Category Archives: Photography

Small Goals, Small Achievements, Happy Days

Serendipity Feeds Enthusiasm

Recently, two linked pieces of good fortune resulted in me achieving a goal I hadn’t realised I’d had: to have one of my musical heroes welcome a PhillConnellPhotos print into his life. I’m going to tell you the story. If you’re looking for instant gratification or ‘YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT’ clickbait, you’re on the wrong website.


I was contacted by an old friend a few months ago. We’d last spent time together pretending to be in a band in my schoolmate’s cellar in 1987, and the magic of Facebook has made us realise we still have some good things in common. He suggested we go to see The Wedding Present together, and I agreed this was a marvellous idea.


The day of the gig came around and we met up in a very rainy Manchester. Over a pint of Ruby Ale (me) and a glass of good red wine (John) we talked about film making (John) and photography (me) as well as our mutual love of good music. An old friendship rekindled, we walked through the wet streets of Manchester to the venue. John’s filmmaking exploits can be seen in more detail on his site, Willow Tale.


The gig was on the night after the horrific evening of shootings in Paris, so security at the venue was pretty tight. I was asked to show the contents of my very masculine manbag to one of the door guys, so I duly unzipped and explained that it was ‘mostly my drugs; I’m diabetic’ and was waved onwards. Nobody noticed my new Fuji X-A2 tucked neatly in there. Oh how I love my little new camera! John was subjected to a full frisk, I’m pretty sure that was just because he looks like a hippy.


When the final support act exited the stage (Badly Drawn Boy: he was terrible), we executed our plan. As the crowd breathed, people dispersed: they walked outside for a smoke, or to the bar for a drink, or to the loo for a wee. We took our chance, walked straight to front centre of the crowd and waited for the main attraction.


After the usual faffing of engineers and heavy lifters, The Wedding Present came on stage and began an energetic and entertaining set with a mix of classics like ‘Kennedy’, ‘Deer Caught in the Headlights’, ‘Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft’, ‘Dare’ and the wonderful finale of ‘My Favourite Dress’. I spent most of my time with John dancing to the upbeat tunes overlaid with heart-rending lyrics of teenage angst, adultery and frustration. (There’s a playable set list on if you want to relive the night’s classics)


But here’s the good part, for me anyway: between the dancing and jostling for position at the front of a lively middle-aged crowd, I took a few photos which I’m proud of. At the time these were intended purely as memories for me, as most of my photographs are.


After the gig John and I bought a sandwich from Sainsbury’s (rock and roll, kids) and jumped on the tram home. We went to our homes and went to sleep.

The Wedding Present, 14th November 2015 by Phill Connell Photos

The Wedding Present, 14th November 2015


Two Days Later

On processing the photos, I realised they were actually pretty good. I had an idea. What’s the worst that could happen? It was too late to get thrown our of the gig for sneaking a decent camera in, wasn’t it? One tweet later and the deed was done: I sent one of the images to David Gedge, The Wedding Present’s driving force, writer, lyricist and vocalist. I simply offered a free print if he liked it.


He liked it. He retweeted it. I gained a few fellow fan followers on twitter. But the main thing was: DAVID GEDGE LIKED MY PHOTO OF HIM. As a fan, this made me very very happy. As a photographer, this meant that a performer considered my photo to be good enough. I ordered the print, and added a wider shot of the band too. I posted them to Brighton, the band’s UK headquarters.


A Few More Days Later

…I got a direct message from the man himself to say a simple thank you. A common courtesy from a man who spends his very busy life entertaining people and writing excellent songs.


This single episode motivated more as a photographer than anything else in the last few months. Someone whose opinion I valued enjoyed a photo that I’d taken. A man whose music I have listened to since I was a spotty student gave a simple acceptance of a simple offer. It was a basic exchange of goods: I’d had the enjoyment of the music, he got a couple of prints. Everyone was happy. The exchange reminded me that I can take a pretty good photo and that people do like my work.

David Gedge, 14th November 2015 by Phill Connell Photos

David Gedge, 14th November 2015 by Phill Connell Photos


So What? So Try It!

So if you’re feeling like you’re working in a vacuum, struggling for motivation, just try offering something to someone who’ll appreciate it. We all have something to give: some talent or gift that another person will love. That feeling you get from another person liking your stuff is an enormously motivating gift.


Then get back to it, renewed, refreshed and reinvigorated. Enjoy it.


Hoodie Season Is Upon Us

Time To Buy Those Winter Warmers

I was sat at my desk in work today, considering how it was just that little bit too cold to have not brought a cardigan in. Searching through my ‘top drawer of mystery’ for a Cup-A-Soup to bring my core temperature back up to a normal level, I remembered that I’ve designed some hoodies!

I wasn’t allowed to get a second rough work book in Middle School, because of my doodling habit. Now, over 30 years later, I’ve finally found an outlet for my doodles. People across the world from Lancashire to California are wearing clothes with my designs on. How awesome is that? God, I LOVE the internet. The way it’s allowed people with ideas to connect easily with people who love those ideas and other people who can make them happen.

Anyway – back to winter clothes…. I’ve put some ideas for hoodies below, which you can buy online at brilliant prices. If you’re too hard for a hoody (I’ll copyright that phrase) then quality t-shirts are also available.

Let’s Have A Look Then!

The “I’ve Got This!” hoody – This is the design that started all this off. Also available as a reflective design for extra safety from my good friends at Ahead Solutions here.

"I've Got This !" Hoody

“I’ve Got This !” Hoody

“Totally Styled That Out” pullover hoody – Celebrating the moment when enthusiasm triumphs over talent. We’ve all been there.

… and for photographers:

“STOP! and I’ll shoot” sweater – Also available as a hoody, of course!

There are more designs available, so have a look around my RedBubble shop and see what you like. The quality from the teams at RedBubble and Ahead Solutions is brilliant – Global customers can’t be wrong.

Tell ’em Phill sent you 🙂

How to remove a photo filter when it’s stuck on your lens

Oh NO! I Can’t Get The Polarising Filter Off My Lens!

I know I’m not the only person this has happened to. I felt a bit of a fool when I realised I couldn’t unscrew my fairly expensive filter from my (much more expensive) lens recently. Looking into the problem I discovered that lots of people had suffered the same issue, but precious few had solved it easily.

Any filter might get stuck and the main reason seems to be that the aluminium used by your camera manufacturer to give you robustness and light weight is simply prone to sticking. Polarisers (polarizers for you Uh-Merrickuns) are the worst because they’re designed with a freely-rotating front glass bound to the screw-in mount, so you just can’t get your fingers into the damned job properly!

Let’s look at the options.


1. Dab a little grease/vaseline/lube onto the thread of your filter before first use. DO NOT get this onto your filter or lens glass or it will be a nightmare to clean off. That’s why I’m not a fan of this idea. I have read that bar soap works too. But chances are if you’re reading this far down the page that it’s already too late, yes?

2. Don’t screw the bloody thing on so tight! Single glass filters should stay put while the rest of your lens does the moving. Polarisers need to be used more carefully but if you get into the habit of rotating the outside (moving) glass clockwise from the end as you look into your lens, it won’t unscrew by accident. Just check periodically that you’re not overtightening the inside (screw mount) glass against the lens.


1. Filter Wrenches. It’s very easy to get small filter wrenches from Amazon or any camera retailer. These come in various sizes so either buy a set or get the right one for your lens size. It’ll be on the lens spec sheet and if you bought a filter you should know it! Failing that, just measure the diameter across the thread with a ruler.

I bet they’re excellent to have in your bag. If your filter is only “a bit” stuck these should free it easily. My filter was too stuck beyond these little flimsy-looking things by the time I finally acted to get the job done.

2. Baby Boa. Otherwise known as the “sledgehammer to crack a nut” approach! When the filter just won’t move, this little device provides a tight and even grip around the full circumference so there are no pressure points, maximising your chances of successful removal. All I can say is that it worked for me! The bonus is that the Baby Boa will also loosen pretty much anything that’s stuck as well as lens filters. Jam jars; ketchup lids; wine bottle tops… all loosened brilliantly.

The Baby Boa. No more stuck filters!

The Baby Boa. No more stuck filters!

3. Elastic Band. It’s got to be worth a try. By providing some extra grip and reducing the ‘pinch points’ of your fingers on the filter edges, you might get some success with this cost-free option. I didn’t.

Do You Need One?

Only you know the answer to that, but… For just a few quid I highly recommend that you buy the Baby Boa. It’s not as small as the filter wrenches so you might not take it everywhere with you, but it gives a much stronger grip and it’s much more versatile. If your filter has been stuck for a while, the extra grip and leverage also gives you a much higher chance of removal where the filter wrenches might not be strong enough.

Tell ’em Phill sent you! 🙂

Club Competition Entries – 2014 POTY

Isn’t a POTY something a baby poos in?

No. It’s the Photographer Of The Year competition. This will be the first one I’ve ever entered. The competition, run by my local Geek Club, is run over 4 quarterly sessions and I need to submit my first batch of 5 photos this week.

I ran a vote via Google Plus, with a couple of people at work and whoever was at home tonight (Sharon, Fiona and Emma) and these 5 photos emerged as clear winners.

What do you think? Just click on any one of the images to open the gallery.

I’ll update with scores after the competition in another week or so.

Wish me luck! 🙂

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