Monday, December 29, 2008

Light on

A cold, post Christmas Sunday had me itching to go out and take some photographs. I had been ogling lots of other photographers' websites and was inspired. I didn't have time to travel far, so I decided once again to walk from home and see what I could dig out. I thought I'd pay close attention to how the light works on objects and see what I could come up with...

Pavement: Into the Light
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative
Click to enlarge

A Wife-Beater Meets an Appropriate End
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative
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Slow Dance
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative
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Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative
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West London Sunset
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative
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Hot Cross
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Boxing Day Walk...

St Katherine Dock, London
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Eems. She has stolen my heart. I want this little warship.
St Katherine Dock, London
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Tower Bridge
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Tower Bridge Pier, London
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Tower Bridge
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Last Kiss
St Saviour's Dock, London
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Ice Wharf, London
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Ice Wharf, London
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Saturday, December 13, 2008

NO to FIFA World Cup in South Africa!

As thousands of Zimbabweans lie dying of cholera in various provinces around the country - and now in neighbouring countries too - the world is at last starting to take notice. Yes, the unfolding humanitarian disaster that has been happening for ten long years is finally being taken seriously.

How so? Well, Mr Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has said Mugabe is very naughty or something similar. Mr Obama has been quiet, but I expect some words post-inauguration. Mr Bush has said Mugabe is very naughty too, probably after Ms Condi Rice told him who Mugabe was and showed him this place called Africa, an island off the coast of Florida.

But yes, its been ten years of agonised cries for help by a population suffering terribly at the hands of one of the most evil people to ever walk the surface of the planet.

South Africa, the regional powerhouse has for the last ten years led the 'mediation' between Mugabe's ZanuPF and Tsvangirai's MDC. Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" has for ten years failed. For ten years we have all been pointing out the absolutely, totallly and irrefutably obvious, that "quiet diplomacy" is the very LAST thing needed to remove a recognised genocidal butcher from power.

In fact, I believe "quiet diplomacy" is the carefully and deliberately applied slow-death torture that Thabo Mbeki has enjoyed inflicting, together with his cohort Mugabe on Zimbabweans. They have acted in collusion. After ten years, that is obvious. Mbeki has reinforced Mugabe's position time and time again. He feels and the ANC feels, that they owe Mugabe a favour; that his loyalty to the ANC during the Apartheid era must now be repaid at all costs.

The truth is, Mugabe did not help the ANC. It was us, the people of Zimbabwe who all helped the ANC. The very same people who are now suffering at the inactive hands of the ANC. Mugabe put our country at the ANC's disposal. Our country, not his country.

And this is the basic fault with African politics. History has shown time and time again, right across Africa, that most of the leaders never seem to realise that they lead a people. They look at only themselves as important, and see only counterparts as important. And the reason is simple. They help each other to subvert freedoms, to keep democracy at arms length. Mugabe helped Mbeki; Mbeki's quiet diplomacy has helped Mugabe. Mugabe helped Mobuto Sese Seko of Zaire, then rapidly switched to helping his replacement, Laurent Kabila. He helped Marxist President Samora Machel bring Mozambique to its knees, fighting off the pesky concept of democracy. He mollycoddled the utterly useless President Kaunda of Zambia... there are more... the club of incompetents all wrecking Africa in a circle-jerk of self -importance, greed and corruption.

But it is South Africa where the spotlight falls. South Africa has the regional influence to dramatically change the course of history in any of its neighbouring countries. It should have used its influence in 2000, nipping in the bud what was a very nasty situation even then. Instead, it chose to side with the Mugabe rather than with Zimbabwe.

Now, when South Africa prepares to pose and preen on the world stage as World Cup hosts, its neighbour has to suffer the dreadful consequences of its inaction. Any firm action taken by South Africa now would be welcomed, but it will have been too late. Mugabe should have been dealt with in 2000. There is simply no excuse.

African leaders, very wrongly, enjoy a lot of leeway when it comes to their governance and moral conduct. They are forgiven a lot (just look at Mugabe's genocide which everyone swept under the carpet). And because they are forgiven for one thing, they carry on and do something worse until they are all behaving like... like... ummm well, African Leaders.

Time to stop it. South Africa must be made to utiliuse its influence. What possible harm can be done over and above that which is already being done by Mugabe? South Africa must act as it did years ago to bring the Rhodesian crisis to an end or if it would rather carry on supporting Mugabe and his (really quite small) band of thugs, then it must lose the right to host the World Cup. There are other more deserving, more democratically free countries, to host the tournament. Let voting South Africans suffer the consequences of their leaders' inaction, the consquences of electing to power a party that would rather support a dictator than his desperate people, and let it be an example to the rest of the swine that rule in Africa. This is no misdemeanour we're talking of. Its a crime against humanity. All 13 million of us Zimbabweans. South Africa could have, should have helped avert it.


I have little doubt that many South Africans will feel I'm being rather unfair. Let me just offer a word of caution: I have seen Zimbabwe squander its freedom. Our voters allowed our leaders to ride roughshod, first over tiny freedoms, then later (when it was too late) anything they chose. Right Now South Africans need to get a grip of their freedom because I see the signs of it being wasted. You've set your standards too low. Expect better from your leaders, expect better from your ANC - and watch them like a hawk! They are way too powerful - just like ZanuPF.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Ghosts in the Tunnel, the Poet and the Boxer

Self Portrait
A shot of my shadow, tweaked in Lightroom and Photoshop. Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative. All rights reserved.

Sunday was one of those perfect winter days when the sky is crystal clear and the deepest possible blue, especially in the north. It was cold, so suited and booted in my arctic gear, (that's my normal clothes with an extra jersey) I decided to pop out for a day's shooting.

The plan was to head for Hackney Wick which looked splendidly grungy when I passed through on Saturday on my way to a client shoot. However, the North London Overground line was not operating so I headed by bus for Baker Street where I then picked up the Jubilee Line for Stratford. At the last minute however, I decided to get off at Greenwich North (North Greenwich?), the stop for the O2 Dome.

Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative. All rights reserved.

I thought it would be cool to walk back up river, photographing whatever came my way. So that's what I did.

The Thames turns through almost 180 degrees, wrapping round the dome before heading down to the barrier and and beyond. I started on the east side of the arc and wandered round towards the west. The tide was out and there was not a breath of wind. The foreshore looked very inviting, with streams of water meandering through exposed sandbanks where gulls picked through the debris for tasty morsels. The light was silvery and I felt immensely happy just to be there.

Wave Dance
I like exposing for harsh highlights, almost killing the other tones.
It strips the image of unnecessary detail and allows simple visual purity. Click to enlarge.

Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative. All rights reserved.

For whatever reasons, I very often find myself alone. I tend to do so many things on my own and have, to be honest, often felt lonely. However, I have come to value my time on my own. I set the pace. I set the topic. I do what I want. And, you know what? I quite like having myself for company. I can, if I choose, spend ages in one place fiddling with lenses, composition etc without worrying about whether I'm boring anyone who is in my company. It allows me to be a photographer rather than a companion. It allows me to focus ('scuse the pun) on each image; to distill what I see in the viewfinder. To take my time - although I still think I rush my photographs. No, I know I rush them.

Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative. All rights reserved.

Continuing round the Dome, I was stopped by two ladies. They had been peering through the security fencing into the Dome and were I could tell, pretty fascinated. They asked me if I knew what entrance the stars used. "I have no idea", I replied. "I presume they come by bus". They looked a little taken aback at this and one said "Oh don't be silly!"

"Tour Bus", I replied. "Or Limo"

"Ohhhh! Do you know what entrance they use?"

"No Idea. Who are you wanting to see?"

"Barry Manilow." (they said this in unison). I smirked.

"We've seen him on all three nights, but whenever we go to see him, we like to wave him off at the end."

Fans. Gotta love 'em.

Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative. All rights reserved.

Continuing along the river, I came to a slipway covered in frosty driftwood and slippery green algae, leading to the river's foreshore. I skied/skated down the concrete ramp and the picked my way through the debris and finally made it to the 'beach'. The low angle light and the textures of the sand, the pebbles, boulder and the debris were all in perfect combination and I spent a while there, taking less shots than I should have.

The Thames Path then continued upstream through some derelict docks (well, construction sites now) with Canary wharf slightly obscured by haze on the other side of the river. I noted that many of the puddles still had a thin layer of ice on them (it was getting on for 2pm) and that there were the occasional bits of black ice on the pavement. I was wearing my expensive (75 quid) "UK Running" cross country running (no, I don't) shoes which, naturally, have bugger-all grip. (Quick! Call the Design Police!!!) Fortunately, I managed to beat Gravity & Slippery 1-0.

Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative. All rights reserved.

As I got nearer Greenwich the riverside becomes more industrial and the Thames path passes large grain elevator (or sugar?) past what I think might be a Tate & Lyle factory. There were several fine opportunities to shoot nice 'industrial decay' type shots which I grabbed with both hands. Eventually the path ended up at the Cutty Sark, which I just managed to avoid going into, lured as I was by the smell of hot chips... The sun was getting low and across the river, Canary Wharf was shining like burnished gold. Once again, as I have previously done, I radically underexposed and got a pretty dramatic shot of Docklands.

Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative. All rights reserved.

Ballast Quay.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative. All rights reserved.

Anxious to find a Nurofen purveyor, I decided to cross the river via the Greenwich foot tunnel and then take the DLR to the Land of Plenty. Once inside the tunnel, I knew it was essential that I took some photographs, so I had a bit of a play with time exposures and post-sync flash, getting some nice, ghostly images of people walking towards me.

Ghosts in Greenwich Foot Tunnel.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative. All rights reserved.

Took the DLR from Island Gardens to Shadwell. It was packed and I stood amongst a bushel of New Zealand kids on a school trip, listening to them discussing the names of various stops on the line: Mudchute, Heron Quays etc. Quite amusing. The teachers chaperoning them looked exhausted.

I Got off the DLR and walked through the sunset towards The Captain Kidd to meet my buddy Ian for a small pint of fizzy beer. On the way I got in some fine shots of vapour trails scratched across the sky, lit by the last rays of the sun.

Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative. All rights reserved.

On arriving at the Captain Kidd, I saw a large table at which was seated only one man, so I chose that to dump my gear on and to strip down and pack away my camera. The gentleman sitting there was very friendly (and a bit pissed) and we struck up a conversation. He was, it turned out, a commercial eel fisherman - an Eeler - who fished the river from Tower Bridge all the way down to the barrier. Now that was enough for me. I was fascinated immediately. I asked him if I can accompany him when he goes eeling and he said any time.

Bruce Pope.
Bruce is a poet,. And he catches eels for a living. Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative. All rights reserved.

He 's a fascinating character. Apart from being an eel catching person, he's a poet, a painter and a sculptor too. Amazing! I'd say something and he'd reply with poetry. Proper poetry, not just rhyming words. He thinks in poems. And he wrote me a poem too, in his lovely semi calligraphic long hand.

His name is Bruce Pope and he is a fine person! The kind of person I always hope I will meet.

With my head ramping up for a mighty headache, I thought it best that I get on my way home and so headed for Tower Bridge tube station. Unable to resist, I diverted the quay where I photographed the benches a few weeks back. There was a dude shadow boxing. So I shot him. With my camera. He was a Lithuanian and was training for a tournament. He told me his name, but its slipped my mind.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative. All rights reserved.

Passing through St Katherine's Dock I got a few time exposures of Tower Bridge and the river before being overcome by my need to find Nurofen. I'd left it too late. The headache arrived with suitable fanfare and I spent a grim (KIP 7-8) journey on the tube to Embankment where I got off to try and find an open chemist. No such luck. I got on the Bakerloo and headed for Queens Park where I managed to find a corner shop that actually sold the Migraine Strength Nurofen, that I MUST take every four hours. I nearly wept with relief.

How Bright the Light?

How Bright the light?
The glow that has no flame,
The colours yet,
That have no name
Where rigid mode
Yet still it will remain

Bruce Pope

Photograph Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative. All rights reserved.
Poem by kind permission of Bruce Pope, Copyright Bruce Pope 2008

Oh, did I tell you I got a new battery (£69.99) for my camera? It lasted the whole day. Bee-yoo-ti-ful!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Zimbabwe: Too little, too late.

On Thursday, one of the world's most respected moral authorities, Bishop Desmond Tutu at last, at long, long last said what has been needed to be said for many many years: "Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe must resign or be sent to The Hague for the "gross violations" he has committed..."

Well done, Des, you're the man!

Now to be fair, Bishop Desmond Tutu has spoken out against Mugabe before, but his words were tempered with the hopeless, 100%-ineffectual-in-Africa, "diplomacy". Diplomacy has no place in a continent where, with a few exceptions, brutality seems to be first law.

On this occasion, he was blunt and to the point. And very quickly, the voice of the other (more self-appointed) moral authority, the United States, chimed in (jumped on the band wagon?) via the vocal chords of Ms Condileezza Rice who said, "it is "well past time" for Mr Mugabe to go, saying a "sham election" has been followed by a "sham process of power-sharing talks".


Saint Desmond and the Angel Condi need to learn that whilst we now appreciate their words of condemnation for Mugabe, they should have been said many years ago.

Africa's gravestone should bear those words: "Too little, Too Late". For that is how it has always been.

The Developed world has a duty to protect the citizens of Africa. They should be protected from both the developed world and the highly exploitative 'emerging' world - that's you, China. Most of all though, Africa needs to be protected from Africans.

This vast continent of 934,283,426 people living in 54 states has known nothing but exploitation either as victims of the rest of the world or by their own leaders whose promise was always to deliver them from evil.

From north to south, Afrca has seen a continual sequence of civil wars, military coups, uprisings, genocides, disease and brutality. The whole world sees Africa as a mineral free-for-all, robbing the continent of wealth in collusion with its leaders. Disease, unrest and turmoil are the tools of the exploiters. The meagre income from the exploitation funds yet more violence as arms dealing scum wrest cash from the hands of the regimes. (Stop violence, shoot an arms dealer?)

And when the people of Africa say, "enough!" all it gets is useless, hopeless, pointless "diplomacy". Stillborn UN resolutions and verbose, but toothless statements of condemnation from the EU and other 'blocs'. Late, as ever.

Use Force!

Britain, the EU and the United States along with all other G20 countries have the power - more than eough power - to force sanity back into Africa. Yes, I said it: FORCE sanity back into Africa. Force accountability into its leadership. Punish the punishable! The Hague would be the busiest place in the world!

Darfur, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone... all are cases of completely avoidable crises. That they eventually resolve themselves is not thanks to anyone; that they were allowed to escalate to what they became, is down to those who say they know better but who refused to act, preferring the band-aid of diplomacy.

Diplomacy is just talk. Africa needs action. Immediate, authorative action the minute a crisis looks likely.

If the developed world forces sanity back into Africa the right way, they can give the continent a genuine rebirth, a genuine rennaisance. They can convert a market of a billion penniless people into one that has enormous wealth from exports and more importantly, cash to spend on imports. From the developed world! Everyone will win.

And now, some reading for you:

This woman deserves a Pulitzer Prize for saying it how it is. She is in my view, the best writer on the Zimbabwean situation. If you want to understand what it is like in Zimbabwe, subscribe to her website and spread her words.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Empire Building - Dangerous to Start-ups

Today, a word of advice to start-ups who have dreams of private helicopters, sports cars and skyscrapers that bear their names.

Many years ago, I did a fourteen month stint as a "Farm Assistant". It was a junior management role for me to get some experience before attending agricultural college. Which I never did. Farming wasn't for me.

The farm I worked on was pretty vast and we grew a lot of different crops - mainly tobacco and maize and we raised cattle. Baboons and bush pigs were a particular problem. Both could lay waste to a significant portion of a field of maize in just a few hours. So we were at war with them, constantly. I used to sit concealed on the side of a small 'kopje' overlooking one of our maize lands armed with an FN rifle, tasked with shooting the thieving animals on sight. To be honest, shooting animals is not my cup of tea. For sure, over time I shot many, but I found it was almost as effective to just fire off a couple of rounds and watch the baboons hastily scarper, the youngsters riding on their mothers backs like comical little jockeys. (The bushpigs, by the way, were delicious, slow roasted in a dixie by the "Rhodesian Boiler's" fire.)

But I also used to watch in disbelief as baboons raided the field. It was a mixture of pure comedy and mindless destruction. The adult baboons, instead of pulling off a single cob of maize (ear of corn) and eating the whole thing, would pull one off, perhaps take a bite and then stuff it under their arm, desperate to move on to the next plant where they would pull off another cob and perhaps take a bite before stuffing that tasty treat too, under their arm. The previous under-arm-stuffed cob would then fall wastefully onto the ground. And so it would continue, with a single baboon thinking he was gathering up lots of maize to enjoy at his leisure, later. Baboons are very greedy. Careless too. - and probably quite disappointed when they see that their collection of cobs is in fact, errr.... one.

How does this baboonery translate into wisdom for small businesses?

I quite often notice the same sort of behaviour demonstrated by the baboons, in start-up businesses. What happens is this: an individual, or more often a pair of partners decide to open a business. Its a very exciting time and usually there's a lot of energy. Things get done. Bank accounts are opened, good intentions are listed, the company name is debated and established, domain names are registered etc. Splendid. They are doing everything right. So far.

But then they get carried away in their excitement and start having too many visions of expansion. Of empire building. When they should be focused on the original concept of the buisness, they get carried away with their vision of the future: a wide ranging group of companies that offers a whole array of complementary services. And that's where the maize cobs start slipping from their grasp.

I have seen this happen so often. A great, singleminded business idea, usually right at the core of the entrepreneurs' knowledge, becomes distracted and diluted as they try to paint themselves into the picture of their now over-complicated vision. I partly blame beer for this, as again, I have so often seen the expansion of the empire plotted in pubs. But its fair to say that it happens wherever two start-up mavericks dare to dream.

First, consolidate your position .

I have nothing against dreams and I have nothing against start-ups aspiring to offer a whole plethora of services that go beyond the scope of the initial business. I do, however, strongly believe that if the energy and imagination that went into plotting the growth of the corporate behemoth went instead into perfecting the original business plan, there would be a far greater chance of eventually having an empire. A strong, respected empire.

As a branding and marketing person, I come across so many brand new "Groups of Companies" that are in fact more of a collection of half thought-out ideas lying partially tasted and semi wasted on the field of dreams. These are weak businesses. They seldom gather momentum and they usually fade away. Why?

Its dead simple: After the exciting dreaming phase, the cold, bony hand of reality firmly grips the shoulders of the entrepreneurs. Bills have to be paid - amongst them, mine (instead of designing one brand identity I have now designed several) . What then happens is that the half formed, poorly nurtured complementary businesses are left out in the cold as the entrepreneurs start frantically doing what they set out to do in the first place. They are forced to focus on their core business. Sadly, quite often, they are also forced to focus on the reality of what their expansionist dreams have delivered: Boxes of unused stationery for this company and that. Logo designs, brochures, uniforms etc. Bills, bills, bills....

What then happens is this: The dreamers find the debt rather alarming, blame me, blame everyone else but themselves and close down. Another needless stillbirth.

Empire building: Don't do it. Not yet.

I think the key to success for all start-ups is to keep it simple. Don't complicate your ideas. Make your dream manageable and focus, focus, focus. Be one thing!

Here are a few rules for start ups that I think should be folllowed. This list is by no means definitive, its what I can think of now. I might add to it, so come back and check:
  1. In one sentence write out what your new business will do.
  2. In as few as possible bullet points, demonstrate your business process (how you will do what you do and how you will make a profit from your customers)
  3. In one sentence, write out how you intend to grow in the first 6 months
  4. Make a list of 10 objectives to be achieved within the first 6 months
  5. Prioritise the list above
  6. Think like your client: make a list of 10 things your client/customers will expect from you/your product
  7. Prioritise that list
  8. Make a list of 10 things that will make your company/product more attractive to your target market than your competitors
  9. Prioritise that list
  10. In ten bullet points, outline your marketing plan. Prioritise them.
  11. In ten or less bullet points outline your sales plan. Prioritise them.
Take the above once completed and display it prominently in several places where you will often look. Fridge doors work for me because I am an eating machine.

I think that with the global economy as it is right now, it is a great time for entrepreneurs to start up businesses, But it is a time for realists, not fantasists. Go forth and multiply, but do it slowly and carefully.


In other news, this article was written in several short stints between my monstrous headaches. KIP 7-9s. Feel sorry for me. I know I do!


Monday, December 1, 2008

Working alone

I have come to the conclusion that I don't like working alone any more. Its lonely and sometimes its hard to be disciplined.

I'm usually pretty good on my own but I really do miss having other people around. I miss the banter . I miss hearing others' opinions of my work and I miss offering mine to colleagues. Problem solving is easier in company, as is building up a head of steam to keep the business's momentum going. I need to feed off other people.

I think that in the new year, I will look for an office and the company of other creatives - maybe a nice little symbiotic (such and eighties word) relationship where perhaps my skills complement that of the other creative(s).

In other news, My bloody headaches are back. Boo!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Zimbabwe: The squandering of a country's freedom

I am from Zimbabwe and I have been meaning to put up a post about my beloved home country for quite some time. The problem is, I get too angry. I've drafted numerous posts where I set out with a clear intention to make a single point but became mired in a vicious cycle of blind, cold fury with just about everything. My frustration knows no bounds.

Before you read on, please be aware that my views are not "politically correct". I believe that (for want of a better term) political correctness lies at the heart of not only Zimbabwe's, but all of Africa's many problems.

Today, 50 people will die of cholera in Zimbabwe. Cholera is a deadly disease that essentially is spread from person to person through drinking water that contains shit. It is a dirty, filthy, disgusting disease that is wholly and very simply preventable. It is a disease that like no other is a clear indicator of the competence of a country's government; you have to be the lowest of the low for it to become a problem.

For years the world has watched Mugabe taking bites from the thin end of the wedge. The Third World apologists have even praised him for his "African" solutions to "colonial legacies". They have showered this man with praise as he dismantled the colonial legacy that he inherited. That legacy, aside from the privileges of a white minority, was law and order, jobs, economic growth, inventiveness, decent health care, clean hospitals, reliable water supplies in the cities, proper sewage management, a working transport infrastructure, education and a burgeoning productive sector.

When Mugabe exhibited any signs of his political stewardship falling below what is considered decent, the world and a huge proportion of his own countrymen turned a blind eye - the man committed a genocide - "The Gukurahundi" - against up to 40,000 Ndebele people and no one thought to prosecute him. Not the majority of Zimbabweans, not the leaders of the "civilised" world. You see, Mugabe's crimes against humnity are somehow less repellant to the world than those of Milosovich.

Even now, when the whole world is united against Mugabe NO ONE is prepared to snatch him and his cronies and whisk them off to the Hague. No one! Yet every day, 50 people - and rising - will die as a direct result of his actions. And that is just from cholera.

There is also a steady stream of disappearances of opposition supporters. There have been well publicised government-backed murders. There has been the disgusting "Operation Murambatsvina" where up to 2.4 million poor shanty town dwellers were rendered homeless, their posessions destroyed and their informal subsitance businesses looted and closed down. (Mugabe once had a programme called "Homes for all by the year 2000" which, as we can all see, failed). The world did nothing. Not a fucking thing.

Most idiotic of all, the world is under the illusion that diplomacy can bring results. With Mugabe? Since when? Its time to understand, Mr UN, EU and Co that diplomacy is wasted on Mugabe and is, to be honest, a bit baffling to most Africans - look at Thabo Mbeki's interpretation of it and see just how misunderstood it is. Africans can talk all day and all night. Long after others have given up talking and have gone onto the "enough talk, lets take action" phase, the Africans will still be talking - because as long as they can talk, they don't have to do the dirty work. Someone else eventually will.

What is worse though, is that most Zimbabweans have done almost NOTHING to stop this monster. Zimbabwe has a great deal to say about "Our Sovereignty" and "Our Freedom". A lot to say, but they do nothing to preserve those concepts and do you know why? Because they do not understand them. How can you understand a concept such as Freedom when to all intents and purposes, you are now much worse off than you were under the (often exaggerated) "oppresssion" of Ian Smith or the British?

You see, the majority of Zimbabweans did not have to fight in the liberation struggle. It was done for them by a few tens of thousands of (either brave or misguided) guerillas. Most Zimbabweans sat back and waited for their freedom to be given to them. They waited for the world's outrage to deliver them from the evil of Ian Smith. Not so bloody evil now, is he?

And then Zimbabweans waited for foregn aid to be delivered, which it duly was. They waited for jobs which they got and they allowed Mugabe to start taking bigger and bigger slices of the pie. His flagrant liberties were all, so it seems, forgivable. After all, "he gave us our freedom": He was delivering prosperity, growth, jobs and all Zimbabweans had to do was sit on their arses and occasionally sing the Party tune. But he was also lining his pockets and building a clique of super-powerful cronies who were seen to be above the law...

Then things started going down hill. Zimbabweans started muttering, agreeing yet again, with a few tens of thousands of people that Mugabe had to go. He was ruining their future. He was getting rich at their expense. Fortunately, Mr Tsvangirai put himself forward as the man to lead Zimbabwe out of the clutches of Mugabe. Fantastic! Now Zimbabweans had someone to do the job for them, they could once again sit on their arses and do nothing.

And this is how it has been. A lonely Tsvangirai surrounded by a few (brave or misguided?) people trying to take on Mugabe who has control of the army. And the police. And the CIO. But at least the people of Zimbabwe can carry on sitting on their now scrawny backsides while Tsvangirai tries despertely to stem the bleeding.

This cholera epidemic, this badge of hopelessness, is the inevitable result of a people whose idea of freedom is to chant the mindless, meaningless ZanuPF slogans at political rallies. Whose idea of freedom is to cower in the dust before their leader. Whose idea of freedom is to sit and wait for someone else to deliver them from evil. Again.

Zimbabweans - ALL zimbabweans need to grow some balls. Tsvangirai cannot overcome Mugabe on his own. He needs the peoples' committment to be the same level as his. That means, he needs people to put their lives on the line, just like he does. There are still more than enough Zimbabweans fit and able to create a tidal wave that will obliterate Mugabe and his henchmen. Save yourselves or drown - the rest of the world has proven it doesn't really care. If it did, Mugabe would be serving his 15th year in prison for genocide.

What a waste of freedom.

Monday, November 24, 2008

How to Have a Road Accident

This morning, as I was lying in bed wishing I'd slept better and getting increasingly annoyed with Heart 106.2, I suddenly realised why so many people are killed on the roads in Britain. It was the annoying traffic report person telling me that "the inside lane of the M1 north bound is blocked due to an accident".

I come from Africa. In my homeland we don't have "inside lanes" or "outside lanes". We have left lanes and right lanes and I'm sure that somewhere we have some middle lanes. But definitely no inside lanes. And neither do we have "offsides" and "nearsides". What on earth are those? What is wrong with left side and right side? Why, when lives depend on clarity, is it necessary to muddy the water with archaic terms?

I have walked down cycle paths before. Adevnturous, I know but hey - I like to live dangerously. I have seen and been thoroughly mystified by the red circle with a picture of a car and a motorcycle at the beginning of the cycle path. Neither have a simple diagonal red slash drawn through them as happens every-bloody-where-sodding-else, so foreign car or motorcycle users could be forgiven for thinking that its perfectly okay to drive down the cycle path. The poor cyclist skewered by their vehicles was, they would argue, riding where only cars and motorcycles are permitted to go.

And speed management. I have driven miles along some roads uncertain as to what the speed limit is. I am one of those drivers who likes to obey the speed limit - my days of being in a tearing hurry are over. I have no desire to be pulled over by the Narks, no desire for points on my licence and even more importantly, no desire to run over a brace of school children. I want to be told, and then constantly remeinded through the medium of the sign, what the limit is. It is not difficult. Instead, you have miles of road, no speed limit signs and then suddenly, a speed camera. Only then, 300 yards after you've been flashed and auto-ticketed, there's a sign that helpfully points out that you should have been doing 30, not 40 as you asssumed.

If the British government was serious about managing speed, they'd be more energetic about informing us and then reminding us constantly about the speeed limit. But it seems they just want the money raised through fines and rely rather heavily on catching drivers out.

And why don't they put speed limit signs on the back of their cameras? Sneaky bastards.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quite a day...

I've not been sleeping much of late. Mr Heartburn ensures that, ably assisted by Mr Headache and the rather irritating Ms Worry. So I was up by five this Sunday morning. Bloody freezing.

Skips and Drips.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative.

Directed by Chloe, the cat I made myself some coffee and put down a dish of food for her to ignore, then sat down to write my blog of yesterday's shoot. It seems this blog is more about the missions I go on with my camera than its original purpose, erudite (tongue snug in cheek) discussion of small business marketing and design. No matter. I like photography and I like design and marketing. It just so happens that I have more to say about photographs right now.

Moorhens and Stipes.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative.

So yes. I was up early, it was cold. Very cold. In fact as dawn broke, I looked outside and it was snowing - not much, just a little. Then it started raining. Quite a lot. Somewhere around nine my lovely other half got up and decided she wanted me to dig up some photographs that we could print and get framed. Disaster. I have buggered up my database of images. Something to fix when I can be arsed.

After messing around trying to locate the images, I looked outside and noticed that summer was back. Well, so it seemed, and because I was hyper grumpy, I decided to go for a walk forthwith! I'm glad I did.

As I often do, I set off through St Mary's Catholic Cemetary towards Scrubbs Lane and then through the industrial estate past Car Giant . I noticed the Brent council parking attendants ruining peoples' weekends, ticketing cars parked on the single yellow line. I mean, come on! Its Sunday! I can categorically state that the illegally parked cars were not creating a hazard, nor were they causing congestion. Revenue-raising swine.

Storm Approaching.
How much more stripped down do you want your photographs?

Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative.

When I'm on a shoot, I often feel like a hunter. There are so many similarities. Observation is key. Everything deserves scuitiny. My eyes dart around looking for targets. I suddenly stop and stare and may even raise my camera to my eye to better see my quarry. And yes, I sometimes get down on hands and knees, scrabbling forward or sideways to get the best framing position. People stop and stare. I'm used to it. I'd rather be a bit embarrassed about the scene I'm making to get my shot than to not get the shot or even worse, get a mundane shot of the same subject.

Railway Bridge Reflected.
This shot is of a bridge reflected in wooden hoardings painted with dark blue gloss.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative.

Today I was stared at by people as I photographed a wooden hoarding around a construction site; to them, just a piece of painted wood (dark, dark blue), to me, a series of warped reflecting panels delivering a superb abstract of a railway bridge.

I eventually made it down to the Grand Union Canal, intending to go as far as where the canal crosses about 60 feet up, over the North Circular. However, the towpath was cordoned off so I diverted through Willesden and then Harlesden, seeking out urban decay, irony and abstracts.

Prepare to Meet Thy God. Harlesden
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative.

The weather was showing signs of deterioration, but the strong, low, early afternoon sun was doing a fine job of lighting the foreground with dramatic storm clouds off to the north. Nice, golden light. Yummy. I wandered back in the direction from where I had come through the Park Royal industrial estates and came across The Old Torpedo Factory.

The Old Torpedo Factory, Park Royal
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative.

Eventually, I picked up the canal towpath I had used outbound earlier in the day and strolled back towards the direction of home, keeping an eye on the cloud/sun combination in the west and the very dark clouds massing in the North. I was well rewarded with some mega-dramatic light. Which meant it was time for my camera battery to die. Fortunately, using tricks discussed before, I managed to eke out the last few shots as the rain started to fall and the magic light was obliterated by the rain.

The Yellow Pole and the Approaching Storm. Car Giant, Willesden.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative.

The wind and rain picked up sufficiently to destroy my brand new Evening Standard umbrella within a minute of popping its cherry, forcing me to seek shelter in various doorways and rain shadows cast by buildings... But it was worth it. Dig the rest of the photographs.

Walk along the Regents Canal

Yesterday was one of those lovely, crisp winter days. The sky was clear, and looking out of my window, I knew that I'd never forgive myself if I stayed indoors, out of the cold. It was very cold.

Merge with the sky. King's Place is a new building beside the canal, housing amongst other things, a classical music venue and gallery spaces.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Convergence, King's Place.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

I have for a while been thinking about doing a walk home from King's Cross along the Regents Canal through Camden, so weighed down with my trusty Manfrotto tripod (ball head) and my bag of camera stuff, I took the overground train the Euston and zig-zagged through the streets, under St Pancras Station and eventually ended up at the Canal where my favourite old warehouses are being redeveloped into scenes of swankiness. They have helpfully placed displays with artist's impressions of the finished development. Tragic. The soul will be ripped out of those old buildings as they are "sanitised" by the architect's pen.

Warehouses awaiting conversion.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

But I will save ranting about that for another day. Perhaps when the redevelopment is complete. In the meantime, the lovely brick facades are still there to be appreciated in all their decaying glory.

Warehouses awaiting conversion.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

I absolutely love the Regent's canal - its part of the Grand Union Canal system and I have cycled along it from Limehouse Basin to Watford - or the other way to Brentford several times. Every time I've cycled, I have wished I'd brought my camera - but I cannot carry a SLR on my bike - too much stuff already what with my Camelbak etc. I have long intended to get a compact camera to take with me on cycle rides. I digress.

Water Under the Bridge. I like the simplicity of this image.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

So unencumbered by my bike and my Camelbak etc, I had my camera and decided that rather than go for the scenic or urban landscape shots that abound (in everyone else's camera) I'd do a little more on my abstracts project.

Languid Liquid 2.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

It was quite breezy so chances to photograph languid, oily ripples were few, but I did get some shots. I also got buildings, bridges (the underside) and the Maida Vale tunnel. The last of the autumn leaves were floating on the surface and created a gorgeous contrast between the blackness of the water and their own bright colours.

The House By the Canal.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Under the Bridge.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Naturally, as I was hitting my stride photographically and nearing Little Venice, my camera battery died. I think it was a combination of the cold and the fact that it is an ancient battery is why it died after only 60 exposures. I also believe my ancient lenses guzzle power. Growl.

Maida Vale Tunnel.
Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

I met up with my friends Ian and Heather and went to the Regent where I had a visitation from Mr Cider. Four times. Thanks Ian, thanks Heather!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The recession: Stop carping. Carpe Diem!

So there's a recession. The dreaded beast has officially arrived and all the businesses in the world are going to collapse. We'll all end up beggars and that's just the way life is.

No! This recession is going to be the making of many small businesses if they are prepared to swim against the current. I was reading Vincent Laforet's excellent blog about "The Perfect Storm" where he examines the impact of the economic crisis on photographers. He warns us that (particularly in America) business is starting to dry up and that many publications are likely to go to the wall. Budgets have been so severely cut that some publishers have NO advertising booked for 2009. That's the cold that America has and we're going to catch it.

But where some see gloom and doom, I see opportunity. I think this "perfect storm" will allow the savvy amongst smaller businesses to come out of the shadows and into the light. Now is the time for compact, agile businesses to go for the opportunities that were once the exclusive reserve of the big ticket players.

Be a piranha

If you've ever seen piranhas feeding, you'll notice how many of them make short work of the body they are feeding on, not by taking large bites, but by taking little chunks. And that's what small businesses need to do - take lots of little bites. While times are tough, remain a piranha, don't try to become a shark. Don't worry too much about expanding your business, because you'll also grow your overheads. If you're doing well, perhaps tweak your pricing upwards so you can save more money - you don't want to become a lumbering behemoth right now, but being cash rich would put you in a much more powerful position.

Twice as much marketing for half the budget

Increase your marketing activity if you want to keep busy or sell more product. You're a small business - a sassy street kid. Be street smart and hustle. Its time for clever, low cost marketing initiatives. Again, small businesses are far better positioned than the giants to seek out new opportunities and if you're smart, you can do it for almost free. But remember, you are growing your brand so make sure that whatever you do, you still reflect the values that underpin your brand, your corporate image. Low cost marketing should never be cheap and nasty - use an expert!

Lean on the desperate.

That sounds brutal. It is. But "the desperate" in the world of marketing are the media. Their revenues are falling dramatically. If you want to buy advertising space or time, now's your opportunity. Negotiate - you're in a powerful position.

Use a sniper's rifle.

Be clever with your targeting. I think that during a recession its better to go with more tightly targeted marketing rather than a scatter gun approach. Pick off prospects one-by-one and work harder to convert them.

Give them some love

The customers you won during the recession will stay loyal when its over, but only if you build on their loyalty. Keep on showing them some love. Keep in touch with them. Charm them. Keep it fresh.

None of the above are especially insightful or brilliant ideas. They are all dead simple. There are so many ways - most of them are common sense - for your business to flourish right now. Carpe Diem!

Friday, November 14, 2008


I have been doing my most annoying thing: Procrastinating. About everything. This is very irritating as it means that little is achieved as I dilly-dally. Weighing up options quickly morphs into making excuses not to do something and when I use that excuse, I end up with regrets. The answer is to get off my arse and get on with it! So I will.

First off, some very exciting news in the world of photography. Red have at last announced a much anticipated camera system. Only its not a system. It is a mere - wait for it - 2,251,799,813,685,248 systems. This announcement is huge news for photography and for film making as the cameras all shoot RAW format video and stills with staggering quality. I am in lust. No, more than that, I am a hopelessly smitten wreck of a man and will no doubt be found wandering naked and weeping through the cold wet streets of London muttering platitudes to the people at Red.

A note about Red. This is a company that knows how to market a new product. Having followed their progress since their earliest mock-up and rumour days, I have noticed how they have built up an incredibly loyal fanbase of potential customers and like me, wishful thinkers. Their approach to customers is fresh and honest. They tell us not to expect delays in availability, but to count on them. And until recently, they told us loud and proud on the front page of their website that those with a bad attitude will not be served. Us followers like that. We are a community, not just numbers.

Red's Head Honcho Jim Jannard, is very active in the Red community. He participates in the forums (fora for the purists). He is "one of us". Compared to the Canon, Nikon and Sony, et al ivory tower approach, Red is a shining light.

For more information and the usual well written, well thought out summary of this remarkable system, visit The Luminous Landscape.


This last weekend, I did two walks, both of which yielded some very satisfying photographs.

On Saturday I was invited to help celebrate my very good friend Ian's birthday at his place in Wapping. I decided, in spite of the almost torrential rain to hoik my camera along and bang off a few shots around Butlers Wharf on the South Bank. Unfortunately, I did see a few very good opportunities, but was unwilling to risk soaking my camera. It ain't weather sealed.

Eventually the rain eased and I started shooting:

An alley off Shad Thames near Tower Bridge
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

The sun broke through eventually...
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

After the rain...
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Once the rain had stopped, I crossed Tower Bridge and by one of its towers stopped to photograph the reflections. I got some very pleasing photographs - the surface and the ripples giving them a nice painterly look, the colours subdued and the contrasts high.

Together at the yellow line
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Alone at the yellow line.
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

The afternoon sun had by now broken through in the south west and with the moisture diffusion in the air, was casting a lovely warm golden light as I headed down the Thames towards Wapping. There is a lovely, usually unpopulated wharf just downstream of the entrance to St Katherine Dock with benches overlooking the Thames. Its one of my best kept secrets, as usually people walking along the river don't know that its there. The afternoon light was playing beautifully across the benches and the paving stones. Under exposing as I usually do in an attempt to preserve some highlight detail, I got these photographs. I'm rather pleased:

Benches, Capital Wharf
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Benches 2, Capital Wharf
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

On Sunday, I once again had to drop my very hard working other half at her office so I parked up there in the City and proceded towards Whitechapel. I was on the hunt for squalor and urban decay - I got it by the spadefull!

Milk and Cigarettes, Quaker Street, Spitalfields
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

I found, just off Brick lane, some derelict Victorian buildings. One had a Rickshaw cycle type thing dangling from its upper railings. I could not isolate it the way I wanted to but took some shots anyway before moving round to the front of the building.

Dangling Rickshaw, Whitechapel
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Moving round to the front, I was setting up my tripod when the front door of one of the crumbling houses opened, revealing a tall thin man and a short, (very short) dumpy old woman. I was a bit surprised - I had a hunch that the building was occupied, thanks to the notices to the bailiffs informing them of the rights of the current occupiers. But I never expected one of the squatters to be an old lady of seventy-something. She seemed very friendly and intelligent and started to tell me the history of the area and the buildings. I asked her if I could take her picture, but she declined, offering her 'son' as a subject instead, before toddling off along the cobbled street towards Brick Lane.

I Think His Name Was Andy, Whitechapel
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

I Think His Name Was Andy 2, Whitechapel
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Fuck Off Bailiff Scum!
An "Arts Collective's" HQ, Whitechapel

Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

I eventually arrived at Shadwell DLR and took the line to West India Quay by mistake, so walked the short distance to Poplar station where I could head further east. I Got off the train at Custom House and made my way down to the Royal Albert Dock, opposite London City Airport. There was a bitterly cold wind blowing and I was under dressed, having learnt the previous weekend that being warm = sweating a lot once I get going. There is a massive, modern office building opposite Royal Albert DLR station that still appears to have few, if any tennants. Its been like that for a few years. I'd love to work there with its view of City airport and the water. The tragedy of Royal Abert Dock is that there is very little going on there. There's a massive Chinese Restaurant and there's a rowing club. At the other end, there is a the University of East London campus and in the middle, two magnificent (derelict) Victorian buildigs. There's nothing moored there. No Dutch barges. Sigh.

I walked the length of the dock and then crossed over the Sir Steve Redgrave bridge, overlooking Gallion's Point Marina. Just the one Dutch Barge, an "Aak". Not my cup of tea. I headed for the River Thames and made my way upstream as the sky darkened.

Derelict Pier, North Woolwich
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

The rain started falling and thanks to the cold, my camera battery died so I sought shelter, eventually finding The Henley, a 1970s style pub, clearly West Ham United territory. I'm football agnostic but still made a show of not caring who was winning the Chelsea/Blackburn game on the big screen. The landlady allowed me to charge my battery and I had a Coke, looking enviously at the pints being drunk by Big Merv (who can, no doubt, do you a bit of a 'favour') and his mates. All good East End boys. There was a food van outside serving pie, mash and liquour. I'd just eaten my Tesco's submarine roll. Bugger.

After waiting a while for my lying battery charger to tell me that the battery was charged, (it wasn't) I collected up my goodies, under the watchful eyes of Merv and his mates and made my way out into the once again dry outdoors. I walked down past the Tate & Lyle factory, past the derelict Graving Dock Tavern and eventually found myself at the Thames Barrier Park.

Thames Barrier, London
Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Yet again, and after only a few photographs, my camera batter died so I decided to head back into town, pick up my car and go home. It was quite a trek to Canning Town station - the DLR stations on this stretch were all closed for maintenance. Eventually, footsore, thirsty and frustrated with my lack of battery I got to Canning town and took the DLR to Bank in The city. Where I got lost. For ages.