I know it’s a strange post for a photographer but in the ten years before going pro I was a Crime Analyst with West Mercia Police. I have a Masters Degree in Crime Science from the Jill Dando Institute at University College London.
In my capacity as a bike enthusiast with experience of Policing I was asked to speak on the BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Breakfast Radio show in response to some data they had which showed the Police recover very few bikes of the many thousand that are stolen each year.
The question was put to me; who is to blame? You can hear the interview here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01jjzt8 forward to about 2:38.
I thought I’d expand on a couple of the points. You see, studying Crime Science taught me a recipe for crime which goes beyond just seeking out the offender. For a crime to take place, as well as a motivated offender you need an attractive target and lack of guardianship. Knowing this helps you design a prevention strategy.
Sure you can try and catch the offenders but with only one in five thefts actually reported and such a low conviction rate this arrest-strategy for crime reduction will never be effective. More successful will be to look at changes to the “attractive target” and the places which lack suitable guardianship.
Place managers can improve facilities for cyclists. I mentioned a cafe in London (Look mum no hands) which provides bike locks. This is a great initiative, not only does it increase business but it means cyclists don’t have to worry about carrying heavy locks and they can enjoy their coffee knowing their bike is safe. If only Tesco had thought about this when they chucked me out of their store for going in with my bike because there wasn’t anywhere I was happy to leave it outside.
Despite the claims by the Bike Association, manufacturers could do more. RFID chips might not help with bikes that get broken down but they would make identification and ownership quicker to find out.
I don’t think it’s helpful looking to lay blame. As I said on air, if we dealt with plane or train crashes in this way - looking to work out whose fault it was instead of investigating whether situational changes could be made - then we would still have pretty high death rates from crashes wouldn’t we? There is something fundamentally wrong in policing is we only think about crime in terms of offenders and not the wider situation, or why the crime occurs.
The way forward involves everyone taking a role. I suggest a few ideas:
- Lock bikes up but do it better. Lock them even inside garages. Encourage place owners to provide facilities for cyclists. I saw coffee shops in Melbourne where customers hung their bikes in the windows like art.
- Look at technology to make bikes harder to steal. RFID or built in locks.
- Encourage better reporting. Police Crime Analysts can get a better picture of the problem and can target resources more efficiently.
- Everybody needs to report suspicious activity. If people want to stay anonymous then use Crimestoppers.
- Don’t buy stolen bikes or parts. If there is no market then there is no point stealing.
- Reduce flyparking (locking of bikes in unauthorised places). Building better bike storage and locking facilites in areas of high flyparking.
- Set Traps. This is the bit the police need to do more of. Make it more risky for offenders.
If you’d like to know more then I here are a few sites that might be of interest:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/jdi - tell them Chris sent you!
If you’re a place manager or a bike manufacturer who’d like to discuss anything I’ve written about above then please get in touch using the contact form on my website.
I’ll get back to the photos now :)
When you are a photographer you rely on certain tools; your cameras, lenses, tripods, flashes, batteries, memory cards, models, locations, even the weather to help you get the shot. But really you’re only half way there. Printing is a huge part of the business. You have to give your clients the very best product or you’re selling yourself short.
What good is taking a great photo only to have the beauty compressed out of it printing in one of those supermarket machines or high street stores? To get the icing on the cake you need a printers who check over your images, lavish time on hand finishing your albums, use onsite craftsmen to build beautiful frames… even make their own bespoke cardboard boxes to reduce waste… This is why I use Loxley Colour.
A couple of weeks ago I called in to see first hand how my images images are turned into the products I give to my clients. The Loxley Colour Lab in Glasgow is enormous. Stepping into the glass atrium you are first greeted with the Loxley sign, shining proud over the entrance to a reception where all of the products are on show for you to see and try out. My friend from Smugmug, Alastair Jolly and Callum from Loxley took me to see where the magic happens.
I was particularly interested to see the Alumni products as these work awesome with my action sports images. I met the staff who make the wedding albums I use and saw how much care and attention they put into their work to ensure we, the photographers, get the products that make our images pop and our clients come back for more.
Think seriously about where you get your images printed and make sure you can develop a great relationship with them.
I’m really pleased to announce that soon you’ll be able to see some of my skiing and biking images hanging on the walls at Loxley and on their roadshows. Go along and check them out and see why I speak so highly of this awesome outfit.
Remember too, all images ordered from my website www.chrisdaviesphotography.com are dealt with and printed exclusively by Loxley Colour. Try an Alumni print, they’re amazing!
The blog is back! (My Mum will be pleased)
Travel Photography tips
Now that I’ve got my blog back on my website (my Mum pointed out she missed it when I relaunched with the new Smugmug) I’m going to make more of an effort to start writing again. I’m very lucky that I get to combine two of my passions in life, the outdoors and photography and I’m often asked about what I do, either from magazines looking for an editorial or by enthusiasts wanting to take similar pictures or sometimes just by people wanting to know a little more for general interest.
I love teaching and as I spend so much of my time learning I think it’s important to give a little back. Just last month I was contacted by a young chap who wanted to do a study on me for his course work and asked if I’d do an interview for him. Sure I’m busy and probably won’t get a great deal back from this but I learned a long time ago to always sweat the small stuff. It was helpful for me too. It made me reflect on what I do and why I do it. It made me think about how I do it too.
That was useful when I got asked over on Facebook: How do I take photos like yours?
It’s quite a general question but I dug a bit deeper and it was more around the travel photography I shoot. I don’t really have a handbook on this, maybe I should, but here’s an insight into a few things that I think helps take great travel photography.
Three simple steps - I love to teach and whilst there are many technical aspects of photography that take years to learn and master I tie the basics down to three simple steps, background, lighting, subject. Most people go for the subject first, but if the background is rubbish it will ruin the shot. Equally you might find the most amazing subject and background but if the lighting is too bright or too dark (and you can’t correct with flash, tripod, filter, ISO etc) then you can’t have the shot. When you find what you want to shoot, run through these few steps. Walk around a bit and check you haven’t missed something. Frame it up then grab the shot.
Indulge – Don’t be one of these people that has to have a photo of everything. Find things you are interested in. Find out about what your subject is doing and why, talk to them. If you can’t, read a guide book about the place you are visiting, what is the history? Why are these people here or what does this landmark symbolize? Being interested makes you interesting and this will show up in your work. This will help you take photos that tell great stories instead of snaps that say ‘I was here’.
Practise – I like this one as it mean you’ve got to keep travelling! Although I think a lot of great travel photography is having the balls to take a shot where others wouldn’t. The street vendor, shop owner, kid on roller blades, lady walking her dog…. You know, the kind of thing where they give you the look that says either ‘don’t take my photo’ or ‘I want paying if you take my photo’. How do you get good at overcoming this? For me it’s Street Photography. Google it. You don’t need to travel to do street photography just head into your local town at the weekend. Go to the market, find the colours, patterns, interesting people. Find out what works, is it a tight frame, or a shallow depth of field? Is it posed or completely natural? Slow shutter speeds will give crowds movement showing the scene alive. What time of day works best? I spent years doing street photography, and I think it developed my documentary style that comes out in my adventure work. It’s a useful skill to have and it’s come into use even in my commercial work. I find I get ‘the shot’ a bit quicker than some would imagine without having to keep asking models to re-pose or go around again. Thinking about it Street Photography gets you on the ball, you will always have your camera ready and you’ll know how to flip settings without having to look. These are great skills to have for capturing the moment in a world that can go past at 100 miles and hour.
Hopefully that’s given a little of an insight into my mindset and some inspiration to go out and shoot.
By the way, anyone fancy a photowalk?
I’ve been a customer with Smugmug for over six years and always had a great relationship with them. When I turned pro just over a year ago their awesome team helped me through the complicated process of customising my site to make it better appeal to my audience of editors and outdoor companies.
You can imagine how stoked I was when a couple of weeks back I got the top secret call to take a look at the new site before launch. Isn’t it just amazing? What budding pro wouldn’t use them to host, promote and sell their images? It’s so easy now to create a stunning site with all the fantastic features that come with being a Smugger. I’m still putting the final tweaks before I launch my new look next site week but it’s looking awesome and so fresh.
The second, and really cool announcement is that anyone checking out the new themes is looking at my images right now! are using some of my work in the MAX template so my images are popping up on desktops all over the world alongside fellow#Smugmugpro photographers and . Pretty cool for a kid from a small town in England eh!
I grew up wanting only one thing. To fly fighter planes. Eye problems meant I couldn’t so second best is shooting them. Even though they’re the Red Arrows I love this edit in black and white.
Shot over Shropshire at the weekend where the team were displaying at the RAF Cosford Airshow.
ARTisan: The Film Photographer
Hugh Sun is a freelance photographer who still shoots to film. Pictured here in his London Gallery with his trusted 1936 Leica, a camera that shoots to a four shot film. “It’s all about the colour”, he tells me, “and the old manual lenses with fewer elements are so sharp. When it takes 20 minutes to change the film and you only get four shots on each roll, you really focus on getting the shot right first time. Every shot has to be perfect.”
Hugh specialises in landscapes and cityscapes and his work can be found exclusively his gallery near Covent Garden or online at www.hughsgallery.com.
ARTISAN: a long term project by photographer Chris Davies documenting the work of real craftsmen and women - those who retain traditional techniques and skills in an ever modernising world.
Shot whilst out riding a Santa Cruz Heckler in the snow last week this shot has been selected by Let’s Be Wild (the World #1 Online Adventure Travel Magazine) as their Photo of the Day