SPARKS live in Birmingham

Sparks, yes Sparks!  

SPARKS birmingham Stephanie Colledge Photography.jpg

I’ve been lucky enough to see them a few times over the years and 5 years ago had my first chance to shoot them on the Two Hands one Mouth tour, which was a sheer delight.

Last night was Sparks in full band form and they were breathtaking.  As a child of the 70’s watching them on Top of the Pops I was intrigued, later on (as in you grow up) you realise just how impressive they really are.  

In a live setting they are a stunning and last night wowed and charmed a Birmingham audience.  That impressive vocal, the intense love of the crowd, yes simply beautiful and emotional.   My editing day will be spent listening to more of Russell and Ron. 

The full review and images are on Birmingham Live

Come along and say hello

Wedding Fayres 

I’m going to be exhibiting at a few local wedding fayres which have meant the last few weeks I’ve been fitting in some planning alongside shooting.

Bride and Groom at Manor Hotel Meriden_.jpg

It’s really exciting (as I previously worked in a commercial environment where the marketing team do everything) to now have the complete freedom to design and plan my presentations on my own (with guidance and some input).   

My first show was last Sunday at the Manor Hotel in Meriden, a venue that I’ve shot at previously (see image above) and one that I really enjoyed.   I believe I have the balance between showing both printed images and digital display right so that I can show what I am able to offer. 

I met some lovely couples on the day with great ideas and themes for their weddings. 

The next show I will be at is on 24th September at The Chace Hotel in Coventry, a venue that I’ve shot at in the last couple of months.   

Click here for the link to tickets

Here's my boy!

The brilliance of dogs 

Well in a year of big changes here is the next one!  Part of my new life was planned to allow Ian and I enough time to be able to have our own dog.  We visited some rehoming places and came away disheartened.  We considered puppies but the nagging promise of there might be just the right dog waiting, remained.  

For months we continued to check on line and then we saw a local rehoming charity (Pawprints Dog Rescue) had a young boy who might be the one.  Small, extremely nervous and bit more of a special case than our original plan, but as soon as we met him Ian was sure he had potential.  The Pawprints team were fully supportive and gave us and him, time to consider and allowed us to visit him 3-4 times a week.  Meeting new people (was/is a scary thing for him) but with good handling by his Pawprints mum he slowly began to accept us. 

We spent 6-8 weeks seeing him regularly, hanging out with him, gaining his trust enough to have him sit on a lap and starting to play basic games -  the things he had missed out on in his early puppy days. The plan was that we would foster him first and if that went well we could adopt him.  Well the fostering was shelved, he showed he trusted us and our time spent with him has had really had big benefits.

We went straight to adoption!  He moved in recently. He is settling in and is now learning that being my little helper has the benefit of extra treats.  His cheeky personality is beginning to show and should be able to develop fully over the next few months.  

He is nervous and we will help him learn to control that over time.  Routine, lots of exercise and bundles of love will be good for all of us.  Nothing is as sweet as him and Ian running round the garden playing together, going on walks (good exercise for all) or just chilling doing man stuff (beer for the bigger one water for fur boy).

We found working with Pawprints Dog Rescue to be excellent.  They are a charity with a small number of dogs at any one time.  The volunteers who run PDR really get to know the dogs personally and help both the dogs and the potential adopters; the whole experience has been positive.  (Massive thanks to Anita, Kathryn, Dave, Trisha and Christine). 

We’ve had help and support all along to help with interacting with him, gaining trust, plus guidance and assistance with any questions since he has moved to his/our home.   His first time in front of my camera so we tried natural images just observing how he is (as in many ways he is like a puppy) and a little bit of running around on his harness.  We are starting training classes soon so no doubt there will be updates. 

I love shooting pet photography, especially dogs as they are such brilliant companions and personalities.  To finally have my own after waiting so long makes me happier than I can express in words (and he seems to like us too). 

His adventures will be fun for all of us!

The Flaming Lips and Public Service Broadcasting

Inner City Live - The Flaming Lips and Public Service Broadcasting

The Flaming Lips o2 Academy Birmingham

Saturday night was a trip into central Birmingham to shoot a one day festival.  Originally planned for outdoors and then recently venue changed to inside at the o2 Academy.

The opening bands on were local, Hoopla Blue and Amber Run the first was new to me the second the Birmingham Live team have reviewed earlier this year and liked.

My original plan had been to shoot this as a festival, outdoor shots, lots of people dressed up etc, but that changed with the move to indoors, the quality of the event though was superb.  The o2 Academy was great, relaxed and even offering passes out. 

Special guests Public Service Broadcasting were the band I missed seeing with Ian on a previous occasion and was really looking forward to.  They were as good as promised, tricky to photograph as they have so much on stage equipment and a back projection which was running behind the cage for the props belonging to The Flaming Lips. 

Then came the riot of colour that is The Flaming Lips an experience like no other to shoot.  Light, screens, colour, confetti canons, balloons so big you can't see a thing and are constantly bombarded with the bouncing, let alone shoot and its the fastest explosion of action and distraction combined.  

Fun - beyond belief.  I knew a little about them but the reality of being in the pit,  between a band so vibrant and a crowd having a party was something else.   It was a relentless stream of activity and paper whirling down.  I was picking confetti out of my pockets and inside my shirt and bra when I got home!  Wayne Coyne has a devilish charm - I enjoyed them so much I want to go again!

Full review by Ian on Birmingham Live with a few more images.

Best friends and rescue

Lovely lurcher 

lurcher_.jpg

My plans to own my own dog are getting much much closer and I’m hopeful that I will be introducing my furry family member here soon.

I've recently met some very loved rescue dogs and have been lucky enough to see the changes that a new life offers both them and their family.  I fully understand that adoption won't be for everyone but it is the way I/we are choosing to go.

Meanwhile I’ve been busy shooting this gorgeous lurcher.  He is a wonderful mix of adorable and comical.  I’m sure he thinks he is answering when he is spoken to, as he is quite talkative and extremely playful  (a moment of down time shown above).  He combines the most quizzical expression and gentlest temperament for a family dog.  

Now that he has learned to lay down he was happy to demonstrate...

 

Amy and David

Amy and David - Married (sneak peak) 

Some days are so happy its simply a joy to be there!

Sneak peak of the wedding of Amy and David at the weekend at The Chace Hotel, in Coventry.   

Weddings are something I love to shoot, but there is an added pressure in shooting your own brothers wedding…even when his bride is the fabulous Amy.  Being surrounded by family and friends is a totally different experience for me and having a father who is a photographer makes it a bigger deal.

Amy and David wanted natural images capturing how they are together, which fits perfectly with my style.  I wanted to show how easy they are with each other whilst still retaining the fun side of my brother, who has the ability to make a cat laugh. 

 This wedding has been a big event within the family, with everyone involved and it ran perfectly. 

So congratulations to them both, I get a lovely sister in law and my brother is definitely punching well above his category. 

Lots more images soon. 

 

Laura Mvula at Festival on the Close

Laura Mvula and Passport to Stockholm in Rugby

 

The closing night of the excellent Festival on the Close at Rugby School starred Laura Mvula with support from Passport to Stockholm.

Laura Mvula was wonderful.  Beautiful voice, engaging stage presence and that winning smile. The band supporting her who were ultra cool and appeared to be loving the whole gig.   It was a seated gig, which soon became a standing gig when Laura invited the audience to dance at the front.  Security and tutors kept the younger audience in order after a few minutes and everyone had a great time.

The support was the interesting Passport to Stockholm,  I hope to see them again headlining in their own right.  A lot more pop than my usual taste but the reception they received tells me I need to pay attention.

Ian wrote a full review for Birmingham Live more of my images are shown there. 

 

National Youth Jazz Orchestra at Festival on the Close

NYJO in Rugby

My second night at Festival on the Close produced an impressive National Youth Jazz Orchestra performance.  I’ve seen NYJO some years ago at the Cheltenham Jazz festival and their quality, skill and ability to share and project their enthusiasm is great.

Last night they included pupils from local schools for one piece, which filled the stage and front of house.  It was great to see the combination of young and younger playing together.

A full review and more images are on Birmingham Live

G4 and Lesley Garrett at Festival on the Close

G4 and Lesley Garrett in Rugby

Lots of the music photography that I shoot is based around indie bands or players playing full on in hot and loud venues where the photographers are in the pit.   Occasionally when it is acoustic shows (which are both interesting and often sensitive)  I work around a seated audience which brings a totally different aspect to shooting music as every click has to be carefully considered for timing, to cause as little distraction as possible. 

Last night was a combination of being audience aware whilst seeing and shooting an impressive event in my home town.    Rugby School are running a superb set of events this week to celebrate 450 years since the foundation of the school.  They are celebrating with a public arts festival which has a great range of workshops for children and have combined professional input enabling children to work with and alongside musicians, dancers and creatives for the festival. 

The school have created a semi permanent structure in the grounds to house the bigger events, complete with outdoor close,  with food, drink and gentle ambience.

G4 and Lesley Garrett opened the festival with what can only be described as a stunning performance.  This brought in a capacity crowd, staffed by pupils and tutors to form an efficient front of house team that ran the venue perfectly, combined with good sound the evening was perfect. 

G4 were lovely, far more charming than I expected and I really enjoyed the show. I may be showing my roots but anyone who can cover an Osmonds classic that well, amongst Elvis, show tunes and opera deserves the respect they worked for.  

Lesley Garrett was a delight, an immense stage presence, sparkling personality and that voice!  Stunning to watch as even when the stage was full, with a choir in support she sparkled and wowed the audience.

I’m at more events this week at Festival on Close, Im looking forward to them.

Full review for Birmingham Live here

G4 and Lesley Garrett  1 Stephanie Colledge Photography_.jpg

The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present

the wedding present seventeen stephanie colledge photography-2.jpg

The band I have seen most in all the world and I still love them!  

I gave up counting when I reached three figure numbers as those have been repeated a few times but hey they were celebrating 30 years since the release of their brilliant debut “George Best”.  So a trip into Birmingham to cover the gig for Birmingham Live! (full review here) was always going to be fun. 

It is with thanks to The Wedding Present, or more importantly thanks to David Gedge that I made that initial move from being an avid music fan to gig photographer.  His help when I was starting out made all the difference as he enabled me to shoot in a range of venues in quick succession, essential for the learning on my feet that I needed to do.

Going to see the band is always an event as I’m part of a dedicated fan community who meet up regularly on line and in person at the gigs.  I’ve made friends all across the country and overseas due to some of the adventures we (Ian and I) have been part of.  These include ten of us touring the West Coast of the States, followed my most of us regrouping a few years later to do some East Coast dates.  I would never have ventured to a festival as extensive as SxSW in Austin, but TWP were there and it was a interesting experience and the stuff that folklore is made from.   

When I first met my other half, one of his “rules” was that I would need to love The Wedding Present, it wasn't a difficult request the first time I saw them live I loved them.  Friendships made and good people met, go hand in hand with this band as most TWP fans tend to be ardent music listeners.

Last night was a storming set including George Best played in full to a rammed Academy audience - some nights are just for singing all the words with all your friends. 

Echobelly

Echobelly

I’ve had a busy week, which included seeing The Cribs twice, once to shoot and once to simply enjoy. They were great the first time but went up a gear on Thursday in London and the whole place knew it.  The combination of the crowd singing, heat haze and Jarman brilliance put it in the lead for my gig of the year.

Any band following that was going to have a tough job!   So the charm of Echobelly was going to need to be set to maximum and they didn't disappoint.  An unusual gig really, one of those mixed with a club night events, which mean the bands go on late and the whole shindig and DJ’s play into the early hours.

I saw Echobelly at Shiiine Festival last year and it was great seeing them after so long (for me).  On Saturday night they had two supports Save State and The Jack Fletcher Band, the second being the kind of band I’ll see again. I felt they had that sharp edge musically and visually, they reminded me of The Enemy combined with the best coats worn on stage this summer. 

As for Echobelly a busy week too, the new album Anarchy and Alchemy was released and the short tour they are on highlights both the new material and old favourites. Sonya Madan and Glenn Johansson are as charismatic as ever which made the gig pure enjoyment.  Most bands I watch/shoot have frontmen, its great to shoot a band with a female lead and Sonya is the perfect mix of engaging whilst remaining totally cool.

The full report and more images is on Birmingham Live.

The Cribs

The Cribs in Birmingham

That ratio thing about the number of gigs I go to v the level of happiness I feel is rapidly returning to a better balance again.  This factor is multiplied when combined with the quality of the bands and performers I’ve seen recently. 

A jaunt to The Cribs was always going to be good.  I’ve seen them a fair amount and they are one of the most consistent bands I’ve ever watched.  Intense in delivery, talented and loved by a base of loyal and inclusive supporters.  When you watch a band and the crowd knows the b-sides, sings the guitar lines as well as the vocals you are on a winner as the dual work of both artist and band creates an event and euphoria that lasts for days.   

Support came from God Damn (a band loved by the heavier side of the Birmingham Live team)  the owners of some great hair and Slotface who were for me a bit different to their video output.

The Jarman brothers spent the first part of the night watching the supports, wandered on in the most relaxed way and took the Institute from static anticipation to wild crowd surfing within seconds.  One of the most exciting live bands you’ll ever get the chance to see and I'll always love shooting. 

Full report on Birmingham Live 

Sail away with me

Sail away with me.........................

sail away with me

So I/we took a little break in the sunshine and relaxed.  A short trip to Portugal, as one friend who lives there assures us everything is Portugal is “the best”.  When it comes to port and cheese, he may have a valid point. 

Early morning wandering took me to the beach to enjoy the light, the space, the colours and the peace.  I have always lived in central England as far from the sea as possible, whereas my other half grew up with the sea in sight and is passionate about being near to it.   I find it challenging, the strength and sound, wind and sand nearly always feature but here it is “the best” calmer and warmer and I had time to wander with only one other photographer in sight and some amused villagers who obviously don't see many travellers so early.  

My photography is nearly always around people and personality.  Landscapes, architecture and a touch of natural colour are all here instead but mixed with the quirky aspects that I love.   A childs ride looking out to sea, all alone was tempting.  Maybe I’ll grow up one day……maybe not 

Rag ’n’ Bone Man in Birmingham

Rag ’n’ Bone Man @ o2 Academy

There are those nights when you go to shoot a band or performer and you are just stunned as they are better than you expected or even considered.  Last night was one of those as I went out to see and shoot Rag ’n’ Bone Man at the o2 Academy. 

He has been on a major tour, with lots of venues being heavily upgraded.  In Birmingham he had moved from the Institute to the Academy - and it was sold out rapidly.    I knew the album was doing well but to sell out the Academy on a Monday night, the guy must be special!

The train in to Birmingham told me he was a big deal, people were travelling to see him - always a good sign.  With two support bands Gi3mo who were ok but not my thing and Dan Caplen who I’ll be catching again when he plays near here the Academy filled up quickly with a really mixed crowd.  It reminded me of a Seasick Steve gig a real combination of people all to see one rather different performer.

As for Rory Graham, blimey that voice is big and there is a warm personality with it. I’m off to listen to the album a lot more.

I shot this for Birmingham Live! and our reviewer must have been up half the night writing to get this live before noon today, our combined full report here

Richard Ashcroft and Black Grape in Birmingham

Richard Ashcroft and Black Grape in Birmingham

Last night was a great opportunity to shoot Richard Ashcroft at the Barclaycard Arena, with Black Grape supporting.  Of course I was going to love that chance although I find the arena stage a bit of a challenge as its high and I’ve never grown :)

Black Grape were good, the last time I saw them they were on blistering form, by comparison they were working harder and Kermit had more of an eye on Shaun as they had new material to deliver.

Richard Ashcroft was a real wow moment, a jacket so sparkly I wanted to own it, combined with a bigger presence than I expected and that’s before he started to play.  To me he sounded superb.

The whole review (by a proper reviewer) along with lots more of my images are already on Birmingham Live.

British Sea Power

British Sea Power in Birmingham 

The brilliant British Sea Power played to a packed venue in Birmingham last night.  Great to shoot but not easy, heavy amounts of backlighting, foliage of course and a touch of strobe plus bears and a lively crowd, I loved it. 

Ian was with me but had a night off from reviewing to just enjoy the gig.  The full review written by Chris writing is on Birmingham Live!

British Sea Power Stephanie Colledge Photography copy.jpg

Newton Faulkner

Newton Faulkner in Birmingham

I love this going out lark, packing a kit bag and going to see interesting performers.  Last night a quick trip to Birmingham to see Newton Faulkner.  

Those of you who know me will be aware that he is some distance from my love of duelling guitar indie bands (but then my other half would claim to behind my good taste on that score).  I first went to see Newton about 18 months ago and was surprised to find a totally different kind of night out - far more relaxed and laid back than I expected and the bonus, I liked it.

Last night was more challenging photography wise, a seated venue and Ian has written a full review which is on Birmingham Live

Newton Faulkner  Stephanie Colledge Photography.jpg

Handsome Boy!

Handsome Boy!

Ok I admit it, I’m desperate for a dog of my own and plans are underway to make this a reality, soon.  In the meantime I am working on a little dog photography and spent a relaxed session with this gorgeous French Bulldog; a truly handsome Frenchie.  He is black with tiny touches of brindle showing in his coat, now that he is an adult.  He has the ability to combine cute with the face of Yoda, a slight head tilt and he is on a winner every time and he knows it. 

I was assured he could be stubborn, in reality he was totally adorable and so friendly he could easily move in with me whenever he wants a holiday home.  His owner was with us all the time and he adores her, so asking for him to sit, wait or even change the direction of his run was straightforward and meant we had images captured quickly.   Next time we will do a studio shoot at his home and maybe he can pull her into the shots with him. 

We opted for an active outdoor session on his walk with his favourite ball (squeeky) combined with portraits and close ups, a small selection shown below. 

Over the next few weeks I will be covering lots more pups and pooches, some of which will appear on here.   

I am offering a dog photography service as part of my portfolio, to include shoots at home/garden, outdoors and home studio (I can bring lights and backdrop to you).  As part of this there will be a first year puppy package to help capture those early days and changes over the first year, email me for the details.

Handsome Boy 2.jpg

Lloyd Cole at The Assembly

Lloyd Cole at The Assembly

Last night I went to see Lloyd Cole at The Assembly in Leamington, a change from the gigs I normally go to - this was all seated and pretty dark.

The evening was split into two sets, with Lloyd joined by his son William for the second set.  Lloyd was more lovely than I expected and remembered, as ever Ian was with me and will have a full review on Birmingham Live with my images in full later on today. 

For now Lloyd last night - there are colour images but for me Lloyd Cole and mono images have always been and continue to be the perfect combination.

Full review here

 

Headline Lloyd Cole Leamington Stephanie Colledge Photography-1-2.jpg

T- Shirts, Days 41-50

T- Shirts Days 41-50

It was quite pleasing to find I only had around 40 band t-shirts easily to hand.  

The more worrying part was when I went to look for how many I had temporarily stored…there were comments made from the other half, about how I owned more shirts than shoes.  Good job he hasn't started counting the shoes yet :)

Days 41-50 shall therefore be dedicated to a “small selection” of my Morrissey shirts.  I’ve been going to Morrissey gigs for a long time and before that - yes, I saw The Smiths a few times too.  If I find any Smiths shirts I’ll never get in any of those - I was too thin in my teens, but then everyone was.

I’ll happily argue with anyone and everyone that Morrissey is one of the most stunning artists you will ever be lucky enough to see.  The gigs are passionate and populated with regulars who travel miles and continents to be there.  I’ve seen him play in different parts of the world, although I’m not as well travelled as many and I have made some lovely friends along the way. 

One of my initial photography aspirations was to get a photo pass for a Morrissey gig. At the time, it was one of the most daunting shows I ever requested and early in my live music life!  That thing about photographing your heroes had to be considered and I looking back I was more nervous collecting that pass than any other to this day.   I shot the gig and I still love the images as they show me how much I pushed myself to be my best.  A wise gig photographer assured me afterwards that shooting that gig was the first mountain tackled and there were a lot more on the horizon!

This first small batch of shirts are a mix from 2004 Quarry tour, Ringleader tour, Roundhouse shirt onwards.  The shirt that appears twice is because I own it in two versions….the dates on the back are different parts of the tour, yep that’s the sign of a true collector.

 

tshirts days 41 to 50 morrissey shirts .jpg