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Bob McCaffrey: Photography and Finding Inspiration



Here at ULU, we want to become a hub of health, wellness and inspiration. So, we’ve been asking for members of our ULU community, ULU Nation, to write about something that inspires them. And this week’s blog is from Bob McCaffrey, professional Motorsport photographer. (Those of you who have been following us will know that the director ULU, Paul Hembery, is an ex-motorsport director. So, in addition to informative CBD articles, you’ll also see lots of Motorsport content here on our blog!)

So, read on for some insight into the world of Motorsport photography, creative visualisation, and finding inspiration in the mundanity of lockdown.


Bob McCaffrey’s Blog

Hi, my name is Bob McCaffrey and I’m a professional photographer and creative director. I first met ‘Pablo’ (Paul Hembery) through motorsport, when I was working as a photographer in various forms of racing.

My interest in photography started a very long time ago when I was about eight years old. That moment was probably when I received my first camera – a Polaroid Zip instant – as a gift from my Auntie and Uncle.


Polaroid Zip Instant white background
Polaroid Zip Instant


That first camera started me on my creative path. A few years later, I was very lucky to be given a Zenit E 35mm camera and 50mm lens by my parents, as well as a Zenit UPA5M enlarger and darkroom equipment. This enabled me to process and print my own black and white images in a tiny darkroom that I had set up under the stairs!


Zenit E-35mm camera and 50mm lens
Zenit E 35mm camera


This was actually still during the dark days of the Cold War, and the mystique of having camera equipment from the USSR gave me a real buzz, as Zenith was a Soviet brand – which is something that many people didn’t know. The Russian equipment had an air of the KGB about it; as if you had a bit of Soviet espionage equipment in your hands. Camera kits like the Zenit ‘photosniper’ resembled something you’d see in a James Bond film, and could perhaps even double as a weapon in the right hands (as the name suggests).


Zenit Photosniper


My Zenit enlarger – which looked like part of an early Sputnik – packed down into a generic grey briefcase that formed the base for the negatives being enlarged to be projected on. From there, they were printed onto photographic paper. It was easy to set up, and incredibly exciting to see all these things happening before your very eyes.


Zenit Enlarger white background
Zenit Enlarger


Photography still inspires me every day with positive energy, and lately I’ve been visualising the images I would like to capture in the outside world once the lockdown is over.

The world is looking even more beautiful in so many places, with nature having had a respite from humankind to refresh and recover. There have been so many incredible examples already of the haze from constant pollution finally lifting – and stunning vistas not seen for many years becoming visible again. These will create exciting future new photo opportunities.

However, until the time when we are free to wander the amazing world in which we live once more, there are many visual opportunities right here under our noses. And we can set ourselves some amazing creative missions by going on a photo safari around our homes and gardens.

Using just a mobile phone, it’s possible to take amazing close-up macro shots of everyday items, to turn them from the mundane that we take for granted into exotic and enchanting new worlds. The addition of an app such as Camera 2+ (for Mac) or Google Camera (for Android) can help take your photography to an even closer and more stunning level.

You can also add a clip-on macro lens. A wide variety of these are available online, depending on which model of phone you have. It’s even possible to try the same technique using a pair of glasses, which you can shoot through to give a macro lens magnifying effect.

Here are some images that I took in my garden of Red Frangipani plant leaves over the last couple of days, using only my mobile with a clip-on macro lens.





So while the world sleeps, the wheels of creativity roll on 24/7, but that’s not always a good thing. ULU CBD helps to counter the speed of those constantly-spinning internal wheels, which is a problem that so many of us with restless minds share, especially when working in creative professions that feel like so much more than just a job.

Happy snapping! I’ll be back soon with more tips – as well as a video – to help you to capture better images using just your mobile phone.

Bob McCaffrey.


If you enjoyed this blog from Bob McCaffrey, why not check out some of the other blogs written by our ULU community; ULU Nation?

Anthony Peacock: Sleepless in Seattle. Or Was it Toronto? 

Vicky Smith – Laughing My Way Through Anxiety

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