Category Archives: Staithes

Staithes Festival of Art & Heritage

The art fairs we do have taken us to some interesting venues over the years, such as Skipton auction mart, but for sheer atmosphere Staithes Festival takes some beating. Taking place in the picturesque fishing village of Staithes, some 120 artists set up over 90 pop up galleries using the rental cottages throughout the village, ready for thousands of visitors to descend on the village over the weekend to view the variety of art work on offer and soak up the atmosphere.

Staithes village from Penny Nab

Staithes village from Penny Nab

Anyone thinking of visiting next year, be warned! Set aside a full day and wear some comfortable walking shoes. It’s a hard day, but there’s plenty of cafes and pop up street food stands to keep everyone fed and watered as well as a couple of good pubs and several restaurants. Along with live music and public art works there’s something to keep everyone entertained._8003618


The atmosphere is great and the whole village really comes alive on the Saturday evening, with light shows on the beach and sea chanties being belted out on the staithe. Make a note in your diary for next year’s festival, it’s a great weekend and you might just find that piece of art you didn’t know you were looking for………



I’ve just read an interesting article in “On Landscape” magazine by Richard Childs, where he is encouraging people to get to know the controls of their camera and it reminded me of a fascinating interlude I had at Staithes festival last year. We’d been exhibiting our images in one of the cottages throughout the day, then later that evening after dark, I ventured down to the harbour to shoot some of the evening activities. I set my camera on the tripod and started taking images, after each frame I would review the histogram and adjust the exposure compensation accordingly. After a few minutes I sensed I was being watched and it turned out that indeed I was! A gentleman was standing behind me fascinated that I was able to make all these various adjustments to my camera in the dark without the use of a head torch. I explained to him that I was so familiar with my camera, I knew where the buttons were, so I didn’t need to be able to see them to operate the camera.

Thinking about this later, I realised what a big advantage this is when trying to compose an image. My mind can be fully focussed on the image making process because operating the camera requires so little conscious input. I have a work flow, developed over many years of practice which means my process of image making is repeatable.800-1-9099-R

I also realised when I thought about it further, that I’ve stuck to very similar cameras over the last 20 years, so very little has changed for me. I bought my first Nikon camera, an F801 in 1994, before finally going digital with a D70 in 2004. This has been followed by a D200, a D700 and now a D800, all of which follow a very similar layout, so I haven’t had to learn anything radically different over the years.800-1-9101-R

Admittedly, the images I was shooting that evening were only record shots, but you get the idea just how useful being fully in control of your equipment can be. It frees the mind to concentrate on the image making process, so the next time I’m on a beach an hour before dawn, I know that I can happily work in the dark knowing that operating the camera is the least of my problems.

Art Fairs

I think it would be fair to say that most photographers nowadays base their sales on digital output, whilst we seem to be in a minority selling mainly printed work.
For us it all happened because we started out selling in galleries and exhibitions and have continued with that approach over the years. However, way back in 2009/10 also we dabbled in craft fairs with mixed results. We almost always made some money, but it soon became obvious that most people weren’t going to spend a lot of money at a craft fair with the average sale being relatively modest.


At one point we signed up with Yorkshire Craft Fairs and the proprietor Don Olly turned out to be something of a retailing guru and it was worth doing a few of his fairs just to learn the trade. Don gave out a set of notes on how to be successful selling at craft fairs and these have proved to be worth their weight in gold over the years. Some of these pointers may seem like hard work, especially the first one, but they have proved an invaluable guide to selling our work.

  • Never ever sit down if there are customers about. This may seem tough, but we’ve often looked around the room and all the stalls with people standing had customers and all the stalls where the stallholder was sat reading the paper had none!
  • If you do sit between customers, don’t leap up as someone approaches as they will find this very intimidating, keep an eye open and get up early.
  • Don’t eat on the stand if there are customers about if you can help it as it looks bad.
  • Always engage with your customers. This can be difficult, especially if like us you are a bit shy, but it’s worth persevering.
  • Be attentive to your customers and don’t spend time talking to friends or the next stall holder.
  • Make sure your product is clearly priced. The average buyer is easily discouraged and will often walk away rather than ask.
  • Be professional and present your work and your stall to a high standard.
  • Make sure you stall is well lit, this will literally show your products in the best light.
  • Be organised. Arrive in good time and be ready by opening time.
  • Don’t pack up too early even if you’ve had a bad day. It’s not fair on everyone else if you pack up before closing time and we’ve lost count of the amount of sales we’ve made by hanging on whilst everyone else is packing up.
  • Be ambitious! Most people we encounter at craft fairs are happy to cover the table cost. This is nowhere near enough, you need to cover all costs and have wages for your time too.

  G1X-0641Art in the Pen at Skipton showing the huge range of stalls, numbering in excess of 100 I believe.

Once we figured out that craft fairs weren’t going to make us enough money we started to move towards better quality Art fairs and these have proved to be much more successful. Fairs like Crafted by Hand, Art in the Pen and Staithes Festival are quality shows entered by serious sellers and are frequented by visitors who come specifically to buy, so these bigger shows are definitely the ones to go for and have a great atmosphere too.

 G1X-0449 Purpose built stands at Kirkleatham near Saltburn

The fixed costs for a two day show like Art in the Pen can be high, but they regularly get 5000 visitors over the weekend, so it can still be very worthwhile and shows like Crafted by Hand are curated so only people with a good track record tend to get in. The atmosphere at these shows is also very good, so they can also be a great social occasion. Staithes Festival in particular promises to be a great weekend with loads going on, so that’s one we are really looking forward too.

crafted by handAnother purpose built stand at Crafted by Hand at Masham. Costs more to hire but suits us to hang framed pictures.

We’ve got a packed program of fairs for the second half of this year and we’re really looking forward to them, so why not come along and say hello.

Crafted By Hand – Masham         11-12 July
Art in the Pen – Skipton                15-16 August
Staithes Festival                              11-12 September
Crafted by Hand                              1st November (Subject to being accepted)


Staithes Dawn 28th August 2010

Staithes dawn – 28.08.10

One of the many things I love about being a landscape photographer is that you often get two breakfasts…….

We got one at 3.45 am and another more liesurely one at 9.30 after catching a couple of hours sleep on our return. I’ve been trying to capture the sunrise at Staithes for some time, but conditions have never proved favourable. Whilst the sunrise this morning wasn’t as spectacular as the one on our recent Robin Hood’s bay shoot, careful use of multiple ND grads meant I was able to control the bright area on the horizon and bring detail into the foreground to achieve the shot I was looking for.
I’m old school and prefer to achieve this in camera rather than spend hours on the computer sorting it later.