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Gavin May issue 2014

Orphaned birds Special feature on Spring’s unseen natural marvels

London’s artery The work of the Port of London Authority

The magazine of Gavin Parsons Photography




Every single drop is handcrafted for your enjoyment


Winner of the 2014 Judgement of Parsons Green

Contents Page 4 Big Picture

A couple of stand alone pictures from ongoing projects


elcome to the first issue of Gavin, the magazine highlighting the creative photographic, design

and writing work of photojournalist and art editor Gavin Parsons. Each issue includes a variety of features encompassing the diverse nature of my photographic disciplines. One day, for example, I could be hanging from the side of a container ship or standing on top of the tallest building in Tilbury Port shooting an industrial landscape (see page 21) and the next photographing an old farmer (see page 27) for a story about care farming.

Page 9 Avian orphans

I don’t like to pigeonhole myself and am best described as a creative

Baby birds can be art too

photographer. I cover editorial, advertising and documentary. I am

Page 14 London’s artery

The work of the Port of London Authority

moving into fashion and lifestyle work as well these days and have a special treat in the next issue of Gavin as it will show the first examples of an experimental project I’ve been working

Page 22 Last dancing bear

on in the fashion realm. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the

Documenting the end of India’s cruel tradition

Premier issue of Gavin and I will let you know when the next is available.

Page 26 The farm that cares

Helping both ends of the life cycle

Page 32 Top seller

One of Gavin’s best selling images


Page 34 Summertime fun

Watch out, summer is coming

Copyright Notice: Every part of this publication is copyrighted. All images are copyrighted Gavin Parsons 2014. All rights reserved. No reproduction without prior permission from the copyright holder. All text and design are copyrighted and again no reproduction, alternation or usage of any kind is permitted without the permission of the copyright holder. To use any image or text please contact







Langham Wine Estate Harvest Over the last year Gavin has recorded the work of the British sparkling wine producer, Langham Wines, which operates a vineyard in Dorset, UK. Langham’s Classic CuvÊe won the prestigious The Judgement of Parsons Green Award in 2014 against 100 English Sparkling Wines. Most photographers who visit vineyards do so just at harvest and capture puff images of pretty girls picking grapes. Gavin decided to work with Langham and produce a fine art reportage documentary of a year in the life of the vineyard. Once complete the best images will be shown in a future issue of Gavin Magazine. In the meantime you can see a selection of images at





Bass fishing As a passionate conservationist Gavin likes sea angling. It is the least destructive thing you can do to eat fish. Bass lure fishing is perhaps the most exciting form of angling and fishing guide, TV personality and owner of Sean McSeveney has a liking for a dramatic fishing adventure. Bass and Sean like high energy environments and Gavin wanted to capture the thrill of the chase. There are, apparently, two things Atlantic sea bass like. One is waves and lots of them, the other is early mornings. This image was taken a few minutes after sunrise, the only time the sun was slightly visible that day. The idea was to show the drama of this type of angling and so we picked a stormy day with a beach facing the incoming swell and then Sean stood on an exposed rock. This was only the second time he got drenched, but it wasn’t the last that day. To see more images from the day’s shoot and others from the fishermen series see fishermen.html






Want to know how, where and when to catch it? This is where you want to be!


Forecasts • Reports • Locations • Tackle reviews • Tips • Marks •

Avian orphans


A fine art project with conservation in mind




very Spring animal rescue centres across the UK are inundated with orphaned birds. When the sun comes out so do chainsaws, clippers, spades and forks as people attack their gardens with gusto. Unfortunately garden birds have already started their families in the mess of a garden that needs tidying up and the result is hundreds of orphaned babies being taken to rescue centres. They arrive at all forms of development and require complete dedication from the army of volunteers across the country who spend days and nights bringing up the birds to fledging. Gavin decided to bring this situation to the attention of the public and so contacted two centres – Folly Wildlife Rescue in Kent and the RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Somerset – and developed a mini studio to photograph the baby birds close up against a white background. Handling these delicate creatures is for specialists only. They are as fragile as an ancient bone china cup and about as easy to photograph as crushing a car with a nut cracker. They hop around in the style of a five year old on a sugar rush; poop as often as a politician is economical with the truth and take direction like cantankerous old men. There is only a tiny window of opportunity in their development to photograph them. The subjects need to be old enough to survive out of a nest, but not yet flying as chasing a fluttering baby bird around the room is about as fun as walking into a lamp post. Some species such as blue tits are almost impossible to photograph as they have ADHD from the moment their feathers appear. Other species like the Dunnock (cover and opening page) are easier. They also show personalities early in life. Most birds though have a bit of a


The house sparrow is facing serious decline as a species and every youngster that survives to boost the breeding stock is needed.


When it comes to being the cutest orphan, the tawny owl wins hands down

vacant expression as youngsters and simply sit still. The majority of species at the centres are the more common species: Robins, blackbirds, tits, chaffinches and pigeons, but each year a number of rarer birds arrive. Blackcaps, goldfinches and Gavin’s favourite, a Tawny Owl (right). Each subject is placed in the mini studio and is only photographed for a few frames to ensure their stress level is kept to a minimum. Combine that with the difficulty in actually photographing the birds means Gavin is only able to photograph a few species each year. By the early summer the gardens are tidied and the birds have mostly fledged and another season of orphans is over. Gavin uses the pictures to raise awareness of the orphaned bird issue. He also creates fine art prints which are used by cafes and offices to create a talking point on their wall. A poster sized sparrow screaming for food is undeniably a conversation starter. n

To view the orphaned birds prints and buy one for yourself please see




Believe it or not this is a robin. Its deep orange breast feathers develop later, but it still has attitude.

Below: A collared dove has a rather dapper appearance as it develops from downy chick to feathered adult


Finches are intelligent birds and it shows from a young age as this goldfinch demonstrates

Right: A jay demonstrates its alert nature and its blossoming iridescent plumage


Above and right: A young blackbird calls out for food. Photographed from the front and side

Below: A pair of chaffinches felt safer and were calmer with each other

Above: A carrion crow is elegant and sharp eyed




London’s artery 14


The Port of London Authority controls the River Thames from Teddington Lock to the mouth of the Estuary. Parsons



London 2012 was an exciting, and busy, time for the River Thames. Here the French tall ship Belem arrives just as the sun is sinking over Tower Bridge


he City of London would be nothing without its Port. Right now, perhaps, it is a shadow of its former self, but with the opening of the London Gateway deep sea port, it will once again become a dominating force in the UK’s global trade industry. The Port of London Authority has control over the Thames from Teddington Lock in west London out to the Estuary off Essex and Kent. It patrols in and sound London, operates pilots for commercial shipping, regulates works on the river and banks, maintains navigation channels, buoys and moorings and ensures all the businesses that use the river work

cooperatively. It produces a handbook for all the businesses using the river and this tome is not only massive, but shows just how diverse commercial and recreational river users are. In 2012, on top of all the regular commercial activity was the London Olympic games and, of course, the river played a big part in that. HMS Ocean was stationed at Greenwich and the docks played host to a plethora of super yachts as the rich and famous came to watch the greatest show on earth. On the opening day of the, Games the Queen’s Royal Barge the Glorianna carried the Olympic Torch on the final leg of the country-wide relay from Teddington Lock down to Tower Bridge. From there it waited until just before the lighting ceremony when David Beckham roared out in a powerboat from beneath Tower Bridge, which was spewing fireworks. Gavin has worked for the Port of London Authority recording many of its activities and the work of many of the businesses which use the river. Showing the diversity of the work, Gavin has been attacked by Canadian Geese while photographing the repairing Oliver’s Ait (a small Island near Kew Bridge); climbed down the side of a container ship after recording the work of a ship’s pilot; been on the tallest building to photograph Tilbury port and documented the build up to one of the oldest rowing races in the world – the Doggetts Coat & Badge race. n

Another Olympic shot of West India Dock filled with super yachts as the rich came to watch the Games.



Perhaps the most exciting event of the Olympics was the day of the Opening Ceremony when the Queen’s Barge Glorianna carried the Olympic Torch through the City of London





Above: Working for a maritime industrial organisation isn’t all glamour. Sometimes it is cold, wet and very muddy. Especially when you are recording the renovation of an island.


Below: London is a city with tradition dripping out of it and the POLA has a hand in many of them. The 300 year old Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race is one of the world’s oldest rowing competitions still fought over and Gavin was there to record the build up.


Some assignments are straight forward and then someone asks for an underwater picture of a diver in the London Docks. Below a metre the visibility was virtually zero, so the only chance was a half and half image.




It’s the people that make an organisation so while on assignment to cover the POLA’s Pilotage services, Gavin concentrated on the man rather than his job.



Above: Employing the services of a creative professional to record even every day jobs means the difference between a ‘snap’ and a eye catching descriptive image



Below: An assignment to photograph a port means trying to get a new perspective, even if that means climbing the tallest building in the area and shooting an industrial landscape.


LAST DANCING BEAR Photographing the end of a centuries’ old tradition of cruelty


onservationists have a never ending job because there will always be threats to the planet. The environment, habitats and wildlife are at constant risk. Very rarely is there a success story, but Gavin was lucky enough to record one such project. International Animal Rescue (IAR), a charity Gavin has worked with on a number of projects, eradicated the cruel practice of bear dancing in India. Not only was the project a success, but it took just seven years to do. For centuries, sloth bears were taken from the wild as cubs, had their teeth knocked out with a blunt instrument and a hole punctured through the top of the snout and a rope fed through. The bears were fitted with bells and led around the streets of India by Kalander gypsies who made the bears jump up and down giving the appearance of dancing. It was a sham though as the jingling bells and music that was often played created an illusion. There was no


enjoyment. The bears didn’t dance for fun, they weren’t dancing at all. The bears were jumping up and down to try and stop the pain. The rope through their nose caused tremendous trauma and the flesh beneath was infected and raw. As the rope was lifted up the pain was excruciating. To stop this barbaric enslaving of animals IAR worked with other NGOs around the world and attacked the problem from several fronts. Effort was put into stopping the poaching of cubs. Then the Kalander Gypsies were given hope. They too were victims in this trade. Mostly uneducated there wasn’t much else the men could do other than what their ancestors had done. So they were given business loans after giving up their bears. A part of the agreement was to never trade in bears again. If they did, the punishments were severe. The loans came with business advice and help. Some started selling spices, others confectionary, soap and candles. The businesses may not sound much to westerners, but the regular steady income has given them hope of bettering their lives. The bears were taken to several sanctuaries around India. The last bear was surrendered at the centre in Agra near the world famous Taj Mahal. And his name was Raju. Raju was surrendered after a small handing over ceremony. He was sedated and taken into the veterinary room to have his shackles removed and undergo a medical before he was placed in quarantine. First to go was the metal ring through his nose plus the grubby harness of bells. Then, with the help of some lubricating antiseptic cream, the filthy rope through his nose was cut and slowly and delicately extracted. Even under heavy sedation, Raju flinched. I could only imagine how much pain the infected flesh caused. The rope was feeding that circle of infection and once removed the sensation can only be imagined. With the hideous trade now behind us, the job is not over. IAR and its partners pledged to look after the rescued bears until they all pass away naturally and so is now campaigning to look after the bears into old age. n


This is how the bears arrived at the sanctuaries. They were afraid and in a lot of pain. Within a couple of hours the dance trappings had gone as had the shackles and although in quarantine, the bears were safe from further harm.




Some of the gypsies obviously cared about their bears and kept them in as good a condition as possible. A handful went on it work at the sanctuaries looking after the bears.



Above: Raju, India’s last dancing bear having the control rope removed and is thus set free from a life of misery and pain.



Below: Two sloth bears released into the sanctuary near Agra. Notice how healthy they now look.


The farm that cares 26

There is a farm in Dorset which helps people at both ends of their lives.






avin likes to highlight the work of smaller charities and each year he picks one to work with. There are thousands of small organisations around the country helping people who need a bit of a creative hug and to have the spotlight turned on them so people can see their good work. Julie Plumley runs two such organisations at her farm in Dorset. Future Roots is a care farm for youngsters with a difficult start in life and the Countryman’s Club is a place for older men who worked the land to meet like-minded souls. Future Roots offers young people with behavioural and learning issues a chance to build their confidence, learn an employable skill set and escape the pressures of their everyday lives for a few hours. Julie and her team work the youngsters hard, treat them with respect and they respond positively. Some youngsters are not cut out for academic life, but flourish in a manual work environment and care passionately for the animals. An offshoot from Future Roots offers an ear, comfy chair and cup of tea to men at the other end of their lives. Julie saw how little provision there was to help the older generation who worked the land. Elderly care generally revolves around day care centres where the patients are predominately inside. For a man who spent his life outside in all weathers, bantered with others at livestock markets and loved to be busy in fields or on a tractor, the restrictions are too much and many generally sit at home and waste away. Julie started the Countryman’s Club to give those men a place to go in a familiar environment (the farm) and to work, banter and generally have a good time and get them out of the armchairs of death. n






You can see the portfolio of work at:



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Basking Shark To get a great shot can take some photographers days, weeks and occasionally years. This basking shark image took 10 years to finally capture. For years everything conspired against Gavin. Poor weather, lack of sharks, lack of visibility, Or he was simply out of the country on assignment when the sharks were around. And then it all came together in about 10 seconds. Gavin had been in Cornwall for almost a week before this shot was taken and there wasn’t a single sighting of a basking shark. The week before they were everywhere. With a photo assignment in London booked for the Saturday, Gavin headed back up the M5 and M4 with a heavy heart. As he came out of Liverpool St tube station though Porthkerris Dive Centre had left a message saying the sharks were back. With another assignment starting on Monday, that just left Sunday and a very long driving day. However, Gavin left at 4am Sunday morning, was on the boat by 11am and then spent the entire day scanning the water off the Lizard for basking sharks. It took until 4pm to track one down and after slipping into the water, the shark passed once and Gavin grabbed this shot. It is one of his best selling stock images and is represented by Ardea picture library.






MAY MADNESS Mayday celebrations. People gathered on the top of the Cerne Abbas Giant at Sunrise.

May 4. Star Wars Day as in May the fourth [Force] be with you.



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Gavin magazine issue 1  

Photography lifestyle magazine by photographer Gavin Parsons.

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