It is a very valuable experience to watch a person engaging with their passions. It is a privilege to observe, and one that I always value greatly. A person may embrace their chosen field with grace and serenity, or hurl themselves at it with full force. However it manifests itself, it is always mesmerising. What is truly awesome though, is when such people share their passions. That is gold dust. I spent a wonderful two days with two such people, who make up the business Alec Jones Services, and live in the history-crammed, beautiful town of South Shields. What made the experience all the more special is that Alec is my cousin, who I have not seen for a very long time. I am immensely happy to have reconnected with both him and his fiancé Diane. They are great and easy company, and I love them. They are also both powerhouses of creativity.
Alec is a photographer of many subjects, but having seen him at work I would describe him as more of an alchemist. With immense technical skill and an eye for capturing the atmosphere of things, he takes emotive and vibrant images. They are planned and prepared for meticulously, following scrutiny of solar flaring, earthbound weather, sunrise and sunset timings and heaven knows what else. What’s more, he is both daytime dweller and nocturnal, depending on anything from light conditions to cloud type; atmospheric pressure or the movement of the tides. Listening to him, I learned more than I did in a lifetime of my own observations and all of my science and Geography lessons at school combined. He is a Magus of earth, sea and sky.
The featured image for this blog paints a thousand words, but let me frame them. When I took the snap with my phone, Alec was capturing (with a behemoth of a camera), several snapshots of a water scene, a residential ‘lagoon’ complete with silver sailing ship sculptures and a sunset sky. He had already taken several different exposures in order to capture the various aspects of light and texture, and was collecting everything he needed to create the moment that the shots were taken. I think he was quite pleased, and having seen the result I am not surprised. It is uncanny. He captured what the place actually felt like, as well as what it looked like. Alec is an artist.
He also took my picture, which is a process that usually makes me twitch and flinch as if I am in the crosshairs of a high powered assault rifle. My parents photo albums are crammed with awful hunchbacked shots of me with contorted, grotesque facial expressions, which were my only way to survive being photographed. With Alec though, it felt easy. Natural, almost. Anybody who knows him will tell you that he is both softly spoken and mischievous, which is a genuinely endearing combination, in a photographer or otherwise. He is also kind and empathetic. I feel very moved that he actually wanted to photograph me, and the result is an image which I am very pleased to look at (which is a first). Two people even said there was a touch of the Poldark about them, which I am flabbergasted by. Thank you Alec!
On the website of Alec and Diane’s business it says ‘Imagine the Picture- it will be our starting point.’ It is testament to them both to use this as their motto, because I think they are both extremely empathetic folk. They are attuned to other people, and ready to teach or be instructed. Diane taught me how to make and cook Staffordshire Oatcakes, a delicacy that I have always loved. Her recipe was gleaned from many, many online versions and tweaked following countless forums and postings. They are made from scratch, taste delicious, and I loved learning how to make them. Like Alec, Diane creates things of great beauty from seperate elements and ingredients. She is a brilliant cook, and cooks intuitively, measuring by hand and feel. She is a culinary magus.
A look at their website will show you that they offer a wealth of different skills and services, but what cements all of them is this: that they are generous and altruistic people, who work together to create what they love. It was a joy to see this, and I am very much looking forward to seeing them both again as soon as possible. If you are in the North East and in need of photographic services, or if you are anywhere else for that matter, then look them up. You will not be dissapointed. Anything but, in fact.
© Tom Tide 2016