Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A friend and inspiration

A little over 11 years ago, I weighed 275lbs (19st 9lbs, or 125kg) which, at only 5 feet 6 inches tall, put me into the seriously heavy category.

To get down to my "ideal" weight, according to the BMI height-weight ratio charts, I would have to lose something in the region of 112lbs, which in UK Imperial measurements is a hundredweight, or 8 stone.

About 3 years later I almost got there, then climbed a bit and since then have hovered back and forth around the 13 stone mark - 182lbs or 85.5kg.

In those first few years I had a blog which ran parallel with this one, called Losing a Hundredweight, and it wasn't long before comments started coming in from other weight-loss bloggers. Soon there was a small community of people posting their weights and offering support when the going was tough.

Into this came Kepa from New Zealand - a young man in his early 20s who used the monika, Fat Lazy Guy. He was big. How big, he wasn't sure, because his scales didn't go that high. Eventually he discovered he was 504lbs.

His goal was to lose 100kg - 220lbs, which seemed like an impossible task. I couldn't even begin to imagine how he could go about it. But I offered as much insight and support as I could. Periodically he would start to lose weight, then disappear for a while, then come back and confess it had gone back on again.

And then something clicked - he got focused and took control. A couple of years later he weighed less than 100kg - he had lost 285lbs.

Kepa had lost more weight than I physically weighed when I was at my heaviest.

Let that sink in for a moment.

It was mindblowing.

When we hear of people who achieve these near-impossible feats, we think they must be "other" or cannot really be human. And yet, with Kepa, I was there at the beginning through all his self-doubts and false starts. I knew he was all too human.

We've stayed in touch over the years and recently he told me he was coming to the UK.

On Sunday night we met up in a pub in Moffat, face to face for the first time - a guy I'd first met online nearly 9 years ago.

It was wonderful - an instant connection. I'd swear we'd only been chatting for an hour when we were asked to leave because the pub was closing. It turned out we'd be talking non-stop for over 3 and half hours.

I had my camera in the car, although by now it was dark and street lights were the only source of illumination. I rested my camera on top of a bin, set the timer and went round to stand next to Kepa.

That was when it dawned on me how much taller he was than me - sitting down at a table, the height difference hadn't been so apparent.

So I re-angled the camera and this time stood on a bench

Much better.

To say he's an inspiration is an understatement. But more than that, he's a really lovely guy - thoughtful, intelligent and creative.

I'm proud to call him a friend.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Photo shoot at the Rural Mural

Even allowing for things running later than expected, I assumed we'd all be home by midnight. As it was, I didn't finish packing up until 1.30am.

Preparations had been taking place at Morag Macpherson's studio in Kirkcudbright (see previous blog post, Preparations), where Ralph, Jody and Jojo from Basement 20 had been dealing with the hair and makeup of our models, Katarina and Jessica. Now it was time to head out to the location for the photo shoot.

Once on site, tea, coffee and home made flapjack from a hamper, courtesy of my wife Maggie, went down extremely well, then the shoot began.

With models, hair, makeup and video going on, there were 9 of us on site in total, making it was one of the largest shoots I've managed so far. Although it was all extra pressure, I found part of me thrived in the situation. Of course it helped that everyone was extremely professional and engaged in the project.

Here are a selection of some of the final images.

We might have finished later than hoped, but it all worked out in the end.

As an added bonus, here's the short video (under 2 mins) I put together using the footage shot by Jesse and Helen of Viridian Skies, who usually spend their time with astrophotography and night sky tours, but were kind enough to come out and do some filming for me. The music is comes from my band, The Cracked Man, where we took our song, Zero Energy, and added a dance beat. I was surprised at just how well that worked.

Morag is taking part in this year's Spring Fling Open Studio event (this weekend - 28th - 30th May). If you get the chance, do call in - she is studio 20 on the purple route.

Textile Design - Morag Macpherson - www.moragmacpherson.com - facebook.com/MoragMacphersonTextiles

Models - Jessica Lee - facebook.com/jessica.lee.9809672
and Katarina Marie Kositzki - www.katarinamariefoto.co.uk - facebook.com/katarinamariefoto

Hair and Makeup - Basement 20, Dumfries - Ralph Yates-Lee, Jody Crossan, Jojo Patterson - facebook.com/Basement-20-175835242466244

Photo shoot took place at - Meiklewood Farm, Ringford, Castle Douglas, DG7 2AL

Rural Mural backdrop - Morag Macpherson and Tellas - www.moragmacpherson.com - www.tellas.org - spring-fling.co.uk/sfrm

Video footage - Viridian Skies - Jesse Beaman and Helen Cockburn - www.viridianskies.com - facebook.com/viridianskytours

Photography and Video editing - me - www.kimayres.co.uk

Music for video - The Cracked Man - www.thecrackedman.co.uk - facebook.com/thecrackedman

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Is knowledge power?

At the point of writing this, on my laptop I have 2 different internet browsers permanently open. One currently has 13 different windows open on it, while the other has 26.

Despite the fact I regularly archive emails into dozens of different folders, my inbox still has 848 un-archived emails in it, 193 or which are marked unread.

It's not that they are actually unread - it's that they have been quickly scanned and I've marked them as unread so I will come back to them and not forget about them.

Some are things I need to actually reply to, but the vast majority contain information - or links to information - I feel I would benefit from.

There are interviews with amazing people to be watched and listened to; incredible ideas to be explored; mental and psychological exercises to be carried out.

Some of them could help me grow my business, improve my marketing, and double my conversion rate; while others might improve my photography or editing or help me attain an entirely new set of useful skills; and some are all about self development and becoming a more enlightened being.

All these things are potentials for a better life, a better business, and a better way of being.

And the burden of them is getting out of control...

Thursday, May 05, 2016


"A fashion shoot in front of bold, colourful, urban graffiti," said Morag MacPherson as we bounced ideas around on how to photograph her textile designs.

"Sounds cool - do we know anywhere around here that has something like that on the walls?"


And so last autumn that idea was put on hold and instead we grabbed the opportunity to photograph her silk kimonos in a boudoir-style display at The Yellow Door Gallery (see Kimonos, Boudoir and Breakfast for Lunch).

However, a couple of months ago Morag was involved in the Spring Fling Rural Mural project, which saw her teaming up with Tellas to paint the side of a large barn which mixed both of their artistic styles.

This in turn led to the realisation it would be the perfect backdrop to photograph her outfits.

I had the idea of creating a spotlight effect with the models in a circle of light, casting shadows on the walls behind, but that would require an evening shoot. Slowly it dawned on us that there were seasonal limitations - if we left it until June, it wouldn't really be getting dark until well after 11 at night, but Morag was extremely busy for most of May. If we didn't do it soon, it would be several months before we'd get another chance.

Jessica, one of the models from the previous shoot, was available, and I'd recently met Katarina, who was completing a photography course at the college. She was also a model and happy to take part.

I'd also been in conversation with Ralph Yates-Lee, hairdresser extraordinaire and owner of Dumfries hair salon, Basement 20 who was willing to come on board and bring with him Jody, another hairdresser, and Jojo the makeup artist.

With a growing team of professionals involved in the shoot, I figured this would be a good thing to video. But because it would involve night time shooting, it would need someone who knew what they were doing.

Enter Helen and Jesse of Viridian Skies who specialise in astrophotography and Dark Sky tours and workshops.

And so it came to pass that on Tuesday evening we all descended on Morag's studio to introduce everyone to everyone else and get the models ready.

Photos of the actual shoot will appear in a future blog post, but here are a few from the preparation.

Katarina gets her hair done by Ralph

Jody and Jojo work on Jessica

Ralph cuts, Helen films, and Katarina teases the photographer

Jesse filming

Outside Morag's studio, looking in


Action man

Make up

Hair adjustments made on location by the light of an iphone

Preparation for the shoot.

The team

More to follow at a later date.

And they will be in colour...