Surrounded, St Mary’s Island, Whitley Bay

Surrounded, St Mary’s Island, Whitley Bay

The Picture, The Story!

My thought here was to capture the Lighthouse from the other side, I was aiming for something different.

As I walked past the Lighthouse and got to the rocks, I spotted an inlet and instantly thought that it would be a great leading line for the photograph.

To get to exactly where I wanted to be I had to step across a ravine, luckily, I was wearing my wellies and the fact that I’m well over 6ft tall was a big advantage! Safety first though, I could see the tide going out, so I knew I was ok.

I positioned myself at the edge of the sea, one step backwards and I would have been in it!

As I set up the shot, I wanted to slow down the movement of the water to lead you into the Lighthouse. The sun was setting, and the sky and water colours were very similar.

I managed to capture exactly what I wanted. If you look really closely to the right of the white house, just down from the wall you can even see a seal trapped on the rocks, which I didn’t see myself until I processed the picture.

This is one of my favourites!

Rainbow’s End, Seaton Sluice.

Rainbow’s End, Seaton Sluice.

The Picture, The Story!

It was the 1st of January 2018, the first light of a new year. I made my way to Old Hartley, North Tyneside to get some shots of the sunrise looking towards St Mary’s Island. When I got there however, something didn’t quite seem right, I wasn’t where I needed to be. Photographers intuition maybe!!!

As I looked around, I could see dark skies heading out towards the sea, I knew they would drift across behind the hill in the Harbour at Seaton Sluice and that the sun would rise and light up the scene. Perfect for the picture! I made the decision to head along there. It was the right decision!

To capture the dark sky like this, was fantastic, the double rainbow was a huge bonus! Due to my M.E. my memory isn’t the best, but I remember this like it was yesterday and think I always will.

I wasn’t going to mention the fact, that as I was leaving, the skies opened and to say I got drenched is an understatement.

All part of the job though and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Phil Benton’s 2020 Story

Phil Benton’s 2020 Story

Once upon a time there was a photographer called Phil who ran his own Business which mostly involved attending several fairs and events throughout the North East of England with his stall, selling photographic goodies including, mugs, coasters, greetings cards and prints.

The business was doing well, then one day, in March 2020, BAM! COVID-19 hit!

One by one fairs were cancelled, and it quickly became clear that this was something that wasn’t going away any time soon! Phil lives on his own and suffers from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.), he had turned his hobby into a business and solely relied on it to pay the bills. Panic quickly started to kick in for Phil, he feared that this could end his business, worried about how he would cope financially, as well as being frightened of catching the virus and anxious about how lockdown would affect his mental health!

It was a really, tough couple of weeks, no events meant there was no money coming in and living alone during lockdown meant that Phil wasn’t seeing anyone at all in person. It was so hard to stay positive.

It soon became a Sink or Swim situation for Phil! He chose to Swim!

Together with his Support Worker, Michelle (from This is Me Agency), Phil came up with a plan to try and not only keep things going but also to use this dreadful time as an opportunity to progress and develop. Website development and online promotion was a must, shops were closed, events were cancelled, the only way people could buy was online so Phil needed to be sure he could be found, he needed to be showing up in online searches, he needed to get people to his website!

The energy and time that would have been put into preparing for and attending events and fairs now went into adding new products, stories, and blogs to his website. He also reached out to other businesses to try and secure some corporate work. He joined forces with Chopwell Pet Supplies where he now continues to sell his products and he introduced ‘feel good’ prints to his product range which could be sent as gifts during the pandemic to offer support. Jigsaw puzzles were another new addition and have proved to be super popular due to people staying at home more.

Orders were trickling in and possibilities were being followed up, there were a lot of potential opportunities, some were great, others came to nothing but disappointment! It was an emotional rollercoaster with lots of ups and downs! A sale to the USA was a huge boost of confidence early on in lockdown, it’s Phil’s dream to sell his work worldwide so this was fantastic but the few weeks following this sale, there was nothing, barely a coaster or a greetings card sold, it was soul destroying!

Again though, tenacious Phil refused to give up, he chipped away at things as much as he could taking onboard all advice he was given, MINT Business Club and DBN Members will never know how much they have helped Phil through this extremely difficult time!

Every single potential was investigated, if Phil’s business was going to fail, it wouldn’t be for the lack of trying.

Gradually things started to improve and due to his quality reputation, recommendations resulted in Phil taking on 2 corporate projects during the summer, the first one being for Austrin Gearbox Specialists ( in Newcastle and the second one Cockburn’s Craft Butchers ( in Bedale. These were both huge wins! A further huge positive has been Phil becoming a Trustee for Chopwell Regeneration Group which he is very much enjoying and excited to see how it develops.

Phil’s number of Social Media Followers has continued to grow as has his number of Newsletter Subscribers and his Landscape Photography Talk which he used to give in person at Camera Club meetings throughout the North East is now available to be purchased online and can be listened to Worldwide!

An online Christmas shop was launched in October 2020! Nothing beats the personal selling at events and talking to customers, sharing the story behind each photograph but it was a case of ‘needs must’. The shop was a success!

Phil’s passion, hard work, determination, and drive have kept him going along with the support, encouragement, and kindness of many. It’s now January 2021, the business is still going strong, with lots more to come and Phil is very much looking forward to the future!

This may even be the year when he starts writing his own book!

Take Care! Stay Safe! Never Give Up!


A huge thank you from Phil to the following, for their support and encouragement over the past year!

MINT Business Club and its members!

Do Business Network (DBN) in particularly to Gary & John who went way over and beyond of what was expected!

This is Me Agency

The Chopwell Regeneration Group

Chopwell Pet Supplies