I talk a lot about feedback in my job, and how we frequently dismiss the feedback we receive as we experience denial and then emotions such as anger or embarrassment.  Then all the words pour out as we make excuses.  We don’t want to accept our imperfections or listen to others describe our strengths.  Far better that we should be calm and reflect.

My best friend described me as an angel some time ago for my ability to bring a sense of calm into her life at times of crisis.  I laughed it off; far too aware of my sins and failings to even consider it.  Someone else that I met on a date, whose accomplishments overawed me described me as “too good for her”.  Our own view is often so different to the way the world perceives us.  The world sees the mask that we present to it; behind that facade we see the cracks, or as that friend put it; “Our personal and professional personas can be very different”.

I’ve done so much writing this week that I was struggling for words to post here this weekend (which might surprise some!) so I’m going to listen to that friends feedback and join her in calm serenity.

This picture that I took yesterday fits that mood.  The Angel of the North is a photographic icon that challenges photographers to find a new angle.  Yet for me it’s not about the Angel.  The Angel remains constant.  His partner the sky provides the beauty.

Spend all your time waiting
for that second chance
for a break that would make it okay
there’s always some reason
to feel not good enough
and it’s hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
oh beautiful release
memories seep from my veins
let me be empty
and weightless and maybe
I’ll find some peace tonight

in the arms of the angel
fly away from here
from this dark cold hotel room
and the endlessness that you fear
you are pulled from the wreckage
of your silent reverie
you’re in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort here

Sarah McLachlan – Angel


Click the image to enlarge – it’s worth it!

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I recently blogged about the challenges of photographing familiar vistas without descending into cliché, i.e. repeating the same old shots.  As I was in Birtley today I could see what is one of the North East’s most famous landmarks and so the gauntlet was thrown down.

The Angel of the North, whilst originally the subject of much scepticism has been largely embraced by the population here, who have purloined it for business names, corporate logos, and a shorthand for anything to do with the North East.  Anthony Gormley‘s towering sculpture has even suffered the indignity of wearing an oversized Newcastle United shirt.

Unsurprisingly when I arrived there were other photographers about, though most of the camera phone variety.  There are plenty of good angles that you can shoot from and depending on the time of day and prevailing light get some variety, but the reality is that they’ve all been shot before.  The planting of bushes and positioning of fences around the base of the giant reduces the options of originality still further.

So while Clem (a fellow photography buff) and I were waiting patiently for the crowds to move out of shot he took the opportunity to photograph a passing Bernese Mountain Dog, and I took the opportunity to photograph him.My shots were acceptable but unremarkable so in my processing I’ve tried to make them different.

There was one exception though.  I have no idea what this was all about, but the man on the sofa and two young girls set this up just so that one of them could photograph and video him on her iphone.  Having gone to all this trouble I might have expected something a little more professional however advanced Apple’s baby might be.As they manoeuvred their furnishing back to van, doubtless to some other photo opportunity, I heard them refer to the Angel as she, which confused me as I’ve always though of the figure as male.  Is there a definitive answer?