Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Interview

I was interviewed yesterday by Sky Tyne and Wear about my previous post 'Ice Cream &Aesop and the truth about Jimmy'

 here is a link to the video interview.

The shot below is of Craig the face of new novel 'Ice cream & Aesop' which is available to download via this link now

See the image on my flickr page here © Anthony Dorman

India Adams of Sky Tyne and Wear can just be seen in the background filming me photographing Craig. Before I met with India I had another chance to chat (although I felt like I was interviewing him) with Craig. He is a lovely bloke who could do with a bit of good fortune. If someone would like to take the chance he can paint or work as a labourer. contact me for details. Please don't assume that everyone who is homeless is a threat or has chosen this life. Each and everyone of us is only a few bad decisions/lack of luck away from truly having nothing.

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Monday, 27 May 2013

'Ice cream and Aesop' and the Truth about Jimmy

In 2010 I took a candid photograph of a homeless man known to the folk of Newcastle as 'Homeless Jimmy'. Little did I know at the time the impact this photograph would have on myself and others.

See the original photo on flickr by clicking here  © Anthony Dorman

I have written about my brief experiences with 'Jimmy' since taking that first image in earlier posts including the post I wrote about his reported death. Last summer I took a quick series of photographs of 'Jimmy' whilst walking through Newcastle, shortly after I took these images I went on my honeymoon with my new wife Rachael. On my return I was alerted by a friend that there were numerous reports of 'Jimmy's death circulating around facebook and local forums connected to the daily life of the city. 

See the original image on flickr by clicking here © Anthony Dorman

I posted about his death and was amazed by the kind words of strangers who emailed me with their memories of 'Jimmy', seeing him as one of life's lost and gentle souls . Before long rumours began to circulate mentioning sightings of him back on the streets and doubt spread over me that I had posted something untrue. As mentioned earlier in some of my posts, I took to the streets in search of the truth, speaking with homeless charities and numerous homeless people who knew him. After a few weeks of searching and no concrete evidence of his death I received an email, and then a phone call from 'Jimmy's sister, and the story of this man was told to me. The man known as 'Jimmy' was born Euan McLachlan on 23rd of March 1954, and known to his friends and family as Ian. After a series of sad events in his life as a young man Ian slowly began to turn his back on everything and everyone he knew, suffering from mental illness, he ended up on the streets. I would like to point out that his family and loved ones tried continuously to get him off the streets; concerned about his welfare. As many people in Newcastle will testify Ian simply wanted to be alone, never asking for help from anyone, even the homeless charity workers in Newcastle knew of him, but nothing about him. Ian's family would check a facebook page dedicated to him and communicate with the local police to confirm his whereabouts and well being. When they saw the posts mentioning his death they reported him missing to the police. Ian had been found in Benton suffering after the severe weather the city experienced last summer and was taken to hospital. Sadly his condition was serious and he passed away in hospital on 20th July 2012 as an unknown homeless man. Because of complicated legal issues connected with his identification I have been unable to post this information until now. I have met with Ian's sister and spoken numerous times with her on the phone regarding her brother, his life and tragic passing. I am happy to have discovered that my photographs gave her comfort and have received her blessing to post about her brother.

See my 'Homeless' set on flickr by clicking here © Anthony Dorman

Since taking the initial photographs of Ian I have been described as a 'Homeless Photographer' which is odd, as it is a tiny part of what I do, but does now have some truth in the description. I have met and photographed a number of diverse and, nearly always, friendly homeless people on the streets of Newcastle; many of them now know me by name and as 'the lad with the camera'. My photographs of homeless people were discovered online by author Keir McCabe  who contacted me about producing a cover for his book 'Ice Cream and Aesop'. Keir once homeless himself has managed to turn his life around, no longer homeless he has written his novel based on the hardship's of homeless life. Here is a synopsis of the novel in Keir's words;
"Solomon McGrath is 29 years old, homeless, and living on the former grounds of Jacobs Ice Cream; a haven for the Rough Sleepers and Street Drinkers of a small town. Based on real events, Ice Cream & Aesop is Solomon’s story; the story of one man’s descent into the gutter, told through the fables of Aesop."
Keir asked me if I could provide him with a striking image of a homeless man eating ice cream. 'Yes', I agreed thinking that this could be a great image. The difficulty of the brief soon became apparent; first I have to find someone homeless with a striking face, then they need to willingly have their photograph taken eating an ice cream. Days of searching the streets looking for the right face and person were flying by with no results. Then one day I walked passed Craig sitting near Central Station and I wondered if he could be 'the one'. I explained what I was doing and he agreed to have a test photo taken to send to Keir and that if suitable I would find him again to take the book cover image.

See the original image on flickr by clicking here © Anthony Dorman

 After Keir agreed that Craig was right for the image I spent another couple of days searching for him again, without luck. After chatting with Debbie 'Newcastle's best known Big Issue Seller' she told me where and when to find him. She was spot on, and Craig and I set off to buy an ice cream and take his photo. Craig has been living 'mostly on' and off the streets for the last 20 years, he is quiet and humble, and after chatting told me a bit about his life which echoed Ian's story. For his time, I bought him food and cigarettes as agreed and have promised to look after him whenever I see him.

Here is the link to 'Ice Cream and Aesop' by Keir McCabe featuring my portrait of Craig
The novel is available in Kindle eBook form for free from Monday 27th May 2013 to Friday 31st May 2013.

I believe that I would never have had the opportunity to produce a book cover like this without taking my initial photograph of Ian/'Jimmy'. I also believe that I have made new friends like Joe and Craig who I will look out for on the streets and try and help them the best I can. I know that my photographs of Ian helped his family with their bereavement and find Keir's novel to be a testament to the human spirit, hope and achievement.

To Ian: I hope that you are looking down on all of these positive connections. By being photographed as you were (free, and your own man) you have had a positive impact on my life and how I see the world. You were a gentle soul and our city is a lesser place without you.

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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Searching For Joe

Over the last few years I have taken a number of photographs of homeless people. Mostly the homeless people of my hometown Newcastle upon Tyne. It was never my intention to document homelessness; it just happened via a mixture of chance encounters with interesting people. One of the most engaging homeless characters I have met recently is Joe. After taking the initial photos below I have seen him a few times and stopped to chat with him and provide him with some food and a warm drink. 

See 'Searching' on flickr here © Anthony Dorman

Due to a set of random contacts I am about to look specifically for a homeless person willing to pose for a book cover for a novel written about an ex-homeless persons experiences of life on the street. Joe may or may not be a suitable face but I will be out again tomorrow searching for him to see if he will help me in my quest. 

Despite his circumstances Joe offered a cheery chat and happily posed for his photograph. He offered to help me locate the homeless people of Newcastle if I wanted and we had a good chat about photography, the weather (as you do when you are British) and other things. I saw strangers look at me with some kind of mixture of shock and disgust when I shook Joe's hand when we finished chatting. I am always amazed by how pathetic and prejudiced people can be towards the homeless. I don't know Joe's full story yet but I do know that he spoke to me with a friendly, gentle and honest manner I wish was more common in the more fortunate population.

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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

In the Beginning....

I first picked up a camera to document a holiday to Thailand. I was so excited to be visiting a new continent and wanted a record of the trip. On my return I realised just how much enjoyment I found in the process of taking photographs. So began a bumpy and interesting journey learning about photography. I used to head out at all times of day looking for anything interesting to photograph including people, places and things. I never had a notion of what I wanted to photograph and felt free to shoot anything without over thinking the process. 

 See this image on flickr here; Blyth © Anthony Dorman

It did not take long to realise that people would be the focus of my photography. I was becoming increasingly drawn to portraiture and street photography and began studying not only the masters of the genre but up and coming photographers showing their images on flickr. Being a natural people watching voyeur this was an instinctive choice of style and theme that has influenced my whole approach to photography. 

Picking a style of work is not always a conscience decision however I think it is all too easy to get stuck in a rut. Whilst looking through my flickr page I have become increasingly aware that I was moving away from my initial interest in documenting everything. Even though I will always love portrait based work I have made the conscience decision to mix things up and get back to basics - shoot everything!   

See this image on flickr here; Untitled © Anthony Dorman

Like many photographers I know I am guilty of being a bit too precious about the images I produce. Being critical about what images you produce is a good thing however being overly critical can prevent you from learning. It can also remove the fun and excitement out of something that is a passion and to some extent defines you. Whats the point of moping around feeling dejected when you see great images by other photographers? There is no point - simply get out with your camera and start shooting. Try something different, a different style, theme or location. I have been guilty of sitting at home watching crap TV instead of heading out to a new location with the enthusiasm of I felt when I first picked my camera up.

See this image on flickr here; West End © Anthony Dorman

These images are not my normal style, people may or may not like them, it does not bother me either way. I am going back to basics because there is something magical about heading into the unknown with a camera and no preconceived notions of what you want to shoot or are expected to shoot by your peers.

One reminder of how much photography has shaped my life occurred shortly after I took the first image. Whilst shooting a family portrait at the beach a while back my tripod ended up being covered in sand. Since then it has been less than steady. The sand and dampness has corroded the bolts that tighten the adjustable legs. Whilst shooting the long exposure image I decided to check out another angle and walked away from my camera. Imagine my horror as I turned back to see the said tripod toppling over with my Canon 5DMKII and f2.8 24-70mm fastened to the top! Having never dropped this camera before I was distraught to hear it crashing onto concrete from about a 5ft height. I was sure the camera, lens or both would be broken. To my amazement it appears to be working just fine. I did have to straighten out my hotshoe (flash mount) and the surround now has a hefty dint! I had been told by a photographer that he dropped his 5DMKII down some stairs twice without a problem but never wanted to test his theory. In the seconds that I watched the camera fall my heart stopped, what would I do - I can't afford to replace this gear! It reminded me that this crazy stupid, expensive maddening passion of mine is also something that brings me great joy and experiences I would not have had otherwise. I will of course continue to produce street portraits but this will not be the sole focus of what I do. I am just a bloke with a camera; I'm not shooting for anyone other than myself now and this idea makes me happy.

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Sunday, 10 February 2013

New Light / Old Subject

Sometimes it's difficult to make time for the things that that you love. Recently I have been working so much that trying to find a spare hour or so to get out with my camera. Although I have been producing some commercial work nothing excites me more than spare time and my home town of Newcastle to explore.

View Tyne Bridge on my flickr page here © Anthony Dorman

I ventured into the city very early in the morning and was mesmerised by the winter light. I hardly ever take photographs of the Tyne Bridge as it's done to death. Don't get me wrong its an amazing iconic bridge synonymous with Newcastle but there are too many standard images of it around. Saying all that I simply could not help myself, the light was too nice. I have to say that I do like the image, although it's square format it feels cinematic to me and I am always drawn to images that could be movie stills. I posted the image on flickr and it had a great response. 

View Breathe on my flickr page here © Anthony Dorman 

As the morning was getting later the and the light was becoming stronger I saw a young guy about to light up. I watched him for a short while to see how the smoke would show up in the sunlight. Deciding that it looked great I walked up to him and told him I wanted to photograph him. Like a lot of people in my city he was quite relaxed and said 'OK'. I told him to forget I was there and just enjoy his smoke. The way the sunlight, smoke and hair looked in the contrasting light suggested black and white was the way to go. I quite often set my camera to B&W when shooting as I like to read the image in its highlights and shadows. I always shoot RAW just in case I am wrong and want colour.

I'm still struggling with time to shoot what I want but will hopefully be out and about with my camera soon including two location model shoots which I'm planning.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Homeless In Newcastle (Homelessness Is No Joke)

Anyone who follows my blog or my photography will know of my photographs of homeless people in Newcastle. The image below was taken a few weeks ago in Newcastle. Its hard to believe that this was taken only 5 mins walk from the city center but it was. There is no editing on this photograph at all - converted from RAW file to JPEG only. I was quite nervous taking this image as I did not want to wake the sleeping man.

See my flickr set on the Homeless here:

One thing I have found since posting my original homeless photographs is how polar opposite people are on the issue. They either find time to ridicule the homeless or try somehow to help. I have been disgusted at a local facebook page dedicated to a particular homeless man who has passed away recently. Although there are some lovely people who use the page it is populated by the dregs of society using it to be vile towards people less fortunate. In this day and age there should be no need for people to be homeless. Its also sad that people still act like nasty children on social media sites.

Here is my post for the 'Homeless Jimmy' Page:

Hi - the facebook post is rubbish. I have spoken with the Hostel mentioned this morning who have never heard of the man mentioned. They do not actually take homeless people either. I have spoke also with the family of the homeless man and whilst their is still an official police investigation I won't name this man but here are some facts.

1) A homeless man was taken into hospital in a serious condition. He gave his first name and birth date. The surname he gave was almost identical to the name of his family who have come forward. First name and birth date were an exact match. This man who was in hospital for a few weeks never regained his health and passed away.

2)His Family who do not live in Newcastle watched his reported sightings on facebook and via communication with police support officers for years. When they had not heard anything they reported him missing to the police. Both the family and the police used my photographs to confirm the identity of the man. Unfortunately his body was cremated before a formal family identification could take place.

3) There is an ongoing DNA test going on which is taking a long time much to the annoyance of the family who would like finally to put this whole thing behind them.

I would also like to add that the family (I met up with this man's sister recently) gave me his entire life story. He chose to be homeless and suffered with mental health issues. They have for years tried everything imaginable to get him off the streets and look after him. They are devastated by what has happened.

A second person who knew him came forward on my twitter account and gave me the same name as the family did.

I don't know why people feel the need to be so nasty on social networking sites. I have a feeling that the 'Jimmy' group will end up in trouble at some point. I can't post on the page because i'm banned. I was banned for defending myself. Someone thought it was acceptable for me to be abused whilst sticking up for the plight of homeless people.

As soon as the legal issues have been resolved and with the blessing of the family i will tell this mans story ASAP.


Thursday, 27 September 2012


I was contacted by an old school friend about producing some portraits of her daughter Bethany. The images below are a mixture of natural and studio lit images produced in Mayfield Studio in Newcastle. Bethany was very natural in front of the camera which made my job much easier.

 © Anthony Dorman

 © Anthony Dorman

 © Anthony Dorman

 © Anthony Dorman

 © Anthony Dorman

© Anthony Dorman

Although the majority of my photographs are taken using only available light I feel a studio project may be on the cards as there is something very dynamic about having total control over lighting. I hope I can find more models as natural as Bethany in the future.

I have started a facebook page for my photographs which you can view here;

I also tweet here;

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Homeless in Newcastle

Anyone who knows me or follows my blog will know that I have recently posted about the death of a well known homeless man in Newcastle. There have been developments that I can't go into just now regarding his death that are to say the least 'complicated'. Due to supposed recent sightings of the presumed deceased man I ventured back out onto the streets of Newcastle in search of answers. After speaking with the Police and The Cyrenians I was even more perplexed so decided to find Newcastle's homeless themselves in search of answers. Here are a couple of humble souls who looked at the photo of the man I was searching information about and offered their knowledge. 

                                                                © Anthony Dorman

I believe the man above is often mistaken for my missing homeless man due to his beard, hat and posture. In fact I believe Eddie below believes the man pictured above to be the missing man.

                                                                  © Anthony Dorman

                                                                   © Anthony Dorman

                                                                © Anthony Dorman

I might now begin a serious project based on homelessness based on my experiences of dealing with the homeless of Newcastle.


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Korcula Procession of Candles

I have been on honeymoon with my wife in Croatia recently. We stayed on the wonderful island of Korcula which is a fantastic destination on the Dalmation coast. Its a real gem, not spoilt by overly commercial tourism like many other European holiday destinations. Twice a year there is a candle light procession through the streets of the old town where crucifixes and other Catholic icons are carried through the streets by the local men.

 © Anthony Dorman

 © Anthony Dorman

 © Anthony Dorman

 © Anthony Dorman

© Anthony Dorman

One of the things that impressed me about the island and the procession was that children are actively encouraged to participate in every aspect of life.

These shots were taken with only the available light which was tricky as there was very little. A large aperture and high ISO was used with slow shutter speed.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Homeless Man Newcastle Dies


I was informed a few days ago that the homeless man I have photographed on a number of occasions has passed away. I have held off from commenting or posting about this until I had received confirmation of his passing. Although I have searched Google everyday since I have found no official account of his death the overwhelming chatter on facebook does point to his passing.

See the image on flickr here © Anthony Dorman

                                                          See the image on flickr here © Anthony Dorman

                                                       See the image on flickr © Anthony Dorman

Although he was known as Homeless Jimmy it appears that he may have been called Arthur (although I was once assured his name was Dave by a reputable source. Like many people in Newcastle I have been aware of him for some time, probably 15 years at least. On a few occasions I bought him food and gave him some money. People say that you should not give homeless people money only food but I'm sure he simply used it to buy tickets to ride the Metro System. Despite what people say I have been told he always had a valid ticket. Considering that he never begged or harassed people I was alarmed last year to be told that Newcastle's main shopping mall had banned him from sitting inside the public areas.

 My first image of him was a candid shot taken through the door of a town centre shop. The most recent black and white images were different, I quietly asked him if I could take his photo and to my surprise he said yes. Although I have never started a 'Homeless' project as some people on line have claimed I am glad to have taken his photograph. As I am someone who is interested in human faces he has such a deep expression that goes against everything modern society deems acceptable. I have seen and heard people mocking him, only the moronic who are uneducated and weak minded would act in such ways. I don't know the back story of this mans life but from experience I found him to be humble and passive. I hope that he did not suffer too much in his last few days after such a hard life. Although I'm not a religious man I do hope he is now in a better place and at peace.

Since taking the initial candid image a few years ago I have been contacted by many people all sharing positive experiences, encounters and often acts of generosity towards this man. I know these are just photographs however I hope that in some small way they will remind people to be more compassionate to those people in our society who are less fortunate and need assistance. We are all just a few poor decisions or moments of bad luck away from having nothing.