Back in the land of the living


Apologies for the protracted absence and enforced downtime due to server corruption. Hopefully the site is now back in the land of the living and I will soon be actively blogging once more.

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It Worked!

2012-02-08 11.18.28

Well Windows Live Writer certainly worked. It allows me to connect to more than one blog and presents me with a Word like interface with easy formatting and insertion of images.

I like the text wrapping around images. Perhaps I will embrace it.

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Test from Windows Live Writer

Somebody recommended trying Windows Live Writer which I’d obviously setup sometime in the past and promptly forgotten about. So, this just a wee test to see if it still works and to see if it offers me any benefits over my usual blogging process.

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Human Planet Photography – by Timothy Allen

BBC News – Audio slideshow: Human Planet.

Simply stunning photographs from Timothy Allen. Thanks to Mavis Ord for pointing me towards Tim’s photography. How I’d love to take images like this!

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Durham Miners’ Gala 2011

Durham Miners Gala 2011 took place on Saturday (9th July). As ever the city was buzzing and we were treated to the usual excellent selection of bands. In approaching photographing this years gala I was keen to stay away from the traditional photos of bandsmen reflected in their instruments and decided to focus more on the social side, centred around the city’s Racecourse. It’s not necessarily a flattering depiction of the event but one that stemmed from accompanying a South Korean visitor to last year’s gala.

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A World on the Brink

A World on the Brink.

For some time our friend Tim has been evangelising about the environment and how we can lessen our impact on it. He has recently released an online book “A World on the Brink” which really puts the situation into perspective. Many of the photographs are Tim’s own I believe. He’s wasted as a Doctor!!!

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Faded Seaside Glory

This book stemmed from an interest in urban decay and dilapidation. I wanted to record the decline of the North East’s traditional seaside resorts. Little did I know when I started this series of images back in the early part of 2008 that the World economy was about to plunge into recession. My original premise that such resorts were in decline due to the Brits favouring sunnier foreign climes was soon to be turned on its head as those same holidaymakers tightened their belts and started to frequent British resorts once more.

Thus, in the course of this study the emphasis has changed from one of neglect and decline to one of regeneration. Yes there is still plenty of dilapidation but there is also hope for the resorts as the excavators move in to refresh the sea defences and to knock down the eyesores. The North East remains a depressed economy and without significant global warming there is unlikely to be a huge growth in home based beach holidays but at least these resorts may find a new niche as short break destinations.

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Search Engine Optimization – Newcastle Photographer

In a recent campaign I have been spreading my net further to target search engine keywords with locations where the majority of the work seems to be focused, namely;


North East

Search Engine Optimization is truly a black art and I am nowhere near mastering it. I have spent many hours tweaking the web pages of my main website to make it feature more prominately in the search engine rankings.

I’ve done quite well in targeting keywords in my immediate town of Durham so keywords such as “Durham photographer“, “photographer in Durham” should find me. However, from the relatively low number of hits on the website I’m coming to the conclusion that folk simply aren’t looking for photographers in Durham and when they are, they are looking for wedding or portrait photographers which isn’t really my line of business. So once again I’ve targeted keywords such as “commercial photographer Durham“, or “product photographer Durham” but I’m finding that these keywords are hardly ever searched for. The jist of it is that there is a very small market for this sort of photography in Durham itself.

Of course I’m only 20 miles from Newcastle, about 16 miles from Sunderland, and 24 miles from Middlesborough, and Darlington, Stockton on Tees, Gateshead and Washington all fall within a 20 miles radius of my home so I consider all these local. In fact I’m very to happy travel anywhere in the North East of England, North of England, or South and Central Scotland. UK wide and international assignments are certainly not out of the question.

One of my neighbours, Russell Collingham of VoxDev ( has been invaluable in providing advice and help with creating backlinks to my various sites. Hopefully I’ll reap the dividends soon when I get an influx of hits on the website and hopefully a corresponding increase in the amount of business generated. If not I could be looking for my 3rd career!

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Manchester Architecture

Sorry for the long break in communications. Somehow the blog is always the last thing to get my attention.

Manchester Architecture 1

Well, I’m just back from a short break to Manchester. It’s not somewhere I know well but I’ve visited twice in the last couple of years. Did Salford Quays on the last visit and was in the city centre this time. Both times I’ve been struck by the exciting modern architecture so this time I set off on a mission to capture some of it on camera. To cut a long story short, time was against me and by the time I got out of my hotel I only had about 10 minutes of good light left. Here are the best results mostly taken within the Spinning Fields district.

Manchester Architecture 2

Manchester Architecture 3

So what about the architecture that I didn’t manage to take on this trip. Top of the list is the Civil Justice Centre, then there’s the Urbis building, the Hilton, The Avenue when they take the wrappers of it, Chips New Islington, Hulme Arch Bridge, Trinity Bridge, and finally the Corporation Street Bridge. Google image search is a marvelous source of inspiration! Anyway, that’s plenty to occupy several more visits as well as a return visit to Salford Quays. If you’ve got any more suggestions please add a comment.

Now, I should really embark on similar projects closer to home in Newcastle, Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Durham

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Success for Rob Birrell at the Annual North East BIPP Awards!

I was extremely pleased with my unprecedented success in this years Annual Regional BIPP Awards. In my first year of entering I took 1st and 3rd places in the Commercial Category of these prestigious awards.

Winner - Commercial Category
Winner – Commercial Category

This year’s annual Photography competition for the North East region, held by the British Institute of Professional Photography, took place on Thursday 26th November 2009 at the Ravens Dean Hotel in Gateshead.

3rd Place Image - Commercial Category
3rd Place Image – Commercial Category

The competition was divided into five photography categories; Weddings, Portraits, Press & PR, Commercial and Pictorial. Professional photographers from across the North East submitted their best photographs into the competition for judgment by BIPP Fellow Mike Roper, who has won Scottish Photographer of the Year for the past 3 years running.

Mike praised the technical skill of my winning photograph commenting on the exceptional sharp detail in even the darkest parts of the image.

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