2019 started with a brief jaunt to Kazakhstan of all places! The Defence Attaché in Almaty covers three countries - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgzstan - and he thought it a good idea to have a conference and training session to discuss Human Rights and Gender Equality in their respective militaries, hosted and led by British Army Gender Advisors and Lawyers.
Cue a gathering of Central Asian officers and soldiers (including 2 generals!) for a week in a hotel in Almaty...!!
My second trip in two years to Estonia was divided into two halves. Firstly at Tapa to witness the Estonia Flame Festival called 'Laulupidu' - a song and dance festival which happens every 5 years.
The flame travels round the country and culminates in a huge concert style festival in Tallin. Where we were in Tapa, the whole community turned out, and soldiers from both the British and French Armies who are currently stationed in Tapa Camp sang in Estonian to the assembled throng!
ESTONIA (Part 2)
And then it was onto exercise to photograph the combined forces of the British, French and our Estonian hosts conducting joint military manoeuvres on the local training area - in constant readiness as part of our commitment to NATO in case of a neighbour showing unnecessary aggression; no prizes for guessing to whom I'm referring!
Next stop was Nigeria where British Forces are training the Nigerian military in their never-ending struggle against Boko Haram. They come south to train with the British and then head back north to take on the insurgents.
Knowing this, they train hard and their British mentors are full of praise for them, but acknowledge that their weaknesses lie in their logistical and supply chains. It is Africa after all, and these things are perennial problems for every military.
And finally, a brief sojourn in Kenya to visit BATUK (British Army Training Unit Kenya) and again, a two stage visit.
First it was the visit of Commander Field Army (CFA) and General Officer Commanding 1 Division (GOC 1XX) to meet with the British Govt's representative to Kenya - the High Commissioner - and a series of senior Kenyan Defence Force officers.
Boss des Bosses 2019
A huge success held towards the back end of the winter season on the lower slopes of Verbier and now into its 6th year, the 'Boss des Bosses' has become a firm favourite of the seasonaires and locals, as well as the teams from surrounding ski resorts who all compete in this epic contest with an alpine party atmosphere!
Masterfully led by DY Nico Rohan, it starts with the acrobatic skiing, excitement, thrills and spills in the afternoon, and then, as always, continues into the early hours of the morning in the famous Le Rouge Après Ski...
(Photos of the after party not included for obvious reasons! 😝)
So, all told, another amazing year to have had the privilege to photograph. Always central to everything I do are the people with whom I work, as clients, guests or event organisers, and whether it's formal or informal, military or civilian, singles or couples, staged or just a simple candid shot, portraiture photography remains key to any set of photos I push out.
Here's a small selection of some of the brilliant people who have graced my lens in 2019 - thank you to you all!
'Take one of us, take one of us!' remains a familiar refrain, usually shouted at me from afar, and is an important subset of portrait photography; mates, family, colleagues or brothers- and sisters-in-arms, or simply just brothers... Any which way, it's always good to get that team shot for the wall!