Looking back

It’s now three months since I completed my ten year long photo-a-day project, over on Photoblog. Since then I’ve unashamedly taken some time off, although it was a little while before I could do so without feeling guilty! I’m still taking plenty of photos, but it’s very liberating to know that if I have a particularly hectic day, or I’m simply running low on energy, I don’t have to find something to shoot.

Having had a little time to take stock, I’ve enjoyed the process of looking back through a decade of daily photos to see what I’ve learnt. I thought it might be an interesting exercise to share a selection of my favourite photos from the last ten years.


I shared a mere 429 images during 2008 - just a fifth of the number I’ve published in 2018. Of course, I didn’t actually begin shooting something fresh every day until November 2008, but I thought I’d pick a selection from the whole year in any case.


2009 saw me properly into the swing of shooting and posting every day. I’d shoot anything and everything, although wildlife and motorsport were already definite favourites.

So, what’s changed in a decade?

One thing that struck me was the change in the cameras I use. When I started my blog I shot with a Canon EOS 400D - an entry level DSLR. It did what I required of it then, but over the years I gradually upgraded, through faster, more powerful, DSLRs, culminating in a full frame Canon 5DIII in 2013.

Early in 2015 I bought my first mirrorless camera, a Panasonic GX7, and I quickly learned that bigger wasn’t always better. The smaller form factor was liberating and I gradually found myself using the smaller camera more than the bulky DSLR. As of early 2018 I’d ditched all my Canon gear and I now shoot with a duo of Panasonic cameras. They do different things well, so I choose my camera according to what I’ll be shooting on a given day.

Looking through my photos, I suspect most people would be hard pressed to tell which camera was used when - and that’s as it should be. After all photography should always primarily be about the photographer, not the gear used. However, there are photographic genres which demand a particular type of gear and I find the cameras I use now are the best tools for me.

Of course, the biggest change in ten years has been the quality of my pictures. Practising every day has had a very beneficial effect on my skills and eye. Yes, there’s plenty more still to learn, but I would like to think there’s been a distinct improvement in the quality of my pictures. 


This was the year where I began to challenge myself a little more. In August I went on a course, with photographer Richard Cannon, focusing on people photography - something I’d always shied away from. Even today I don’t count myself as a portrait photographer, but I do a lot more candid people photography, some of which still stems from that course.

I also made my first forays into airborne action photography, be it aircraft or birds. Both hold their difficulties, but I still feel that birds in flight are one of the greatest technical challenges for any photographer.


2011 saw me take my first real steps in street photography, a genre I enjoy more and more as the years go by. I love people watching and it’s a wonderful challenge to try and capture that extraordinary moment in an ordinary scene. Looking back I can see I still had a lot to learn about candid people photography but I’d made a start!


By 2012 I’m beginning to see more architecture creeping into my output, alongside a whole host of other genres. In the summer I went to two events at the London Paralympics, including the track and field events at the Olympic Stadium, and I loved being able to capture some of the action.

A change of scenery

2013 brought a big change in my working life, as we relocated from Sussex to Essex. Losing most of my school teaching gave me time to explore, and for a long while it felt like one big holiday! Over the years since our big move I’ve gradually built up my freelance work, so I now travel around the country much more than I used to. This has proved very beneficial to my photography as I’m fortunate enough to have a never ending supply of new places to photograph.



This was something of a eureka year for me. I attended a workshop with wildlife photographer Andy Rouse at the British Wildlife Centre, where the main focus of the day was our autofocus skills. As a result of that day I changed my technique, which I feel has had a long term beneficial effect on my work. I also came away from the day with one of my all time favourite images - Frodo the fox giving me a very knowing look!

Personal projects

I also started a new personal project in 2014, which continues to this day. A friend shared some photos of a church in the City of London and this spurred me to do some reading. I learnt that there used to be as many as 75 churches within the square mile of the City of London, although many were destroyed or damaged during both the Great Fire of 1666 and the Blitz. Even so, over fifty remain today and I decided to photograph all of them. It’s been a fascinating experience and I still have a dozen or so to photograph before I complete my project. I hope to create a self-published book once I’ve finished, so watch this space for more information when I get that far!


2015 was the year where I started to downsize my gear - mostly thanks to the National Trust! In 2014 I started a new job with the National Trust at Hatfield Forest. Having free access to all the National Trust’s beautiful places offered lots of photographic inspiration, resulting in many photos. Late that year I won the NT Staff and Volunteers photo competition, with prizes supplied by Panasonic. This led to me shooting with a Panasonic GX7 mirrorless camera, particularly when travelling, and I got hooked on the ‘less is more’ ethos of mirrorless cameras. Yes, a large DSLR camera will offer the ultimate image quality, but having the option of using a smaller, lighter camera made me more likely to be ready for unexpected photo opportunities and this is very liberating.


Architectural beginnings

By 2017 I’d been working for the National Trust for three years, alongside my freelance music work. During my travels I’ve visited dozens of NT properties, from nature reserves to stately homes, taking photos along the way. I’ve gradually come to love the challenge of telling the story of places I visit through the pictures I take, and 2017 saw a big increase in the quantity of architecture in my annual output.



This was the year when I finally ditched my Canon DSLRs entirely. January saw the release of the Panasonic G9. I could see this was the camera I’d been waiting for, which would allow me to shoot action - previously the Canon DSLR I’d kept alongside my mirrorless camera had had the edge when it came to speed.

Once I’d bought a G9, there was no need to run two different systems, so my old Canon 7DII went to a new home - with my Dad! I now shoot with a brace of Panasonic bodies (the G9 and a smaller GX8), both of which use the same lenses. This smaller set up is perfect for when I’m travelling and I swap between them, depending on the subject I’m photographing.

Where next?

Since finishing my prolonged 365 project, I’ve been lucky enough to be featured in Amateur Photographer magazine, which was a wonderful way to start the new year!

I’m still taking photos regularly, although the pace has slowed considerably since the start of 2019. Rather than pressuring myself to take photos every day, I aim to have at least one day a week when I take some high quality images. I’ve been focusing more on architecture photography and have plenty of plans for the coming months.

Would I do it again?

Never say never! However, I’m quite happy concentrating on quality rather than quantity for the moment. I think the slower pace has already resulted in an improvement in my photography and I hope this will continue. There are days when I miss using my camera so much, but it’s still always in my bag so there will continue to be unexpected photo opportunities that I grab spontaneously! Here’s to the next ten years….

All things must change....

Think about your life over the last decade for a moment. Is there something you’ve done every single day, without fail? I’m not talking about mundane tasks, like cleaning your teeth or doing the washing up, but genuinely creative activities. I bet most people would be hard pushed to think of anything, unless they work in a creative industry or perhaps play a musical instrument.

This November will mark a significant anniversary in my photographic life. Back in 2008 I started a year long photo a day project. Ten years on, I’m still at it. That means for 3652 consecutive days I’ve taken at least one fresh photo and posted it on my blog!

Where did it all start?

I started my Photoblog in December 2007, initially posting sporadically. Over the months that followed I began to share photos more regularly, although not daily.

The first photo I ever posted to my Photoblog, taken at Marwell Zoo. Not great art, but you’ve got to start somewhere!

As a musician I’m used to the concept of practising regularly. To hone your technical and musical skills it’s important to play your instrument as often as possible, and I figured there was no reason why that shouldn’t apply to photography too.

Eventually I slipped into the habit of shooting and posting every day and 8th November 2008 was the the last time I didn’t share a daily photo. I never intended to do a 365 project (shooting every day for a year) but it was something I slipped into, almost by accident!

One year in...

During that first year I learnt a lot of photographic survival skills. Inevitably there were times when I lost motivation, but somehow I always found something to photograph, no matter how mundane. I reached November 2009 and considered whether to stop there. Despite the inevitable ups and downs I figured I’d miss the regular shooting so I simply kept going, with no finish line in mind.

So what did I learn?

As I suspected, my skills did indeed improve with daily practice.

Looking back through my blog, there are plenty of shots from 2008 I wouldn’t dream of sharing now. Today I like to think my photos have more polish thanks to improvements in both my technical and creative skills. Shooting regularly has also led me to try new genres of photography, sometimes with surprising results. Who’d have thought I’d get into street photography, but it’s now one of my favourite genres!

A few years ago I’d never have had the courage to get this close to strangers on the street - now I love street photography!

Along the way I’ve learnt lots of useful practical skills, many of which are useful to all photographers, regardless of whether you’re trying to maintain a 365 habit like me.

Always carry a camera

This one’s obvious when you think about it. Many people do this in any case, with a camera on their smartphone. Despite this convenience I still prefer to use a camera if possible, so I’ve got into the habit of always carrying at least a camera body and one lens. Over the years my camera kit has changed quite substantially, from a Canon DSLR to a much smaller mirrorless setup. This certainly helps when it comes to portability and I no longer have to lug around a huge bag!

I would never have been able to take this photo of Bosham Harbour if it weren’t for my habit of always carrying a camera. Quite by chance I was in the right place at the right time and had my little mirrorless camera with me.

Shooting every day doesn’t need to be time consuming

People often assume that taking and sharing a photo every day consumes a large part of my day. Yes, there are days when I choose to take more time, but it doesn’t have to. For instance, today I took a quick snap of a cosmos flower in our garden, spent a couple of minutes tweaking it in Lightroom. Combine that with writing a little text and posting to Photoblog - all done in no more than 15 minutes. I probably spend longer drinking coffee each day!

Photos can be found anywhere

I’ve been known to photograph all sorts of unlikely subjects to fulfil my daily picture remit, from forks to manhole covers! If you try hard enough, there’s a photo to be found in anything and everything.

There are days when I find myself travelling home from work, pondering the fact that I haven’t yet touched my camera, and something will jump out at me. For instance, on Sunday I noticed the moon as I drove home from a rehearsal, so I stopped to take a photo. A little local knowledge meant I knew of a suitable lone tree nearby so I stopped again further down the road to shoot that. A few minutes spent in Photoshop to combine the two when I got home, and I had a moonrise picture which wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t opened my mind to the possibilities as I was driving.

The art of editing

And I don’t mean editing in Photoshop!

Some days I’ll go out for the whole day to take photos, coming home with perhaps hundreds of images on my memory card. As the years have passed I’ve become much more efficient, and ruthless too, when it comes to selecting which of those pictures will be shared on my blog.

When you start out, every picture seems valuable and you’re reluctant to bin anything. As my photographic eye has developed I’ve come to recognise what makes one photo more successful than another. Yes, there will be some pictures that make the cut simply because of the emotional relationship I have with the circumstances surrounding the moment I shot them. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you really want to develop you have to learn to be ruthless.

You only have to search Flickr to see people who share fifty incredibly similar photos, all telling the same story. I like to think I’ve moved away from that type of sharing now. Yes, I’ll come back from a shoot with several near-duplicate shots, but I’ll whittle them down to the very best one or two. This stops my audience getting bored and ensures I show just my very best work. I won’t necessarily delete all the rejects, but the world really doesn’t need to see dozens of almost identical meerkat photos!

A pair of courting fulmars from my trip to Orkney in March. I have lots of fulmar pictures, but this one made the cut because of the sense of tenderness between the two birds.

Not every photo has to be great art

Much as I’d love to share a piece of fine art every day, sometimes life just gets in the way. On those occasions I’ll find something that interests me, or perhaps document a little of what I’ve been doing that day.

This has got harder as the years have gone by and I’ve become pickier about the quality of my pictures. Some days I’ll come to the conclusion that I’m hopeless and my pictures are complete tosh. Then I look back to 2008 and see how far I’ve come and realise it doesn’t matter if I have the occasional off day! People often still find quite mundane photos interesting if there’s a story behind them, and sharing your failures can be helpful to others too.

I shared this picture recently to show how I digitise my film negatives. Not great art, but others found it helpful and it sparked quite a discussion on Facebook!

To continue or not....

This has been a difficult decision. At the end of year one I instinctively knew I’d miss it if I stopped there. Each time I reached an anniversary I thought long and hard as to whether to keep going. Five years might have been a sensible time to stop, but I was still enjoying myself so I kept going....

More recently the pressure of shooting every single day has begun to take its toll a little. My working life now consists of many more different elements (music, photography, writing and working for the National Trust to name a few) so I find myself juggling many more deadlines. I still enjoy photography enormously, but there are days, usually when I get home after a whole day of conducting somewhere far away, without a single photo in my camera when my heart sinks. I always find something to shoot though, even if I’d rather flop on the sofa with a cuppa!

Ten years seems a natural time to call a halt on shooting and posting every single day - after all, there are many crimes for which you’d do less time!

Why stop now?

Over the last few years I’ve been working on a long term project, photographing the dozens of churches in the City of London. I’ve really enjoyed this and would like to have more time to devote to projects. Freeing myself from the constraints of shooting something fresh every day will help with this.

The geometric staircase at St. Paul’s Cathedral - part of my City Churches project

I’d also like to work towards my LRPS qualification. For that I need to have a group of ten really strong images to display. Yes, I could dive into my sizeable archive for these, but they wouldn’t necessarily make up a coherent collection. By giving myself a little more free time I can really plan these images and make sure I achieve a better quality than I would if I shot things in a hurry, as I so often do.

Another recent enthusiasm is shooting on film again after a gap of fifteen years. I’ve got a small collection of film cameras I use and I’m really enjoying the results. However, film isn’t as instantaneous as digital. That means if I’m shooting on film I also have to carry a digital camera to take extra photos to share that day. I’m relishing the idea of having the occasional day when I shoot just with a film camera. Don’t worry - I’ll still share the photos (if they’re any good) but it may take a week or two before I get them developed!

A photo from a recent foray into film, taken on an old Olympus Trip 35 from the 1970s

What next?

Fear not, I won’t be disappearing from my Photoblog entirely!

Once I reach the ten year mark, on 9th November, I’ll still be posting new pictures very regularly. I may miss the odd day, and it may be that I don’t necessarily publish images the day they were taken.

I will still carry a camera with me everywhere I go as you never know when a photo opportunity will arise. After all, fortune favours the prepared mind, as Louis Pasteur once said!

Will I ever go back to my 365 project? Never say never - but I think it’s time for a break for now. Nothing in life should remain the same forever, especially not photography!