The blog of photographer Kim Ayres


Douglas and I never stop talking. No awkward silences. No wondering what to say next. No looking for an excuse to leave because we’ve run out of things to say.

It’s been like this for 16 years.

Fortunately for everyone else we now live over 100 miles apart and don’t see each other so often, but when we do the conversation instantly flows again.

We first met back in the days when I was web designer. I’d started my business just a couple of years before, and he’d launched his graphic design business around the same time. On the same day, we joined the Stirling branch of BNI (Business Networking International) – an organisation where you meet for breakfast once a week with other local businesses to network. It all seemed quite high-powered, with firm handshakes, “elevator pitches” and lots and lots of exchanging business cards.

While it was actually quite an effective way to get business, there was a persona you needed to adopt in order to make it work for you, which never really sat comfortably with me. It didn’t with Douglas either.

It ran from just before 7am to 8.30am every Thursday, with the idea that it didn’t interfere with your working day. But as we would wander out to the car park afterwards, Douglas and I would always be chatting and it wasn’t uncommon for 2 or 3 hours to pass, still standing in the car park, before we would head back to our offices.

Douglas has an exceptional talent for design. While my ideas would always veer towards the more conventional, he would always come up with something that would never have occurred to me but would look infinitely better and more professional. I got him to redesign my own logo and not long after started using him to come up with the visual designs for the websites I was building.

Recently Douglas has downsized his company from having employees and an office in a business centre, to working from home by himself. Without all the overheads and responsibilities he’s gained a new lease of life.

It’s also allowed him to concentrate more on another side of his business doing screen printing, often creating limited edition posters for bands and events – see

I’ve been promising for a while that I’d photograph him at work in the large shed in his garden where he has the screen printing studio set up, so as I was up in the area over Easter, I called in at lunchtime with my camera and a loaf of artisan bread from our amazing local bakery (who I did a shoot for last summer – see Earth’s Crust Bakery).

Douglas’s shed is laid out perfectly for him to operate with everything to hand as he needs it. It’s not designed, however, to fit a second person in with a camera. It was definitely a wide-angle lens job.

Here are a couple of the images I took of him at work.

Although the photography itself probably only took about 90 minutes, I was there for 5 hours and the only silence was for a few seconds while I took each shot.

If you ever need amazing graphic design, then get in touch with Douglas at Handcooked Studios. Or if you fancy a really cool limited edition screen print, then you can buy one from Handcooked Posters.

But if you just want a quick meeting, don’t develop a 16 year relationship with him...


hope said...

I have a friend like that...aren't they great?

He looks like a happy, relaxed, fun kind of fellow. I can see why you'd talk for hours. (And people think only girls do that). :) Thanks for taking us inside his shop.

Pat said...

He looks so right in his workshop- perfectly relaxed and what a clever touch to match his sweater to the jar of paint.
I think it is part of your DNA: from the first meeting in The Avenue all those years ago I never found any silences - awkward or no.

Ponita in Real Life said...

Love the intimacy of hos workshop. Thanks for the glimpse into your friendship.

I also have a friend like that. We met when I sold her a horse... after the transaction and delivery of said horse, we sat on bales of hay and talked for a long time. Just looked at each other and said, I think we are going to be great friends! That was 18 years ago.

Kim Ayres said...

Hope - I think we all need a friend like that - it's just a shame he lives so far away these days. Although if he lived closer, I'd probably get a lot less work done... :)

Pat - the paint and shirt combo was either pure coincidence, or designed by Douglas. I don't think I'd noticed until you pointed it out. Meanwhile, I look forward to the next time we get the chance to chat for hours on end :)

Ponita - occasionally in life we meet people who it feels like we've known all our lives. It's wonderful when those friendships have a chance to develop :)

savannah said...

I love reading about friendships like this! Now I'm off to check out his poster site. xoxo

Kim Ayres said...

Savannah - hope you like what you find :)

maurcheen said...

I'd love to try screen printing. And I know there are classes in town.

Good friends are a hug to the soul. As soon as I get a decent car I'm on the boat and calling to see you and my other UK blogfriends.


Kim Ayres said...

Maurcheen - I look forward to the time we meet in person. Somehow I doubt there will be any awkward silences :)

Theanne Crossett said...


Douglas Riddle said...

What wonderful photos - a truer portrait of a man at ease, I don't think I have ever seen.

Kim Ayres said...

Theanne :) :)

Douglas - thank you :)

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