Mo Blog

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Over a year ago I spoke of a  message from the blue. I have learned to pay attention to little signals around me since. Tiny reminders impossible to ignore, like meeting yourself in a mirror unexpectedly. This wet night in Edinburgh I found a sign directed entirely at me. Shrouded in the dark of night, a small message loaded equally with foreboding and encouragement, lit the way for the end of a very long year.

To speak from the heart, this has been an incredible year. The ground beneath my feet has shifted landscapes in every direction over the last 12 months. I could not have dreamt up the changes that have fallen in around me. I have never known a year like it, and to speak the truth, I hope I never do again.

So finishes my second year as a Freelance Photographer. Like any second album, the follow-up is always grueling. Expectations are high and forgiveness is low. The stops need pulled out. And so they were, last July when I went full-time. Now and for what seems like forever I know myself only as a photographer, but I am still well within the trials of initiation. No longer is everything powered by happy coincidence, it has been a year of forced introductions and grey determination. It has been a year survived rather than a year passed and with it the grit and adrenaline that all freelancers can identify with. Despite my world-jaded grumblings however, this is in every way a celebration. I have kept one foot in front of the other and earned one consoling year's distance from wondering where the next work will be. No longer do I fear that if I stop picking up the phone I will vanish into obscurity. I have created the chaotic beginnings of a new nest on a bedrock of confidence and experience that can now take my weight. 

But this aspect of the occupation is in permanent masquerade. Everyone is happy and everyone is busy. From the outside the lights are always on, the party in full swing. My work must seem a riot to those with a 9-5, an absolute circus! Not lost on me, I find myself bursting an ear-to ear-grin from sheer fortune some days. But my work is also an extra limb, that doesn't go into storage after 5.30. It is ubiquitous. It comes to bed, it comes to the table, it comes on holiday. It has me out of bed before sunrise and, more often than not, it sees in the dawn, some unfinished project nearing completion. But I am a creative, and if I cannot embrace a late night then none can.

One surprising addition this year is that I have been approached by other photographers asking me for advice. Some starting out, others who look to my work as a signpost of the right direction. I was alarmed at how difficult it was for me to explain a recipe to what I do, especially seeing my own terrain so full of potholes. From where I stand I can only put two pieces of advice forward that have lit my way through the last twelve months.

Make the most of those around you and allow them do the same to you. There is nothing quite as unexpected as how lonely early freelancing is. Previously I talked of blocking out other photography to help purify my own creative voice. A lame disguise, I understand now, from the panic of feeling part of a race to thread water as a professional. The beauty I have realised is that no one is exempt the gauntlet of starting from nowhere. Instead as the year has worn on I have begun to relish my fortune in being surrounded by such inspiring contemporaries, self-employed or other.Your network is your greatest strength and it is a thrill to be taking those rich, early footsteps, charged with the satisfaction of progress, in unison with others.

There is no use getting hung up on the sudden and fortuitous success of others. No paths run the same course and this is a blessing. For those who stick at it, we all enjoy incredible, unique moments of recognition. For me this year, in the middle of rural Brittany at a wedding, I had to explain to a stranger in disbelief (and in my half-French) that I was, bien-sur, the same eoin carey he and his friends had been following online for the last 2 years. For the right person, freelance work is the most humbling experience they can have.

Secondly, there is no reason why you should not take inspiration in your own work. If you are following your rules and trying hard than you can only end up with something you love, allow it to push you forward. It is a long, long one-way street. Just follow the signs.


Saturday, 8 December 2012


There's no fooling anyone now, Christmas is truly upon us.

I say it every year but it has taken me by surprise, again. Though I have no excuse. Over the last few weeks I have been working on several Christmas shows ready to hit the stages over busy December. So how can I pretend I didn't see it coming?

Most notably, I shot the poster and promotional material for The Lyceum's production of Cinderella. A festive mix of Parisienne charm with a few Ugly Sisters that wouldn't be out of place in our own Glasgow.

I'll let you make your own minds up about me and Matt's performence. There's a lot of great theatre that I cannot wait to see this month - I've still got my Panto Pout!


Thursday, 22 November 2012


Hey all!

On the wild chance you've been walking around with your eyes closed for the last 20 days (and why wouldn't you!), then I should gently whisper that it is Mo-vember again, the world's annual convention of male identity crisis.

Everyone is growing a moustache - it is incredible! I have registered with Movember UK and am proud to be taking part in the annual sprout for charity. More than 350,000 people have registered in the UK alone this year. Probably enough fluffly lip hair to insulate a house!

It is a terrific campaign to be part of and has opened my eyes to two new things : The unique shameless guilt of having a moustache in 2012, and finally being in photos. Remarkable!

There is still a week left, I would encourage everyone to donate whatever they can.


Monday, 12 November 2012


I visited Spain twice this year. Twice without a digital camera.

So twice this year I enjoyed that old inevitable process of sitting on rolls of forgotten film like a mother hen, waiting for a blue moon to wander to the printers for them to hatch. And I now have a clutch of chicklings- a vibrant yellow testimony of Spain, parched with the tedium of every day scenes. And like a mother hen, they are mine and I could write an entire post on each individual image, so laden with crisp, meticulous normality that they are.

Instead I have to do the impossible, and edit them into a series for this one post, or we'll be looking at grainy, muted pictures of Spain until 2014. Still, impossible. I love these pictures. They are more autobiographical of my personality in photography than any commentary on Spain. The process of shooting film is still a refined pleasure for me. It could not be a further separate process from my digital workflow despite the almost identical formulas. Film for me rewards the most banal and ordinary things with a rich verisimilitude, and I have come to detect an entirely separate and very raw style that leaps from my photos like a miracle remedy to my safe, digital work.

 But in-between my darting eye, and the steady turmoil of Spanish streets, an outline materialises of the heady, tumultuous, dusty living in Spain that appeals to me so much. Looking back months later, my memory isn't concise enough to expand the images into a fitting text. Instead, approaching the heart of a dark winter, the one word that does my experience of Spain any justice is yellow.

Warm and sun slicked, slow moving, where pleasure and health come before accomplishment. Yellow in the roadsigns, in the traffic lights, in the stone, in the flora, yellow in the flag. Yellow in the beer, and in the crushed lemons left over from a meal. Yellow in the evening sun, melting rows of alabaster rooftops into a hazy collage. Yellow in the cacophony of scooters under midnight streetlamps. Yellow in the glittering sands that frame the span of an opal sea as the sun blooms for another day.



Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Hey, you in the Fishbowl!

I have been threatening for ages but I have finally started a new personal project. Its winter again, and if you don't feel even a little underwater in the darkness, then you've got dark secrets of your own!

For the rest of us, I would like to have some fun. I am looking for 7 people to join me in my fish bowl. I am going to create a unique portrait of each of you (complete with your own species of fish!) I really want this to be a spontaneous and open body of work so I am inviting everyone to apply.

How can you get involved?

Share this blog post on your Facebook Page and in the comments section, in a single word, write the fish you wish to join you in your portrait. Everyone who successfully shares this post will be entered into an old-fashioned raffle, from which the 7 will be selected.

It is open to anyone in Scotland. It involves a free one hour portrait session with me and a fine art print once the project is complete.

If you are looking for a way to dispel the darkness this winter look no further!

    Get Sharing    

*nudity or ludicrous hairy chest not essential


Monday, 29 October 2012

Back to the Stage

All eyes on deck!

At one fell swoop, here are my images from the recent and brilliant theatre productions I have had the pleasure of working on over the last month. All Scottish and all highly contemporary in their own ways.

First up, Ka-boing, is Random Accomplice's The Incredible Adventures of See Thru Sam, which just finished its tour in Edinburgh's Traverse a week back. Take a gander at their excellent website and admire Johnny McKnight's comic book flair!

 And for my inner teenager, at my inner back of the bus:

I was invited to Perth to shoot Horsecross Theatre's production of The Odd Couple last month. A rewritten female version of the classic 60's play and film. Sensation overload: with a really sumptuously 80's set, wardrobe and palette that I literally didn't know where to look! On top of everything the downtown NY accents and antics had me rightly tickled.

Finally this month I had the pleasure of working for the first time with my fabulous Leith neighbours Grid Iron on their proudction of The Authorised Kate Bane, which finished its run at the Trav last week. It was a really atmospheric and wintery production and has done more to get me excited for the cold months ahead than all the tinsel and jingles that characterise the start of the season. It was great to work around such an intimate set and I was more than encouraged to get "in amongst it" which, as you know by now, there is nowhere else I would rather be.