Category Archives: Photography

100 Years in Vogue

There’s an exhibition on at Manchester Art Gallery showcasing some of the greatest photography in the world, called 100 Years in Vogue.


If you like photography – you’ll love it.

If you like fashion – you’ll love it.

If you’re an art director – you’ll love it.

If you’re a graphic designer – you’ll love it.

If you’re a fashion designer – you’ll love it.

If you’re a textile designer – you’ll love it.

If you’re a magazine/layout designer – you’ll love it.

If you’re an illustrator – you’ll love it.

If you like art – you’ll love it.


I’m not really into fashion, (no shit, Sherlock), so I guess it appealed to the art director in me.


“The exhibition brings together vintage prints from the early twentieth century, ground-breaking photographs from renowned fashion shoots, unpublished work and original magazines. Images by leading twentieth-century photographers, including Cecil Beaton, Lee Miller, Irving Penn and Snowdon will feature alongside more recent work by David Bailey, Corinne Day, Patrick Demarchelier, Nick Knight, Herb Ritts and Mario Testino.”


But you’d best get your skates on, it finishes on the 30th October!

(Oh, and it’s free in.)


















Filed under Advertising, Art, Brand, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Design, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Photography

Things for which I am grateful #365/365.

Some folks might think this is a bit of a cheat. I started with my kids and I’m going to finish with them. In my defence, I have two of the little rascals so I’m counting it as one post apiece.

There is nothing more precious to me on this Earth than my two daughters. Anyone who has children will know that something changes inside of you – chemically, biologically – and nothing else seems to matter.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to every parent, and true, the pesky varmints do get on your nerves a lot of the time. And yes, they bicker constantly. And they manage to talk in a stream of consciousness James Joyce would be proud of. But, when all’s said and done, they don’t outweigh all the adorable moments. I simply couldn’t live without them.

It’s been an epic year of blogging. Thank you for sticking by me and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Right, I’m going for a lie down.

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Here are my 365 things that I am grateful for:

1 My daughters

2 Water

3 Poetry

4 Baths

5-7 Notebooks, pens, pencils

8,9 Butterflies and moths

10, 11 Softball and baseball

12 Fresh coffee

13 Sound / masts

14 Indoor toilets

15 Stepping Hill Hospital

16 Birds of Paradise

17 Roget’s thesaurus

18 Mother Earth

19 Clingfilm dispenser

20, 21 Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy

22 Jorge Luis Borges

23 Classic cars

24 Curry

25 Tim Berners Lee

26 Charles Bukowski

27 Yorkshire

28 Shiraz

29 Food

30 Katell Keineg

31 Tao Te Ching

32 A roof over my head

33 Peat fires

34 Street art

35 Friends (as in – mates, not the T.V. show)

36 Wilfred Owen

37 The Penguin Café Orchestra

38 The fry-up

39 Wolves

40 W.B. Yeats

41, 42 Cherry blossom trees and haiku poetry

43 Bread

44 Boules

45 Maps

46 Refuse collectors

47 Candy Chang

48 Sparrows

49 The tomato

50 Studio Ghibli

51 Oliver Jeffers

52 Johannes Gutenberg

53 Tom Waites

54 The cello

55 Mothers’ day

56 The Phoenicians

57, 58 Bacon and brown sauce

59 Tulips

60 Fish and chips

61 Giselle

62 Airfix

63 Firefighters

64 Rain

65 Libraries

66 Raymond Carver

67 Toulouse-Lautrec

68 The Goldfinch

69 Wings of Desire

70 Silence

71 Elizabeth Barrett Browning

72-99 Ireland

100 Talking Heads

101 Sylvia Plath

102 Yorkshire Sculpture Park

103 My mum

104 Modigliani

105 Kurt Vonnegut

106-128 Electricity

129 The pop man

130-147 Comedians/comedy

148 Commando magazine

149 Pastry

150-156 Social media

157 David Bowie

158 Football

159 D-Day

160-194 France

195-230 Novels

231 Graphic Design

232 Viva! Roxy Music

233 – 274 Art

275 Betty Blue

276 Writing

277 Joy Division

278 – 287 Scotland

288 – 324 Italy

325 – 352 Photography

353 Leeds Utd

354 Love

355 Universe

356 Advertising

357 Pan’s Labyrinth

358 – 363 Democracy

364 Miscellaneous

365 My daughters II

If anyone wants to read any of the previous posts simply type the title into the search box on the right. (It’s underneath the ‘topic’ cloud.)


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Things for which I am grateful #364 – Miscellaneous.

When I first started doing Things for which I am grateful, one for each day of 2014, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it. Now, on the penultimate post, I have far too many. So rather than pick just one I’m going to give you a miscellaneous list of all the ones that didn’t make it – but could have quite easily. (Lucky you.)

The point I’m trying to make is that we are very lucky in the ‘west’. And, even though I gripe on about our Tory overlords, I feel very fortunate to live in England.

The sun. (The big orange ball of fire, not the newspaper.)

England. (So much history, beautiful scenery and towns.)

History. (I love history.)

Wind turbines. (I think they’re cool.)

Thai food.

Chinese food.

The industrial revolution.

The sea. (I love the sea. And would love to live by it once again.)



The Romans.

The Greeks.

South Africa.

Elvis Presley.


Public transport.

Sri Lanka.






New Zealand.

Optometry. (I wouldn’t be able to see without my glasses.)

My ex-wife for having our children.


Monkeys. (I do love a monkey.)

My neighbours.


Penny sweet tray.

The Peak District.




The dictionary.






Uilleann pipes.

Sub-atomic particles. (Where would we be without these little jaspers? Nowhere, that’s where.)

Martin Luther King Jr.

The BBC. (Kiddy-fiddlers aside, they’ve done some great stuff.)

The Guardian.


Erik Satie.

The emergency services. (Police, fire, paramedics.)

So, as you can see, plenty for me to be grateful for. But the point is, not what I am grateful for – what do you have to be thankful for in your life?

Wonder what’s in store for the last one?


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Things for which I’m grateful #356 – Advertising.

Yes, advertising. Nike,1990s,UK It’s hard to think of an industry more vilified by the general public than advertising. With the possible exceptions of bankers and estate agents. Oh, and insurance companies. We’re all wankers in the public’s eyes. It’s true that I’ve met quite a few charlatans in my time but I’ve also met lots of lovely people whom I admire, respect and have maintained long-lasting friendships. Advertising has given me many happy years coming up with ideas for stuff. Then having them bludgeoned to death by account handlers and clients. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some fantastically talented directors, photographers, illustrators, writers and art directors. I’ve also had the good fortune to have gone on the odd exotic TV shoot. come-along-gentelman In my 30 years in the ad industry I reckon I’ve only had three decent jobs out of about – actually, I genuinely can’t remember how many jobs I’ve had. The three best agencies I’ve worked for were BRAHM in Leeds, Owens DDB and Chemistry, (both in Dublin). They probably account for about 10 out of my 30 years in advertising. That’s a long time spent working in crap agencies. Of course, young hipsters will think someone like me is past it. I’ve heard a few digital johnnies bleating on about how traditional advertising doesn’t engage in a dialogue with consumers like online media can. Bollocks. As soon as you get a customer thinking about your ad you are engaging in dialogue. Whether that’s via the medium of television, press or on a billboard. Think_Different_poster_billbernbach Just because you have the capacity for a customer to literally respond to your message on social media doesn’t mean you’ve entered into a dialogue with them. In fact, judging by the mass majority of offer/promotion-based ads on social media, I would argue that this is monologue, not dialogue. The key to a successful engagement with a customer is to have an idea that resonates with what’s going on in their life. Without an idea, you have nothing. And, what digital johnnies lack is the ability and experience to come up with big advertising ideas. Of course, there have been one or two great online campaigns. (Old Spice springs to mind.) But not enough. And ad agencies today need to go back to the old ways of doing things but with today’s media and technology. Is it just me, or is there a dearth of good advertising around? interbrew-sheep-small-51151 Advertising is very simple: A great idea should contain two things: An insight into your target audience and a brand/product truth that will match the consumer insight. For example: If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen.

  1. A) ‘If only everything in life…’ = Life is full of ups and downs (consumer insight).
  2. B) ‘…was as reliable as a Volkswagen’. = If all else fails, you can rely on your Volkswagen. (Product benefit).

A + B =     Ta-dah! (Told you it was simple.) It’s often overcomplicated by people using big words to make themselves look more intelligent who try to portray it as a science. Great ideas come from great propositions. Here are a few straplines from yesteryear, when advertising was great. See how many you can match to their brand. (And they’d all translate brilliantly to online media.)

  1. Probably the best lager in the world.
  2. The world’s favourite airline.
  3. Think different.
  4. I bet he drinks…
  5. Good food costs less at…
  6. It is. Are you?
  7. …refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach.
  8. Australians would give a … for anything else.
  9. Beanz meanz …
  10. The Ultimate Driving Machine.
  11. Just do it.
  12. Vorsprung durch technic
  13. Reassuringly expensive
  14. It’s a new toy every day.
  15. We try harder.
  16. Happiness is a cigar called…
  17. The cream of Manchester.
  18. Hello Tosh, got a…
  19. You know, when you’ve been…
  20. I smoke ‘em, cos my name’s on ‘em.

That doesn’t mean that every ad campaign needs a strapline. (The Economist being a good case in point.) What a great strapline does is encapsulate the client’s strategy, which each individual concept/execution has to fit into for consistency of message. cream-of-manchester   So my advice to any young whippersnappers out there thinking of a career as an art director or writer is, whatever you do, don’t rock the boat. Tip the fucking thing over. There are too many safe-sailor-suits and bland-brand-bosuns as it is. N.B. None of the examples of great work I’ve shown here are mine.


Of the places of work I have really enjoyed working, I would have included TBWA Manchester – a really great team of people and a cracking account to work on. But, as I was only there a wet weekend, it seemed a bit of a stretch to include it. For the all too brief period of time I was there, I enjoyed every minute of it.


Filed under Advertising, Brand, Comedy, Creativity, Cross of Iron, Design, Digital, Film, Ideas, Inspiration, Photography, Strategy

Things for which I am grateful #325-352: Photography.

My goodness, where to begin?

There are so many brilliant photographers that I could probably fill all 365 things to be grateful for with them alone.

I’ve had the privilege of working with some outstanding photographers during my 30 long years in the ad industry. Most of whom were artists in their own right. I’m not going to feature them here just in case I forget someone and invoke their ire.

Instead, I’m going to show some of the photographers whose work has inspired me over the years. Certainly not an exhaustive list. Hope you like them. Feel free to make your own suggestion.

We could argue the toss as to what makes a great photograph – composition, light, concept. But what I feel a great photo should do is tell a story or ask questions of the viewer.

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams

Eve Arnold

Eve Arnold

Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon

Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus

Cecile Beaton

Cecil Beaton



Henry Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Desiree Dolron

Desiree Dolron

Robert Doisneau

Robert Doisneau

Fan Ho

Fan Ho

Horst P. Horst

Horst P. Horst

Tom Hoops

Tom Hoops

Nadav Kander

Nadav Kander

Joey Lawrence

Joey Lawrence

Saul Leiter

Saul Leiter

Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz

Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe

Helmut Newton

Helmut Newton

Norman Parkinson

Norman Parkinson

Herb Ritts

Herb Ritts

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman

Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen

Harry Thuillier

Harry Thuillier

There are always more photographers who spring to mind as soon as one clicks the ‘publish’ button. Here are a couple who slipped through the net…

Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier

Sebastiao Salgado

Sebastiao Salgado

Don McCullin

Don McCullin

Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt


Filed under Advertising, Architecture, Art, Children, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Photography

Bonny Scotland – Things for which I am grateful #278 – 287

Bonny Scotland278

Edinburgh Castle from the Grassmarket.

Edinburgh Castle from the Grassmarket.

I count myself extremely fortunate to have lived in the stunning capital of Edinburgh279 in 1991-92.

I probably would never have ended up there had I not befriended an amiable Scottish chap by the name of Richard in the queue for the Hacienda nightclub in Manchester some six years previously.

As our friendship blossomed, I went on several trips to his homeland, none of which I have any recollection of whatsoever. I’d just wake up back in Manchester feeling like my brain had been covered in batter and deep fried.

Bloke in a skirt.

Bloke in a skirt.

Anyways, after I’d been made redundant in Leeds I managed to get a job in Leith280 which is just a short jaunt down Leith Walk from Edinburgh to the docks. It was more of an up-and-coming area when I was there, with lots of great pubs and eateries.


I stayed with my aforementioned friend’s parents in the beautiful Stockbridge colonies for the first couple of months. Then I moved to a bijou little pad on South William Street in the West End.

I was shown the ropes of Edinburgh and Leith by the fabulously talented painter, Michael McGinn. (Who also has a rather wonderful antique/retro shop called McQuirkey’s, should you be round and about with your shopping hat on.)

Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. The architecture is staggeringly breathtaking. And the people… well, I couldn’t understand a word they said. It was six months before I realised they weren’t calling me Ken.

Edinburgh is very spiky.

Edinburgh is very spiky.

Glaswegians reckon Glasgow281 is better than Edinburgh because of its people. They think Edinburghers are a bit toffee-nosed. But I reckon it’s the other way round. Glaswegians are jealous, because their city is a bag of washing in comparison. I did go to Glasgow a couple of times. It was like a cross between Manchester and Dresden circa 1945.

A recent Tourist Board flyer.

A recent Tourist Board flyer.

A couple of other notable places to visit are: Stirling Castle282, which is a bit like a miniature version of Edinburgh; you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Highlands283 with its ominous, towering mountains; or the serenity of the Lochs Lomond284 and Ness285. Venturing still further north to the Kyle of Lochalsh286 and the Isle of Skye287 you’d be forgiven for feeling like you’ve entered a Celtic nirvana.

Stirling Castle.

Stirling Castle.

Wallace monument, Stirling. (I walked up this thing with a wee baby strapped to me.)

Wallace monument, Stirling. (I walked up this thing with a wee babby strapped to me.)

The Highlands.

The Highlands.

A handsome lassy.

A handsome lassy.

Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond.

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness.

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness.

Kyle of Lochalsh.

Kyle of Lochalsh.

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Imagine what it’d be like if they actually owned the place!

Which brings me rather clunkily round to the question of Scottish independence. Watching the debate from south of the border I can’t help noticing that the majority of the ‘No’ campaigners focus on financial benefits of staying together whilst the ‘Yes’ campaigners talk about a fairer society.

Scott monument, Edinburgh.

Scott monument, Edinburgh.

I know Jockos don’t give a monkey’s what a Sassenach like me thinks, but for what it’s worth, I’d vote Yes.

To me, it’s nothing to do with money and all to do with self-determination. Heart over head? Probably. But isn’t that what patriotism is all about?

If I had my way, we’d have an independent North of England as well. It’s had its resources and wealth stripped and sent darn sarf for centuries.

With an independent Scotland, the downside for us Angles, is that it would probably sentence us to permanent Tory rule. (Which would be worse than living in Hades, or worse – Norn Irn!) But that isn’t Scotland’s problem – it’s ours. And, if that’s who the majority of people vote for south of the border, then so be it. It’s called democracy. Which doesn’t seem to be very evident in Scotland at the moment with only 1 out of 59 seats being Tory.



I love Scotland – its history, its poetry, its literature, its spectacular nature, its architecture and its people. (I’ve got some great Scottish mates. Well, I did have before this post.) If they do decide to give independence a shot – good luck to them, I say.

Though, if they vote to stay in the Union, I think we should have a  referendum in England the day after to see if we still want them.


To be honest, I think there should be less borders in the world, not more of them. However, I suppose my leaning toward the ‘Yes’ campaign has more to do with building a fairer society than with leaving the Union. Perhaps if the UK as a whole could do this, then I might not be in such favour of the split. Though, the chances of this happening with Conservatives running the country is nigh on impossible with benefits, NHS, education all being cut whilst their banker cronies are sucking up the big bucks and peerages in London.


Filed under community, Economy, Inspiration, Literature, Nature, Photography, Politics

The Boating Party with Sean Hayes

Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The Boating Party is a series of interviews with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, illustrators, designers and the like.

In times of economic hardship, the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are one of the most important aspects of our civilisation. Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy. Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society.

To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

And perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where’s the creativity that will solve the world’s problems? Including economic and scientific ones?

In this interview, I am delighted to welcome Irish creative director, Sean Hayes.

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Who inspires you?

People who have discerning minds.


What inspires you?

A belief that everything is malleable. Nothing is set in stone.


What was the last thing that inspired you?

Rupert Sheldrake’s banned TEDx talk on YouTube. – t=1088


What makes you unhappy?



What makes you happy?



What are you reading?

‘Who Owns the Future?’ Jaron Lanier.


Who, or what, are you listening to?

The rain.


What’s your favourite film?

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey


If you could go back in time, where would you go?

December 5th 1975. Bob Marley and the Wailers in concert at the Lyceum Theatre in London to witness the recording of one of the greatest live albums ever – Bob Marley and the Wailers LIVE!


What frightens you?

People who do not possess discerning minds.


What do you do to relax?

I take photographs. It’s a form of meditation for me.


What do you do when you’re angry?

Anger is fear in stealth mode. Deal with the fear and the anger vanishes.


What can’t you live without?

Oxygen. Family. Friends. In that order.


What’s your motto?

Say simple things in unexpected ways.


Where is your Utopia?

West Cork, Ireland.


If you only had one year to live what would you do?

Spend the year visiting and thanking all the family, friends and folk who have loved and supported me in life and apologize to those where I failed to return their love and support.


Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

Sepp Blatter. (Swiss football administrator who serves as the eighth and current President of FIFA). Blatter represents everything that is perverse with the prevailing corporate culture of winner-take-all. He exudes a deep sense of unquestioning entitlement and is mindlessly corrupt.


Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Scarlett Johansson.


What are you working on at the moment?

Increasing my understanding of the world and everything in it.


What is your ambition?

To love and be loved.


If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Throw the Internal Combustion Engine onto the ash heap of history. It has stunted the development of cleaner and more sustainable energy sources because the Petrochemical conglomerates make vast fortunes from oil and actively suppress technologies that challenge their hegemony.


Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

Elon Musk (Business Magnate, Inventor, Visionary), Rupert Sheldrake (English author, lecturer, and researcher in the field of parapsychology), Scarlett Johansson (Elevator repair person), Graham Hancock (British writer and journalist), Linda Moulton Howe (American investigative journalist and ufologist), Nick Cave (Musician and author).


What would be on the menu?



What question would you have liked me to have asked?

Hy-Brazil – a mythical island off the west coast of Ireland – appeared on nautical maps from 1325 until it’s disappearance from seafaring charts around 1865. Why? A great mystery.


Thank you, Sean.

To see more of Sean’s work click on any image to go to his Tumblr site.

© Sean Hayes

© Sean Hayes

© Sean Hayes

© Sean Hayes

© Sean Hayes

© Sean Hayes

© Sean Hayes

© Sean Hayes

© Sean Hayes

© Sean Hayes

© Sean Hayes

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© Sean Hayes

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© Sean Hayes

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© Sean Hayes

© Sean Hayes

© Sean Hayes

© Sean Hayes


Sean Hayes’ biography:

I’m an advertising Creative Director with over 25 years experience of planning, creating and executing marketing campaigns for European, American and Japanese brands. In 2010, I started taking pictures of the world around me with a newly purchased iPhone. I haven’t put it down since. All the images in my gallery have been shot and processed using my smart phone. Preferred subjects to photograph are portraits and landscapes. My photographic work has been exhibited in galleries and exhibitions specialising in mobile photography in Brussels, Milan, Miami, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

I was a runner-up in the Landscape category of the global Mobile Photography Awards 2013 and was awarded 2nd place in the People category of the same competition in 2014.




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