April/May/June 2010

Twitter has pretty much now taken over from what I planned this blog as, which was a straight forward record/diary which is why my posts have become less frequent. I think from now on I will try to post more often, but specifically on issues that can’t be covered in 140 characters (you can follow me at scarpadog)

Apart from my trip to Skye at the end of March I have not had any holidays yet this year, I have continued to try to get out and about taking photos and I am in the process of setting up a more formal site for photography as I have had a significant increase in interest in my work over the past 6 months. I have a lot of admiration for those that can make a living from photography as I plan to keep taking photos for pleasure and hopefully sell some if people like what I do. I have never been commissioned to do anything and wonder how this would compare to being commissioned as an architect to design something. I helped out on a wedding shoot once which was enough to put me off this type of work and I had press clearance for the connect festival in Inveraray where I saw how hard some of these guys work to get their photos back to their clients. The mags and newspapers are interested in sharp clear photos of the artists requiring expensive equipment and with over 100 bands playing they need to get from stage to stage and they usually only get the first 3 songs to get their shots which is difficult in the lighting conditions and the fact that the artists are usually moving around. I was more interested in trying to get a shot that would capture some sort of essence of the artists, a bit more like the famous shot of Paul Simonon of the Clash by Pennie Smith, where he smashes his bass off the stage in New York’s Palladium. the photo is out of focus, taken from the side of the stage and can almost be seen as an opportunist shot. It would become the cover of the London Calling album and probably the most enduring image of the ‘punk’ era.

For a first attempt I got a few decent shots, one of my favorites being this one of Nick Cave performing here as Grinderman.


On the architecture front, I managed to find the time to enter a competition for Queen’s Park Arena in Glasgow. The competition was run by the Glasgow Institute of Architects along with the local community council. As an open competition and for a fairly local site, I was keen to enter. I get frustrated when I look at competition entry criteria which resembles the pre-qualification type entry forms that have to be filled in for almost all tenders now. In order to promote new and young designers, these pre-qualification processes need to be revised or abolished altogether. The fact there was no such nonsense attached to this competition encouraged me to enter. My entry can been seen in my last blog post which includes a link to the site where all the entries and finalists can be viewed. Out of 77 entries, my design as selected as 1 of 10 to be displayed at the South Side Festival where the local community would be given the opportunity to comment on the designs. From the 10 selected unfortunately I didn’t make the final 5. With my experience of Scottish weather and from comments made at a consultation event with locals, I had decided to provide a cover to the seating area, an approach that only a very few took. The big problem with doing this was that it would push the cost of the design far beyond the budget set. My opinion though is that if you can use the facility all year and can charge for seating as it is covered then there may be a better business case. It would also help create a destination facility where more people would travel from further afield rather than just a community facility.

The other issue with a competition like this is that if you consider that 77 entries were submitted, if each entry equated to about 30hours work and the person working on it was paid £20k a year then the actual cost would be approx £35k. If a charge out rate of £45hr was used instead the cost would be in the region of £100k!!

The winning entry by ZM will be developed along with the community council now and I hope they get the support and funding to make the project happen and all the hard work hasn’t been a waste of time and hopefully add to the credibility of competitions organised by the GIA.

I have a good few new projects on the go since my last post and will have some images to post soon along with pictures of our Wellwynd Church project which will be complete over the next few months. The industry continues to be tough but I have made measures to reduce our costs and increase our competitiveness. I am enjoying the quality of the work and the clients that we have and are lucky to be still picking up new work which will hopefully continue.

wellwynd interior


1 Response to “April/May/June 2010”

  1. July 18, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Very nice update. Looking forward to the new website of your photography pursuits. Liked your commentary on the competition.

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