Britain’s Best Secondhand Bookshop?

“Wow!” Charles Leakey says he often hears it said from people entering his secondhand bookshop. No wonder, it’s an Aladdin’s cave of 100,000 books and maps. You just know that with a little effort you’ll find something magic in there. Indeed it feels a bit like something from a Harry Potter film.

Leakey’s occupies a Gaelic church built around 1793, Charles took it over 22 years ago. Given the almost religious devotion that many us have to books and reading, it’s a good place to put the shop. “It’s a large building and I could fill a building ten times this size with books that nobody wanted. It’s all a matter of selecting books that people like and want and that’s my job I suppose. That’s what I try to do.”

Charles Leakey secondhand bookshop owner portrait photograph

Charles Leakey works beneath the pulpit in his former church

There’s a big wood-burning stove, but it wasn’t lit when we visited in the middle of summer – the temperature was well into the upper teens. (Scorcher) More people were taking photographs than buying books. I really hope the shop can survive in the our online and device-obsessed world. “Even if digital books replace print, the market for second-hand books will remain.” Says Charles.

I think that a large, high-quality photography book is a much better way to see the majestic landscape pictures of Ansel Adams than a website. A book is easier to peruse, to see the detail, to see into the picture. There’s a danger that the ‘digital natives’ grow up unaware of the page-turning pleasures, and that the sheer convenience and ubiquity of our mobile phones outweighs the inferiority of the viewing experience. I found a book about Rembrandt. I love the Dutch masters and try to emulate their aesthetic in my family portraiture so I wanted it. ‘Rembrandt’s Eyes’ is written by Simon Sharma, he’s a good writer, so I bought it. Unfortunately, I could find very few photography books on Leakey’s heaving shelves of secondhand books, or I might have bought more!

Inside Leakey's secondhand bookshop, Inverness

Get lost in a good book (shop)

Church St, Inverness, 01463 239947, https://www.facebook.com/LeakeysBookshop/

 

Silver Lining – to be found in every cloud – event photography in Kingston

The Rose Theatre in Kingston upon Thames staged the first production of a new play written by Sandi Toksvig, ‘Silver Lining’. I photographed the press night star-spangled event. 

Whizzfit Fun and Games – Party Photography

WhizzFit events are fun and friendly, the business has been bringing out the inner child in everyone since 2013. With the emphasis firmly on fun first, everyone can join in, get active and improve their health and fitness. Having already made them a video, Angus got me back to get some stills that capture the excitement. 

WhizzFit started when founder Angus discovered Dodgeball.  He was immediately hooked because he realised it was a sport that everyone can play and enjoy safely, no matter what age or sporting ability.  Since then, WhizzFit has continued to introduce new sports and activities such as Nerf into the business with the primary objective of bringing active, healthy fun to everyone.

“Every picture tells a story, make sure it’s the right one!”
Trevor Aston Photography and Video is based in Teddington, Richmond upon Thames in southwest London close Kingston, Twickenham and Surrey.

Kingston Chamber of Commerce New Board Members – Portrait Photography

Portrait photographs of the new members of the board, Kingston Chamber of Commerce. Elected at the annual general meeting, it’s an awesome weight of responsibility, but they held up well, at least for their first day!

Election Hustings in Kingston

Kington event photographer

The candidates for election to represent the Kingston and Surbiton constituency in Parliament.The Principal of Kingston College, Peter Mayhew-Smith in the centre.

Kingston event photographer

Labour candidate Laurie South addressing a question. Green Party candidate Chris Walker works on his shopping list.

It’s election time and the candidates in Kingston and Surbiton constituency have gathered together for a hustings organised by the Kingston Chamber of Commerce, apart from the Monster Raving Loonie Party candidate, who’s ill.

As you see, together the parties have selected a representative group of people. That’s if you ignore the women and ethnic minorities of Kingston and Surbiton, and people with disabilities. Oh, and the young people.

Strong and stable James Berry promises a Tory Brexit that will be sweet as honey and smell of roses.

Kingston Event photographer

Independent candidate, Michael Basman takes a moment to dream up some policies.

Kingston event photographer

Graham remembers someone saying something about £350,000,000 a week for the NHS.

Kingston event photographer

We’ll now sing hymn number 135, ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’….

James Berry is a true-blue Tory, but his impression of James the Red Engine (Thomas the Tank Engine, W. Audrey) is just brilliant.

You’re Laurie South. Labour Party candidate. Not a teapot.

Kingston event photographer

“Can I get fries with that?”

Kingston event photographer

‘Did I mention I was once a Government Minister?’

kingston event photographer

‘Three men walked into a pub, a Tory, a Trotsky and a member of the Social Democratic Party’…

The meeting was in Kingston College and the discussion was business orientated. Naturally, it dwelled on the challenge of Brexit. Although nothing new was said, at least one candidate seemed intent on polishing the blemish on their Party’s image!

Notwithstanding my faintly sarcastic tone, the event was a very worthwhile part of the democratic process.

Antoinette and the Chamber – Networking Event in Kingston

Another networking breakfast event with Kingston Chamber of Commerce. At the Antoinette Hotel in Kingston, they’re always fun and you meet some really interesting people, as you can see below. I take my camera and they’re too polite to tell me to bugger off. Well, usually!


“Every picture tells a story, make sure it’s the right one!”
Trevor Aston Photography and Video is based in Teddington, Richmond upon Thames in southwest London close Kingston, Twickenham and Surrey.

Brother, Sister, Partner – Going into Business with a Sibling

Let’s face it, going to work can be a pain. Open plan offices are too noisy and impersonal, small offices are too claustrophobic, no one ever clears up in the kitchen. The vending machine steels money. Bosses are unreasonable and bullying. The pay is inadequate, the days too long, weekends too short and holidays hardly ever come. Well, now I’m self-employed – I decide when to make a cup of coffee, and if the kitchen’s a mess – it’s because I haven’t tidied up after breakfast. I can drink the coffee in peace and quiet, if I choose, have a little nap afterwards (Please don’t draw this last comment to the attention of my partner, she still has to go out to work) 

brother, sister & partner

HMRC class me as a ‘sole-trader’, but of course photographing and filming are very social, interactive and deeply personal – you have to look in people’s eyes. My trade is capturing a person’s soul! But once back in the office, and making business decisions, I can feel very alone, it’s all down to me! So that’s when I go to business networking. It was at one of these meetings that I met Stephen Taylor. His business is called Taylored Room Solutions, designing and fitting bedrooms, kitchens and offices. It’s a partnership between Stephen and his sister, Julia. So they’re never alone making decisions. Which made me curious; how can a business relationship with a sibling, transcend childhood resentments, from parental favouritism to broken toys?

partner editorial photographer Kingston

Councillor Brenda Fraser is the Mayor of Merton performed the official opening

I sat down with Stephen and Julia in their New Malden office and showroom, upstairs at Big Yellow Storage, only recently officially opened by the Mayor. The good news is that they’re really busy. As I promised not to take up too much of their time they insisted it was not a problem, I could have as long as I liked. Here’s a clue to making any partnership work – be a nice person and find a partner who’s just as nice. First credit then must go to Mum and Dad Taylor. “Oh our parents think we’re mad.” Julia tells me, I imagine most parents would worry if two of their kids gave up good jobs to go into business. “But at the beginning, we needed some money and they stepped up with that.” Then she turns to Stephen – “Oh, I forgot to tell you, mum definitely want us to do her kitchen and no mates rates.” “Oh good, double the price then.”

There seems to be a relaxed ease between them that only siblings could have – a brother or sister can know someone’s sensitivities better than anyone. Know how to avoid them, or apply coercive pressure! I ask Stephen how they’d come to give up their jobs and set up in business together. “She bullied me!” Which Julia denies, explaining that she’d been unhappy in her last job and thinking of setting up on her own. At the same time she was wondering if Stephen would be interested. It took Julia’s husband Mark to start the conversation between the two of them. “We talked and talked.” Stephen says. “And then we talked some more. I don’t think either of our partners saw us for months.” I ask if they’d known whether they’d be able to work together. ”We were averagely close.” A guarded answer from Stephen. “We always got on well, I always had a soft spot for Stephen.” Julia drops to a whisper, perhaps so that neither of the other two siblings will hear. Julia’s the oldest, Stephen the youngest of the four and they both say they wouldn’t do this with either of the other two. As Stephen got into his teenage, Julia had already left home for college, so they missed some of the ‘difficult’ years. Instead, Stephen had someone he could talk to, out of the home, but in the family. “Julia was living in a bedsit, I’d go and stay with her. We’d go to the cinema or ice skating, that’s where our friendship developed.”

partner s in the office editorial photographer Kingston

Their office is not big, Stephen sits with his back to the window, Julia’s has the window to her side and her back to Stephen. “There was a natural fit.” She says. “I did furniture design and worked for Sharps Bedrooms, Dream Doors, Kitchen Magic.” “She did a degree in flat-pack.” Her brother interjects. She visits the clients, does the design work and the costing, while Stephen runs the office, the financial management and marketing. “When we started, we had a list showing the split of responsibilities.” He explains. “The thing is, we have 100% trust, neither of us is going to run off with the bank balance.” Julia reinforces the trust and adds, “We try to have a weekly meeting when we both say what we’re doing, but it’s often cancelled because we’re busy.” “The trouble is, our meetings are never 10 minutes.” Stephen says with a smile. “Because we talk and talk, and then we talk some more and then we digress on to something else. But, as a small business, we ought to be able to react really quickly, but we don’t because we talk it through forever. We need to able to say, ‘ I made this decision because…’ And then, if it’s wrong learn from it.”

One of the disadvantages of being of business with someone you like must be a temptation to just spend time enjoying each others company. But what happens when they fall out? Did the Taylored Room Solutions business plan have a section headed ‘Dispute Resolution’? “No!” They cry in unison, “When it kicks off, keep away!” Stephen warns. “The first few times we fell out out… oh dear. It was difficult. It was always something minor, I understood something one way, and Julia another.” “We go really quiet, so we know something’s up.” “Then there’s a text or an email from whichever one feels they’re slightly less to blame.”
partner Stephen editorial photographer KingstonSo would they recommend a sibling partnership? Stephen answers first. “Make sure your personalities are compatible, and complementary. This wouldn’t work if we were both creative.” How important has the support of partners at home been? “Daimon (Stephen’s partner) is very supportive, he’s not involved in the business but if he sees a decision is emotional rather than rational, he’ll say so.” Julia makes a similar point, “Mark (her husband) is the same, he doesn’t want to be involved, but it’s great to have him there to bat things off.” “They love us, but they have an outside perspective and can tell us if they think we’re doing something stupid.” Starting a business always involves a sacrifice. 
“Working twice the hours than I was before for far less money, and you can think, what’s the point?” Stephen asks. “But there’s value in this.” Julia says.

partner Julia editorial photographer Kingston

As we finish our talk, Julia goes back to advice they would give. “It does change your relationship. We were brother and sister, but also friends. Going into business has changed that.” From what I’ve seen I’d say it’s added to their relationship, brother, sister, friends… and now partners.

Visit Taylored Room Solutions website.


“Every picture tells a story, make sure it’s the right one!”
Trevor Aston Photography and Video is based in Teddington, Richmond upon Thames in southwest London close to Kingston, Twickenham and Surrey.

Official Opening of a Multinational’s International HQ in Richmond – PR Event Photography

I do like Americans, they’re so polite. Louis Berger is a $1 billion global professional services corporation based in Morristown, N.J., USA. Louis Berger ‘helps infrastructure and development clients solve their most complex challenges’. They build things. Big things like airports. They’ve established an international operations headquarters in Richmond upon Thames. As the starting bell rang on the Brexit boxing match, I hope they didn’t regret their choice of location. The staff attending the official opening was very multinational, I heard as much Spanish spoken as English. Thomas Topolski, President, Louis Berger International spoke about the company’s values – ‘At the core of everything we do is the promise to provide solutions that have a positive impact on society.’  The Mayor of Richmond upon Thames, Councillor David Linnette spoke about how the local authority was desperate for the Louis Berger’s business rates. Everyone took his slightly uncomfortable speech very graciously, of course, they’re American.

If your business has an event coming up, get in touch to talk about how I can record the event on camera for you 020 8977 2529

“Every picture tells a story, make sure it’s the right one!”
Trevor Aston Photography and Video is based in Teddington, Richmond upon Thames in southwest London close Kingston, Twickenham and Surrey.

‘Builder’ Doesn’t have to Mean Nightmare! Home Renovation Video

Watching Julie’s house turning into the home she wanted was fascinating, a good education about the experience of the renovation of an old house. The work was carried out by ‘By Word of Mouth Renovations Ltd’, and was well under way when I made my first visit, everything that was going to be stripped out had gone. The building was just a carcass waiting for the ‘sinews’ of services – plumbing and electrics and ‘flesh’ of decoration to be installed. Along with the fixtures, fittings and belongings that turn a house into home. In this video, the owner, Julie describes her feelings before, during and after the building work.

Great Music – Live at the Park in Teddington

Music from a pure voice, a violin and a guitar – an unusaul, but exquisite sound was heard in The Park Hotel in Teddington, when Charlotte Andrew performed. Her beautiful voice and violin where accompanied by guitar in a programme of popular songs.