Wasting light…a vox populi for future events

The internet is a place of free promotion for every photographer. It is easy to use, the expenses are relatively low and it is the way to act ‘big’, without any territorial limits.

However, is this enough for any more ambitious, serious and successful photographer? Can photography be fully experienced over the monitor or one needs a high quality, big sized print out? Should such photographer also exhibit in galleries? And if so, should these galleries specialise in photography?

And this is where the following question pops up: What if this space doesn’t exist in your city? Who should take this into account? Is this only the responsibility of city councils and their departments for culture, or and the ever secretive Arts Council? Or do you believe that some people from the photographic industry, such as producers and distributors of photographic equipment, specialised photographic magazines and famous photographers, should get involved in solving this problem too?

Send your answers to ian@slaughterhousestudios.co.uk and the best submissions will be published throughout June and will lead to a petition I am working on to Government’s Culture Minister, amongst others.

© Ian F Simpson c/o SSLtd 2010

A call to arms

Slaughterhouse Studios’ Blog Site, Medium Rare is not just there for promoting the studio. It is also here for artists, critics, practitioners, film makers, media folk, photographers and generally people who have something interesting to talk about who propose creative, personal and original high quality work which is recognised and appreciated in our industry.

It was designed to bring a personal vision of creative presentation over the Internet. A broad brush approach to marketing the studio and other companies linked to Slaughterhouse Studios Ltd (SSLtd). The idea was to propose something well designed, really fast and simple to display. A resource, with a lot of features to help the creative business sector to promote their work and share their passion, points of view and knowledge to other members. New technologies and amazing effects are interesting for films and video games, but a web gallery should help a body of well adjusted creative types to be exhibited to the rest of the world in the best possible way, and seen by as many people as possible. Many wonderful communities exists over the Internet and each one has its specificity, its public and fans. No one can pretend to be the best as human tastes are – still – very personal.

The vision and concept is to bring an emotive dialog between creators and visitors, visionaries and voyeurs helping them within the features of this blog site to comment and open free debate about the featured articles and images, and to meet and network each other

Medium Rare being a community, anyone can participate in advanced sharing, such as requesting comments, public or private, appreciations, working for one of our weekly photographic contest or manage his or her own projects other members can belong to. If someone needs a fresh pair of eyes on critiquing work or in need of a team of people to help with delivery of some kick ass work this blog will help, in private or via the forums, or directly during a picture specific discussion. All members are here to observe the works of art, but not necessarily for the same reasons. It is important to respect everyone’s creations. Please take time to write a message, and re-read it, in order to be as clear in meaning as you would like other’s messages to be about your own work .

I am also looking for a guest blogger this week, so anyone with something interesting to discuss or debate and written in an entertaining manner, please get in touch. The success of Robert’s guest blog last week was wonderful, not only did his site get more hits and links, the article was read by 193 people in one day, not bad for a week old site with only a few hundred viewers.

And remember that the Photographic Competition this week is titled – JOY. All entries must be in by 00:00 Thursday 2nd June to have a chance to win a full day of merciless adoration, advertising your business and/or self and a free day in Studio 3 to do what the hell you like.Anyone who has something to share can join the Medium Rare community. If you just want to share without exhibiting your work, then become an observer and hit the site each week for updates and links to some wonderfully talented and interesting people. If you want to submit pictures, articles, guest blog or learn more, then email them to me at info@slaughterhousestudios.co.uk. If you wish to share opinion than comment on the relevant article, re blogging and retweeting is gratefully received as it will help this site reach more people and expand on the excellence of content and possible global links. For all professionals, you will appreciate the site’s powerful features, giving you all the possibilities to promote your work with success to a widening audience on a site that is receiving a thousand hits per week, on average. Check out https://ssltd.wordpress.com to see what I am doing.

So please get in touch today, deadline for guest blog copy is 00:00 Wednesday each week.

Many thanks,

Ian ‘Papa’ Simpson

A red sky after a fun packed day in studio.

© Slaughterhouse Studios Ltd.

Crumb by Crumb

Some of you may agree with the following article, some of you may debate it. Some of you may even find it rather self involved. Overall, this is a point of view of one man. A man who over the past 22 years enjoyed the highs and lows of an international career in photography and picture editing. One that has netted wealth, reputation and an understanding of what makes a winning and marketable image. What do you do? Do you read on or do you think you have all the answers for your life as a “Professional Photographer”. If so – Describe to me your creative process and its result.

The end product is creative, thoughtful images. The process begins by determining the story that needs to be told, or what it is that needs to be illustrated. Then, it becomes a process of assembling the parts and pieces that go into that story. The who/what/where/when/why all figure into it from my perspective. Whether those images appear on the web, printed material or even an advertising billboard is up to the people that hired me. Sometimes it’s a big agency complete with creatives, account people and clients that’s a team effort and takes weeks to manifest itself. Or, it could be as simple as getting a call from a picture editor looking for an image or series of images of someone or something they’re profiling.

Since opening Slaughterhouse Studios Ltd in 2010, I have been installing all the methods learned over the years I have worked in this industry, the more personal touch is finally starting to work with home grown photographers and media agencies. For many months now, over 60% of the trade has come from London clients. Striking close and lucrative relationships with BBC, ITV and Bauer Media, the studio is being seen as an important resource in the North West.

With three excellent studios, each one offering a blank canvas for each client. Appointed with the finest lighting and grip the industry expects. Slaughterhouse Studios consistently delivers excellence in service and care for all who attend a studio day.

You want it, you get it at Slaughterhouse.

I could say I learned the business through assisting other photographers, however, working in some of London’s busiest studios with darkrooms allowed me to meet recognised photographers, learn from developing their film and managing their studio or location shoots saw a faster and more defined learning curve than humping lights and knowing how many sugars people have in their tea or coffee. A couple years working for Lord Litchfield, William Claxton and Brian Duffy showed me that images, especially in the commercial sense, need to be created not just captured. My work has always been a balance of the two. What I always try to do is put things together and then try and capture the moment.

Growing up, I didn’t understand that photography, and creating images could be a viable career option. Where creativity was encouraged daily, my Mother and Father aren’t photographers; they are successful and happy business people. Photography was something one did in one’s spare time, ie on holiday. I went to a liberal arts school because that’s what you did in the 1980’s but there was something lacking. I was studying Fine Art but I wasn’t really finding satisfaction. My fellow students wished to follow careers in graphic design, fashion and architecture…me I wanted to be a photo editor in NY, Paris or London. So a technician gave me a camera. She told me I should look into it and that’s what opened my eyes to photography as a career.

In memory, my first creative and marginally commercial shoot was, typically very personal and exposed my desire to impress and shock than answer a brief. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the Christmas tree; this living thing we bring in from outdoors and for a few weeks becomes the central focal point of our homes, then tossed out. I grew up on the edges of the Peak District and it would freeze every winter. We’d get a Christmas tree and have it up for a couple of weeks. When it was time to take it down, my Dad would dig a hole in the icy ground and the tree would stand up in the ground until the snow melted and it would lean over and sink to the ground, insects would make a home out of it. It’s as if the tree had an extended life. When I moved out to London, I’d be walking around the first or 2nd week of January and the trees would all come out to the roadside to be hauled away by the council collectors and recyclers. It was just this presence that occurred after the New Year and they were everywhere. I started playing around with the camera and responding to the elements. I still want to get more photographs, though. I want to go back home where there is snow each winter and capture that element there. I want to go back where it’s barren and include the unique light too. The environment is all part of the narrative, not just the subject.

There are so many great image makers out there. Directors, cinematographers, painters, too many to list who inspire me. In the historical sense, I admire Eugene Atget who is known for his turn-of-the-century Paris landscapes and street scenes. Robert Frank used his photography to seek truth with an air of political view. There was obviously an opinion and a motive, but he just created imagery that told a story. It was the late 50s, the medium was evolving and he made these statements with his images that were a lot of times difficult to look at but so truthful and evocative.

Working with some of the greats and the good, the bad and the down right ugly has made me who I am today. I’m still a young (some would disagree) guy, emerging and learning each day. One of the things I’ve been glad about is that I’ve been able to live in Manchester for 10 years and work in a field that makes me happy and have been able make a living. But I hope my greatest achievement is still ahead of me.

I have the ability to problem solve and work in my industry, enviably, with a tool that really works. I’m an observer of interactions and using that as my tableau. That’s what I love. To be able to tell other peoples’ stories.

What is a constant challenge is staying fresh and creating an environment that remains personal while still making a living. Not only do I need to meet new customers that are consistent with the brand and equally evocative, but also to be remembered as regular, cherished and dare I say, loved…

My Philosophy:
Everyone has a story.

You can find me here:

Ian F Simpson

Company Director

Slaughterhouse Studios Ltd™

54 – 56 Oldfield Road



M5 4LZ

+44 (0)161 745 4232

+44 (0)783 777 8791






Fur and Feathers flying in the Slaughterhouse..

Fridays are quickly becoming a very fun packed day for us at Slaughterhouse Studios. This week offered us just as much fun, inspiration and skill as before. Mr Christopher Ball and his A Team wow’ed me with their workflow and I hope the music I supplied throughout the day, the food my wife cooked for us all and the natural creative atmosphere here aided their success on the day. I look forward to see the finished article.

Just a few back stage snap shots of the day and excellent use of the whole of studio 1. Looking forward to working with Christopher much more now his skills are being recognised by agencies and media brands alike.

Yet again the formidable model Anna becomes the centre of everyone’s attention..

A touch of sophistication brought to an old building in the badlands of Manchester and Salford

Look out flares are back!



Barbarella on a rainy day

Chris working his magic

The winning team. From Left to Right:

Katie O’Dowd – Make Up Artist extraordinaire

Anna Heaton – Model du Jour

Jennifer Doohan – Assistant and talented Retouching Artist

Christopher Ball – Photographer and all round decent Chap

Paula McNamara  – Stylist, Artist and extreme ironer (enlarge image to see her)

I am proud to announce – Friday’s Winner is…

Mr Matthew Stansfield…

This shot won me over due to my connection with the farming community, it signifies the plight of beef and dairy farmers in this modern economy, the lack of support they receive from the Government and Supermarket chains. The weathered face of the Farmer supports the narrative of this image, he has, like this ancient industry again come to require increased support from the public, not mass global commerce. Buy meat from local sources, in season and from the most natural and organic methods of husbandry possible to your budget and location.

Matthew Stansfield, one of the more talented Photographers of North West England, he has worked with some of the greats of the film, TV and theatre industries. Fashion, lifestyle, still life, portraiture and reportage are all areas in which Matthew excels. But don’t just take my word for it. Take a look at his website, book him to fulfil your next campaign, you will not be disappointed. I would go as far as suggesting you could bet the farm on him…sorry, couldn’t resist.


The next Photographic Competition brief is – Joy. This should be a much easier brief and I sure look forward to seeing all your submissions. info@slaughterhousestudios.co.uk. Deadline – 17:00 GMT 02/06/11.

The winning entry will not just receive a whole load of publicity but will also win a whole day for free in Studio 3. (T&C’s apply)

Looking forward to seeing all your entries.


Cheap Shots.

Our Guest Blogger this week is none other than Mr Robert J Taylor, Photographer, Writer, Bon Viveur and all round decent chap. Known to me as a friend and confident, he speaks honestly and often from the cuff, with a large dollop of intellect and experience to support which these days is a rare but revered commodity.

So come on readers, it is this easy. You have something to say about the creative industry and how we can revolutionise and invent, then put pen to paper or if you are that way inclined, finger to keyboard and send me your thoughts and experiences in time for next Thursday (2nd June 2011).

Read on….

Last week I received a text from a friend. She has been granted free reign at a music festival this summer and wanted me to tell her everything she’ll need to know her to make the most of her first foray into event photography. I replied almost instantly with just three words: “In a text?!” As one of the burgeoning number of Guys/Girls With Cameras she thought I’d be able to sum up all my experience of event photography in fewer than 140 characters. Well, come on, it’s only pointing a camera at stuff, and these days the technology does most of the work for you. How hard can it be?
Okay, so perhaps I’m being a little unfair. It’s easy to mock her aspirations and at least she’s giving it a go. I must admit that, along with millions of others, I started out in professional photography with all of her enthusiasm, blind to the pitfalls I was to quickly encounter and in some slight bewilderment about why the rest of the world isn’t making a living from doing something as fun and rewarding as taking photographs.
And, like millions of others, I soon found out that there is one very good reason that the whole world isn’t doing it: While photography itself is fun and rewarding – easy, sometimes – monetising your photographic ability is a hard art to master. Over the past decade the rise of digital photography and the fall of the cost of associated technology, coupled with the ability to quickly and easily share digital images online, has seen the emergence of a global army of semi-professionals; Guys and Girls With Cameras who are happy to provide images to publishers for free, under the illusion that if their work is good enough to publish at all, it could very well lead to further work. Work for which, they hope, they’ll get paid.
These GWCs as they have become known have put some professionals on the back foot. Barely a week goes by without me hearing or reading the familiar lament of one of these suddenly redundant pros, pleading to the deaf ears of the newbies to make sure they get paid for everything they do, and to never give work away.
The margins on stock photography have already been cut to nearly nothing and editorial rates are following suit. Why send an interviewer and a photographer to a job when you can train the interviewer to take a half-decent snap in an afternoon and at the very least not come back until he’s captured something useful? One wedding photographer opined to me this week that couples no longer want to spend money on plush albums, but instead want the images on a disc so they can duplicate and share them themselves.
For some sections of the industry the outlook is indeed bleak. But, taking a longer view, the game is far from over. While imagery may be free, good quality imagery takes time and costs money, and it will continue to do so.
As well as technology, photography, like every other business, is affected by market forces; the availability of versus the demand for images. As the glut of cheap or free images leads to stock and editorial photography falling in value, it will also lead to a drop in the acceptable standard of photography which gets published. Not great news for photographers in general, but excellent news for those who are good enough to stand out from the rest. Good quality images – and not just on a technical level – will be what sets any good publication apart from the bad ones. And as publications, both online and off, struggle for market share, many of the weaker ones (which may not have existed without the existence of cheap and free imagery) will fall. Quality, later if not sooner, will win out.
While the GWC army will constantly replenish its numbers, it will also soon become part of the furniture. The democratisation of knowledge means that merely being able to manually operate a camera is no longer the minimum requirement to refer to yourself a professional, and professional photographers will have to work even harder to find their market. But as the GWC army snap away, a great many of them will begin to realise just how hard it is to create something jaw-dropping instead of just average, thus building a vast new appreciative audience for photography as an art.
Rob Taylor is a photographer, writer and thinker based in central Manchester. You can find him online at http://RJTmedia.com