Happy High Performance

Do watch this brilliant video by Will and Oli from Firewood Pictures. It gives a flavour of the upcoming Happy High Performance learning day for businesses who want to stretch, embrace new ways of thinking, of collaborating, and of looking to the future. 

The video even contains a clip of my beardy face, at the last Creative Cakestorm. 

An Outsider Comes In With Cake

In some ways I’m a bit of an outsider in this learning event. I’m not an experienced coach or trainer – like the 16 brilliant people who are presenting and guiding the mezze of interactive seminars at the first ever Happy High Performance day in Warwickshire. 

But I do have one thing in common with them, and it makes me a good fit – I love to get people to connect, to collaborate, and to help each other improve themselves and their business. 

That’s why I set up the Creative Cakestorm group and events earlier this year. 10 – 15 creatives and freelancers get around a table at Brave Co-work with coffee and cake, and brainstorm ideas that can help each other – anything from how to manage feedback (practically and emotionally) to the importance of having passion projects (which we’ll be talking about on the 20th of September.

And that’s one of the main reasons I’m involved in the Happy High Performance event. The format of the Cakestorm is the perfect way to round up the day – getting groups of attendees around tables, with oodles of coffee and cake, brainstorming what they’ve got out of the day, and coming up with ideas to help their own businesses and help each other.

It’s collaborative. 

It’s challenging the normal ‘rules’ of business. 

It’s imaginative. 

It’s progressive.

It’s cake. 

If you want to find out more, go to the website: Happy High Performance

Stratford Business Forum ‘Big Breakfast’ at the gorgeous Billesley Manor Hotel


Billesley Manor Hotel near Stratford upon Avon with its gorges grounds by The Tall Photographer
The beautiful Billesley Manor hotel near Stratford upon Avon is under new management and they’re doing some lovely refurbs, the grounds are fabulous too.

What a venue for an early breakfast, even the weather played ball with a glorious June morning.

Gallons of fresh coffee and a good cooked breakfast gave the 60 attendees a good kick start.

And I got a nice surprise as a charity video I’d made with film maker Ben Atkinson got played too! More on that later.

A cooked English Breakfast at the Billesley Manor Hotel, Warwickshire by The Tall Photographer
I chose the veggie option, with free range eggs, but apparently the sausages were particularly good.
Coffee on tap  by The Tall Photographer
I might have had 3 coffees, I was there from 7am after all.

Who was there?

What I like about the Stratford Business Forum is that not only is there a huge range of business sizes and types, but also several voluntary organisations, the local council, local educational establishments – all coming together to talk about how they can help each other. It’s a very warm and convivial atmosphere.

Laurence Jones, Jack Marshall, Annette Gann  by The Tall Photographer
Brilliant people-photographer and friend Laurence Jones quaffs his first coffee & listens to Jack Marshall from Network Ltd & Annette Gann from Feel Good Do Good Work.
Daniel Feher, Carol Pratt, Anne Solomon  by The Tall Photographer
Businesses, charities and local authorities get to talk to each other: Daniel Feher from Sport IT, Carol Pratt from the Acorn’s Children’s Hospice & Anne Solomon from the council’s superb Venture House (love the new haircut Anne).

As well as the mingling and chatting, coffee and breakfast, there are also a few good talks from local people making a difference. All kicked off by the Forum’s cheerful and hugely connected organiser Jonathan Smith, and his makeshift bell.

Jonathan Smith  by The Tall Photographer
Order, orrrrrdeeerrrr! Jonathan Smith would make a great Speaker of the House.
Stephen Fearnley  by The Tall Photographer
Billesley Manor general manager Stephen Fearnley gave us a quick update about recent big changes in how the hotel is run.
Jo Reeves, Joanne Reeves  by The Tall Photographer
Billesley Manor sales director Jo Reeves gave us a blow by blow account of recent renovations, from building site to the fantastic room we were in… in just a few weeks. They really pulled out the stops.
Sara Aspley  by The Tall Photographer
Sara Aspley, chief executive of the Stratford Town Trust gave us a quick journey through her career from Harrods, Ikea, the RSC and now the Town Trust. She outlined the Trust’s priorities and spending, which amount to £2m of grants per year. And finished off with a surprise video…!

A surprise!

When I showed up at 7am I had no idea that a piece of my work would be shown on screen, get several laughs and a huge round of applause.

At the end of Sara Aspley’s talk about the Town Trust, she showed my and Ben Atkinson’s short film about The Men’s Shed, supported by the Trust.

There was laughter, perhaps the odd tear and all rounded off by applause – what a lovely recognition of our film, and the work the Men’s Shed, Foundation House and the Town Trust.

You can watch the film here:

We had a number of other quick talks:

Rosemary Henderson  by The Tall Photographer
Rosemary Henderson from The Business & Innovation Magazine will be focusing on Stratford upon Avon in the next issue, so get in touch with her if you want to feature.
Joe Baconett  by The Tall Photographer
Joe Baconett from StratForward told a few jokes and gave us some information (his words… and don’t worry Joe, you’re not the new Bernard Manning, thankfully!)
Beth Nicolson  by The Tall Photographer
Beth Nicolson from Citizen’s Advice in Stratford gave us a roundup of the hugely important work they do and appealed for any help businesses can give, whether financial or practical.
Elaine Griffin  by The Tall Photographer
Elaine Griffin from Clic Sargent gave a hugely passionate talk about the work they do with young people who have cancer, and their families.
Heads or Tails  by The Tall Photographer
Don’t worry, we weren’t invaded by terrorists, it was a fun fundraising game Jonathan held called ‘Heads or Tails’ which everyone enjoyed, and raised a whole chunk of money for Clic Sargent. I think Tor from StratForward might understand the rules next time…
Peter Monks  by The Tall Photographer
Peter Monks from Shakespeare Gin told us all about the Topiary Garden Gin Festival at Billesley Manor on the 7th of July, as well as all the other ways and places we could drink (and even make) gin. I think we ‘might’ have had several very enthusiastic responses… the Forum has gin fans!
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
All in all a great way to spend the morning, catching up with friends, making new contacts in business, charities and other organisations, noshing up a good breakfast, and raising money for a good cause – all by 9am! Bloody hell, that’s not bad going. Huge thanks to Jonathan, Cathryn and all at Billesley Manor for putting on such a welcoming event.

The next Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast is on the 17th of July, but there are more events organised by the Forum and the neighbouring Leamington Business Forum and Cheltenham Business Forum. For details look here: http://www.stratford-business-forum.co.uk/index.php

I’ll definitely be at the next event, so if you’re there come and say hello. And if you need photography or video for your business, drop me a line here.

So until then, here are a few more pics..

Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Danish pastries for Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Electric Zoo at Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer

I may be videoing the next event… so make sure you brush your hair if you’re coming.

Leamington and Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast

Clare Sawdon High Sheriff of Warwickshire at the Leamington Business Forum and Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast 12 April 2019
With no green tights or burly henchmen in evidence, Clare Sawdon, High Sheriff of Warwickshire addresses the Leamington Business Forum and Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast 12 April 2019.

You might think that a 7am meeting of yet-to-be-caffeinated business people would be sluggish and dull.

Think again.

Jonathan Smith has created a network of interesting and interested, energetic and eager business folk from an incredibly diverse range of industries and business sizes.

Martin Phillis from Definition Media and Howard Karloff from Colour; Noun by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Martin Phillis from film company Definition Media spots me pointing my lens towards him and Howard Karloff, energetic speaker from Colour; Noun. Martin’s on the ball despite only being half way through his first coffee of the day.

Location, Location, Location

This meeting was held at the recently refurbished Leamington Pump Rooms, a fabulous hall and conservatory. It’s next to the River Leam and the Pump Room & Jephson Gardens. It’s a great location, and the rooms are stunning.

Stuart Smith of KPMG by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Stuart Smith of KPMG deep in animated conversation in the breakfast queue. We all had a sizeable bun filled with meaty or veggie English breakfast ingredients – fabulous nosh to start the day. The Pump Room Cafe did a great job serving so many people efficiently and warmly, as they always do.
Danish pastries in the Leamington Pump Rooms Cafe by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Naughty pastries also available. I’m writing this the morning after, at breakfast time, and I really want one of these now! I wish they delivered to Stratford upon Avon.

First, Chat and Breakfast

After a good session of general chat, supping of teas, coffees and orange juices, we all sashayed into the fabulous Leamington Pump Rooms hall. It’s rather grand, with chandeliers, a gallery at each end and lovely, bright French doors & big windows along one side. Classical statues and marbled and gilded plaster columns give the room a gentle grandeur.

The Leamington Pump Rooms by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
See, told you!

We had time for some chat at our tables. I had a good old catch up with Carole Sleight from Art in the Park and HB&O’s Mark Ashfield. I remember laughing a lot while listening to Carole’s stories, as I was trying not to dribble too much tomato and mushroom sauce from my breakfast bun into my beard.

Brief and Engaging Talks

We then had a series of engaging and often humourous talks from Michael Mogan about Coventry City of Culture, Clare Sawdon on her role as High Sheriff of Warwickshire, Christina Boxer about the Commonwealth Games, Carole Longden about the Garden of Wellbeing at Stratford Hospital and Michael Spillane from Barnardo’s.

Michael Mogan from Coventry City of Culture by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Michael Mogan gave a very entertaining talk about Coventry’s City of Culture plans. He should be a stand up comedian.
Clare Sawdon High Sheriff of Warwickshire
Clare Sawdon explained about her role of the High Sheriff of Warwickshire. She’s been a magistrate for many years and she’s using her role as High Sheriff to highlight the problems of domestic abuse.
Carole Longden from Event Cow by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Carole Longden from Event Cow told us to put space in our diaries to help the Stratford Hospital build a new garden of wellbeing.
Michale Spillane from Barnardo's by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Michael Spillane from Barnado’s appealing for reliable and caring volunteers to help mentor vulnerable young people.
Jonathan Smith from the Business Forums Stratford Business Forum Leamington Business Forum by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Last but not least, the host with the most, the ever sparkling Jonathan Smith from the Business Forums, the man responsible for bringing all these people together.

You can find out about future events by Stratford Business Forum here, and Leamington Business Forum here.

If you come to an event and see a tall, beardy fellow waving a camera around, in between cups of coffee, that’ll probably be me.

If you’d like me to photograph or film your event, or do photography or videography for your business, drop me a line here.

A Whimsey with Wistman’s Wood

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good woodland photography session – and Wistman’s Wood was perfect to get back in the woodland and impressionist photography flow.

I helped My Darling Jules set up her Sew Me Something stand at a textiles fair near Exeter. Whilst she was womanning her stand for a few days I took the time to do some creative photography.

I’ve not spent any proper time doing creative photography since my accident in October 2017 (I broke my back, silly sausage that I am). Jules knew that I needed to get back to my art photography, but I was finding it hard to get motivated to do so. So she got me to come away with her, help her do her stand, and then spend most of the rest of the time waving my cameras about.

I don’t know why I lost my creative mojo, but it wasn’t lurking too far under my skin. Alone with my cameras (stills and video) the layers of resistance soon peeled away and I started to get that familiar energy in my chest, that urge to create.

I started where we had rented our Air BnB, pretty much on the waterfront in the pretty little town of Topsham, but the pull I get towards woodland got me googling.

Wistman’s Wood

Wistman’s Wood seemed just my cup of tea, I saw a few photos online and decided to grab a few granola bars, bottle of water and camera gear. Off I drove across Dartmoor.

The wood is a little walk from the car park by the road. It was the furthest I’d walked since losing my battle with gravity. It’s a bit bumpy, the further you get, but I took it easy. A few other other people were tramping to the wood to my fore and aft.

Near the closest edge of the woodland I saw this tree, and had to set up tripod and camera. It was simply the best tree I’d seen in years. Wistman’s wood is full of incredible trees.

a great tree at wistman's wood

I knew I could get held up photographing the gorgeous details here, but wanted to explore the wood further. I only had a couple of hours until sunset.

Pressing on, I got to a part of the wood empty of other explorers.

The sun was coming down, so I had to work fairly fast. This next tree had such a fabulous shape, with mossy boulders below, I had to give it a solar diamond for the evening.

wistman's wood near sunset

See the ferns in residence on its burly arms.

In some ways, I was here ‘at the wrong time’. The wood is perhaps at its most photogenic when the mists descend, and the light is flat. Then it is a pure palette of green, with foggy net petticoats.

I just couldn’t quite get the photographs I had in my head, the light was harsh, the sky was very bright.

It was time for a break. I sat on a cushioned mossy boulder, refreshing myself with a few bites of granola washed down with Devon water.

Impressionist Photography

It was time to fling away detail. I narrowed my eyes so I could only see colour and form, and ideas started to pile in.

I grabbed my camera, set it up for long exposures, and began using some of my favourite ‘intentional camera movement’ (ICM) techniques.

wistman's wood impressionist photograph

First was my twist/spin technique that I first used with bluebells several years ago. I quite liked this shot, with just a hint of the blue sky, and the lichen on the trees giving a few highlights.

This technique also works well looking up at the tree canopy too. But I wanted to capture the moss-clad boulders, and so began trying some other movements and compositions.

Less than two minutes after the photograph above, I took this next one.

wistman's wood impressionist photograph

I had the camera stopped right down, so very little light was coming through the lens. The shutter was open for a fifth of a second. I kept the camera still at first, then at the last moment just before the shutter closed I swept the lens up.

It almost looks like an underwater scene, with light filtering through layers of kelp above.

This next photo used the same settings, taken a bit further into the woods – it looks almost jungle-like I think.

wistmans wood impressionist photograph

I barely kept the camera still at all, but instead of sweeping up fast to get the long, thin light trails, I moved the lens upwards very little. This gives a very painterly, impressionist effect – broad daubs with a palette knife.

More Photos Soon

There are many more photographs, some of them moving from impressionist to abstract. They’ll have to wait for another day. If you sign up to this blog, or my Five Good Things weekly email of… er… five good things, you’ll know as soon as I put them online.

Wistman’s Wood is incredible – ancient trees, mossy boulders, lichen and ferns dressing the trees up. I could spend days there, and never get bored. It may not have been ‘at its best’, but it was still gorgeous. I’d love to visit again in summer and autumn, just imagine autumn mists there. Let me know if you go, and do let me know what you think of the photographs above.

Impressionist Flower Photography

Impressionist Photography of Flowers - Confetti Fields Heart of the Ballet by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer


As I’ve become older, and beardier, I’ve become more entranced by the potential of impressionist flower photography.

Maybe it’s because I’m starting to look like Monet.

Black and white photograph of Claude Monet in 1899
Charlie Budd in 1899

A Visit to the Confetti Fields

On a recent excursion to the remarkable confetti flower fields with my friend, the photographer Charlotte Doran Davies, my love for blurring reality was just the thing.

Due the hot weather, almost every single bloom in the entire field had ‘gone over’ – they were dry, crinkled and looking rather sad.

The same might be said for some of the other photographers who had gone to snap the glorious blooms – some of them wanted lovely close up photos of the flowers in pristine condition, and none were to be had.

But to me it was a scintillating opportunity to make glorious swirls of colour, to make the flowers dance.

There were strict instructions not to pick any flowers, so I couldn’t swirl the blooms.

Nor could I swirl the dance floor – the field itself.

But I could swirl the viewer, my camera.

At first I was thinking of Monet

Initially, my photographs were, perhaps, more Monet-like – I used very small camera movements to create a slight dancing movement.

Impressionist Flower Photography - Dancing Delphiniums after Monet by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Dancing Delphiniums after Monet

Monet Agapanthus
Monet’s Agapanthus

But then I tried a technique I started using last year in bluebell woods – the twist.

Bluebell Woodland Swirl by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer - Impressionist Flower Photography
One of my first forays into swirling photography. No photoshop, just twisting the camera as I took the shot.

And then Degas became my inspiration

And as soon as I tried it in the Confetti Fields, I was reminded of ballet dancers.

More specifically, the ballet dancers of Degas.

Dancers by Degas
Ballet Scene in pastel by Degas

He painted them again and again.

 L’Étoile, ou la Danseuse sur Scène
L’Étoile, ou la Danseuse sur Scène

I haven’t always liked these paintings, but there is a certain whimsy about them that I find increasingly appealing.

So my camera danced.

Impressionist Flower Photography - Confetti Fields Principal Dancer and Corps de Ballet by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Confetti Fields Principal Dancer and Corps de Ballet

 

Impressionist Flower Photography - Confetti Fields Heart of the Ballet by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Confetti Fields Heart of the Ballet

 

Impressionist Flower Photography - Principal Ballet Dancer and Posy by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Confetti Fields Principal Ballet Dancer and Posy

 

Impressionist Flower Photography - Pas a Deux by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Confetti Fields Pas a Deux

 

Impressionist Flower Photography - Roaring Ballet Crowd in a Standing Ovation by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Confetti Fields Roaring Ballet Crowd in a Standing Ovation

 

Let me know what you think of my impressionist flower photography.

And let me know whether you’d like me to write a more technical piece about how I make these images.

I’m going to be making test prints of all of these photographs, and more.

If you’re interested in a print for home or workplace, or you’d just like to tell me what you think, do drop me a line on my contact page. 

 

Business Biscotti in Stratford upon Avon

Business Biscotti at the Crowne Plaze Hotel in Straford upon Avon by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer


To promote my photography and video production services, I’m trying different ways to meet business owners who might need what I do – and Business Biscotti in Stratford upon Avon seemed ideal.

I’d already met a few of the people who said they were going, at the brilliant monthly Donut Time networking sessions at Venture House.

Yes, I know, I seem to be attracted to events with biscuits, doughnuts or cake in the title.

Amy Widman from Everyone Active at Stratford Leisure Centre at the Business Biscotti at the Crowne Plaza in Stratford upon Avon by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Amy Widman from Everyone Active at Stratford Leisure Centre talking about how networking can be a useful part of marketing with Anne Solomon of Venture House and and Blake Newbold of Everyone Active.

I asked the wonderfully warm-hearted June Irani whether I could attend and take photos, and she generously agreed. Continue reading “Business Biscotti in Stratford upon Avon”

Working with Wharton Natural Infrastructure Consultants


Sometimes you really gel with the people you work with, and this is the case with the team at Wharton Natural Infrastructure Consultants.

I was just thinking about getting back to work as a photographer (recovering from a broken back) when I was contacted by the company director Pete Wharton.

Preparation

Pete explained that the company was rebranding, had taken on new people due to expansion, and so needed a range of fresh staff photographs for a new website. Continue reading “Working with Wharton Natural Infrastructure Consultants”

LinkedIn Local in Stratford upon Avon

Sally Crane Ian Tomlinson and Julia Suzuki at the LinkedIn Local Stratford upon Avon 12 July 2018 by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer-1


I’d never heard of a LinkedIn Local meeting before, but it sounded like a good idea when Ian Tomlinson mentioned it to me.

I’ve been to a lot of Tweetups, and they’ve been great for business and socially. The Stratford Tweetup organised by Sharon Stephens and Lou Fox is particularly good.

I’ve organised an Instagram gathering (Instacake) which was great fun and really rewarding.

Continue reading “LinkedIn Local in Stratford upon Avon”