Nicky The Tailor at work

The Craft Project – A New Direction – by Julian Higgs

The Craft Project? Whats that all about then!? It has been over a year since I penned my longer piece about the importance of a long term photography project. My last project at The Vinyl Factory has been completed for a few years and to be quite honest, at the time took over my thought processes for too long. But now I have a desire to do something else longer term, so have decided to approach things differently and break things down into smaller ‘projectettes’. Hopefully making it more manageable.

The theory is this. A short shoot can be done and put away, and then, once processed (mentally and photographically) move on to the next one. Sectionalising (is that even a word?) the work. Ultimately though, each part will have a common theme to add up to the larger body of work.

Below is a selection of images from the first three subjects. Nicky Maiello,  the tailor was 84 at the time of the pictures. Three days later he was going to have a knee replacement, so I had little time to get in. A fabulous craftsman, and has been involved in the rag trade since he was a boy. Coming to the UK in his early twenties, working at various jobs including a gardener, building up to owning his own garment factory in Luton. Now content to offer bespoke tailoring services in this quiet Georgian market town. It’s quite a story. One I have yet to full explore properly. I thought he made a worthy subject to start off this project.

Portrait of Nicky Maiello - Bespoke Tailor
Nicky Maiello – Bespoke Tailor


Nicky The Tailor
Nicky at work

Following on from Nicky I asked around for any other local crafts people. I was told that we had a glass blower in the town, Ive lived round this area all my life and this was news to me! Having made contact with Ricky Keech we booked a suitable time to get together. We managed to make some really interesting images. A couple are below. You can see Ricky’s work here

Ricky Keech - Creative Glass Blower
Ricky Keech – Creative Glass Blower


Working The Furnace
Ricky working the glass orb in the furnace


Glass orb in the furnace
Fire and Light

Since starting The Craft Project, I have discovered many local craftspeople, men and women, all doing their own thing. It’s been a real pleasure to discover these people chipping away at their own niche of creativity. It has inspired me to extend my own creative processes into the world of film making, something i never thought I would do. 

I met David Yule, a spoon carver and green woodworker  through doing some work with a commercial joinery company that fits out top end houses and hotels etc. He has worked there full time since returning to the UK having lived abroad for a long time. He asked me if I would like to use him as a subject for my project. Naturally I jumped at the chance. You can follow David here on Instagram @nothinglikewood

Portrait of David Yule - Spoon Carver
David Yule – Spoon Carver


Carving a greenwood spoon with knife
David carving a greenwood spoon with knife.


Knife and Spoons from David Yule
Knife and Spoons from David Yule

Having never made a film I’d been asked by another craft client to think about making one for them,  I suggested to David we use him as a test subject. I really enjoyed the process, and it being the first time, it has inspired me to do more. Here is a link to the finished film. I see it as a portrait in film, no documentary tension or jeopardy, just a wholesome representation of a man that is clearly in love with his craft. Please excuse any rough edges, I’m still learning.

Ultimately though, The Craft Project will form part of my portfolio. I may enter a selection of the portraits into the some suitable competitions. The film is a stepping stone to other film projects and now I’m learning a new area of creativity. I may go back and start again with Nicky, if he’ll have me. I’ll let you know how I get on. I hope this piece will inspired anyone out there thinking of making films or diversifying their creative activities in any way to get involved. Give it a go. It is a very rewarding pursuit. Photography and film making is a broad church, open to many many different purposes. The trick seems to be finding yours. Thanks for reading. Happy searching.

If you would like to follow my work you can do so either on Instagram


or on my website.

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5 thoughts on “The Craft Project – A New Direction – by Julian Higgs”

  1. Andrea Bevacqua

    Thanks for sharing it, Julian.
    I did enjoy it!
    I always thought that filming and shooting have got a very strong relationship. I think at filming as a continuous play of photos. Every time I watch some BBC series, for instance, I think how good they are in filming (usually the colours and the shots are stunning) and I always think that maybe some of those filmmaker was a photographer before.


    1. Hi Andrea, thanks, I’m glad you liked it. I’m sure there is a strong relationship between photography and film making. It’s all light. The biggest challenge I found was the interviewing part. Coaching the subject, and getting a strong narrative to tie the whole thing together. I think it worked though. Cheers!

  2. I really enjoyed the mini documentary. It made me admire the guy, for just having a go at what gives him creative pleasure. Hope to see more in this series from you.

    1. Hi Mark, thanks. It started as a photo project, but eventually morphed into the film, now I’m lining up a series after all the lockdown business is over. Potter, piano builder, French Horn maker/repairer to name just three, I’m always looking for new people, mainly local, but if the craft is interesting, I’ll travel (when we can again) to do it. Cheers!

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