Thursday, August 26, 2010

Clash of the Titans

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Rogan and I rented the recent remake of "Clash of the Titans" the other night to watch on DVD.

I'm not going to attempt an indepth critique of the film - reviews were never part of my skill set. Oh I could tell you it was crap, but no one would invite me on to their movie show for such a simplistic assessment.

However, what really surprised me about this film was the DVD cover.

SPOILER ALERT - if you plan on seeing the film and don't want the plot revealed, don't read any further.

Are you still reading? Well, it won't make any difference anyway, because the biggest spoiler is the cover of the DVD itself.

Basic points of plot tension.

1. The Kraken is going to destroy Argos (the ancient Greek city, not the high street store and catalogue). How can they possibly stop it? Don't look at the DVD cover, because it will give away the answer.

2. They have discovered the only way to stop the Kraken is to use the gaze of Medusa (who turns all living creatures to stone with her eyes). Will they find Medusa? Don't look at the DVD cover, because it will give away the answer.

3. Medusa is busy killing off the members of the group. Will our hero, Perseus, manage to kill Medusa and take her head? Don't look at the DVD cover, because it will give away the answer.

4. Perseus has Medusa's head safely in a bag. Will he be able to get back to Argos in time to hold the head aloft and destroy the Kraken? Don't look at the DVD cover, because it will give away the answer.



Sigh...

This weekend we're planning on renting Valkyrie, which is about an assassination attempt by German officers on Hitler, some 9 months before Hitler committed suicide in the bunker in 1945.

The big question is, will they succeed...?
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Monday, August 23, 2010

I need your assistance... Part 2

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Given some of the responses to my last post (I need your assistance), I realise I left out a crucial part of the equation - one which goes to the very heart of where the last version of the website went wrong for me - the conflict of how to promote myself.

The reality is there are thousands of portrait photographers out there doing the standard stuff - family dressed smartly and smiling in front of a draped bedsheet or soft focus, staring into the middle distance. And in recent years there's been a big rise in the number of family  dressed casually and smiling but with no shoes on while rolling on a large white floor style of images.

Now while I can, and do, do variations of these kinds of photos for people who ask for them, it's not really how I want to promote myself.

That style of photography is where most of the competition lies. Of course that's where most of the conventional money is too, which is why there's such a fight for position.

But what I really enjoy doing is more edgy or creative photos - away from the mainstream.

What to do? More smiley, family type photos on the front page might bring me in more traditional business but, while it's fun to do sometimes and brings in a bit of extra cash, it's not really what I got into photography for. I like to confront, explore and create.

After a lot of ho-ing and humming and inner searching and long talks with Maggie, I decided I would go for promoting the less conventional; the more interesting and challenging stuff - the kind of photos that make people look twice. And if that loses me some business, then so be it if it helps bring in more thought-provoking work.

I'm afraid it's the philosopher in me - I can't let the world go by unquestioned.

So that's my aim with the revamp - clarifying the balance between building a reputation as a photographer you go to when you want something less mainstream, and not scaring too many potential customers away.

Does that make sense?

http://kimayres.co.uk

Do let me know your thoughts.
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I need your assistance

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This past week has been rather busy and intense.

For quite some time I've been unhappy with my portrait photography website.

The scrolling album system I was using didn't seem to work in some browsers; the galleries felt a bit cluttered and random; the selection of images didn't really reflect the direction my photography has moved in; and despite the fact I thought a black background looked kind of cool, there's no doubt it was harder to read.

I knew I had to change it, but it wasn't that straight forward.

I needed to think about how it should look, how I should organise the content, whether I should expand or streamline, and find a new way of displaying the images that was likely to work in more browsers.

And I had to do this while still suffering from an endless virusy-flu type thing most of the family has had for several weeks.

One side effect of all this is I've been rather lax in my blogging life and am way behind on keeping this site up to date and catching up with my favourite reads.

However, finally, it is now up. But I could do with a little bit of feedback from anyone who can spare a few minutes.

If you can, please visit: http://kimayres.co.uk/

While you all know I'm a sucker for flattery, that's not really my concern this time. The simple fact is, the website is the face, the shop window of my business. Potential customers could make the decision whether to call me or not depending on whether it sends the right messages.

What I really need to know is what you think works, and what doesn't. If you were a potential client, would it be easy to find what you needed to know? Does the look inspire condfidence or put you off? Do the links all work? Are there any glaring spelling or other text errors?

Thoughts, comments and feedback are extremely welcome. And if you'd rather not say anything in public, do please email me - my address is on my blogger profile, or the website.

Many thanks.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

And the winner is...

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A big thank you to Gillian, Pat, Mapstew, Eryl, Starrlife, V, Reading Teacher, Carole, Anez, Roschelle, Lee Ann, Savannah, Sausage Fingers, Jen, Jacqui, Chocolatesa, Hope, Jayne, Vicky, Sandy, Cheche, Kepa, Adila, Attila, Frankie, Litzi, Snoble24, Mary, Fay, Hindsfeet, Michael, Katie, Falak, Allen and Ché (hope I've not missed anyone) for all the well wishes, positive comments and blogging suggestions generated by my last post.

There were lots of good ideas, and when we add in the fact I am a complete sucker for flattery, and you only get your 5th blogging anniversary once, I've decided everyone's a winner.

So, to each of you mentioned above, even if you didn't actually suggest a topic, or you were late responding, drop me an email (address found on my profile) and let me know which image you'd like me to email you.

And over the next few weeks or months, I'll try and include as many posts as I can based on the suggestions left.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

5th Blogging Anniversary

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Over the past 5 years I have written more than 600 blog posts, received thousands of comments, gained over 130,000 visits and gathered in excess of 900 followers. Admittedly most of them arrived when I was featured in Blogs of Note last Autumn and never came back again (see: The Fleeting Fickleness of Fame), but it looks impressive...

However, the best and most wonderful people in the whole of the blogosphere still visit and comment regularly.

I must admit, one of the things I am most proud of with this blog, with regard to the regular visitors, is the sheer variety of backgrounds: Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Pagans, Atheists, fence-sitters, teens, middle-aged, retired, singles, couples, parents, gay, straight, black, white, Asian, American, European, African, Australasian, middle eastern, and the full range of social, economic and educational backgrounds.

And yet fights and arguments are incredibly rare.

I am humbled and honoured to know such incredible people. And yes, that includes you – I’m not just talking about everyone else – I do mean you too.

Recently I’ve seen a few other bloggers involved in giveaways in celebration of blogging anniversaries, so I've decided to do something similar.

What I'm offering is a high resolution image of (more or less) any of the photos I've taken that are on this blog, on the Redbubble site or on my Flickr account, which you can then print up for your own personal use (though I reserve the right to say no to any requests that make me feel uncomfortable).

So here’s the deal:

Tell me in the comments of this post something you would like me to blog about. And if I haven't blogged about it in the previous 600 or so posts (or I can put a new spin on it) AND I think it's a interesting idea that I'm prepared to write about it, then I'll email you the photo of your choice.

If there are a few good ideas then there will be a few winners. You can offer more than one idea, but you'll only win a maximum of one image.

I'd better put a deadline on this, so let's say Saturday (14th August) around 10am UK time.

Happy blogiversary and I look forward to your entries.
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Monday, August 09, 2010

Back to school bargains!

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I’ve just received an email from a well known high-street electronics chain with the subject, “Kim, pick up some great deals for back to school”

Apparently all school kids now need laptop and desktop computers, along with printers and leading brand anti-virus software – all for a mere several hundred quid.

But wait, there’s more!

Take me for a spin – save £40 on a Hoover 7Kg washing machine!

And, offer of the century… “get this Russell Hobbs steam iron for just £9.99 when you buy any laundry appliance over £300!!!*”

I can kind of, almost, sort of, perhaps, maybe, at a push, although I would personally beg to differ, see the relevance of a computer, but a washing machine and steam iron?

What happened to the days when “Back to School” meant a new geometry set and pencil case?



*exclamation marks are mine – I got carried away in the enthusiasm…
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Friday, August 06, 2010

Wwoofing

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When my stepson, Rory, told me he was getting into “wwoofing,” I feared he was about to launch into a tale of some dark, sordid and sad sexual deviance I’d rather not know about. Fortunately it turned out to be unrelated to “dogging” in any way.

It transpired that wwoofing is an entirely legitimate, alternative way to get food in your belly and a roof over your head in return for committing a few days of your time each week to helping out on whatever project is required.

WWOOF - World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms

For the past 9 months now, Rory has been living and working on an eco-village/farm project overlooking Loch Tay in the central highlands of Scotland, and earlier this week we went up to see him.

If you feel possessions and money are over-rated, there is something quite attractive about this kind of living. Of course in the society we live in, it's almost impossible to live with no money at all, so he's about to head down to Kent with a friend to do apple picking for a few weeks to earn enough to then travel on to another wwoofing project, possibly in mainland Europe.

We're really proud of him.



Rogan, Meg, Maggie and Rory with Loch Tay in the background



Rory raised the piglets from birth and nurtured the sow through illness. He now refuses to eat pork


It was an emotional time for all when we had to leave
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