Working with the charity Healing Little Hearts in India

One of the things I love about photography, is that people let you into their lives. We get to see behind the scenes of events and stories. It is a very privileged position to be in.

I was reminded of this when De Montfort University, where I teach, asked me to take a group of students to India. The goal was to document the health charity, Healing Little Hearts.

The charity was founded in 2007 by Dr Sanjiv Nichani, a Paediatrician based in Leicester. He was concerned that whilst illnesses such as Malaria and Aids were recognised, not enough help was being given to children with congenital heart disease. A million children die of heart disease every year, across the world! In a lot of cases surgical intervention, could treat the disease and completely transform a child’s life.

Over the past few years the charity has slowly grown to the point where last year they sent twenty teams to different developing countries. In November they treated their 1500 patient! In addition to operating on children, they also train local doctors. We went to a camp in the busy industrial centre of Vijayawada, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The visiting team was made up of doctors from the Czech Republic and the UK.

Having been to India before, I knew that the students would have a lot to come to terms with. There is obviously a culture shock, but also witnessing open heart surgery could possibly prove to be a challenge. Nothing really prepares you for this type of job. You just have to get on with it and digest it all afterwards.

At the beginning of the week, we witnessed children being screened. Some of them were obviously very ill and got out of breath very easily. Surgery started on the Monday, with up to four operations being carried out each day.

One lasting memory will be of a little girl, being screened early in the week and going into surgery. On the last day we were there, I went to the recovery ward to say goodbye. Having last seen her attached to all manner of tubes and sensors, I was shocked to see her crawling around her bed playing with a family of dolls. This was just three days after having had major open heart surgery!

Overall the students coped fairly well. A few took a little time out, but they worked hard. It was a life changing experience for them all.

It was a real privilege to witness the work of the charity. If you would like to know more about them please visit

Environmental Portraiture Workshop for the RPS on April 28th.

I will be running another workshop for the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) on April 28th. This workshop is about approaches to portraiture on location. There will be plenty of practical photography, going out into the old and quirky market town of Wirksworth in Derbyshire. We will divide into small groups, to go out and about in the town. Other tutors include Paul Hill MBE and Nick Lockett MA.

‘Sitters’ and locations are arranged in advance for you to photograph – or you can go off to do your own thing. And there will be a session on how to use lighting to improve portraits, and the opportunity to get feedback on what you take.

Topics include:
– Portraits on location
– Directing people in a photo shoot
– Continuous feedback on your images
– Location lighting
– Portfoio reviews of previous work

To book please visit: The RPS Website

Dealing with iOS/Android Spam

App Klaxon: For the past twelve months I have been travelling around Europe in a Campervan. I have relied on my phone for loads of things including emails. Unfortunately Email spam was getting to the point where my main email account was becoming unusable. I use spam filters on my laptop but couldn’t find anything similar for the iPhone. A few days ago I found SpamDrain it seems great so far, it has knocked out everything. There is a cost of £16.50 per year per account but it is saving me at the moment. Could be useful for Journalists travelling.

There is a 14 day free trial as well! If you use this link I get 3 months credit

Time to Reflect

I am currently travelling around Europe in a Campervan. I have a years sabbatical from work, which has given me loads of time to reflect! On Friday I visited Sebastian Selgardo’s Genesis Exhibition in Gerona. It left me a bit cold really. (First off there was not one picture of Peter Gabriel, and to be honest I think the band went downhill after he left … sorry a joke for the over 50s) There are obviously some amazing images but as a body of work it doesn’t really have a message for me. It is too diverse. It got me thinking about why I take pictures. Down the road was a demonstration against forced redundancies outside a bank. Without thinking I started taking images….. here was a reason to get a camera (iPhone) out. To show support to people who are fighting a system that wants to throw them on the scrap heap. Thirty odd years after I started taking pictures, my goal hasn’t changed. I hope in a small way my cameras contribute to creating a better world! It sounds crass and probably what I would have said when I was a naive 17 year old, but I can’t think of any other reason why I do it. It’s certainly not for the money I earn! I will get off my soap box ????

Review of the Inmacus 18mm Wide Angle Lens for the iPhone 6

The Inmacus 18mm, with close up lens +5 and circular polarising filter. Click on all of the images to enlarge.

The Inmacus 18mm, with close up lens +5 and circular polarising filter (Click on all of the images to enlarge).

When I studied documentary photography in the 1980’s, for the first six months we were not allowed to use any lens other than a 50mm. It was a really useful  experience, as it made you think carefully about framing. Eventually we started to experiment with other focal lengths, but to this day I can fairly accurately predict, which lens I need for any given situation. If I am put in the position of only carrying one lens, my preferred focal length for the type of work that I do, is a 28mm.

With the iPhone, I have tended to zoom with my feet, but would have liked to have had a slightly wider focal length than the standard. I did try some experiments with the Olloclip 4-in-1 lens, but to be honest, whilst it’s fun, it softens the edge sharpness too much for my tastes. It does have a distinctive look, similar to a Lomo but it’s not suitable for the type of work I do.

To a large extent, after this experience, I dismissed the idea of using supplementary lenses, until I read a review of the Inmacus 18mm lens. The results looked excellent so when the company recently offered a 50% discount, I ordered one.

The Inmacus 18mm Lens, with included cover.

The Inmacus 18mm Lens, with included cover.

The lens comes in a specific iPhone 6 or 6 Plus mount. Included is the 18mm lens, a +5 close up lens and a circular polarising filter. First impressions are very positive. The lenses all have metal threads, are multicoated and come in a soft bag. It attaches using a unique design. You squeeze the sides of the mount which expand and grip your phone. The upside is that the fit is excellent and very secure, but it does mean that the mount is model specific.
In use, I have to say that the results are excellent. Lets have a look at some practical examples and compare it to the Olloclip I have.

Continue reading

Photographers Place/RPS Landscape Workshop Dates

Barn Near Magpie Mine

Barn Near Magpie Mine, Derbyshire

I will be teaching on the following Photographers Place/RPS Landscape Workshops. For more details and to book a place please click on the date.
18th April 2015  CROMFORD
13th June 2015  ILAM
18th July 2015  MONYASH
The sessions will appeal to those who have gone beyond the beginners’ stage and want a chance to immerse themselves in photography and explore landscape photography from an aesthetic as well as from a technical point of view. Fellow tutors will include Dr Paul Hill and Nick Lockett. Here is what some participants have said about our workshops with the RPS in 2014:

“Thanks guys! You have given me a completely different view of landscape photography.”
“Excellent workshop with three enthusiastic, generous and encouraging tutors.”
“Made me think ‘out of my comfort zone’.”
“Suddenly I am seeing differently. My images are now more of me, and less stereotypical.”

PicPlayPost for MultiMedia Collages

Sometimes one picture is not enough to tell a story. I recently discovered PicPlayPost, an app that allows you to create and post multimedia collages. These can then be embedded in your own website or posted to popular social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It is available for both the Android and iOS platforms. It is free to use, but posts with a small watermark, which can be removed with an in-app purchase of (£1.49) UK.

Example: A MultiMedia collage from the 2010 Greek General Election.

It is incredibly easy to use. There are 48 preset grids and you simply choose images and video from your camera roll. You can also pick a music track from your music collection, but be very careful with copyright issues!

You can either save the video as a finished piece or upload it to a social media site of your choice. It can also be streamed from the PicPlayPost server. To avoid their page layout and requests to download the app, simply right click on the video and embed the direct link (as above). If you use the hashtag #picplaypost in your work, it may even be featured via the app. Most of the examples they shown are from selfy, gym types, which detracts from how useful this platform could be for journalistic use. Don’t let that put you off!

Media organisations such as CNN are using the platform to illustrate stories on their website and on Instagram. It is very easy to use, free and looks very professional. Whats not to like, give it a go!. Download here Android and iOS. Here is another example of my work.

Martin Shakeshaft will be at Format PhotoForum – Derby May 28th 2013

A monthly meeting for discussions about photography. Led by photographer, journalist, author and teacher, Paul Hill.  Each session will present a different aspect within the field of photographic practice, including publishing, technique, artists and reading images. Relevant to image makers and enthusiasts from the region and beyond.

FORMAT: Photoforum is the last Tuesday of every month, 6.30 – 8.30 in QUAD – Derby.

28th May: Can photography change the world?
Since its inception photography has been used by numerous practitioners to affect social and political change whilst others have sought to establish it as a stand-alone art form.

Throughout his career, photojournalist and documentary photographer, Martin Shakeshaft, has, whenever possible, used the medium for political ends in order to help create a fairer society.  In the 1980s he photographed the miners’ strike producing one of the most extensive archives of that seminal event in British politics. A graduate of the renowned documentary photography course at the University of Wales, Newport, he has worked for the BBC, Newsweek, The Daily Mirror, and The Independent, amongst others. He is now course leader of the MA in Visual Journalism and Documentary Photography at De Montfort University. In conversation with Paul Hill, he will examine the role of photography in politics, and show his coverage of anti-establishment protests in this country and abroad, including the recent riots in Greece. If you have any photographic work that relates to the issues this forum raises, please bring it in for comment by Martin and Paul and other members of the forum.

Old Negro Space Program – A Film Not By Ken Burns

Whilst panning and zooming around still images in films is nothing new (it’s called rostrum camera work), the American film maker Ken Burns has become well known for using the technique in some of his work. He uses it to great effect where film footage of events is not available, check out Jazz and The Civil War.

Andy Bobrow has created a spoof Ken Burns style film, called The Old Negro Space Program. It is available on YouTube. Its very professionally done and a must see. Very Funny!