Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

After covering the superb wedding at Loch Lomond in March it was back to the regular bread and butter work. The equestrian competitions were now up and running across the region though we did have two gymnastics events to cover also.

First up was the North West Disability Championships in Wigan. This was our second year of coverage, having been booked at the close of the 2017 event. We have also been booked to cover the 2019 event too. We love them, they love us and the work is most engaging and grounding.

Disabilities come in all shapes and forms so it would take me an age to describe all of the categories we saw over the two days. I can however say that the competitors are fabulous, with no bickering or snide comments that we hear at other events. Lots of encouragement from both fellow competitors and public alike makes a wonderful gymnastics competition. With floor, beam, bars, vault, horse & trampoline disciplines we certainly have our work cut out providing a balanced coverage, though the organisers do help us with staggered starts etc.

Our second main event of the month also saw us covering gymnastics, though this time it was able bodied gymnasts and at Bridlington. A four piece competition, which we have covered for the last few years, saw some excellent routines on the floor, beam, bars and vault by a large cross section of competitors. The morning session was all of the juniors which are usually year 6 and below, with the afternoon being year 7 and above.

We are looked after at both of the mentioned locations with tea, coffee, meals & even cake.Whilst this doesn’t sway our choice to cover its always a plus point when we are driving there early on a weekend morning.

Some of the medallists from both events.

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I don’t usually mention our weddings on here though this one is certainly worth a few words.

Mid 2017 and I received an email asking if my wedding photography services were available throughout the UK, as with our event photography. Yes we cover anywhere and after some messages regarding thoughts, ideas, locations, styles and content we were booked to cover a wedding at the beautiful location of Loch Lomond.

This was to be a three day job owing to travel and the requested coverage by the bride & groom. They had Kindly paid for our hotel room, in their hotel, and the hotel had placed us not too far from them so that coverage would be simplified. How many hotels actually think like that in advance? I’ve never had it before.

The drive up was a steady 5hrs or so with stops and we got there mid afternoon, to sunshine and a brisk wind over the water. The bride & groom were upbeat, as expected, and once we had dropped our suitcases in the room, I was out and about with my camera for some pre wedding images of them both. The evening meal was beautiful and after just a couple of drinks we retired early before the big day ahead.

We woke to solid mist and a view of around 20 meters in any direction. The view of the Loch was literally non existent, though you could ear all the birds out on it. We maintained a positive outlook on the day which was rewarded around 10am when the sun suddenly started trying to make an appearance. An hour or so later we had blue skies and lovely views with just a slightly cold breeze still in attendance.

Before we knew it the preparations were over and the ceremony was underway. One thing about weddings is that those which are planned correctly run seamlessly and keep us busy 100% of the time. We are constantly capturing formal or candid images throughout the day to provide the contracted ,editorial style, overview expected.

The wedding meal is served, to which we have also been invited to, and a traditional Scottish meal is beautifully delivered and gratefully eaten by all.

A break for some in the bar, some in their rooms and others walking outside soon saw the start of the evening reception. Traditional Scottish dancing mixed with disco and classic, join in, singing saw the night fly by to a successful conclusion.

We had collectively amassed some 2000 images throughout the day and around 80gb of video too. This was all edited and ready for delivery when the Bride & Groom returned from their honeymoon two weeks later. Another set of huge smiles, the constant thank you’s and the range of emotional reactions to our product told us this was yet another successful day. We left them watching the video’s over again and the messages received later that evening reinforced their happiness with our work.

The image below is being used with the kind permission of Mr & Mrs Ketterick. It’s one of their, and indeed our, favourites of the day. The sun had just popped out from behind a cloud and did the honours of lighting them up for me. No flash required.

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For the Duck Bay Marina Hotel website click HERE

March was one of those months that just flew by, was solid with bookings and when you get to the end of the month you sit back and think, yeah we did it.

The month kicked off with us covering the UK BSGA Trampoline Finals in Belfast. We had been booked for this since our coverage of the previous 2017 event. The organiser had approached us, asked us if we were prepared to travel and after some brief discussions we were booked again.

The journey and ferry was simply a repeat of the January travelling I had done for the Steel Panther & Wayward Sons tour, though this time there was no issue with snow. I’m pleased that this event was just outside the normal poor winter weather possibility as when the van is full of gear, I wouldn’t want to be driving in snow. We set off late on the Friday and arrived at Cairnryan around 2am on the Saturday morning. Into the ferry queue and heads down for a couple of hours before waking to embark on the ferry. Once on it was find a comfy seat and fall asleep again for the two hour crossing. Arriving in Belfast at the crack of dawn, already tired, was not the best start yet the only way we could do this. A quick stop for coffee’s and breakfast still saw us arrive nice and early at the venue.

Once in we got the desk set up, the camera settings agreed and then the show started. It was absolute mayhem from start to finish, as had been the previous years finals. Several hundred school kids vying for their places on the rostrum. Parents & teachers screaming instructions at them whilst judges & helpers tried to maintain some kind of semblance and organisation to it all. To be fair the day could have been a lot worse, the PA kept failing and so communication was sporadic and at times confusing for some, yet everyone in authority just pulled together and shoved the whole machine to the finish line, just over an hour or so late.

We knew things would overrun so booking a ferry back on he same day would be almost impossible to predict and I would be seriously sleep deprived. We had therefore booked a lovely B&B just outside Belfast and, it transpired, from where we could see Stormont on the hill too. I had barely sat down and I was nodding off so an early night was had by all, to which our slumber was only disturbed by our alarm the following morning. Up, showered, breakfast and then back in the van for the ferry, the crossing & the subsequent five hour drive back to home. We arrived home mid afternoon after a no rush, plenty of coffee stop, journey.

Photography wise this was quite simple other than the open glass ceiling lights. The sun was bright and so large sun spots moved slowly accross the trampoline beds throughout the day. Altering your exposure is easy enough, though when you have just done so and the sun pops behind a cloud things can go dark. Thankfully Lisa, on our desk, was up to the job of getting these images onto our screens in a suitable state and as always did an excellent job of selling them too.

Flag bearers from the final awards ceremony.

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March also saw us cover, for the third year, the Yorkshire Gymnastics Regional Finals at Haltemprice Sports Centre. This is an absolute gem for us as its so local we can literally leave home 15 minutes before our access time. As it was our third year we knew exactly what was involved, what was expected and how we would deliver it all.

The day went smoothly and actually finished on time, which is a massive bonus for us, allowing us to have an evening meal at a most sensible time for once. Photography wise this location does not have the best of lighting and so the ISO’s are rather high. As this doesn’t bode well for cropping the pressure to capture things in an almost printable version is high. Not the easiest thing to do though once you work out what sells, where the gymnasts are doing those moves, you simply position yourself and hope things fall into place along with some good general imagery.

Its also great that they all have such a sense of fun too.

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The remainder of March was mopped up with equestrian work and another superb, one off, job which will be getting its own entry on the blog. Loch Lomond anyone?

February saw us have an almost complete calendar filled with equestrian competitions other than one weekend of gymnastics in Wigan for the NDP 3 qualifying.

The equestrian work continues to grow and our images have been used in both the Equestrian Life and Horse & Hound Publications since we began. As I have mentioned before the work is not particularly difficult other than standing outside for several hours at a time. When the weather is kind, the job is great though if the weather is not so good then it can be a real headache. With persistent rain I usually start shooting and see how things go. Sadly if the images are being spoilt by the intensity of the rain and its affect on the images then I pack up and go home. I did stick it out in the early months of 2017 though quickly realised that we had not, and still have not, sold a single image when it is either raining or misty.

Thankfully all of the dates that I covered in February all stayed dry and so I captured full days of competition.

The NDP 3 Qualifying event at Wigan was almost a repeat of the NDP 2 event, the previous month. More fierce competition with competitors trying to grab the all important points to take them into the national rounds. Again the day was a success for us on both the image and sales fronts, though thats now it at Wigan until the Autumn when the NW Championship series returns.

Some equestrian images including jumps.

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I first had the pleasure of meeting this band when Wayward Sons supported them earlier in 2017. I managed to shoot them at both York & Nottingham, on that particular tour, where both performances were absolutely on point and delivered with true professionalism. Our paths crossed again at the Shepherds Bush Empire in London with them supporting Steel Panther.

Whilst it was a shortened support set this time the band managed to steam roll through a selection of songs to which the crowd warmed. I had noticed in Ireland that the typical Panther fan was not going to be the biggest fan of the support acts on the tour, yet both supports gave 100% and won a good percentage of the crowd over.

Inglorious have one major factor that sets them apart from many other metal bands and that is Nathan James the lead singer. He possesses a set of vocal cords and lungs of which many singers would wish to have. Listen to one of their albums, or indeed them all, then hear them live and then you will appreciate what he has to offer. The rest of the band are also good solid musicians and also a sound bunch of fellas to boot. From the dual guitars of Andreas Eriksson & Drew Lowe to the solid rhythm of Phil Beaver and boundless energy of Colin Parkinson the whole Inglorious machine, grabs you by the scruff of the neck and shakes every last ounce of energy from you throughout their set. If you’ve not seen them or own an album I would heartily recommend them.

Photography wise this was easy, though I didn’t stay in the pit for the full three song allocation. Just grabbed a few of each band member and waited for the image below to drop into place. The lighting was generous, as it had been for Wayward Sons, so settings were easy and uncomplicated. I didn’t even exceed 100 images opposed to the usual mad rattling of the shutter in an attempt to get that all important set of worthwhile printable or publishable images. Once I had the image I was looking for I was out of there for a nice cold bottle of water, before simply packing up and coming home. I never even stayed in the hall to watch Panther, as having seen them twice I knew there was nothing different to be had other than a few altered jokes or one liners. Personally I’d prefer less of the joking about and more of the music being played, though I guess its this format that has got them to where they are now, so who am I to suggest change lol.

Image is Nathan James.

Check Inglorious out HERE

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January saw me given the unique opportunity to shoot the band, Steel Panther, in both Dublin and Belfast in January. Wayward Sons were supporting and I’d had the nod that I could cover these dates. Lets face it, I was never going to say no, so organised my travel and accommodation accordingly.

The week before the dates all hell broke lose with the weather and Britain was covered in several feet of snow from top to bottom. Usually I would have looked at the options for this and was it absolutely necessary to travel yet this weather was not going to stop me getting there. A 4am start saw me tip toe for five hours up to the port of Cairnryan in Scotland for my lunchtime ferry to Belfast. When I finally got there it was nice just to not have to grip the steering wheel in an almost constant effort to keep the van on the roads up there. The roads were appalling, travel warnings advised all but essential travel yet I found myself trundling along with hundreds of other motorists, respecting the weather and driving safely. Yes there were the odd idiots out there and one in particular ended up on his roof not several hundred meters in front of me after ludicrously overtaking two side by side articulated lorries by travelling into the uncleared third lane. What happened next is obvious to most and luckily he never touched anyone else with his pirouetting and rolling. Idiot!!

Not my first time in Ireland, though a first for covering gigs. To be fair they both went well, considering they were warm up gigs for the main UK Steel Panther Tour which started the following week. Dublin was small, almost embarrassingly small, for a band of Panthers following yet they roared through their set from start to finish with total professionalism. If you know Steel Panther you will also know that last sentence is a little tongue in cheek. Totally tongue in cheek, the dirty jokes were rife as was the mocking of not only themselves but the crowd throughout the entire set. It was all soaked up by the crowd in the spirit of how it should be and the vibe from the crowd as they left was totally positive.

Wayward sons also gave a 100% performance. They stomped through a half hour of what now seemed to be more crowd aware songs from the album. The album having been out 6 months now is obviously gaining some traction and there were plenty singing along. Nobody would ever have guessed that the lead singer was as green as a goblin having suffered with a rough crossing from Blighty. Add to this a missing keyboard player, owing to a family bereavement, you would not have guessed with the positive response from the crowd.

Belfast, the following night, was almost identical to Dublin for the SP lads, in fact almost too identical for my liking. I’ll not go into how things may or may not be done, by some, these days which certainly made me think. Sadly the more I heard SP on the tour the more they made me start watching certain aspects of the performance, for repetition, rather than just enjoying the fun of it. They are a great bunch of blokes on and off stage so I will leave it at that. Wayward Sons had recovered from the green sea monster and simply powered through their strict half hour set.

The evening was slightly marred by the extremely punctual curfew at 10pm. Steel Panther had barely finished their main set when it was announced that the show was over. Some bemused punters were wondering what was going on, is it part of the show etc? No it was all legit as the Limelight subsequently turns into a nightclub. Thus not an hour after the show had finished there were DJ’s setting up on stage as flight cases were being removed from the building. Steel Panther thus finished on Community Property and not the planned Party All Day, as per the setlist, which is shown below.

Thankfully I had just a short walk to my hotel before a 6am rise to catch my return ferry back to Blighty. A smile which was accompanied by a spring in my step over a job well done. This all before I’d even seen the images taken on a laptop screen.

For all things Steel Panther

Steel Panther live. Images from Dublin & Belfast.

Michael Starr

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Satchel

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Lexxi Foxx

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Stix Zadinia

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Belfast Limelight.

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Setlists.

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We already knew that December only had the one large event for us. This was the Trampoline & DMT League 2017 Finals which were to be held at the Velodrome in London.

Whilst this is a prestige event it is also a right royal pain in the butt for us. The two days are simply manic, if previous years events are to go by, along with two huge drives to and from London along with overpriced accommodation. Prestigious though not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination.

We arrived nice and early only to find that, for the third year running, we had not been issued laminates or passes to the event. This put me in a bad mood, from the off, which I found hard to contain when speaking to representatives of the League. As always one individual, the same individual as previous years, was blamed for our omission for the sponsors list. As sponsors we are promised the earth each year and yet delivered almost nothing once we have paid our sponsorship money to them. This fact alone is making me wonder if the whole series is with continuing with beyond 2017. There are some lovely and genuine people involved with running the League, though sadly there are also a couple of soft heads who just don’t seem to care about anyone other than themselves.

The weekend, as always, was utterly manic in every respect. Panels over running, accidents delaying competition and organisers running about like headless chickens trying to resolve the monumental pile of issues being thrown at them. Sunday’s presentations were rushed because of over running which meant our desk receiving an unwarranted barrage of complaints that winners had not been given suitable time on the podium for pictures. We happily sent them to the organisers as this also affects our sales.

To top things off, on the Sunday, we ended up almost being evicted from the premises for not having sponsors laminates. Yes almost 48hrs after we had arrived there was still no sign of our laminates. Thankfully our request for the security supervisor to intervene and talk to a representative of the League calmed things down and we continued to trade until the last image of the day had been sold.

The drive home was taken after a deep sigh and a quick chat about us and the 2018 series. What is true is that we won’t be continuing with them in the current style of agreement without concrete guarantees and penalties for failures on their part.

December also saw us cover the Fenland Flyers Xmas function, which also happened to be their 10th anniversary as a club. An excellent evening as always.

A few remaining dates were filled with equestrian competition, though you can see from the image I have posted, the sun is low and the air is now cold. Already looking forward to spring next year with this particular strand of work.

So that was it for 2017. Year on year we have grown substantially in events covered and takings. Profits, after costs, are also up and we have bookings in to not only 2018 yet 2019 also. Now for a nice two weeks off over Xmas & New Year.

The Trampoline & DMT League’s impressive medals.

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An example of the rushed podiums, which caused complaints.

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A pic from the Fenland Flyers function, taken against our portable studio back drop.

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And finally a cold chilly pic from one of the equestrian events.

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Merry Xmas & Happy New Year.

 

I had the privilege of being at this event, in the capacity of photographer, to capture the Wayward Sons Set. It also allowed me to capture some of the other bands on stage too. This is not only good for the portfolio yet, as I found out, also good for networking with other photographers and indeed bands too.

The drive to North Wales was uneventful and as smooth as I could have hoped, arriving around lunch time on the Friday. Booking in and getting laminates was pleasantly easy and the staff were absolutely superb. Odd events have a big “I Am” around who likes you to know it & its really not necessary at all when I’ve found 99% of the bands to be fully approachable and chatty.

The event as a whole went superbly and I met some really nice individuals, some of whom I will be staying in contact with. Photography wise it was a doddle. I had unprecedented access to the band, the entire pit to myself after the first three songs had been completed, and with proper stage lighting I was able to shoot at decent resolutions too.

The Wayward Sons set was superb and they are really starting to gel as a band. The sound was tight and had the entire audience bouncing along with them for the duration. One minor blip was an amp giving up, though that was replaced in just a couple of minutes allowing them to continue. This band can and should go places in the coming year. They certainly deserve to on the album and performances to date.

Not too much on the side of images, as those of you who read this blog will know I have a gentleman’s agreement over images for Wayward Sons. I am however popping a couple from Friday’s headline set on here. Dee Snider, of Twisted Sister, played with his solo band which was a big moment for me. Absolutely loved him in TS all those years ago in my teens yet never managed to see them live. Access to the photography pit and he’s on, see’s me standing there for that first three song opportunity.

Things rounded off drinking a few beers with WS at the after show, kipping on a settee in the bands chalet, followed by an early rising and the long drive back home.

As an experience of work this was fantastic, as an experience of a small festival it was superb and for interaction with other gig photographers it was also fabulous. I just love this side of work and though it pays peanuts I’ll be continuing to slot the gigs in where I can.

Can’t show a Wayward Sons pic so how about an artistically focussed image? I’ve started doing this so I can at least pop something on here rather than repeating the small montage.

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The legend that is Dee Snider

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And you just have to love it when a band member poses for you.

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November is an odd month for us in that we have been booked to cover the Yorkshire, North West and North East Schools BSGA Trampoline Competitions for the last four years. This leaves us with little room to squeeze anything else in. This year however saw the North East committee leave things so late that the only weekend they could secure a venue we were already booked (covering the NW event) so we had to decline the booking. Whilst we were saddened not to be covering it, and indeed it wasn’t covered by any photographer, we did have the backup of the equestrian work and a late gymnastics event booking too.

The Yorkshire weekend was first, followed by the North West with the gymnastics event being on the third weekend of the month. The equestrian events fell nicely into the gaps and so yet again we had a full month of events to work at. With only the League Finals in December this is the time when some good sales carries us nicely into the new year when things begin to happen again.

Again this was our fourth year of covering these BSGA events and so we knew exactly what was coming. The entire set of weekends went as planned and we came out of November in a very buoyant place. The gymnastics event was also a success as they had not previously booked a photography company to cover the event. Lots of first time purchasers there then.

Finally and yet again the equestrian work filled in the gaps. Yes its getting cold and the purchases are slowing, due to the drop in competitors, though any business is better than no business. To be honest its not much fun standing outside, for several hours, in November. I’m wrapped up like an eskimo and should the sun decide to make an appearance I will face it, absorbing its brief moments of warmth, until it becomes obscured by clouds again. The wind chill is the absolute killer now and so if there’s no wind at all I’m a happy Chappy standing beside the competition rings.

BSGA Yorkshires

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BSGA North West

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Gymnastics

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Equestrian competition in November, with sunlight.

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And just to prove that gymnastics can be fun too …..

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October was yet again another busy month for us running around the country covering events. Any spare days were filled with more equestrian competition which simply left us with no weekend days free at all. It still amazes me how many people were trying to book us for events only 10 days or so before they took place. It goes to show how much people don’t think about photography or having the event covered until the last minute.

I am always polite in my replies and suggest that once any future event has a date confirmed, that they contact us promptly for a potential booking. One request was even for a wedding which either meant an extremely late booking, their booked photographer had blown them out or a distinct lack of organisation. I was surprised by their reaction that we were unable to cover it for them owing to being booked. They were very disappointed by all accounts ……. go figure lol.

So firstly we covered the Trampoline & DMT League Series 4 at Gillingham. This was the final time that any competitor could secure points and claim a slot in the finals at the Velodrome in December. The weekend was manic to put it bluntly. Over the two days the entry card was massive, as was expected. From 9am to 6pm both days we were shooting constantly with a total image count of just over 13,000 images in total. This was almost the same count as with the 2016 finals and yet only a qualifier. We did ok on the sales, as usual, and it took me almost 4 full days to edit and upload the images.

Below is the Facebook & Twitter promo image I pit out into the public domain. The League themselves had been very lacklustre in promoting the event so I took it upon myself to remind people that photo’s could be purchased from the event.

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Our second big weekend of the month was covering the English Regional Cup (Trampoline, DMT & Tumbling) Finals at the EIS in Sheffield. A first for us with this particular series which we were offered due to a competitor continually not turning up or providing poor quality service when they did. Our whole business has been grown on word of mouth about our excellent product and customer service. We never promise what we cannot deliver and so things are easily achieved. Why some photographers seem to offer the earth, when clearly they are unable to deliver, eludes me. All this does is impact on your reputation, as a business and as individuals. Thankfully though our honest approach has seen us taking events and regular commissions from individuals who have failed to deliver the promised product. Thanks people.

The finals were busy, as expected, and we had an excellent weekend covering it all. With the finals being structured a lower count of only 8000 images were taken. Plenty of competitors knew us from our coverage of other events, which made things a little easier, though the running order was a little skewed. This meant that our lunches were somewhat rushed, though if that’s all I can recall as being negative, you can see why we have agreed to cover the 2018 series in full.

Below is the Facebook & Twitter gallery notification image.

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Our montage being used by British Gymnastics – Montage

Our third full weekend of the month saw us back at Wigan for the North West Trampolining Championships. Our fourth year of covering this meant we knew exactly what was coming, what was expected and how to deliver. The weekend was busy, fun and most of all a success for the organisers with no complaints or dramas. Again we have been fully booked to cover the 2018 North West Series so a fifth consecutive year for this particular series. It is great that many of the coaches, some of the kids and many of the parent now know our names. We have regular purchasers of products along with the new competitors looking for a quality memento of their day.

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As previously mentioned the remaining weekend and a few odd weekdays were filled with equestrian competition over at Manor Grange Stud & Show Centre. Summer was certainly over now and back to the large coat and warm hat for standing outside for several hours at a time. To be fair if the weather stays dry the day is bearable. If however things get all rainy and wet then the job is a real pain and no fun.

The lovely colour that the summer sun gives outdoor images is also fading so things look a little flat, other than if we are blessed with a sunny day.

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Our final job of the month was to cover the Leeds Trampoline Club’s annual awards night in Leeds. Again we have done this before and so know what to expect and what is indeed expected of us. We capture all of the awards and then have the portable studio (white wall) in place for additional family photo’s and fun images. Finished by 10pm, as most of the kids are tired, I enjoy the evening with the proud parents and huge smiles from those kids who win awards all on show.

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November next.