Musings and Meanderings of a Meath photographer

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10th May, 2014 - Bloody hell, almost a year since my last post, all of my fans (fan) will be very annoyed...

It's going to be a short one, last week I:

Put on this:


To get on this:


To go to this:


And went to this:


To take this:


23rd June, 2013 - Bloody hell - it's almost the end of June...

Got a last minute call on Friday to photograph a group of kids who took part in a school production of Cinderella. I was absolutely knackered from a mad week and Friday was supposed to be a day off, no problem, grabbed the gear and when I got there, they were all waiting for me. They looked so good and colourful and gave me a big friendly reception that I thought I would have a bit of fun with them. There was a nice pool of light coming in from an overhead window and I thought rather than use this as a focal point and get them to stand in it I would ask them individually to stand in front and take an individual portrait of each of them. I put down a piece of paper where I wanted them to stand and when each one came to the paper they asked me 'What do you want me to do?', I thought it would be a bit of fun to tell them 'Do what you like, I don't mind' I'm glad I did, I got this peach of a photo, look how incredibly self-assured and relaxed this kid is....


18th February, 2013 - I used to never like brussels sprouts but I do now.

Towards to end of the year I get a call from Paddy the Picture Editor to go and photograph a guy from a nearby vegetable suppliers with some brussels sprouts as part of a feature the Irish Examiner were doing for Christmas. The Examiner have such a great appetite for photos as well as good sense of humour I really had to think of a good slant on this one to try and surprise them. It's all fine and dandy having great ideas if your subject doesn't share your enthusiasm, however when I arrived at the Meade Potato Company I was more than pleasantly surprised. They were delighted that The Examiner were coming to town and Roy White and Jenni Meade pulled out all the stops and told me whatever I wanted to do they would try and accommodate me.
I outlined my ideas to Roy and he was really up for it, Jenni went off to boil some sprouts (to ensure they were the correct colour for photography) and I asked Roy to get as many sprouts as we could, cut out a square from a cardboard box, that he could fit his head through, re-arrange some tables that we could hopefully surround him with sprouts. The forklift driver sprang into action.
Here are some behind the scenes photos from the assignment:

Roy lines up boxes of sprouts:

A quick rebuild as some of the bags fall down:


Roy tries hiding behind crates as his co-worker prepares a photo for Facebook


More co-workers call over to enjoy Roy's humiliation:


Lighting is fine and I try using a spoon, doesn't quite work...

And here is the final shot chosen by the Examiner (reproduced with kind permission)

1st October, 2012. New York Times, New York Times - so good I mentioned them twice

Getty Images assigned me recently for the major American Football College game - Navy vs. Notre Dame at the Aviva stadium, never having covered American Football before there were two things to do:

1. Find out in a day or two before the game works how it actually works

2. Throw caution to the wind and cover like I would any other sporting event - react to the action unfolding

I tried researching on the net how the game worked but gave up after a few hours and took option 2, as it happens it was the better choice, as I had two photos used by the New York Times:


I also had a photo used by the Chicago Sun Times, which for me was a bit special, I was covering the game from all angles and decided at one stage to go to one of the stands to get another perspective, I brought with me a few different lenses, one of which was a lens I bought two years ago, a 70-300mm f5.6, this lens is one of the cheapest lenses you can buy, it wouldn't exactly be considered a prime or a top of the range lens, it is made of light plastic, doesn't have great light gathering abilities or focus ability for that matter, but it was an emergency lens I had to buy when my €7,000 euro lens was being repaired a few years ago.

I didn't have a lot of time to spare and when I got up to the very back and highest position of the stand noticed that the southfacing stand had the word 'Irish' spelled out in very large letters on the pitch and thought how great it would be to get a shot of a player or two running at an angle over a closeup of some of the letters, I didn't have to wait long, not only did a player come into shot, but Navy's Shawn Lynch ran into the spot chased by two Notre Dame's defenders, turned in my direction to catch a ball, caught it, and got a touchdown.This is the excitement a photographer feels when they think they have a good shot, you just hope the photo is in focus, checked the camera and three frames out of about 7 were in focus and I was thrilled when the Chicago Sun Times used it. And here it is:



20th July, 2012. Don't forget your shovel Nikon 500mm lens if you want to go to work

The email came in from Bryan, Picture Editor of the Sunday Business Post and as I skimmed it on the phone I thought 'this is gonna be jaw-dropping, wow, can't wait and it went something like this:


"Master Jumper with the Black Knights, Captain James Cahill (in uniform,
parachute unfurled), pictured beside the high speed Sbach 342 (the only
aircraft of its kind in Ireland).

We have permission from the owner of the SBach aircraft to photograph
the plane and Captain James Cahill (Master Jumper, Black Knights Defence

Forces Parachute Team) is available to take part in this photograph on
Friday, July 13. He's seeking formal permission from the Defence Forces
Press Office, which shouldn't be an issue.

The SBach plane is located in a hangar at Midland Aviation, near the
village of Abbeyshrule in County Longford (via Edgeworthstown and
Carrickboy) - about 80-90 minutes from Dublin city.

Captain Cahill is stationed in Athlone, so Abbeyshrule would be
convenient for him to travel to as well.

I've attached photographs of the Sbach 342 and a photograph showing
Captain Cahill from our '50 Day Countdown' picture (he's on the right).

I'm going up in a plane with an expert parachutist who is going to do exactly what I want him to do and as it's for the Business Post they are going to go out of their way to be helpful, this is going to be a highlight of the year...then I re-read the email and was disappointed to see the following:

Unfortunately, the pilot of the Sbach is on holidays abroad (Dave
Bruton), but he has given his full permission to use the aircraft in the photo"

Still, it had the makings of a good photo, so from the excellent directions I got from Sarah at Engage PR, off I scuttled to where the plane was at the Midland Aviation Hangar, can't remember being to Abbeyshrule before but it's a real gem of a spot in what seems like the middle of somwhere, and to get to the hangar involved driving over a canal bridge, along a canal on a laneway not much wider than a cycle path, wee bit hairy in my pride and joy - the Navara.
Met the guys (Shane and Sean) in the hangar who could not have been more enthused, wow they loved that Sbach plane, the first thing Shane said was 'Anywhere you want the plane and at any angle, just let me know, we'll do anything we can to help. When you are a photographer on an assignment and are met with such co-operation the hairs on your camera fingers tingle, you know this is going to work out, you feed off the enthusiasm of those offering help and start getting excited, we had a coffee and some biskwits (as that Panda calls them) and waited for the Black Knight to arrive (easy on the Month Python Holy Grail inferences there please).
Captain James Cahill arrived as the Shane and the lads radioed ahead for clearance to use the runway, I brought all my gear over and setup my remote lights and cameras, making sure they could be quickly removed from the runway should any lost pilot decide to make an emergency landing on my gear. Speaking of gear, I don't always bring my sportsgun the Nikon 500mm lens but figured that I might get use of the full runway and it would be great for compressing the distance between Captain Cahill and the plane.
Captain Cahill sure was the guy to send out for this assignment, fit as a fiddle, up for it big time and I'm sure he fed off the excitement of Shane and Sean because he offered to strike any pose, stand anywhere I wanted and help out in any way. Here is the fruits of our labour, my favourite pic from the shoot and the one that ended up in the paper:

Click on the photo to see the best of the rest. Thanks for tuning in...The air show takes place this Sunday (22nd July) for more details go to


5th July, 2012 - 50 Shades of Brown - not sexy at all...

Lucky for me I have been very busy for the last few months and haven't had much time to update my blog, so here goes, today's assignment was definitely one of the more interesting ones. A resident of the nearby Bellinter House hotel flushed an 8,000 Euro engagement ring down a toilet (accidentally of course) in the hotel, she rang the national broadcaster to see if anybody could try and fish it out of the hotel septic tank, a massive tank it was too. Three companies came to the (attempted) rescue - Bluestream water services, Panda Waste and Dynorod. They all got together today and for free spent all day wading trough every variation of human waste trying to locate the ring.

Their good humour and professionalism made the day fly as they tried everything, they ended up extracting all fluid waste and used a metal detector to go through about 3 feet of solid waste, but to no avail, I felt so sorry for the girl who lost the ring and it was difficult to get a photo that summed up the day, however one of the last photos I took I think nailed it - the disappointed look on the face of Dynorod's Barry Benson as he was hoisted up from a section of the tank covered in human waste tells the story, good guys and fair play to them, they did their damndest and tried every possible solution but it wasn't to be.



5th May - 2012 (I think - I have jetlag)

When my wife and I decided to make a long overdue return trip to Japan (I lived here from 1996-2000) to visit our in-laws my first predicament was should I bring my camera gear and take lots of photos or should I treat it as a holiday and get some rest after a busy few months. we decided the latter would be the more appropriate. Instead I brought along my little Fuji-X10 camera, which sneakily produces very high quality images suitable for print in newspapers and magazines.

The plan to rest went well for most of the week - I should add that Japan must surely be a photographer`s paradise, apart from the multitude of camera shops it is a fascinating culture to observe, idiots in high vis jackets don`t accost you and prevent you from taking photos and nobody really minds you taking their photo, a polite wave of the hand is sufficient to make you stop. When I was last here four years ago camera technology was still on the up and night photography was still really only possible with a tripod. Today the technology has changed beyond belief, you can now walk around and take quick snatch and grab photos perfectly sharp and with acceptable levels of grain at night. 

Tonight after dinner my wife and I went for a coffee and on the way home in the Japanese suburb of Tama Plaza, in the space of less than an hour I took the following photos, none of them have been Photoshopped, they are straight from the camera in their raw state, I got such a buzz from taking them. Hope you like them and here`s a big `kanpai` to Fuji for creating such a great camera. My personal favourite is the one of the chef realising he is being photographed.



7th April, 2012 - On Assignment for The Irish Times - Trim Balloon Fiesta

Friday 5:15pm, dinner half-made for the two returning ladies (one 17months old, one not 17months old ;-), get a call from Irish Times Picture Editor looking for a 6 column photo for page 3 of balloons or a balloon preparing for the weekend's Trim Balloon Fiesta at Trim Castle, County Meath. Grab the gear, hop in the jeep and head for Trim. I have photographed balloons several time for different papers and got to know one of Ireland's most foremost and enthusiastic balloonists Joe Leahy. Give Joe a call to see if he is, by any chance in Trim with balloon, well, he is in Trim, having his dinner but his balloon is at home, he also told me the wind was running at 12 knots which was too much for the balloon, no problem, we could shoot the burners.

Trim is also home to World Ballooning champion Pauline Baker, one of the main organisers, couldn't get through to Pauline. Joe started ringing balloonist friends to see could they rustle up a balloon from somewhere.

I got to the event site in Trim, called my picture editor to update him and began waiting for news, nothing for an hour, in the meantime got a call from The Daily Telegraph looking for photos from Nina Carberry's wedding for their weekend magazine - no issue, using my phone and my online archive I was able to setup a private gallery, send them the password and let them download high res images, time was ticking away and 8pm was my deadline, Joe called back around 7:15 to say he was on the way with a crew and could be in Trim in 20 mins, texted picture editor to update him. Left the event site to do the shoot at Trim Castle across the road.

The goal at this stage was to get a good flame shot with the outline of the castle in the background, it was too bright for the shot I was after:


So I set the camera on manual to darken the sky and castle and while Joe and his crew got the burners and basket ready, I positioned my wireless flash (Pocketwizards and Nikon Flash) because I knew from photographing gas burners that the operator's face would be too dark so I wanted flash to light her face (in this instance it was Joe's daughter Emily), So I got the castle and background the way I wanted them:



Next step, get the burners going for a light test:


I found the flame a little too bright and you can see from Joe's face why I wanted to use flash, he is definitely too dark for newsprint.For the next photo I tested the flash and was happy enough with portraits but flame still a little bright:



Also tried a portrait shot:


But the brief was a 6column wide photo so back to horizontal,


 I liked this photo's lighting but preferred Emily looking away from the camera:


Much better, Emily is better lit, I also dialled down the flash by over 1 stop but the flame is a bit wimpy and the castle a bit too dark, this is the one I liked best:


Emily is nicely lit by flash located to the right of camera (the flash head was on full manual zoom so I was only concentrating on Emily and excluding the basket), there is some colour in the sky and the outline of the castle makes for a decent backdrop. And here it is in today's Irish Times:


28th February, 2012 - EvenCowgirls get the Blues (well, denims anyway) - Brilliant Beef farmer Sarah Guilfoyle



I was very lucky to photograph some extremely optimistic farmers last week for a feature for the Agenda magazine that comes with the Sunday Business Post (, farming has become sexy recently as they are enjoying a bit of a boom at the moment and their optimism certainly rubbed off on me. I try to spend a bit of time with my subjects to get the best out of them and to give my editors (hi Bryan!) a good choice, it isn't always practical or easy and doesn't always work out as people I usually photograph are usually working. However, Sarah, Kevin and Eric were so giving of their time. This is my favourite photo from all three shoots.

23rd February, 2012 - Never work with animals or children (except sometimes!)


My first visit to an animal sanctuary - the National Exotic Animal Sanctuary ( and one species I was most keen to see were the iguanas. After meeting Seamus the Goat, Hudd the Emu, various donkeys, Cleo the boa constrictor, thoroughbred horses (yes, even these animals are cruelly treated) and one of my favourites = Jacob the Suay sheep that looks like and thinks he's a goat, I came to face to face with my favourite - an Argentinian Lizard called a Tegu, she was so beautiful, like a small comodo dragon, she loved playing up to the camera and even went so far as to give me a good look at her tonsils...

8th February, 2012

Front page of today's Irish Examiner of top jockey Nina Caberry's wedding to Ted Walsh Junior, delighted with their choice of photo, as this was a private wedding with an official photographer (well known racing photographer Pat Healy) there was much press interest in it, always keen to get something different for the Examiner, The Meath Chronicle and the Racing Post I was on full alert, myself and the waiting press were told the couple would pose for a quick press photo afterwards and we would be on our merry way. I really didn't just want the posed outside the church door photo but had to take it as an insurance option, which I did but when I saw one of the guests throwing confetti from the side, I grabbed my chance and my efforts paid off, happy looking bride, front page of The Examiner and The Meath Chronicle...




30th January, 2012

Myself and staff from the Meath Chronicle were having difficulty tracking down a subject for their upcoming issue of their latest magazine (Inspire), we were dealing with his tour manager, who agreed that he would do an interview and photos, then toing and froing with his PR Company, three of us working on it at this stage, it was very frustrating, if he had agreed not to do it from the start, that would be fine, but stringing us along was both unprofessional and a waste of a lot of people's time. In the end the PR contact said that his shows were all sold out and that he didn't need the publicity.

I was disappointed for my colleagues as they were left without a promised front page subject, I was then sent on another assignment to photography 79 years old nun Sister Paschal who raises a lot of money for charity through her walking fundraisers all over the world, she has being doing this for many years and it was such a pleasure to photograph a person so full of energy, goodwill and a fantastic sense of humour, she was so giving of her time and brilliant, I hope she is happy with her photos, hard to pick a favourite, but this is one of them:


Irish celebrity = 0

Sister Paschal = 10


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