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Posted on 4th March, 2013

Photographer Perou, Focus on Imaging,

 Northampton's Hope Centre and Street Church.


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British fashion photographer Perou, at Focus on Imaging at the NEC, Birmingham, on Sunday 3rd March 2013.I bought my wife a Nikon P50 digital compact camera a few years back, and the results weren't too bad. Until it went wrong that is, coming up with a deadly 'Lens Error' message whilst the lens barrel was fully extended. This happened totally out of the blue, after about a year of use. By a stroke of luck though, I'd been talking to someone last weekend who'd mentioned that he'd suffered a similar fault with his own Nikon compact, but he'd cured the problem with a bit of brute force. I know that a 'refined' fix in India would have cost less than £10, but considering I'm in rip-off UK, where a 'professional' repair would cost more than the camera is worth, I thought I'd try something similar. Therefore, I first tried tapping the side of the lens. When that achieved nothing, I decided to twist the extended lens barrel a little. It was obvious from the painful sound, that gear cogs or a ratchet were being forced, but I thought 'so what, it's worth nothing as it is'. Anyway, I twisted the barrel for as little time as possible, powered on, and success: I now have a useable P50!


I was visiting Focus on Imaging on Sunday, 3rd March, at the NEC. Knowing what rip-off prices are charged for food and drink at the NEC, I decided to take my own supplies on the day. To make room for them in my bag however, something had to go. And because I knew I'd be aiming only for 'snaps' there, rather than anything of higher quality, that gave me a decent excuse to try out the P50 compact rather than take my Canon DSLR.


There's an air of gloom in the photo business at the moment, but Focus seemed just as busy as normal to me. There were significant omissions when it came to grabbing a show-bargain of course, with the loss of both Jacobs and Jessops, but, there were still many free demos and presentations to attend. As I made my way round the stands of interest, I couldn't help but notice a distinctively-dressed individual coming my way. Wearing a bowler hat, circular white specs, and what appeared to be a boiler-suit, I recognised the face immediately as famous British fashion photographer Perou. I know Perou mainly from his involvement with the E4 TV series 'Dirty Sexy Things' (which I recorded onto my set-top box), although I know he's also worked on other famous TV modelling programmes, and, he's photographed many of the rich, famous and powerful since graduating from the University of Westminster in 1994. I'm very impressed by his work, although I've not been too endeared to what comes over to me as his 'super-confident' aura. Still, I thought, you don't come this close to someone as significant as Perou every day, so P50-time it was.


Most enlightening with regard to Perou, was his pleasant, approachable, and accomodating manner, and I'm pleased to say the brief experience has completely changed my opinion of him. Pity my shot didn't do him justice however, as I failed to realise that in 'auto' mode, the P50 focusses at the centre of the image: you can't focus, then re-compose with the subject off-centre. (NB: the accompanying image is cropped).


My opinion of Perou improved even further when, back home, I looked at his Facebook page. A reference on there pointed to a website about a project that Perou has been involved in, close to my heart at the moment, and called 'Homelessness and the Arts'. This project was initiated by a young, ex-homeless man called James McNaughton, and funded by telecomms company O2. Together with the committed involvement of Perou, he's successfully raising awareness of the plight of young homeless in Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, and the East Midlands.


My own interest in the homeless situation continues to develop gradually. My latest venture with the Open Door Centre Reachout Ecumenical Outreach team, coincided with the annual St Giles Churchyard sleepout in aid of the homeless, organised by the Hope Centre. As a result, it was a marathon all-nighter, not just till 02.00-ish, and it was an enlightening and rewarding experience. Dare I wish that my next involvement, an anticipated 22.00 to 02.00 session booked for a few weeks ahead, will be a piece-of-cake by comparison? I won't bank on it. What was physically less-demanding, was my latest visit to Street Church. I'm working on a sub-project there, starting to build a set of case-studies of wonderful characters who are either still homeless, or, have now received the hand-up to something better. It'll be interesting to see how it develops, and where it goes. Finally, I'm not a book-reader by nature, so I'm quite chuffed to say that I've finished the book by James Bowen, called 'A Street Cat Named Bob'. The book deals with Bowen's experiences, and those of his mutually-adopted cat Bob, as a homeless person in London. Because it's positive and inspirational in nature, it doesn't, for my liking, cover deeply-enough the dangers and bad experiences suffered by the homeless. Even so, it gives a flavour of street life in an easily-digestible form, and has undoubtedly brought exposure to the subject. Whether that's the case outside the London area though, and whether it's helped that many homeless, I do wonder.


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