Travel Photographer of the Year Awards 2016

Delighted and honoured to win the Portfolio award for 'Natural World' in the Travel Photographer of the Year last week. The portfolio of four pictures is taken from my ongoing personal project 'The Lake' - you can see a wider selection from the project on the website: craigeaston.com > travel and landscape series > The Lake.

What the judges said: "Craig's images caught the eye of the judges in the earlier online rounds of the judging but it was only when they saw the sumptuous tones and detail in the prints that their true beauty and quality was fully appreciated."

The prints will be exhibited as part of the TPOTY exhibitions to be held in 2017:

Hull, City of Culture, 18th May - 30th June

Greenwich, London, 4th August - 3rd September

 

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The Tay Valley, Scotland

Amidst all the turmoil surrounding the EU referendum here in the UK last week, I was fortunate to spend a few days up in Scotland continuing my series of large format landscapes. This time The Upper Tay Valley in and around Crianlarich....

With 04.30 sunrise and sunset at 22.30, they were long days. Thanks to the good folk at the Crianlarich Hotel who looked after me with my odd time keeping!

A pint of the Colonsay Brewery IPA was a welcome treat at the end of the day...

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Myanmar

Back from a fascinating trip to Myanmar in December. Amazing country, lovely people and a privilege to have the opportunity to work there. A longer blog post will follow with the commissioned pictures once they have been used by the client, but here's a little taster...easton_myanmar_01easton_myanmar_02 copyeaston_myanmar_03easton_myanmar_04easton_myanmar_05easton_myanmar_06easton_myanmar_07easton_myanmar_08

One from the archive....Polaroid Type 55

Just came across this in the studio from an old polaroid Type 55 neg. (fantastic film and much missed) Shot on a Sinar 'Norma' 5x4 believe it not - really a studio camera but I used to take it on the road sometimes..... Scouse wit with roadsigns.....

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In the far, far north and west

More from my ongoing Scotland work, this time in the far north and west highlands and islands. The Summer Isles from Achiltibuie...

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Drying the peat for winter fuel, Isle of South Uist...easton_south_uist_01An older image - 'Storm approaching Sandwood Bay'... easton_sandwood_01 One of my favourite landscapes in the world - the mountains of Assynt in the North West Highlands...easton_nw_highlands_04 easton_nw_highlands_03 easton_nw_highlands_02 easton_nw_highlands_01 The wonderful ceramicist Lotte Glob in Durness, her sculpture croft is a gem in this far flung outpost....easton_lotte_glob_durnessThe Knoydart peninsula.... easton_knoydart_01 The Paps of Jura, seen from the Isle of Colonsay....easton_isle_of_jura_01The Isle of Barra.... easton_isle_of_barra_01

International Color Awards

Good News this morning from The International Color Awards in Los Angeles.... Winner 'Honor of Distinction' in the Portraits category for my image of 'Charley' from the series 'Rockabilly Nights' plus 'Honorable Mentions' for three further photographs in the Americana and Sports categories.

I'll have to watch myself with all the u's missing from 'color' and 'honor' - might turn into an American!

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shouldn't forget two other nominations ('portraits' and 'people') for the Scooter Club...

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For Sale

A few images from my little series 'For Sale' published in the Independent on Sunday Review yesterday. Shops and online shopping is soooo last year! I reckon you could just about get everything you need by the side of the road - even one or two things you didn't know you needed. Tank anyone?

Stormy Weather - more 'Dreich'

Images from a recent trip in the West of Scotland. Who'd want to be anywhere else? from my ongoing series 'Dreich' - all made in two sizes:

46” x 34.5” on 50” x 40” paper, C-type print on Fuji Crystal Archive: edition of 5 plus 2 AP

22” x 16.5” on 24” x 20” paper, C-type print on Fuji Crystal Archive: edition of 10 plus 2 AP

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Luerzers Archive - 200 Best Ad Photographers Worldwide

Latest Luerzer's Archive arrived in the post this morning. As ever, a fascinating and eclectic mix of where commercial photography is at now. Here's a few you may have seen before....

Paris and Dusseldorf with InterContinental Hotels

So....that was fun.... Just back from Dusseldorf - the last of the three Travel Photography Masterclass weekends with InterContinental.

Und.....es regnete.

But we've been getting used to that and it did give us an opportunity each time to look at shooting in bad weather (I'm worried I might get a repution) After all if you've gone for a weekend away your not going to hang out in the hotel just because of a bit of rain are you?

Here's a few pics from the weekends in Paris and Dusseldorf. Once again a real mix of guests from as far a field as the US and Peru and again with a broad range of experience and interests, so it was great to chat, look at ideas and ways of seeing and challenge a few accepted 'rules' (there aren't any!). And whilst some guests wanted to take better pictures of their husband/wife/kids/girlfriends etc others wanted to get away from a rut they felt they were in and we even got into discussing the Dusseldorf school and it's influence on contemporary photography.

First up though, I'm must mention the chef at the hotel in Dusseldorf who, on my arrival, had made a chocolate 'photograph' of the skyline for me. Complete with picture frame and set on the table in my room - cool eh?

The Madness of the Dusseldorf Christmas market...

Here's the rather grand 'Le Grand' in Paris....

and finally....won't someone mention to the Dusseldorfers that their buns are a bit small? (but the Alt beer is fab!)

New Tourism Campaign for Liverpool Albert Dock

It's been a busy few weeks with the InterContinental Masterclasses, finishing off a large tourism campaign for Mid Wales (weather was so good in the summer, we had to postpone the second half of the shoot - might have been accused of misleading people!) and this big shoot for Liverpool Albert Dock. Entitled 'Magic in the Air' the campaign was devised and art directed by Brigid Benson with the brief 'to show Liverpool and the Albert Dock in a new light.' Her concept was beautifully simple, yet inspired: light the dock from the inside.

Now, the Albert Dock is a BIG place - the largest group of Grade 1 listed buildings in the UK. It is beautifully illuminated at night from the outside, but the inner quay with all the bars, restaurants, galleries and museums is dark. Our task was to illuminate the inside to a level where it glowed like a football stadium at night creating the desire for those on the outside to find out about all the excitement on the inside.

Many recce's, meetings, negotiations, permissions, help from volunteers and crew, setting up 55kW of flood lighting and 700m of festoon lighting later our shoot week arrived. So did the rain!

Now, the Albert Dock and Liverpool Waterfront is a very well known location and an iconic image of the city. It is usually shot from across the River Mersey in Birkenhead (admittedly a shot I have done previously too) but the brief this time was to come up with something new and exciting. Brigid and I crawled across rooftops all over the city looking at various vantage points and we decided on three separate viewpoints to shoot by day and by night.

First up we shot across Salthouse Dock towards Albert Dock with the River Mersey and the Wirral peninsula behind. The daytime shot was 'animated' with help from all the staff and volunteers at the Liverpool Watersports Centre who came down to sail boats around and around Salthouse Dock for us.

...and the same view by night with the electric meters going wild on the inner quay!

The second shot incorporated more of the iconic waterfront: The port of Liverpool Building, one of the 'three graces' that form the centrepiece of the waterfront (we were shooting from the Liver Building so that's not in shot!!), the new Museum of Liverpool and the Echo Arena and BT Convention Centre in the background.

and last but not least... 'The Flagship' - Brigid's mad idea was to bring the flagship ZEBU into the middle of the Albert Dock and light it with festoon lighting all around and up and down the masts. Big thanks to all the volunteers and crew and especially the 'top men' who scaled the heights to make the vision a reality. Charlie the skipper had to come down from Whitehaven to manoeuvre the ship into position and then did an amazing job trying to hold it there still enough for us to do the shot. Usually in a week of bad weather I'm happy as long as it's windy. On this occasion of course we weren't allowed any wind either - needed to hold the ship steady for as long as possible and hopefully get the reflections too. All worked out in the end, but there were a few nervous moments for the client (I remained calm and confident all along - honest!!)

Travel Photography Masterclasses at InterContinental Hotels

I am running a series of Masterclasses at InterContinental Hotels this autumn. Next up is Paris this coming weekend 2nd and 3rd November. The events are free of charge and available to guests staying on the InterContinental Hotel Weekend  Escapes Package. Pre-booking is essential via www.intercontinental.com/weekendescapes and there are just a few places left.

Each day starts with a meeting over coffee at the hotel where we explore some ideas and ways of looking which will hopefully bring a new perspective to guest's travel and holiday photographs. Then armed with expert location tips on the cities hidden gems from the hotel's concierges, guests are free to explore the city and put some of the ideas we've discussed into practice. Later in the day, I meet up with the guests in the city at a pre-arranged time, look at some pictures and have some one-to-one time photographing the city and I shoot some portraits of the guests at our chosen location. In the evening there will be another opportunity to look at the work we've done during the day and talk further.

The first session in London last month was great fun despite the pouring rain and heavy grey skies (it did give us opportunities to look at shooting in bad weather - see one of the guests series of St Pauls below) and the next two are Paris le Grand: 2/3 November and Dusseldorf 30 Nov/1Dec.

For more information please email: WeekendEscapesExperience@ihg.com

Here's a few pics (some mine, some guests) from the first weekend in London....

It would be great to see you in France or Germany.

Travel Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Had a lovely evening at the Travel Photography of the Year Awards Ceremony and Private view last week. The show is being held at the Royal Geographic Society in London from 12th July - 18th August and a private view was held in the gardens on a lovely sunny evening last Wednesday. The 300 guests were treated to some special whisky cocktails courtesy of Cutty Sark and although I was dashing off later that same evening for a 5 day shoot in Wales, I did manage one and it was delicious. Cutty Sark and Appletize - perfect for these warm summer evenings. If you think you don't like whisky, try it.

The show was organised by Chris and Karen Coe and their team at TPOTY and the prints were made by Steve at Genesis Imaging in West London.

The presentation took place in the Ondaatje Theatre and we were treated to a lovely slide show of winners and other entries over the 10 years of TPOTY - I must say that seeing the standard of the other photographs in the film and on display made me very honoured to have been selected as the winner. You can see a selection and hear the judges here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23226029

IMG_1515I was presented with a beautiful trophy designed and made by glass designer Jane Beebe...

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...and met some lovely people from all around the world.

I was especially pleased to have the chance to meet and say congratulations to Sam Fisch who was over from New York City for the opening. Sam was presented with his trophy for Young Travel Photographer of the Year, an award he won for a beautiful set of pictures of horses and cowboys shot in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Well done to him. If he's this good when he's fifteen......

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Final thanks to Wayne Pilgrim, my assistant who took the pictures above whilst he was with me on the evening so that we could make a sharp exit west - It was well after midnight when we arrived and I had him climbing the Brecon Beacons the next morning in 30°C - I think he's still talking to me.

Uisge Beatha: Water of Life

Just back from two days up in Scotland. Chris Coe, one of the founders of the 'Travel Photographer of the Year Awards' very kindly took me up to Glasgow to meet the people at Cutty Sark Whisky where, with the expert guidance of Master Blender Kirsteen Campbell, I was to blend my own whisky as part of the TPOTY prize. I've always been fascinated by the Whisky story and have photographed in a number of distilleries over the years so the opportunity to learn about the blending process and tour the bottling plant was a honour beyond words.

So...cue the pictures.

First up, Kirsteen in the blending room, all wood panelled the way it should be - apparently the room was moved piece by piece from the original blending room in a beautiful old Georgian building in the city to the modern HQ and bottling plant up the road.

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The alchemy begins....

Cutty Sark is blended from a mixture of fine grain whiskies and famous single malts such as the Macallan and Highland Park. Chris and I were taken through a 'nosing' and tasting test with Kirsteen explaining and demonstrating how the different liquids affect the blend. The range of flavours and nuances was extraordinary - whether it was the different grains, the level of smokiness imparted by the burning of peat under the malting floor or type of cask in which the whisky has been matured. Of the samples we tried I was astonished at the difference the same whisky exhibited after maturing for the same length of time in either American oak casks or Spanish oak casks - totally different flavours imparted from the different wood.

To me the difference between the grain whisky and the malt whisky was very identifiable and so we began by blending only the malts to establish the basic taste that appealed to me. Like a scientist in the coolest science lab you're ever likely to see, Kirsteen led me by the hand, blending 10 mls at a time of various single malts to get to a really tasty blend with just the right level of smokey peat and a slight sweetness from a malt matured in American oak casks.

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Then it was a question of balancing the flavour of the malts with the grain whisky to bring a smoothness to the overall blend. CEWhisky60

OK, here I am pretending to know what I'm doing (but fooling nobody, I imagine)...

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With the vast range of whiskies, casks, strengths, peatiness, etc. etc. the blending process is an art that takes years to learn. Of course, I was never going to be an expert in one day, but it was made a lot easier for me by the fact that we blended from a narrower range of malts selected by Kirsteen based on the type of whiskies I like.

Each different variation we worked on was marked down in chalk on the slate worktops and only with constant comparison with previous versions was I able to arrive at something which I am really proud to call my own. I do have a note of every malt, type of cask and quantity of each that went into it, but of course I'm going to claim that as a 'commercial secret' so don't ask. Suffice to say it tastes bloody lovely!!

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With Kirsteen and my final blend... CEWhisky66

and the little sample bottles that Chris and I were given to take away with us whilst Kirsteen makes up the full quantities for bottling. CEWhisky73

An enormous thank you to Chris and Karen Coe at Travel Photographer of the Year and to Wendy, Jason and Kirsteen at Cutty Sark.

What a privilege!

Craig

all photographs ©Chris Coe 2013

Look what arrived in the post this morning.....

Well, how about that. A BIG thank you to the good people at Cutty Sark Whisky who have very kindly sent me a lovely package to 'introduce me to the brand', before I head up to Scotland to meet Kirsteen Campbell, the Master Blender, to learn all about the whisky blending process and to shoot a commission for them. All part of the TPOTY prize and something I'm really looking forward to. In the first instance however, I think I better unscrew these caps and begin the voyage of discovery... Cutty_Sark