rules of engagement

Since the mid 1990’s I have either politely smiled or viciously walked out of agency meetings with the hump after hearing those fateful words – “its good for your exposure”, “we are a very powerful brand and it would help your career”, “I need to use your studio to test with a well known make up / fashion brand / record label / virgin airlines” or my personal favourite – “next time we need someone like you, we will be sure to call you back and pay you”.

Please forgive the tone of this little rant as I must admit recently I haven’t had to hear this from anyone, nor have I had to get the hump with anyone asking me to fix a problem or find a solution for their own company’s issues, large or small. Maybe it is because I have learned from making such mistakes and the value of the word “No”. I have also stopped agreeing to work with habitual testing companies or those who have excellent ideas on paper yet don’t have the acumen to carry them out. I suppose I have gained enough trust from those who I have worked with recently, however, it is still something that plays on my mind when I am asked (at least once a week) by graduates, people who have recently gone freelance or those who have been looking into attracting new clients.

Working for free, albeit an oxymoron is one of those assumptions that all creative agencies, screen companies, and now Supermarkets feel quite comfortable with. A rather well known Screen Agency insists that any intern be working without wage for over a year before they be considered for a base level intern on any feature film shot in their county. Only to have their name on the credit roll as their way of payment. Could this be due to the past decade of the people listed above falling for the lies and confidence tricks that belie so many young and talented people?

With my experience of working for such super-rich clients, they often employ agencies such as TBWA, McCann or much larger international companies to come up with cultivating a plan of how they can increase attraction and develop a long list of stills images, motion picture or a three dimensional items for any publicity and promotion. Anyone knows that. They act as a buffer and make it easier to get paid, in essence, this is often the point in which the house of cards begins to collapse. The long list of talent then gets the call and the money gets filtered through once the job is done. Dissemination of income is a blessed job if given to the right people. But do we have those kinds of people in this sector? Stand up and be counted, stand up and be recognised for you are angels amongst us all.

Artists and designers, photographers and videographers are still quite often seen as Firemen, they leap into action when the call comes through, they make your problems go away, they often tidy up after themselves and like Firemen, they are often thought to have a second job to fill in the income gaps between “playing with cameras and pencils”. Quite wrong, quite wrong indeed.

It is for many a job, just like any other. Just like a Plumber, a Meteorologist, a Taylor, a Chef, a Barber. They come in all shapes and sizes, ages, genders and colours. And they all need paying for the work they do for you.

On reading this little cutting – from where and when I cannot say, the uncertainty of this being factual is as anything found on Twitter et al, sketchy at best, however I would not be at all surprised to hear this was indeed a legitimate newspaper column.

I would suggest that Ronnie or Claude be ready for a week or two of eloquent abuse.

First of all, the employee issues that Camden branch of Sainsbury’s is experiencing appears to be near cataclysmic and some would take from this advert that they employ nothing but sociopaths. Asking someone to create an oasis of calm for their unhappy staff is not anyone’s problem but Sainsbury’s. Or have I missed the point? As a leading UK retailer, one would trust it would spend time (and money) creating a comfortable and happy place for their staff to work – as investing in people has been at the forefront of their mission since 1998. According to their website.

So to ask a member of the west London creative community to design an interior for no wage and not for the eyes of anyone but their highly stressed staff that require a realm of relaxation is a reflection on how it supports the immediate community and the arts.

Maybe next time you visit a Sainsbury’s you should ask for a weeks worth of groceries and say “I will not be paying for these today, but I will be blogging about the juiciness of your Cantaloupes and crustiness of your baguettes in the morning, pinky promise. Thanks.”

Pithy – yes. but it does grind a little that this was a) agreed on, and b) published.

Alternatively, I suppose any artists or interior designer currently between jobs could do with the Nectar points. How many would one get for painting a chair a lovely calming pantone green 363?



Summer school is open (soon)…


Announcing a new and spectacularly important summer of expiration. Mr Aj Wilkinson is an artist, an educator and an all round nice guy with an ability to encourage and inspire anyone who meets him.

He is rather lucky to live in the cultural heartland of the north and enjoys the commanding views of the Calder Valley directly (and literally) from his studio’s front door.

This summer he is running a season long intensive creative workshop and all who wish to explore the creativity of photography and can get to Hebden Bridge with ease, get in touch and book now before the limited places are taken.

I look forward to seeing you there.


Kind regards,


workshop letter

Improve your knowledge

How to retouch – Improve knowledge equals enhanced images.

Slaughterhouse Studios ltd is proud to announce a well over due collaboration with one of Manchester’s leading Retouch Artists, Miss Jennifer Doohan. The masterclasses will provide you with the skills to confidently use Adobe Photoshop in a proficient, intuitive and effective way.

Jennifer has worked with some of the finest photographers in the UK, working alongside some of the more well known stars of stage and screen. Her work has allowed her to travel throughout Europe and Asia, with her current post at BBC HQ at Media City, Salford.

Masterclass schedule

The purpose of the masterclass is to present to you the finer details and uses of the Photoshop Toolkit. This will leave you with the relevant skills to produce excellent quality images. The masterclass is aimed at anyone with a basic understanding of the software.

Each class will encourage you to use and understand all the basic elements of Photoshop and then over time lead towards much more advanced levels of learning this software. Jennifer will offer much more hands on practice during the day long course. Therefore, whether a photographer, illustrator, designer or just curious how to get the best out of your digital photographs, Jennifer’s understanding and skills with Photoshop will offer you many opportunities to make your images look sensational.

The classes are for all levels of users, from the novice to the time served user who may wish to have all those bad habits brushed away. You do not need to have any prior experience, just the software on your laptop.

During the first month’s sessions Jennifer will cover:

  • Portraiture
  • Landscape
  • Composition
  • File structure
  • Layers and Labelling Layers
  • Sharpness
  • Hue
  • Saturation
  • Use of colour effectively
  • Black and White
  • Maximising the potential of all the most used brushes and effects
  • Face retouching and manipulation techniques

Workshop details

Maximum number of places – 15

Training dates and location


Slaughterhouse Studios Ltd

Saturday 8th September 09:00 – 17:00

Sunday 16th September 09:00 – 17:00

Saturday 22nd September 09:00 – 17:00

Saturday 29th September 09:00 – 17:00

[October – December dates are going to press on 1st September]

Cost of each Masterclass – £100 (+VAT) this includes breakfast, teas and coffees and free car parking

How to get here (click)

How to apply

Email your interest subject to Photoshop Masterclasses to and we will forward you the application form, T&C’s and payment details.

Payment methods

Cheques, BACS or electronic secured payments will be cleared 5 days before the class date to secure each applicant’s place. All payment details will be part of the T&C’s package.

What you will need:

  • a laptop with a genuine copy of Adobe Photoshop
  • original images shot by you on an openable file
  • a camera (this is optional but gaining access to the studios here at Slaughterhouse Studios will allow each class member the chance to see the whole process of developing a digital image from a shoot in the day light studio to creating a print ready image)
  • a need to learn more about the software and how it can make your photography more intuitive.

stop, collaborate and listen…..

There comes a time in every modern business when the people running it stop, take a moment to look around, and with an increasingly critical eye on what they have created make a discovery that they have missed out on an opportunity to change something. Something that has not been too much of a priority until now. Namely – the website. I know a few of you like the web site, often most of you thought nothing much about it other than gaining contact with us here and taking the chance to see the studios and if they would be suitable for a brief.

But so much has happened here behind the scenes of Slaughterhouse Studios since we opened for business in 2010. So many talented and inspiring people have crossed the threshold and allowed us to be part of the process in delivering global campaigns, portrait series for exhibition and TV ads – to name but a few.

Needless to say, the years have been full of education, joy and pain, but for all the ups and downs, we can be secure in our conviction when we say “it has been a blast and we look forward to the future”.

So to celebrate our next chapter and extend our reach, we at the studio are happy to announce a new site, one that will cover everything we do here, all the services that can be use to take a lot of the pain away from any client brief, any project management, any production, both stills and moving image.

Anything you need doing to put a brand new production together, anything you need supplying to deliver a stills campaign or one off shoot of anyone or anything, then take a look at the new site, pick up the phone or email us any time.

We have the solution to your brief.

We look forward to your call.

Ian & Sid

Click below to take the tour…..

putting a bit more thought into photography, rather than just shooting girls with their asses hanging out….

Ⓒ Layla Regan/Layla Sailor 2011 (all rights reserved – copying this image is through pain of death)

For some time now, I have been following the growing talents of one young lady based up here in Manchester, not London, Paris or New York; Berlin or Amsterdam, but the style in which she executes her craft you would be mistaken for thinking that she was waking up to views of the Sacre Coeur as apposed to the stilted and uninspiring towers of a city so many people consider a barren wasteland of talentless autonomous fools.

Layla “Sailor” Regan is just that person bucking those trends. She has no portfolio crammed with images of posturing Footballers or tenuous Pop Stars precariously holding on to what credibility they may have left, legs open wide, a suggestion of naked breast and/or a toned six pack…no – none of that will you find in her book. [Thankfully]

Layla’s story is as varied as her work, finding inspiration from classic French artists to obscure 1930’s Russian and Japanese film makers. Her photographic skills rise to each challenge she sets herself – as yet no one has given her something she could not deal with in her own inimitable way. Recently she has been entertaining the West Coast American client Whitney Eve, you can see her current jewellery campaign, all of which was shot by Layla, not the usual key light, still life, black drape cliche here. [again, thankfully]

It is her own work that she toils over and fights with on a regular monthly basis here at the Slaughterhouse that really gets her noticed, last month Layla had her work exhibited in Paris and has been contacted by numerous glossy fashion tomes from around the world.

Great things are destined to happen to this young and talented girl from the north.

Your support and interest is welcome.

She will be doing a lot more here at the studio very soon, more news to follow….


Layla Sailor


Layla Sailor

three things that make me happy….

Three great things have happened today.

© Pete Defty – 2011

I have just had word that our very own Layla Sailor is exhibiting in Le Printemps, Paris as part of a Nick Knight exhibition. So if you are or you find yourself in this incredible city take time to pop along and see the show, its on until 24th March and if you are there from 21st – 23rd, you may even get chance to see her there. We at Slaughterhouse Studios could not be more proud of our Layla. She is a great talent and one that should be exploited (for money). Recognition like this from our peers, contemporaries and our mentors is a wonderful feeling. One that I hope you all get to feel at least once this year. it gives one that well needed shot in the arm to carry one creating some wonderful creative, outward looking work.

Cast your mind back to the lighter months of last Summer, after a series of long telephone conversations and the odd trip over the Pennines, Mr. Pete Defty and I began to talk about installing his most recent purchase. The camera in situ was something to behold. Just short of 100 years old, standing proudly on it’s purpose built hydraulic platform and fitted with it’s own 700mm or 640mm portrait lens (!). It produces the finest, most delicate images from something that requires two people to operate and appears quite brutish and clumsy in comparison to say a Hasselblad or Phase One camera. So, in October 2011, The Outlaw Project began in ernest. Initially relying on friends and fellow photographers; artists, musicians and theatre directors, a growing body of work is slowly coming together. Now with the support of Ilford Photo, Deardorff & Sons Inc, Process Supplies Ltd, Robin Bell and Richard Freestone at 139 Printroom the series of portrait sittings can increase. More details of the progress and process will follow so keep watching for the next chapter…All images are not for taking, grabbing, stealing, Facebooking, in fact any kind of removal of these images and using them to promote anything is deemed as theft of the highest order and will be dealt with in the firmest of ways. You have been told! (Jana, Jonathan and Kat – you will be receiving your digi files soon)

And finally, its always a day of nostalgia on one’s anniversary so to cast my own mind back five years and remind myself just how happy I was to meet a young vivacious girl, wait far too long to meet with her again and like some hormonal teenager, awkwardly find the words to get her to stay…fast forward five years, a wedding and two beautiful children (with the induced sleep depravation) later, I not only have a great and busy business to rattle on about, I have a wonderful wife and family to return to each evening.

Life is good.



© Layla Sailor – 2012

Valentines day. A Hallmark holiday, a total waste of time, a chance for many to financially exploit the weak willed or just a very old fashioned way of spending time to tell someone your genuine feelings towards them in protected anonymity. Well either way, it is very rare to find anyone going out of their way to save month during this season of gouging people’s pockets.

The Directors of Slaughterhouse Studios have been known for some time now to hold each and every one of their clients in high regard, so to spread the love even further, they are offering throughout February an agreeable preferred rate of studio hire for the whole ground or upper floor studio.

All terms and conditions apply and are available on booking – this offer is only valid up to 29th February.

So do something right for those you love and save some money for a change.

This all inclusive deal is £300/day (a considerable saving and we swallow the VAT)

Call today to make a booking, we appreciate you may be busy tomorrow.

Papa X