cuts the project on the guillotine, if the paper slips, there won’t be a white line down the edge, so bleed is needed to stop this.

  18. Crop/trim marks

    These two terms are interchangeable. Crop marks designate the area/size of the project – for instance, an A5 leaflet. The designer will add the crop marks/trim marks when they make the final print ready pdf.

  19. Print pdf/print ready pdf/camera ready artwork

    These are all terms for the same thing. After Sign Off, the designer will create a final ‘high res’ print ready pdf. This will have crop marks, bleed, be high resolution and suitable for print. Sometimes, particularly if the printer is a news publishing, or signage making company, they may require a final print pdf with a specialist type of high resolution pdf. Check with your printer.

    Camera ready artwork is the old fashioned term, used when artwork was physically created. Each piece of artwork had to be put under special camera to make the printing plates.

  20. Proof

    Once the printer has received the high res pdf, they will create a proof after running the pdf through their print setup software. Nowadays this is a called a ‘soft proof’ – a digital pdf they will send on email or via a link.

    Check this thoroughly. Sometimes when a pdf is run through this software (or ‘ripped’), elements can disappear, or stray items can appear.

    If your print run is a huge magazine or brochure, probably being produced lithographically, it is highly advisable that your ask for a physical proof of each page. This shows each spread/element in the closest colour that you will get with out actually printing. This lets you can check colour consistency more easily. It also allows you to check the ‘pagination’ (order of pages) is correct.

Hopefully this guide has helped you feel more confident in understanding ‘designer speak’.

Check out the 13 key steps in the design process in this blog

To see more examples of the extensive design work I’ve carried out for my clients visit the Design page of www.iconiccreative.co.uk.

To discuss your design requirements email me at info @ iconiccreative.co.uk or call 0775 341 3005.

13 key steps in the design process

Posted on March 29, 2018 by Admin under Design, Tips

Many businesses, especially start ups or small businesses struggle with the design process and how to work with a designer. Here is an overview of the process to make it easier to understand.

A brochure design showcasing wholesale artisan bakery Debaere

A brochure design showcasing wholesale artisan bakery Debaere

There are 13 main steps – the ‘designline’.

  1. Client need

    Your business has a design requirement: a logo for a new venture, a leaflet or flyer to promote an event or offer, an exhibition stand or roller banner for an expo. Your design skills are limited, you find it very confusing, you need expertise.

    Logo & branding, leaflet and business card design for Vieri hair stylist

    Logo & branding, leaflet and business card design for Vieri hair stylist

  2. Approach designer

    You research local designers and find one that you feel meets your needs: experience, quality, price and so on. You ask them to quote for a job.

  3. Design meeting/conversation with designer

    It is difficult to quote for a job when you don’t know exactly what it is the client needs or wants. Sometimes they don’t really know themselves.You have an initial conversation with the designer to tell them what you’re looking for.

    Leaflet design for The Events Hub

    Leaflet design for The Events Hub

  4. Full creative brief decided – scope of work

    Often in the conversation with the designer the scope of what the client wants and needs becomes larger. Be clear on what you want.

    A full creative brief for the project (often called the scope of work) should be completed, so the designer knows exactly what is required.

  5. Initial concepts to client

    Once the contract has been signed the designer will start work, fitting the project into their work load, taking into account your deadline and what else they have on.They will create initial concepts or layouts depending on what the client requirement is.

    For logos (depending on what price has been agreed), 3 (or more) concepts are often created. With a leaflet, one initial design is usually created (unless the client has specified more in their initial brief). For a brochure, ideas for spreads are usually the case – for instance, a front cover, a double page spread (dps) showing how the contents and introduction may look and a double page spread of how the main pages could look.

    The designer will then send these to the client, as a low resolution pdf, or other sharing platform.

    Star wars exhibition design for Hasbro

    Star wars exhibition design for Hasbro

  6. Client reviews designs

    The client then reviews the suggested designs. You may want to take a few days (depending on how urgent your deadline is), to ‘sit with’ the designs, so that you know whether they resonate with you and whether they meet your needs. You may want to get peer input from friends, business contacts and so on.

  7. Feedback to designer

    When the client is ready, give your feedback to the designer, detailing what elements you did like and anything you didn’t, or felt didn’t quite meet what you had in mind.

    JLB Support Solutions logo design

    JLB Support Solutions logo design

  8. Designer revises design/s to feedback

    The designer will then take on board you comments and revise the work.

  9. Designer resubmits designs to client

    The designer will supply you with revised low resolution pdfs to review. Most designers include 1 round of revisions in their price. Any other revisions are usually then charged on top pro rata in an hourly rate.

    To avoid extra revision charges, make sure:
    • Your initial brief is very clear
    • Supply final approved copy (text) to your designer when the project first starts
    • Images you supply are good enough quality for print
    • Don’t keep chopping and changing the scope of the brief

    Roller banner design for shamanic healer Dawn Petherick

    Roller banner design for shamanic healer Dawn Petherick

  10. Client approval/sign off

    Once you’ve checked the proof and are happy with it, the designer will ask for your approval in writing. Usually by email is good enough, but some may use a more formal sign off sheet.

    What you need to check when signing off

    • That you have checked all the copy is spelt correctly and reads properly
    • That the date, time and venue of an event is correct
    • That the copyright for the images you have supplied is either yours, or you have got the correct copyright permission from the image owner.
    • That important elements aren’t missing, off the page, or covering something else (they shouldn’t be but sometimes when a pdf is created technical issues can happen)
    • The size is correct (it should already be, but still worth checking)

    NB: Once you have signed the design off, the responsibility for there being anything wrong with the design rests with you. Be very thorough in your checking.

  11. Designer provides final files

    Once the designer receives final Sign Off, they will create the final files for you. This could be final high resolution print files or files for you to share online or elsewhere.

    Bespoke, hand glued invite design for an international property company

    Bespoke, hand glued invite design for an international property company

  12. Printing

    If the job requires printing, send your file to whichever printer best serves your needs. Some designers offer a Print Management service, where they source a printer for you and manage the whole process.

  13. Design brings results

    Once you get the printed job back from the printer, or the web files from the designer, you can start using it. Everyone loves it and it brings you results.

Lego retail ceiling design

Lego retail ceiling design

To read about ‘designer speak’ – the terms that designers use, read my next blog here

To see more examples of the extensive design work I’ve carried out for my clients visit the Design page of www.iconiccreative.co.uk.

To discuss your design requirements email me at info @ iconiccreative.co.uk or call 0775 341 3005.

Who inspired my Father Christmas character?

Posted on March 5, 2018 by Admin under personal, Photography, products

Last Christmas I launched 5 new Father Christmas cards to add to my range of photographic greetings cards that I sell in varying outlets. They’re slightly different in that they’re illustrated rather than photographic cards, but personally speaking I think they’re lovely, very cute and lots of fun.

Each illustration is different and each card has a little story about Father Christmas on the back.

But you may be wondering where the inspiration came from for the cards. It was my Dad who was my muse. With his fluffy whiskers, smiley face and cuddly physique, he made the ideal Father Christmas.

Dad and I in an am dram production of Orpheus in the UnderWorld (and yes that is a wig I’m wearing lol)

Dad and I in an am dram production of Orpheus in the UnderWorld (and yes that is a wig I’m wearing lol)

I was very lucky, I had a great childhood and both my parents were very creative. My mum could paint, cook, sew, and loved to read (she was a professional librarian and later ran children’s playgroups), whilst my dad was a photographer and once worked for Tony Armstrong Jones, aka Lord Snowden, (yep that’s where I get it from), could also paint, tried his hand at DIY (not always very effectively mind), loved to act in amateur dramatic (amdram) productions and also sang, in a jazz band (the Red Hot Polyphonic Troglydites), in the church choir, musicals, you name it, he would act or sing in it.

“I know a shortcut”

Yep, I was into photography even then

Yep, I was into photography even then

He also taught himself to play the guitar and banjo, so there was always music around too, one way or another (did he sing in the shower? I can’t remember lol). They both used to be members of the Ramblers Association and we had many a camping holiday trekking across moorland or visiting country houses. His ‘shortcuts’ (across precarious cliff tops or desolate moorland) were infamous in the family. We enjoying a nice clotted cream tea or a Cornish pasty. Often he would buy a fresh crab and ‘dress’ it, for a tasty supper. He had an allotment and also turned the top part of the garden over to fruit and veg, so there was always lots of home grown produce.

Christmas

Dressed for an Am Dram production, probably a Gilbert and Sullivan one

Dressed for an Am Dram production, probably a Gilbert and Sullivan one

Because Dad worked for the BBC in film processing, he wasn’t always around on Christmas morning. Sometimes he had to work a shift at TV Centre, so often we would have Christmas Dinner late in the afternoon. We had our small pressie stockings from Father Christmas in the morning. We had  little gifts such as magic tricks, or notepads & colouring pencils. Chocolate coins & satsumas were tucked at the bottom. After dinner would be THE time all us kids waited for. But Dad, being Dad would tease us just that little bit more, until we were beside ourselves with excitement. He would proceed to do the washing up, exceedingly slowly. Then he would decide it was time for a cup of tea (with us kids crying out ‘Come….on…Dad…..!”), and then, only then, could we all sit round the tree, with one person handing out the presents. To eek that special moment even further, we each opened one present at a time, so that we could all see who had given what to whom. You can imagine just how excited and on tenterhooks us kids were 🙂

He lived life to the full

Despite suffering from a rare genetic disorder and a serious heart condition most of his life, he loved life and lived it to the full. He love his food and even made his own home brew beer and wine (material for another blog perhaps lol) He carried on as long as he could with the acting, singing and guitar playing. I learned to keep going, whatever life throws at you.

Dad made the musket as a prop for a play. The gold bits were doilies cut & sprayed gold. We had a break in once and the police turned up. They looked very carefully at the musket before realising it was a model lol

Dad with his hand made musket

Dad with his hand made musket

Happy Christmas Dad, hope you like the cards 🙂

Who inspires you? I’d love to hear from you.

Check out some of my previous work at www.iconiccreative.co.uk

To find out how I can help you create atmospheric portraits, or event coverage, call me on 0775 341 3005 or email info@iconiccreative.co.uk

Crop your photos for more impactful images

Posted on February 22, 2018 by Admin under Photography, Tips

Do you crop your photos? Taking or creating, a great photo is more than just clicking the shutter or pressing a button.

Even with phone snaps, selfies and Instagram you now have lots of options to be more creative with how your finished images look. Filters are the most common way of changing an image, but another effective way is cropping your image.

CROPPING YOUR PHOTOS

Polaroid style photo frame

Polaroid style photo frame

Cropping your photo isn’t just a way of getting rid of unwanted detail, it is a creative tool to help you add emphasis to elements in an image and make it more powerful. Or in other words framing your image.

Every time I do a photoshoot, I download my images into Lightroom, review them and choose the ones I think look best artistically, or that show the best event coverage. I do any necessary colour and sharpening to the images to create the effect/s that I want. I also look carefully at each image to see if I think it needs cropping.

White or negative space

When I do this, I look at the white or negative space around the image, is the subject (a portrait or something at an event) too small in the photo and would they benefit from being bigger in the final photo? Or at an event, is there part of a person on the edge of the photo that makes it look really ugly, or that has no relevance to the topic and would be better gone?

Lightroom

Lightroom allows you to make flexible crops to an image and reset it if it doesn’t work the way you want. You can also create virtual copies so you can try different crops (and effects) on the same image. There are lots of editing that suit any budget, check out what each one can.

Examples

A TIGHT CROP

Image showing how cropping improves a photo

Image showing how cropping improves a photo

Here’s an example from a recent shoot I did for a play at Questors Theatre in Ealing. The pic shows how the photo looked in Lightroom and the crop tool. As you can see I’ve cropped it quite tightly, for several reasons. Firstly to get rid of the feet on the right hand side of the image. Secondly to get rid of a lot of the empty room. Because the shot is a rehearsal shot of a play, I wanted to focus the attention on the action happening in the main part of the image. The images from the shoot went up on the promotional board outside the theatre, so visitors want to see the play, not the room behind the actors.

Here’s the final cropped image. It’s much more intimate (like in a restaurant) and there are no distractions from unimportant elements.

I also look at things like the horizon (if it’s a landscape shot) and using the crop tool in Lightroom I can line that up with the cropping grid.

The finished crop

The finished crop

A LIGHTER CROP

Crop of a portrait for Dr John Rowe, copywriter and proofreader

Crop of a portrait for Dr John Rowe, copywriter and proofreader

Here’s another example, this time from a recent portrait session with Dr John Rowe from Dr John Proofreading & Copywriting.

I wasn’t quite as tight with the crop this time as the image didn’t need that, there was just a bit too much space at the top and the sides of the image.

With this crop, the image looks balanced and the viewer’s eye follows easily around the image.

Final crop of a portrait for Dr John Rowe, copywriter and proofreader

Final crop of a portrait for Dr John Rowe, copywriter and proofreader

CHANGE THE FORMAT

Changing the format is a good crop technique

Changing the format is a good crop technique

You can also change the format of an image. You may have taken the photo as a landscape, but there is too much space around your subject. Cropping it in a vertical format gets rid of the extra space and makes your subject more important.

CHOOSE YOUR OWN FORMAT

You may have an image that you really like, but that doesn’t look right in either landscape or portrait format. Choose the format yourself by rotating the crop tool. This techniques allows you to ‘save’ a photo that you really like and want to use, but that won’t work in any other way.

In the following image I loved how the acrobat was moving and how the cloth and the shadows were positioned.  However, I didn’t like the fact that the top of the paper roll was showing at the top. I also didn’t like the shadow at the bottom, so I rotated the crop tool to get the shot I wanted. Going tighter would have cut too much of the shadow of her leg out of the image. I’ve positioned it right on the edge of the picture instead.

Choosing your own crop can add dynamism to your image

Choosing your own crop can add dynamism to your image

To finish…

Check out some of my previous photography at www.iconiccreative.co.uk

To find out how I can help you create atmospheric portrait photos, or event photography, call me on 0775 341 3005 or email info@iconiccreative.co.uk

I survived 10 years with a psychopath!! My why

Posted on by Admin under personal

Psychopath!What does that make you think of? An axe wielding, homicidal manic? Not all psychopaths follow that stereotype.

WHY DO I DO WHAT I DO? MY WHY?

Someone asked me this the other day. Rather than being interested in my story about researching my uncle’s plane, which to me is a major passion, they wanted to know something else, something more about me.

What should I tell them, I wondered?

  • How I failed 2 of my A levels, meaning I couldn’t go to University like I’d planned, to do archaeology and history?
  • How I ended up doing graphic design, because after failing the A levels mum saw an ad for a design course to which I applied, and got in? (I’d always been good at art, as well as history – it was a toss up really which route I’d have gone down, this just preempted my design career).

“I survived 10 years living with a psychopath” I blurted out.

“That’s more like it, that’s what I want to hear!” she said.

You might be asking yourself:

“How does someone stay 10 years with a psychopath and a) not know and b) not leave?”

They’re interesting questions and ones that you won’t really understand the answers to, unless you’ve experienced psychopathic behaviour.

But let’s got back to the beginning. How did I meet him? I’d recently bought a small motorbike (a CB100) and decided I wanted to meet with like minded people. I went to a bike club in North London and went to a couple of their parties.

One such event was in a pub south of the River, near St Thomas’ Hospital. The psychopath, let’s call him John, was at the door greeting people. He seemed very nice, was open and friendly, chatting with everyone. During the evening, he took a shine to me and rarely left my side. All very flattering. At the end of the evening he kissed me. I’d never been kissed like that before, it was like in the movies: the world disappeared and there were just the two of us in the pub… We were a couple from then on. What I didn’t realise at the time, this is pure psychopathic behaviour: being charming and friendly, whilst targeting their next ‘prey’.

WORKING HIS WAY INTO MY LIFE

Me in a cafe at the Kent bike rally with the psychopath

Me in a cafe at the Kent bike rally

Somehow he sidled his way into my life and into my flat, combining our music collections, book collections and friends. At first everything was well, we had a great time, we would go on holiday to Wales on the bike, we would go to bike rallies and gigs. We shared a love of history and used to regularly visit country houses, and other heritage sites. A great raconteur, he would tell (repeatedly) (the same) stories of things that had (supposedly) happened to him, or his friends. He was a very good bike rider and a good friend to people he considered his friends. He was a good ideas man, but not very good at putting those ideas into practice.

But. He had a temper and he liked to drink.

A lot. If I didn’t get him out of the pub after 1 pint, that was it, he would stay most of the night and come home rolling drink. Sometimes he was loud and verbally abusive, sometimes he would be maudlin and cry. I would never know which. Anything that happened to him wasn’t his fault, but someone else’s. He claimed to have a food allergy, that he couldn’t eat garlic.

Now I lllloooooovvvveeeee garlic. To have to start cooking without garlic was really boring, but he claimed that even if he tasted it on someone’s breathe it would cause him problems, so my life became garlic free. In restaurants it became very embarrassing as he would ask if they could do the meal without garlic and cause a stink (metaphorically) if it arrived with the stuff. He would also only eat certain (boring) foods, so my range of meals began to shrink. Sometimes I would test him, just to see if he would notice if I’d added it, but it was a risky thing to do, as he would always kick off.

I BEGAN TO LIVE IN FEAR.

Fear of what he would say, what he would do, would he be verbally abusive? Would he shout? Would he throw things? He only ever hit me once (and that I do believe was accidental, he was demonstrating something and I happened to be behind him), but I still lived in fear.

Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash - psychopath

Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash

Now is when most people reading this will be asking themselves “why didn’t she leave/kick him out?” Have you ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome? It’s often talked about in relation to hostage taking or women who have been battered by their partners but don’t leave. You develop a relationship with your hostage taker, partner as a way of keeping yourself safe, to protect you from further violence or perceived possible violence.

I was scared. Of what he would do. Would his volatile temper turn to physical violence? Would he attack me? There was a tea stain on the ceiling where he’d once thrown a full cup of tea across the room in anger.

SO I STAYED…. AND STAYED….. FAR LONGER THAN I SHOULD HAVE DONE.

Me with some ladies from a bike club I was in - psychopath

Me with some ladies from a bike club I was in

On one of our trips to Wales, I suffered a horse riding accident and fractured my spine. At first I was fine, but then gradually started to fall over and suffer other symptoms. He began to try and control me even more, trying to get me into a wheelchair, so that he would have total control over me and so I would be totally dependent on him.

ONE WORD IS ALL IT TAKES

It’s amazing how your life can change in one sentence. It was at this point a mutual friend (I’d actually met her through him) said to me “he’s making you ill’. It may not seem much, but this little seed of wisdom grew roots in my mind and I realised, yes he was making me ill. I decided I was going to fight back.

Stopping using the wheelchair, I worked on getting fit again, ate garlic (albeit it not in the flat) and generally started to take back my life. I gave him an ultimatum – either he had to pull his socks up, or he was out.

He got worse – staying in the pub longer, deliberately doing stuff I’d asked him not to do, or not doing stuff I’d asked him to do. Even laughing about it with one of his bar fly friends.

TRYING TO BUILD UP COURAGE

Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash

Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash

I knew now I had to get rid of him, but it was a matter of building the courage up to take that monumental step. I decided that ‘this Saturday’ (at the time) would be the day, but funny how things work out, that very evening he said to me, as I was brushing my teeth “you wont’ kiss me any more (not surprising, his dental hygiene was appalling), what’s the matter?” Through foamy, gritted teeth I blurted out “I want a trial separation!”.

The look on his face was priceless!

But. There was always a but with him. He wouldn’t move out. Even though the flat is mine, he didn’t see why he should sleep on someone else’s sofa or a floor. He hung around like a bad smell for a month.

Then he told me that he and our mutual friend has arranged that he would go and stay with her for a little while and he would look for a job in her area. This sounded like a great plan.

THE CATALYST

Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

One evening whilst he was there, he rang me totally drunk, calling me all the names under the sun and accusing me of having phoned all the job agencies telling them he was an alcoholic. (Why would I have done that? I wanted rid of him) Again, I later learned this is typical psychopathic behaviour: telling blatant lies and using them to manipulate people to get what they want.

Things then took a nasty turn. Later that same evening (about 3am), our mutual friend rang me totally terrified. She’d locked herself in the bathroom, scared for her life! He was totally drunk and had been out on the drive threatening that he was going to kill someone and then fallen asleep on the sofa.

Could I finally find the courage?

Me in Wales after throwing the psychopath out

Me in Wales after throwing the psychopath out

I couldn’t sleep, I went ice cold and paced the flat. What should I do? I was scared, but this couldn’t go on any longer. He had never threatened violence like that before. He’d threatened our friend. I knew what I had to do, but still couldn’t quite find the courage.

I opened wardrobes and cupboards looking at his stuff, I paced up and down trying to decide, knowing what I had to do, but still teetering on the edge, scared of what might happen.

FINALLY I TOOK THE PLUNGE, I MADE THE DECISION!

I started pulling all his clothes out of the wardrobe and putting them in suitcases and black bin bags. I pulled all his books off the shelves and threw them in a pile. Enthusiastically, I took all his tapes and CDs out of the racks and tipped them into bin bags.

I WAS ON A HIGH! EUPHORIC! BUT SCARED. ONCE I STARTED I COULDN’T STOP. EVERYTHING I COULD FIND ENDED UP IN A HUGE HEAP.

And the little gremlin on my shoulder (someone later thought this might be my soul or higher self) was sat there rubbing their hands with glee:

“She’s finally done it!!”

BUT THE TALE DOESN’T STOP HERE.

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

I rang a friend who worked nights and told him what had happened. He recommended talking to the police. However they weren’t that helpful – apparently because my partner had lived there more than 1 year, he had right of access to his home, never mind that he was violent and had just threatened to kill someone. (I think things have now changed due to new stalking laws etc, but at the time this was how things stood).

I rang a solicitor and we devised a plan to get him out. The solicitor would write a him a letter telling him he had 2 days to leave, after which time we would get an injunction if he hadn’t gone. During that time, for my safety I stayed with my parents. The letter was sent first class to my address and would be waiting for him when he came back from visiting our friend.

FIGHTING BACK

The day arrived and I told me clients I wouldn’t be answering the phone but if they emailed me I would ring them back. then I waited. At about 1pm my mobile started ringing.  I ignored it. He’d obviously seen the letter. The landline rang. I ignored it. Then the torrent of emails started. My resolve started to wobble and I rang the solicitor. He told me to ignore them. I did, but was still scared.

After the 2 day deadline, it was time to go back to the flat, to see if he’d gone. I had asked several male friends to come with me as I was really scared as to what I would find, or what he might do to me if he was still there. But no one would come with me.

I had to go with a female friend. I’ve never been so scared in my life.

Putting the key in the lock I took a deep breathe, not knowing what I would find.

Music was playing and my heart dropped “OMG I thought to myself, we’ve got a fight on our hands”. But then realised there was no one there.

HE HAD GONE!!

The relief was intense. But then I saw the state of the place. He’d left stuff scattered all over the place, half eaten food, belongings, the heating on, music playing. My friend called a locksmith. We started to clear up.I sat there. Numb to my core. And my new life starting.

But. There was always a but with him.

Then came the death threats. He rang various friends telling them he was going to kill me, that he had people following me.

I rang the Domestic Violence Unit. For six months I slept with the light on and a can of hair spray by the bed (the only weapon I could use according to the DVU without being prosecuted).

I SURVIVED 10 YEARS WITH A PSYCHOPATH!!  THAT IS MY WHY

I will survive. This was my theme song at the time. With great vigour I would shout “Go on now go! Go out the door! I don’t need you any more!”. Thank you Gloria Gaynor.

Gradually the fear left and I’ve rebuilt my life. From scratch. When you are at rock bottom, the only way is up (thanks Yaz).

communist-1294981

Visit www.lovefraud.com for tips on how to spot the red flags of psychopaths and narcissists. Set up by a women who discovered her husband was a psychopath, it gives an outlet for survivors to tell their stories, get support and validation.

If you need help phone the police on 101 or if it is an emergency call 999.

EDIT: Another number which may be helpful is the National Domestic Violence 24-hour free Helpline on 0808 2000 247. This number wasn’t around for me, but has been recommended by a counsellor who has read the article.

EDIT 2 FEB 2018 – I’m now writing a book about my 10 year experience with a psychopath. The plan is to provide a short autobiographical piece about what happened and also give tips on how to escape such a situation. I hope to have it finished by June.

IT WILL GET BETTER! I PROMISE!

And if you need any help with your design projects please call me on 0775 341 3005, email info@iconiccreative.co.uk or visit www.iconiccreative.co.uk

Making short films on a budget

Posted on by Admin under film, filmmaking, independent film, Tips, Video

One of my favourite budget filmmaking reference books is Producer to Producer by Margaret Ryan (Michael Wiese Productions). It is an extensive tome, not really handbag material, but covers all the areas of low budget filmmaking to help you make good quality short films.

However having worked on several small indie films and having made 1 short film already (What did you do in the war Grandad? selected for a festival in Santa Monica in May 2016) and being halfway through my second short film, I thought I would share some of the tips I’ve learnt, so far.

  1. Improvise, improvise, improvise.

    Mum drops Lucy at Grandad's - a scene from budget indie film What did you do in the war Grandad?

    Mum drops Lucy at Grandad’s – a scene from budget indie film What did you do in the war Grandad?

    Obviously, with any low/no budget film, money is always an issue. Thinking creatively, is the best way to deal with this. For instance, if you’re shooting in bright sunlight and need to defuse the light so it is softer, but you don’t have a large enough diffuser, visit Wilko, buy some of their basic white shower curtains and create a frame for them from garden canes and duct tape. Living near Southall can be an ideal way to source not just unusual items for props, but material to make a green screen. I visited several material emporiums to look at their offerings and took material samples so I could get the right shade and then matched it to images on my phone. It worked a treat.Don’t have a proper boom pole? Use an extendable painters’ pole and tape the mic on the end. Visit your local markets, thrift and bargain basement shops for odds and ends.

  2. Ebay is your friend

    Lucy looking at Grandad's medals in budget indie What did you do in the war Grandad? I sourced the medals from ebay

    Lucy looking at Grandad’s medals in What did you do in the war Grandad? I sourced the medals from ebay.

    For more specific props Ebay is an ideal source, even though you have to pay for them. I purchased 3 WW2 medals for my first short film, as I’d been unable to borrow them from contacts.

  3. Facebook is also your friend

    For local locations and also finding crew/actors that you may not be able to source elsewhere, Facebook is also a good source. Post in local groups and on your own feed.

  4. Be prepared to multitask

    Low or no budget filmmaking means that you get to play several parts during a shoot: playing a body double, holding the boom if you don’t have a separate sound person or the painter’s pole that has a foam head on it that gives the actor an eye-line, making props, location sourcing, catering etc

  5. Be brazen and blag & if you can’t blag, borrow

    The adage ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’ is as valid in low budget filming as it is in any other situation. Looking to film in an unusual location? Chat up the owner/caretaker, plead poverty and talk about how good the film is going to be. This is how I’ve got 3 of my locations so far 🙂 Need a prop or equipment, but the money’s running low? Ask, plead poverty & again, talk about how good the film is going to be and give then a credit.

    Meeting the Lancaster at RAF Hendon - a scene from budget indie What did you do in the war Grandad?

    Meeting the Lancaster at RAF Hendon – a scene from budget indie What did you do in the war Grandad?

  6. Be Prepared

    Similar to the point about being prepared to multitask, being prepared. Think about everything that MIGHT be needed: scissors, duct tape, bungee straps (you’d be surprised what you can use those for), see through recycle bags or black bin bags (more often than not it will rain and you need to be able to keep stuff dry, umbrella/s (I have in the past had to use my photography umbrellas to protect my equipment on a shoot, not the best thing), pens, pencils, clipboards (my script clipboard makes a star appearance in my second short film), sharp knives or multitools, first aid kit, water, hot drinks, bum bag to keep stuff in that you need all the time: mobile phone, keys etc etc. Even then you’ll probably find you haven’t got what you need.
    Top tip: a pair of nail clippers works well as an emergency pairs of scissors or even a temporary screw driver if you have one with a file on it. 

Me during a script reading for a short film

Me during a script reading for a short film

To discuss your video, film, scriptwriting and editing needs, please call me on 0775 341 3005, email info@iconiccreative.co.uk or visit www.iconiccreative.co.uk

What inspired me to get into film?

Posted on by Admin under film, filmmaking, History, independent film, RAF, WW2

Like most families, who lost someone during WW2 we occasionally watched a war film on Sunday afternoons, films such as the Dambusters, and I sometimes wondered if my Uncle Jim, had done anything like that. But it never crossed my mind that I would think about making a film.

Ever since I was a child, my Dad had told me about my uncle Jim, his third eldest brother (Dad was one of seven boys). Uncle Jim had been a pilot during World War 2 and been killed. That was about all we knew, we didn’t even know where or when be’d been shot down. He has no known grave.

Uncle Jim in his Magister trainer

Uncle Jim in his Magister trainer

Jim was listed as missing for years and my grandmother was devastated. She kept hoping that he had lost his memory and one day would remember who he was and come home. The family never even held a funeral for him, as they kept hoping he would come home.

P/O Noel ‘Bill’ Morse RNZAF

P/O Noel ‘Bill’ Morse RNZAF

About 6 years ago there was only one brother left and his health was failing fast. It occurred to me that perhaps I could find out what happened to Jim and tell his last surviving brother what had happened to him.

I started searching the internet and found some basic information, the name and type of plane he’d flown and the date that he went missing. I sent off for his service records from RAF Cranwell and waited.

After what seemed like an interminable 3 months, I finally got the records and learnt that Jim had joined up in 1940, flown Spitfires and Hurricanes in his training and then been transferred to Bomber Command, when he learnt to fly Wellingtons and night flying.

Two Crews

I also learnt that he had flown with 2 crews, both of which had all died, the first crew, the week before Jim and his second crew, so sad. To discover that other young men had died with him was something that hadn’t occurred to me before and I suddenly felt responsible for them all – if I found one, I found them all!

F/S George ‘Larry’ Vogan RNZAF

F/S George ‘Larry’ Vogan RNZAF

I joined a forum called wwtalk.com and started a thread with the information I already had and asking for further information that people might have. Gradually I began to piece together what might have happened. I paid a German researcher to obtain files from the Bundesarchiv and other people helped digitise files in Australia.

Commonwealth connections

I discovered that the pilot was an Australian, who’d joined the New Zealand airforce and the observer was also an antipodean and came from New Zealand. The 1st wireless operator/gunner was a Scot from Dunfermline whom I eventually traced to Chipping Norton. After hours of research, as well as being interviewed live on BBC Radio Plymouth, I discovered the 2nd wireless operator / gunner was a relative of folk singer Seth Lakeman and also D-Day veteran Ken Lakeman. The rear gunner proved the most elusive. I couldn’t find any information about his family on the internet, no births, no deaths, nothing and began to look like either a) he’d been adopted and changed his name, or b) was using a false name.

Man of mystery

As it turned out I was very close. Out of the blue, I received a message on ww2talk.com from a guy who was distantly related to the rear gunner and he told me that the whole family had changed their name in the 1930s. This was a break through (or so I thought at the time). I found information about possible family members, dates etc, but things still weren’t matching up properly.

Sgt Graham Lakeman - Plymouth

Sgt Graham Lakeman – Plymouth

Then, on a genealogy forum I saw a post by someone looking for a young pilot. This airman had been lost on the same day as my rear gunner, but the name was slightly wrong. I messaged her and after many email messages it became clear that we were indeed talking about the same person. I’d finally found my rear gunner. Because he’d signed up underage he’d lied about his name and his date of birth. Not by much, just changing the year of birth and transposing letters in his name, but it was enough for the RAF to tell the family years later that he didn’t exist.

Future plans

The longer I researched what happened, the more awed and inspired I became by these young men, the volunteers (yes they were volunteers) of Bomber Command, how young they were and the conditions they had to endure, night after terrifying night. Disgusted by the treatment Bomber Command had endured at the hands of post war propaganda, revisionist historians and subsequent governments. I wanted to do something rectify that situation and to honour their sacrifice.

Sgt Norman Joseph Naylor - Dunfermline

Sgt Norman Joseph Naylor – Dunfermline

I decided I wanted to make a film about my uncle’s WW2 RAF career. Not nothing anything about filming making, I started to investigate. Crewing on several small indie film gave me valuable ‘on set’ experience, I did several film courses and read about scriptwriting. My first feature script is currently in it’s second draft…. In the interim I made a short film called What did you do in the war Grandad, which was accepted into a short film festival in Santa Monica 2016.


To learn more about my film work visit www.iconiccreative.co.uk, call 0775 341 3005 or email info@iconiccreative.co.uk

Sgt Ronald/Roland Richards

Last but by no means least, my mystery man Sgt Ronald/Roland Richards

The crew of Wellington x3757

The only photo I have of Jim and his crew together