Category is: Photography

the night job


The beginning of 2015 was mostly about finding a new place to live (and then working out how to pay for it), but once that was all sorted and I was back to working 5-day weeks the universe decided that was a great time for me to get back into photography, it seems like I spent all of August to November hunched over a computer editing! It’s been so much fun (and hard work) and it’s been great seeing all the places my pictures have ended up.

Miss Behave’s Gameshow

I’d seen Miss Behave’s Gameshow a few times already, where the lovely Amy is the titular demagogic ringmaster and my good friend Harry the whirlwind sidekick in tiny pants. Watching how they riff off each other and conspire in plain sight was such a joy. I’d taken pics for them the previous last year and this time they asked me back to snap all their shows at the awesome London Wonderground.

Throw a pose…no one will realise you've broken your heel ☎️ stunning by @purenift #mbgs

A photo posted by Miss Behave (@stillmisbehavin) on

There was lots of hanging out backstage, dodging out of the way of Briefs Boys‘s costume changes (who were performing out front while Amy and Harry prepped their show), learning where the best shots came from, wondering how in the hell I’d taken thousands of photos, and many nights finding the best shots to use in time for promoting the next week’s show! Was fun to see my snaps show up on a couple of reviews as well as the social medias of the venue and performers.

Push the Button & RVT Future

I’ve done a some club photography for Push The Button in 2015 and before, and while they normally just end up on Facebook, recently some have been fronting the Future of the RVT, a grass roots campaign which has been successful in getting the historic pub and venue listed. On the back of that some of my snaps have ended up on BBC News, the Evening Standard and Dazed Online, so that’s nice.

A photo posted by Dan Govan (@purenift) on


The other place I regularly do photos for is Douchebag at The Star of Bethnal Green. For this Halloween they had a photo of mine in Time Out to promote it!

A photo posted by Dan Govan (@purenift) on

Halloween Douchebag is regularly one of my favourite nights of the year , the pics from the last one are on there now. I love the night, the photos and the vibe of them but sometimes Facebook does seem like a hollow place for all that work to end up sometimes.

All Stars At Sea: Europe

Ok so nobody really *invited me* to take pictures on the drag cruise, though Al & Chuck asked to use my snaps from the last cruise I didn’t realise they meant in perpetuity or I’d have asked for some money! Without a proper mandate I can be even shyer about snapping people but having so many amazing queens together was a great opportunity to practice and get some beautiful photos of their performances as well as all the scenic day trips.

Where next in 2016?

I’m excited to take my new Olympus E-M5ii to more places to practice the kind of events and documentary stuff that I love so much. Inspired by 2015 I’d love to spend the full month in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival shooting performances, and do something at Glastonbury and Yo Sissy in Berlin. It would be great to come up with some projects or different outlets, but for the moment I need to clear my backlog!

Next step will be redoing my website with a focus on photography, but until then there are plenty channels for #content; Instagram for regular picks of pics, Twitter to follow my curt ramblings, Tumblr for an overview of everything I’ve papped recently, or *ugh* Facebook.


Happy New Year and thanks so much for reading!

Nomadic photos


Where to put my photos seems to be a perennial question. I’ve stuck with Flickr for a decade now but uninspired by their sudden redesign I’ve finally ran out of patience. So where to next?

I’ve been getting into Instagram and Twitter more this year, I had high hopes for Instagram particularly as it’s for photos and very social, and while it’s great for seeing what people are up to in a managable way, it’s not actually great for “photography”. There are two things that I’ve noticed getting a lot of traction: photos with a minimal or geometric esthetic that are very arresting even viewed at a small size (beautiful but not really me), aaaand selfies. I’m pretty conflicted that my favourite pictures I’ve ever taken get way less love than an offhand selfie, but every medium has its quirks.

I’m loving Twitter for its immediacy, ambient psuedo-socialisation and aspirational followings, but it’s not great for photos as they quickly float downstream.

Facebook is decent for circulating pics around friends, but I kinda hate the rest of it. All it’s good for these days is logging on once a day, liking various algorithmically-approved “I got the job” type life milestones, contributing to the conversation thread that got most comments that day, then logging out. Time-sensitive statuses like “I’m on my way” or “does anyone want to go to the cinema” only seem to pop up a day or two later. It’s pretty frustrating and I’m not investing anything into that weird-ass ecosystem, I only stick around for the events.

So I tried pastures new and set up a very LTTP Tumblr. The system seems to be afflicted with the same Yahoo curse of frozen development that Flickr suffered under for so long, but on the plus side there’s a lot of control over theming, and surprisingly the limit of 10 photos per album is proving a productive constraint. I’ve put selections of my photos up there from the last year and a half, and eventually they’ll go back to at least 2012. I’ve only been tinkering with it for a few weeks so I don’t grok it at all but for the moment it’s serving as a pretty nice portfolio.

So yeah, click some links and look at some photos!

my first backbone.js

Interwebs Photography

Cross-posted from

I’ve worked with a few javascript MVC frameworks before, but I’ve never used one to build something from the ground up. It’s been really interesting not only because of that but because I was working on something that had already been fleshed out in the proof of concept stage, so I figured it would be fairly straightforward to lift the bits that we wanted to keep from the old code.


the journey

Normally with the scripting I do it mainly involved finding out how to do something, doing it, and fixing the edges. But with setting the foundations for a larger piece of work it’s important that things are done the right way, just working isn’t enough. Naming conventions and coding standards are assumed.

A good place to start is splitting all the JS into separate files, one each for models and collections and all the various kinds of views but even that’s not mentioned in most Introduction to Backbone tutorials for more thorough reading is a great resource but hardly a breezy read at 30,000 words. But it doesn’t talk about how to organise your code either, nor the difference between a panelView and a PanelView, and the documentation for Handlebars is similarly fuzzy in places.

That seems to be an inescapable problem with these frameworks, the thing itself can be as lightweight as a feather but their documentation is never as fun to keep up to date as they evolve organically from many contributors, leaving redundant third-party guides littering the interwebs like Ozymandias’ discarded sandals.

But where was I. Ah yes, standards. So basically to gain The Knowledge in a decent amount of time and be sure that the foundations I was laying would remain mostly useful I had to pester the resident Backbone savant Luke into nodding sagely or cursing with scorn when I did… Well most anything really.


I don’t really like it. There’s no neat little functions to comment and then build into something larger, everything has to be wired into the the wider framework, data bouncing back and forth between views (explicitly thrown and explicitly caught), there’s repetition of code as you write similar functions in different views, you need to have 3+ files open to see what any given thing is doing, and at the end of the day you have to call in a litany of javascript files into the html; nails down a chalkboard for any self-respecting frontender.

Maybe this is just counter to my dev philosophies of going with the grain, maybe there’s another MVC that’s better suited to how I’d like to work, maybe I’m just doing it wrong. But in spite of that we got something working according to the right standards and conventions and that’s a testament to the power of communication. And Luke’s patience.

over to you

So what’s your favourite framework? I’ve worked with Angular and Ember as well as Backbone and they each feel very different, enough to make me think that there might be one out there that I’d get on with just famously. (Though from what I hear on the twitters, React doesn’t count.)

web conferences for 2015

Interwebs Photography

Cross-posted from

In 2014, unshackled from the time constraints and employer oversight of full-time employment, I was able to attend a few conferences and workshops(*), including 2 and 3 day affairs where I had to book a hotel and everything. It was quite fancy but I’m not sure I got the full experience; listening to loads of interesting speakers is great but it puts me in a pretty thoughtful and introspective mood, which isn’t great for chatting to strangers at after parties. It’s great getting all the ideas and taking photos but as I’m paying for it all myself now I should look for a decent ROI…

So this year I’m trying to cut down a bit, but there’s still some I’ve been to before, know are good, and given the option, just can’t resist!

reasons: london

The spiritual successor to Flash On The Beach, reasonsto felt a bit stretched out over 3 days, so I’m hoping the 1-day version might be a better fit. It also helps that it’s 20 minutes walk from where I live.

jquery uk

A 1 day 2-track conf out in Oxford, last time I went there was an impressive breadth of scripty web nift, from performance to sockets to promises to ECMA scripts 6 to (obviously) the pros and cons of jQ itself.

responsive day out

I loved the first Responsive Day Out; at the time I was neck deep in the theory and practice of those disciplines, but also the fast-paced format was relentlessly interesting, plus it was one of the cheapest confs I’ve ever been to! Bless Clearleft. I wasn’t able to go to the second one because it clashed with Glastonbury but this year’s doesn’t! Hope I can get a ticket.


This was another surprise hit for me in 2013. I wasn’t expecting too much even though typography is adjacent to most everything I build I was worried it might tangent off into print and physical media too much but I needn’t have worried. The speakers just blew me away.

The dates are already starting to pile up! Though I still plan to steer clear of multi-day conferences I will keep an an eye out for Full Frontal and dConstruct, two brighton conferences I’ve enjoyed before. I hope there are none I’m missing, the tickets for these things can sell like hot cakes!

(*)Confs & workshops I attended 2014

  • MK Geek Night All Dayer
  • London JS Conf
  • CSS Architecture For Big Front-Ends with Harry Roberts
  • Mobile Photography with Dan Rubin
  • Reasons to be Creative
  • dConstruct
  • BIRDIE Conference
  • The Web Is

2015 resolutions


Last year my aims and resolutions were all based around the pretty big change of going freelance, and it’s been (and still is) a ride but my hopes for 2015 are a bit more general.

  • Work at least 15 days a month. Probably need to hustle for new work to keep the learning curve steep, but hopefully not yet.
  • Save. Lots.
  • More effort into Instagram: better pics, more interactions, just get involved. Ditto twitter.
  • Chat shit. Catch up. Stay in touch.
  • React more quickly, honestly and in the moment about what I feel, think and want. And seethe less.
  • Look after myself with mystical skin unguents, vitamin pills, check-ups at dentist and doctors and such. (It’s been years.)
  • Fix my body too. It’s never going to be a passion of mine, but I’m in my 30s now…
  • Maybe pave the way for more dramatic self-fixes that I’d never have considered before, like gym or counselling…
  • Learn how to run my cameras in manual. While drunk. I had so much fun snapping parties and cabaret last year.
  • Get more practised shedding the cold London introvert mind-set, particularly at Glastonbury or the cruise.
  • Sriracha sauce. Cooking. Facepaint.
  • Move this site. Boring task that’s been dragging for a year.
  • Do more unexpected stuff.
  • Feel good.

Halloween 2014


I bloody love Halloween I do. Great excuse to dress up and party and take lots of pictures of others doing the same. It was a couple of weeks ago now but I’m still drowning in photos from TheWebIs conference and the week-long Rupaul’s Drag Race cruise I’m just back from, so while I’m dealing with all that here’s my favourite photos from a Halloween weekend spent papping for the always excellent DoucheBag then at an amazing house party.

Birdie Conf


Fresh from spending a week in Brighton for Reasons to be Creative and dConstruct, the following weekend I went to yet another conference! However this one BirdieConf; a one day conference about photography, and only 5 minutes walk from my flat! As if that wasn’t enough reason to go, I’ve been wanting to go to an event webconf-type event about photography for years so I leapt at the chance. It was so interesting to hear from diverse professional photographers and archivists(?) about what they did and how they got into it. As far as tips go it was mostly do what you love, put it out three and be open to random opportunities which was something to take to heart generally I think.

Strangely perhaps it felt like most of the attendees were the same web designers and developers who go to the many web conferences there are (except these ones dabble in photography too) so I’m not sure if the organises had the break-out success tat they probably wanted? Hope there’s more along these lines as I’d definitely go again.

(Cross posted from the company blog at MetaBroadcast)

I’ve been taking about a thousand photos a month for years now, and at last month’s #MetaBeerTalks I did a short talk on the reasons why people look at your pics, and how to pander to them (ideally by taking pics of them holding cats).

What I didn’t touch on is that by far the best way to make people look at your pics is to delete most of them. This often surprises people but it stands to reason: your audience has limited attention spans so after taking a few hundred pics of an event the question becomes: which would you rather they saw; the first 20 or the best 20?

It sounds flippant but deleting down photos is actually the hardest part of the editing process. You have to distance yourself from the memory and take each photo out of context, stop thinking so much and just go on gut feeling, then decide which will work best on Instagram, Facebook, or Flickr.

Of course like many I blog and tweet too; the total time spent on content curation is insane but it’s not uncommon; Pinterest and Tumblr are basically wildly successful content curation tools. Editing down is underrated and everywhere; YouTube ads that have 5 seconds to intrigue, info pages that have 2 seconds to convince viewers they’re authoritative. It’s all the same game, condense as much meaning as possible into a single picture, a smaller layout, a soundbite, a tweet.

It’s tempting and so much easier to just make more space, add more content, put some extra into a carousel (in spite of them being demonstrably rubbish) but most of the time you should be saying less instead. In the age of micro-blogging and mobile sites your message should be constantly refined. Try to be all things to all people and you’ll end up with vague half-read articles, background noise. Ditch the fluff. Edit down.

Conference week(??)


I’m a bit of a fan of web conferences, but even with supportive employers I’ve only been able to take so much time off work. Now I’m a part-timer / contractor while the opportunity cost is more I’m still much more comfortable attending multi-day things like The Web is in October, and Reasons To… Next week! As I was in Brighton anyway I decided to stay a bit longer to go to dConstruct on on the Friday too!

I’ve only stayed in a hotel for a conference once, so making the jump to nearly a full week is crazy, but this year’s been full of that. In the last month alone at one company I’ve run the gamut from a dreamweaver-made table-based updates to a slick new build, but with the other company I’ve been mostly working in Javascript(!), doing a couple of API frontend prototypes and a chrome extension. Hell I even gave a my first talk at a meetup there! It was short and the audience was small but it’s a big deal for Mr Hates Public Speaking, so that was exciting.

I’m loving it and feeling very privileged right now; I have more flexibility and I’m learning super quickly, but I have no idea what next month holds beyond doing web stuff at least half the time, and maybe that’s OK. Similarly I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself in Brighton for 4 nights as I don’t think I know anyone else going, but worst case scenario I’ll spend the evenings going over the beautiful webby talks I’ve heard and building another wing on this site.

Adventures in the West Country


Leap of surewhynot

It felt surreal to be going back west a couple of weeks after Glastonbury for similar frolics, this time to take pictures at the Bristol Pride after party. I had no idea what to expect but the trip featured loads of odd situations that made me so happy to have gone, like magical scratch-card train tickets, being backstage and getting in Corona’s way, chatting about life on the road with Boogaloo Stu, papping with a legit staff wristband, secret smoking areas, and accidentally being in the security team meeting where they talked about the kind of night it was.

Of course the highlight was papping Harry and Cola as they welcomed the crowds and posed with punters, dressing them up, rubbing them down and generally getting everyone in a great mood. It was a wonder to watch them work; radiating fun, goodtimes, glitter and babyoil for four hours straight. And then two bonus hours of gogo dancing!

Facebook pages (still) suck

I put my favourite snaps on Flickr, the full set’s on my Facebook page, but it might be the last thing I post there. I get orders of magnitude more buzz about an album posted on my personal profile, where randoms can request tags (unlike on unLiked Pages) and it’s not assumed you’ll pay to promote posts. You can’t promote albums even if you wanted to so it all seems pretty pointless. It goes both ways too; I’d love to keep abreast of the photographers I Like on Facebook but they never come up on my feed, instead I get random conversations of people I don’t know and four word posts from a week ago. Sad times.

Bristol was pretty sweet though.