Kevin Meredith
What’s Your Story?

What’s Your Story? is a monthly series in which we find and talk to interesting people in our local community, whether they run a business, have an interesting job or do something else that we think is worthy of wider attention.

Kevin Meredith AKA ‘Lomokev’ is a Brighton based photographer, famous for his use of film compact cameras. He documents different aspects of seaside life, from early morning sea-swims to Brighton street style, as well as writing books and teaching classes on photography. We caught up with Kevin at his studio to find out more about his inspirations and methods.

 

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WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EXPOSURE TO PHOTOGRAPHY? 

In 1996, when I started a GNVQ art course (kind of equivalent to A levels), students were given a list of stuff to buy for the course. On the list was an SLR camera, at the time I did not know what an SLR was. I did my induction into the photo lab and basic photography and I just got it. I did not go on to study photography at university but I kept it as something personal to me so it never became a chore. My photography really changed in 1998 when I got a Lomo LCA, which is a quirky Soviet camera designed in 1984. The LC-A changed the way I thought about photography, mainly to not take it too seriously. It gave me a lot of creative freedom; I could, and did, take it everywhere. The ability to use it in low light made it a game changer at the time. It seems funny now but when I got my LC-A there was not much to choose from if you wanted a half decent camera that could fit in your pocket, especially if you were on a budget.

 

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WHO WERE YOUR INFLUENCES? 

I have so many photographic influences, I could list them forever so I’ll keep it to three. Fabon Moharm ran the Lomo embassy in London and was responsible for designing the crazy events that made up the Lomo Olympics that pushed my photography at the time. I’ve always been a fan of Martin Parr’s work old and new and have had the good fortune to meet him. It turns out he is a really nice chap who is really into supporting the grassroots of the photography community. I’ve also got a great respect for Frank Hurley who was the photographer for Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914–17). I believe that if it were not for Hurley’s photos of the expedition it would not have been as well known. He did some ground-breaking work under extremely difficult conditions.

 

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HOW DID YOU GET INTO TEACHING? 

I actually started teaching because I was asked to teach web design at Buckinghamshire New University which was where I got my degree. After I wrote my first instructional photography book I was asked to teach a photography course at a local Brighton photography studio. Since then I have taught photography all over the UK and little in the US and mainland Europe.

 

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WHO ARE SOME OF THE CLIENTS YOU HAVE WORKED FOR? 

I did a pretty fun project shooting a lookbook for Dr Martins on Lomo cameras which was pretty fun, mainly because it they were shot in and around LA and San Francisco. I used to love shooting the trend spotting for Source magazine. I did it for 3 years until they stopped doing a print edition, it was great having to do something regularly as it forced me to be creative. Recently, what I am most proud of is the work I did documenting the construction of the British Airways i360 which included a two and half year time-lapse of the construction.

 

 

WHAT/WHEN ARE YOU HAPPIEST SHOOTING? 

I like documenting my swims with my friends in Brighton Swimming club. I’ve swam in the sea all year round with no wet suit for the past 14 years and documented it for most of that time. Also, there are rare occasions that you get an ultra-low tide sync with a sunset or sunrise on Brighton beach, it’s a bit cheesy but you get beautiful reflections in the sand of the sky that can look magical. Quite a lot people, even some who live in Brighton, don’t realise on certain low tides there is actually sand on Brighton, it’s not just stones.

 

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HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE USE OF DIGITAL & ANALOGUE PHOTOGRAPHY? 

I don’t shoot as much film as I would like to, having a busy work schedule and family life has made it tricky to shoot much film. That said I would like to restart doing my trend spotting which was all shot on film.

 

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HOW DO YOU APPROACH PHOTOGRAPHING A STRANGER? 

Approach them with a smile and simply ask if you can take their photo, the worst thing that can happen is they can say no, that’s it. It’s very rare that people reject you. It’s pretty simple but I can appreciate it’s a confidence thing.

 

 

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WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO WHILE YOU WORK? 

It depends what I am doing, if it’s writing I need silence. But musically I love Jungle and old hardcore rave. Every Friday on Rinse FM Uncle Dugs plays old school Jungle / rave music between 11am-2pm, Dugs never usually plays music from beyond the year 1995. I always make sure I have some kind of repetitive task that does not require much brain power when his show is on so I can really get into it. I could listen to the podcast but listening live is so much better it has a really pirate radio vibe.

 

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WHY BRIGHTON? 

I’ve always loved Brighton since I first came here. I worked in London for two and half years after university. At the time I used to visit friends in Brighton and towards the end of my time in London I was coming down 3 weekends in a row. At that point I realised it was high time I moved here. In my 40 years of life I’ve only spent 5 and half years inland. I love seaside towns and Brighton is the best.

 

 

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS? 

Seeing as it’s the new year, this is what I have got planed for 2018, after that who knows? After the long-term time-lapse project I shot for the i360 I would like to do more time-lapse work. I’ve recently acquired a special time-lapse camera which will enable me to take my time-lapses to the next level. I think this year I will also kick start my trend spotting portraits again as the old editor of source got in touch and asked me to shoot a portrait of Louise O’Mahony, a Brighton fashion designer, she makes über colourful clothes so it will work really well with the way I shoot my portraits. I have also got plans for couple of exhibitions, one in Brighton using some of my swimming work and one in London with my trend spotting photos.

 

 

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Industry views
How football clubs use social media to inject personality into their players

If you’ve ever watched a post-match interview with a footballer you’ll know that, generally, they’re not exactly the most unmissable part of the beautiful game. More often than not you can predict exactly what their formulaic response will be before the interviewer has even finished asking his question.

With every word meticulously scrutinised by the press, modern-day footballers seem to be nothing more than media-trained robots programmed to speak in clichés. This, along with the multi-millionaire status that even the more average top-level footballer enjoys, has only served to disconnect these players from the fans who pack the stadiums to watch them perform.

Gone are the days of the sixties, when you’d find your local top-flight team’s star striker down the pub or see a new signing travelling with the fans on the bus to the stadium before a game. Football, particularly in England, is now a global product exported for unfathomable sums of money, and the players are brands in their own right. With even the slightest misdemeanour, a player is at risk of losing thousands of pounds from their seemingly endless amounts of endorsement deals. It’s no wonder the modern footballer is hyper conscious to avoid controversy at all times.

Yet fans love a character. Sure, they’re happy to chant the name of a complete bore if they can take on three defenders and smash one into the top corner. However, when a player can also convey a likeable personality the fans really take him to their hearts, regardless of ability. Every club has a player with cult hero status for this reason; Emmanuel Eboue at Arsenal, Nyron Nosworthy at Sunderland, and it’s why Benjamin Mendy has become a fan favourite at Manchester City despite barely playing a game for them due to an early injury.

Social media is the ideal tool for a footballer to show off their personality. The problem with this is that the slightest dodgy tweet can send the media and public into a furore. Many players have received a backlash following an ill-advised tweet. Rio Ferdinand asking fans to “spare a thought” for him on New Year’s Eve because he couldn’t celebrate due to a match the next year, Carlton Cole joking that the England v Ghana friendly was a “trap” set up by immigration services, and pretty much anything Joey Barton has ever tweeted.

Football clubs themselves have taken measures to prevent these types of scandals, with most implementing a ‘social media code of conduct’ for their squad to adhere to. However, many savvy clubs have started using their own social media accounts to release content that shows off their players’ personalities, in a way that’s managed by the club. This kind of content has helped fans reconnect with their players in a way that the club can control, therefore reducing the risk of a player going rogue and offending somebody or embroiling himself in a scandal.

Manchester City’s Youtube videos

Manchester City may be relative newcomers amongst Europe’s elite, but they were one of the first clubs in England to use social media as a means to showcase the personalities of their expensively assembled squad. City’s Youtube channel has been producing funny, sharable content for many years. They gained real traction in 2012 with a series of Christmas themed Advert Calendar videos, many of them featuring the antics of Mario Balotelli. The viral star of the campaign though was Serbian left back Aleksandar Kolarov with his hilarious rendition of Jingle Bells.

Since then City have continued to make the most of their Youtube channel. Features such as Pep’s Taxi saw their manager Pep Guardiola surprising young fans. They have even drafted in celebrities such as actor Kevin Hart, who took part in a penalty shootout challenge against namesake and England number 1 goalkeeper Joe Hart. The crowning moment was a video featuring James Milner opening Christmas presents in the style of the famous Twitter parody character ‘Boring James Milner’. Rather than moan about his personality being mocked by the parody account, Milner played up to the character, which endeared him to even non-City fans up and down country.

Tottenham’s Wanyama spaghetti tweet

In May 2012, when playing for Scottish champions Celtic, Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama sent a tweet which simply read: “I had spaghetti and it was very nice i enjoyed it”. Wanyama, who had only been in the UK less than a year must have been baffled when the tweet went viral. People found the charmingly innocent tweet hilarious, at time of writing it has nearly 43,000 retweets and over 32,000 likes.

Wanyama’s career since then went from strength to strength and in June 2016 he was signed by Premier League big boys Tottenham Hotspur. Despite the tweet being over four years old, it’s legend followed him wherever he went. This led to Spurs ingeniously announcing the signing with this tweet and immediately endeared the midfielder to the White Hart Lane faithful:

Bristol City’s goal GIFs

The 2017-18 season has been a success for Championship club Bristol City. At the time of writing they sit 4th in the league despite being tipped to struggle, and await the second leg of a Carabao Cup semi-final with Premier League leaders Manchester City. Impressive achievements, but unlikely to really make the entire football world sit up and take notice. What has captured the hearts of football fans up and down the country however… their goal GIFs. Every time The Robins score they tweet a GIF of the goalscorer’s pre-recorded celebration. These started off fairly generic with fist pumps and the occasional silly dance, but have evolved into short clips of hilarity. More creative efforts have seen the scorer’s: ironing their own shirt, spraying a fire extinguisher, downing two glasses of milk, and pretending to DJ with plates (held up by someone off camera). Not only have these simple but effective clips become a hit with their own fans, but now whenever a City goal goes in, fans all over the country are jumping onto twitter to see what daft antics the latest GIF will contain. The best part is that there must be a catalogue of efforts from players who’ve yet to register a goal this season which are yet to see the light of day!

The growing trend

The run up to Christmas 2017 has seen record levels of this type of content being produced by teams at all levels of the game. Blackburn Rovers treated their followers throughout December with a ‘Bradvent calendar’ which featured new content starring talisman Bradley Dack singing, dancing or doing what he does best every day in the run up to Christmas.  Blackburn’s East Lancashire rivals Burnley also created a series of festive-themed social content, including videos featuring their players taking part in a ‘bad joke challenge’. Crystal Palace even parodied the Queen’s annual Christmas Speech with a video of their manager Roy Hodgson giving his own ‘Gaffer’s Speech’ on Christmas Day.

Social media content is of ever increasing importance to football clubs as more and more start to realise the endless opportunities to connect with fans in a variety of creative ways. At Pleece & Co we have plenty of experience in creating campaigns that include social media marketing and working with sports teams at various levels to increase their social following. Get in touch with us to find out how we can help your team engage with their fans by emailing info@pleeceandco.com. In the meantime we’re off to have some spaghetti, hope it’s very nice and we enjoy it.