Helmut & Friends At Hemmingways

I have visited Hemmingways a few times for food but I have never ventured into the bar/restaurant on a Thursday. This is when they have their live music nights, which features a band known as Helmut and Friends.

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Manager Mark, had previously invited me to come along on a Thursday evening but time had always been an issue for me. However, when assisting with a promotional project for a good friend, who just happened to want to see the group, it was a sealed deal.

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But there was something else to factor into the equation.

Pranom’s mother was visiting from Roi Et and I wanted to take her to a pleasant eating establishment, where I knew the food would be of an exceptional standard and the surroundings would match the quality of the cuisine.

So with these two details taken into consideration, it had to be Hemmingways.

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As always we were greeted by one of their friendly staff as we entered the bar. A smile and a warm welcome are not unusual in Thailand but the employees here are top drawer.

The band had set up but were 30 minutes away from commencing their show. So we took the opportunity to order our food and a drink.

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I have to confess that the staff at Hemmingways are exceptional, as mentioned above.

They look after you from the minute you walk in the door. They all speak very good English, which is a huge bonus, even though I was with two Thai ladies.

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The food as always was tasty and well presented with large portions. The ladies enjoyed a Thai offering from the extensive menu and I went for a burger that was put together following  my instructions.

I was armed with my camera, for I had agreed with the bar that I would take a few images for the venue and the band.

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Having never heard Helmut and Friends play previously, I was keen to perceive what they had to offer. I had listened to mixed reviews but 90% of the people I spoke to, rated them very highly.

They would not disappoint.

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I had a twenty minute chat with Helmut before they commenced playing and discovered that they often performed as a five-piece outfit, fronted by Filipino singer Jovy Del Rosario, who by all accounts is a fantastic vocalist.

Alas, on Thursday, there were playing as a four-piece band and one wondered if it was going to be a second rate show. But they were far from that!

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They began with a number of slow songs, mainly, I would imagine, because people were still enjoying Hemmingways’ cuisine. Songs such as “My Girl” provided light entertainment, whilst the diners enjoyed their food.

The band sprung to life during their second set of the evening with an absolutely brilliant version of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, done in their own impeccable style. The vocals on the song from Jayson Camilo were astonishing.

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They continued with well known hits such as “Africa” and “Down Under” and even had the audacity to cover Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summer Time”, which again was flawless.

During many of their songs, the band can be observed sharing jokes and generally having a great time, which often had the audience laughing along with them.

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Helmut is a huge Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits fan and let us see just how good a guitarist he is with a variety of amazing solos.

Anyone who can replicate, Knopfler on “Sultans of Swing” has to be a genius on a guitar and the song suited his vocals to a T, to quote an old idiom.

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This was jaw dropping stuff from Helmut and appreciated by those in the bar.

Then to show us their true versatility, they sang an uptempo version of Dean Martin’s “Volare” and and worked a treat. Vocals being from Jayson once more.

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In their third set they did many rock ‘n’ roll songs from the likes of Chuck Berry before displaying their versatility with Stevie Wonder classics and “Get Down On It” from the disco era. The bass playing on the Kool and the Gang hit from Jeckson Echavez was exceptional.

Drummer Marvin Javier, provided the beat and held the band together as they played hit after hit, from almost every genre of music you can imagine. The keyboard skills from Jayson and lead guitar solos from Helmut, truly are world class.

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Add into the equation, the amount of fun the band have as they play for you, and you really do have a fantastic ensemble for parties, night clubs or any other event you care to name.

Hemmingways have secured Helmut and Friends every Thursday from 20:00 and I would highly recommend, popping along to see them play. The venue is a high class establishment, spacious, air conditioned, free Wi-Fi and offers a huge selection of draught beers, wines and spirits.

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And in between the group’s sets, you can enjoy watching sport on one of their many televisions, strategically placed around the venue. They even have a beer garden, should you care to sit outside.

I would like to give a mention to the staff who work at Hemmingways. Rarely will you meet a nicer group of people, who treat their customers with the utmost respect.

From the minute you enter the premises, to the moment you leave, the crew at Hemmingways ensure you want for nothing.

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If you haven’t been there – it is well worth making the effort, whether it is for live music, excellent food or to view a sporting event on TV, Hemmingways is deserved of a visit.

Helmut and Friends were: Helmut Schachtner on vocals and guitar from Germany, Jayson Camilo, keyboard and vocals, Marvin Javier on Drums, Jeckson Echavez on bass,  all from the Philippines.

Missing was Jovy Del Roasario, whom I will make a point of going to see very soon. When someone tells you that “she will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up”, you have to take notice.

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By the way, the Hemmingways staff are a fun loving bunch too, happy to get involved with the photography.

Thanks to the band and to the management and staff. See you all soon I hope.

 

 

 

 

Model Days Of Old

I moved to Thailand in April 2016 to carve out a new life for myself, having grown dissatisfied with my life in my homeland of Scotland. Nothing to do with the country itself but certain people, which I will leave at that, for it is of a personal nature but it is safe to say that I am far happier here in the heart of Asia than I was at home.

There are many things I miss however. My friends, some family, a good Scottish Breakfast or chip shop grub, live music, touring the country in my car armed with a camera and the subject I will write about today; model days in the studio.

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My first venture into a studio was with brother and sister Eno and Tunde Martin. I had no knowledge of lighting whatsoever and the owner was far from helpful, so I was left very much to my own devices. The image of Eno and Tunde above was one of the first I produced in studio conditions.

My skills with Photoshop were still very much in their infancy too but I was bitten by the photography bug and would learn both subjects as I progressed.

I then had a few efforts at various locations, which I would rather forget. The results were poor but I recall at the time being incredibly pleased with my work. However looking back, I can see that I was only fooling myself.

Then I got a break. A studio in Glasgow, which had recently opened, contacted me to determine if I would be interested in attending a model shoot, which was basically an hour with a professional model, under the guidance of the studio owner, who would lend his expertise to a novice such as myself. Eureka! I was off and running.

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The first visit was for a vampire themed shoot with model Charlie Webb. I was terrified but she and the studio owner, Wojtek helped me feel at ease for the hour or so. I gave no direction at all, letting the model guide me as opposed to me instructing her.

The Studio was EMP and I would return here for numerous events in the coming year or more.

I had my first ever shoot with stunning model Jenny Clewlow for a bridal shoot, who I will speak about later and my inauguration into art nude work, which was a complete disaster.

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I followed these with a successful session for a rock chick theme but for the life of me, I cannot recall the models name. For this I apologise but I have included an image from that event above.

As you can see I still had much to learn but I was eager to do so.

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Next was the aforementioned Jenny in a 1950s style pin up shoot. Jenny again was the utmost professional and was superb at teaching me. She would give me tips that she herself had honed from other more experienced photographers and was happy to pass on her knowledge to me.

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I had another bash at art nude with the amazing Fredau from Holland. This was another lucky break for she too surpassed my expectations, teaching me much about photography from a model’s perspective.

Fredau is pictured above in one of my favourite photos of her.

A few other shoots came and went but the next one of note was with Kike, which if memory serves me correctly, was from Russia.

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What struck me about Kike was her natural red hair and the fabulous makeup by EMP’s makeup artist Pat.

Once again I attended four of five other themed events, all of which were enjoyable and rewarding in one way or another.

Then Pat, our resident makeup artist come model, put together a Marilyn Monroe theme. This one I had to attend for I am a huge fan of anything retro.

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Pat was superb and can be seen above in the role of the famous actress.

My studio work then played second fiddle to other events such as football as I became involved with the both Scottish Junior and Scottish Womens football.

However I was missing my studio days but cost was proving to be a huge hinderance as I had to cut back on my spending. I was attending between two and four games per week from one end of Scotland to the other with little in the way of financial reward.

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I joined the backroom staff of Kilmarnock Ladies FC and much of my spare time was donated free of charge to them either running websites of writing match reports and photography, again covering three or four games every weekend. It was not uncommon for me to be in Dumfries one day and Dundee the next, and again, it was funded my me. There is no malice intended by that statement, because it was a very satisfying role and played a huge part of my life at that time.

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But the draw of the studio was eating away at me and I had to return. But who would model for me and where could I book an affordable studio. Well the answer came with two beautiful ladies plus a gentleman with an astute knowledge of photography and lighting, who just happened to have a studio too – Paul.

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The girls were Emma and Amanda, who had never met but set the studio alight with their madness and capers. This has to go down as one of the most complete days in a studio I have ever been part of. Not only were the girls top drawer but Paul was happy to take the time and move lights, fill my every need for backdrops and lighting styles and not only that – he was willing to share his wisdom.

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There was one other addition to this evening. My friend Davie who has since passed away but had a massive love affair with photography and shared that passion with anyone who so desired his instruction.

Davie was a bit of headcase it has to be said. Completely mad but in a good way. The image above illustrates what a happy go lucky man he was and is responsible for much of my learning of street and night photography. If there is a heaven, this man will be armed with his camera and assorted lenses, having a ball.

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By this time I was also heavily involved in concert photography with a number of bands and singers but I will retain the event work for another day. However one or two of these acts made it into the studio. Striking a pose above is rock ‘n’ roll singer Ziggi, taken at The Kirky Studio owned by Paul Monaghan.

Ziggi was different from other models, in that she wanted to be the director, photographer, lighting specialist and photoshop expert. She wanted full control, which most photographers are reluctant to give including me – so we had some unusual nights perusing and editing photos, so we could both be happy with the outcome.

I will confess that Ziggin is an extremely talented girl, very flamboyant and will stop at nothing to get what she desires.

Many more concerts followed before I returned to EMP and the amazing Jenny. Now by this time, I was full of confidence and happy to instruct Jenny, installing my own ideas onto her. We worked very well together as you can see below.

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Jenny is simply stunning and very versatile as you will perceive as we continue.

More concert and event work took much of my time. It was at one of these concerts in Glasgow that I spotted a unique girl in every sense of the word.

I am not averse to walking up to a prospective model, handing over a business card, requesting that she contact me if she would be interested in doing some studio work with me. This is exactly what I did with Chizzy. A small dark skinned beauty, with braided hair, who oozed personality, despite her being rather tipsy. I actually left the card with her boyfriend for that reason and two days later she called.

Below is Chizzy’s amazing pose with her hair in full flow. This shot was completed in one take.

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Chizzy would go on to do three more shoots and produce some excellent images from a first time model. Many of which I am extremely proud of as she should be too.

A number of excellent evenings were had at The Kirky Studio with numerous models old and new, far too many to include in one post. I may create a second one to give more depth to my love of the studio.

But I mentioned Jenny and her versatility. From being a bride, to a pin up girl, to lingerie queen to this idea we concocted up between us – A broken Doll.

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Jenny who lives in Inverness travelled to Kirkintilloch for this one, and again I loved her professionalism and her devotion to her job.

I will leave you with another model, who to the best of my knowledge has never modelled before or since the two or three shoots she had with me.

Shauni. A loveable lunatic and amazingly talented girl in front of the camera. Here we see her in a Silent Hill theme with superb makeup from Beth King to provide the burns and dress.

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She also did a vampire theme on the same evening. Considering she has never worked in front of a camera, the results are to die for.

I should of course give credit to the makeup artist such as Beth, Taarna, Pat and the girls who did their own powder and paint. Well done and thanks to all.

There are approaching 100 models I can and will feature in a separate post, along with the makeup artists. You have not been forgotten, but space is of the essence.

So this piece of dross was about my love for studio photography and the fact that I miss it and those who worked with me dearly. I doubt if I will ever have the opportunity to continue along these lines in Thailand due to work permit issues but one day, somewhere, I will continue my dream job.