The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

2023 in Photographs

Every January, I like to put up a selection of my favourite images from the past year.

Usually I enjoy spending a few days over the Christmas break, going through my albums and carefully crafting the post.

This year, I found myself struggling. In part this was due to fewer shoots I've done that stand out to me (both because of lack of opportunity, and several months lost work because of extreme sciatica), but I'm also still processing the grief at the recent loss of my brother, and this is affecting my motivation for everything at the moment, consequently I very nearly decided not to bother.

However, I've been doing this since 2009, and I didn't really want to break the tradition . Regardless of whether anyone else notices these posts, or cares, I've come to realise I like having a place I can come back to where I'm able to see how my photography has developed over the years

If you have any level of curiosity as to how my photography has progressed over the past 14 years , then you can find earlier collections here: 2022, 2021, 2020, Decade Review, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

As always, there's a varied selection below, so hopefully something for everyone. I'm always interested in feedback, so if you'd care to leave a comment about which one(s) are your favourite, or any personal observations, it would be warmly appreciated.

You can click on the images to see larger versions.

Edd Carlile

At the beginning of the year I went up to Glasgow to see my photo of my daughter, Meg, which was accepted into the Monochrome exhibition at The Glasgow Gallery of Photography. It was also a great excuse to catch up with an old friend, Edd Carlile, who I first met about 12 or 13 years ago on a photography website and we've been connected ever since, but this was the first time we'd got to meet in person. In the 4½ hours we were in each others company, I don't think the conversation paused for more than about 20 seconds! Although Edd prefers to be behind the camera, he did let me take this photo of him on the street in Glasgow.

Ewan McClure

Earlier in the year I had my portrait painted by the incredibly talented, Ewan McClure - - which he then displayed in an exhibition in the Kirkcudbright Galleries. Although on the surface it might seem that portrait painting and portrait photography might be a similar thing, I discovered that it is worlds apart. Three days of sitting for Ewan gave me an entirely new appreciation of portraiture, commitment, and the artistic process.

Here are:

  • a photo I took of Ewan while he was painting me,
  • a selfie of me with the finished portrait in the exhibition,
  • and a portrait I did of Ewan that doesn't look like a painting, and took considerably less time to produce

Going Cinematic

In a world of square images designed for Instagram and social media avatars, I've found myself increasingly drawn to creating images that have a more cinematic, widescreen crop. These often intensify the feeling of a moment captured in a sequence - you have no idea what came before, or what might happen next, but you can't help speculating.

Teaming up with performer and poet, Annaliese Broughton, and her then partner, Phil Brookes, we created some of my favourite photos ever.

Accidentally Wes Anderson

Director, Wes Anderson, has a cinematic style that frequently has the characters in the middle of the screen, and an oversaturated pastels colour palette. It hadn't been my intention to create a photo in this way, but during the editing process, I boosted the saturation and realised this image contained all the hallmarks.

Two Ice Creams

Shot in the same place – the sea wall and beach at Ayr, Scotland – the editing style here was more about indy-cinema – far away from the bright and glossy, this is about a seaside town at the tail end of winter, where the colours are more muted. Part of what I love about this one is it can either be read that she is holding an ice cream for someone else, while making a start on her own, or that she has just decided to have two ice creams herself. Either interpretation feels part of a larger story.

Come The Morning Light

This is quite possibly my all time favourite photo to date. Trying to read the story makes you feel they have been through a traumatic night. He just climbed into the bath with his clothes on, and then she joined him, without worrying about her dress – comforting him was more important in that moment.

While I love working working with models, as they are past the self-conscious stage in front of the camera – to be able to work with performers allows you to reach greater heights. Some models can still be primarily concerned with whether they look their best – but performers are primarily concerned with whether the character looks authentic.

The whole experience has made me want to explore more in this direction when I can.

Denise Zygadlo

Denise is an artist, performer, and always good company. Although I had originally intended to take photos of her in her studio, it was when I saw the long oak table in her kitchen that I got excited, as I could instantly see the possibility of looking down the length of  it towards Denise. It took a while to get the light balance I wanted, but was happy in the end with a combination of natural light and a large softbox. We took several different versions, but this one of her looking lost in thought was the one that grabbed me the most. Again, I found a cinematic crop worked best for this.

Brides in the Salon

In a collaboration with Circle Vintage and Nelson Brown Hair, I decided I wanted to have a more purposeful attempt at a Wes Anderson Style image. B Jay's Hair Studio, where we did the shoot, had magnolia walls and a brown floor. I spent quite a bit of time recolouring the set in Photoshop to recreate that oversaturated pastels look.

GE Studio

Fellow photographer, Graham Edwards, has created a brilliant studio space in Dumfries. In fact, it's at least 3 studios in one, with options for a white cube space, wooden and brick wall domestic, and full length paper roll backdrops. There is also room for product photography, a make up artist, and a guest area with comfy sofa, big display screen and coffee machine. All the photos he had on his site though showed the space completely empty. I figured it would be good to see the whole thing occupied. So when Circle Vintage asked me to shoot some models with a 90s clothes vibe, in the white cube area, it seemed like an ideal time to create a shot that would show off the extent of the studio in one image.

Carefully arranging the full crew of models, hairdressers, and makeup artist, I shot 4 separate photos from one corner of the room, and stitched them together in Photoshop afterwards. I even managed to get myself into the one on the far right.

Meg as a Model

In both shoots I did with Circle Vintage I took my daughter, Meg, along with me to do some behind-the-scenes photography. However, at the white cube shoot Meg was also roped in as a model. Seeing Meg without her glasses, and with makeup on, really caught me by surprise. As with all Dads and their daughters, to me she will always be about 9 years old, but this reminded me she is fact a grown woman in her mid-20s!

Robin Yassin-Kassab

Robin is an author, journalist and essayist with a particular expertise in Syria and the Middle-East. He also makes rather excellent coffee!

He was needing some head shots, but I was also struck by the fantastic view he had from his writing hut in the heart of Galloway, SW Scotland. So once we had done the official photos, I decided to capture him at work, with the log-burner in the background and the view out of the window


Sometimes you have a quiet patch.
Sometimes you are desperate to take a photo but no one is available.
Sometimes just sticking a macro lens on the camera and wandering into the garden is a poor but quick fix.
Sometimes you get lucky with a dark purple tulip after a rain shower.

Gavin and Ruth's Wedding

It was wonderful to be invited to Ruth and Gavin's wedding. It was even more wonderful that they didn't even hint at the idea that I should bring my camera. 

Of course I did take my camera, but that's because I would have felt naked without it. Almost everyone else I met, though, took one look at the camera on my shoulder and asked if I was there as the wedding photographer. I found myself continually having to politely respond that no, I had in fact been asked along as a friend and I just happened to have my camera with me. 

However, when someone suggested it really would be lovely if there was a photo of everyone, no one else seemed to have a camera that would be quite big enough for the job, so of course I said yes.

Frances Ross

On one of the hottest days of last summer, I did a shoot for ceramicist, Frances Ross. Fortunately she had an air conditioning machine going at full pelt, and kept up a constant supply of jugs of ice water. We did shots of her at work, but also on the brief was a need for a photo that showed her as a professional artist as you might see her in a high end gallery, not just covered in clay. So much is in the subtleties in a photo like this that it's much harder to pull off than you'd think, so I was very pleased with the result.

Maggie and Brian

Artist Maggie Broadley is one of those people who both my wife and I feel we've been friends with all our lives, if not several lives before, and yet we only actually met less than a handful of years ago. We'd been discussing the idea of a photo shoot for a year or two before everything finally lined up. Maggie wanted a cinematic style shoot with her husband, up at an old burned out farm they regularly pass on their daily walks. This one of Maggie standing on an upturned car wreck, kissing Brian, was one of my favourites as it seemed to embody so much about the shoot that day, and their relationship.


Due to crippling sciatica, I wasn't able to do any professional photography for a few months. As the pain started to ease towards manageable levels I was contacted by Steve wanting tuition on portrait photography. We spent the day discussing ideas and concepts, studying different approaches and examples, and of course playing with lighting in hands-on sessions. Post-processing, or editing, is an important part of photography, and can make huge differences to the style and effectiveness of any portrait. One shot in particular that I took of Steve, I knew instantly would look good in a gritty, moody, black and white.

Lucy and Ed

Here is a taster photo of a day I spent with artists Ed and Lucy from the Old Mill Gallery in Palnackie, SW Scotland. The photos have still to be edited yet, but first scans of what I have look very promising and I'm excited by what I will have to play with when it comes to curating and editing the images from that day. In the meantime, here's one I love of the two of them down on the beach at Balcary Bay, when they were out foraging for stones and plants to turn into natural paints and inks.

I hope you've enjoyed my selection - please leave a comment below with any thoughts or observations, and let me know your favourite(s)!

Wishing each and every one of you a kinder and more compassionate year ahead.


Ponita in Real Life said...

The two that caught me the most are Meg, and the tulip. Your photos are always intriguing, stunning, thought provoking, emotional... the list goes on and on. Wishing you are more productive and much less painful year going forward.

Kim Ayres said...

Ponita - many thanks for the feedback and positive comments - much appreciated :)

Over on FB, the photo of Meg leaves everything else in the dust where comments and reactions are concerned - but it has ever been thus!

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