Darkside Of The Lense

Creative, Photography, surf

Darkside Of The Lens from mickey smith on Vimeo.

I’ve been talking a lot about this short film at work and with friends recently, and I came to wonder why I never posted this on my blog. It is probably one of my all time favourite surf films, and what makes it so special is that it is so different from the average surf film that’s barrel after barrel, trick after trick with blazing sunsets in the background.

Darkside Of The Lense totally captures the magic and pain of cold water surfing, and is beautifully shot, edited and narrated. It’s been out a while and has won an array of awards, so not news as such, but worth a watch, more than once. It never fails to give me goosebumps and probably one of the only online videos I watch to the end every time.

BUAV Cargo Cruelty: the ugly side of airlines!

Creative, Digital, Work

Have you ever thought about what sits down in cargo alongside your luggage? Unfortunately, what most people don’t realise is that some airlines are transporting poor little monkeys for research down in cargo on passenger flights. BUAV asked Neo to come up with a campaign to raise awareness of this issue and to motivate people to email the airlines to ask them to stop. Please check out the video below and take action at www.buav.org/cargocruelty.

WWF #savecerrado campaign

Brazil, Creative, Digital, Social Media, Travels

Here’s a little something I’ve been working on for the past few months with WWF UK and Neo.

Save the Cerrado from WWF-UK,  in collaboration with Director Kirk Henry and  Th1ng.

This 60 second film is part of an integrated digital campaign, look out for #savecerrado.

More about why we are doing this campaign

As much as 21% of Brazil is covered by the little-known but precious Cerrado savannah. But right now the Cerrado is disappearing faster than the Amazon rainforest. One of the main causes is commercial agriculture – especially vast fields of soya. We can all help by simple changes in our eating habits – and by persuading supermarkets to source soya that does not cause deforestation.

About 40 years ago it was found that the nutrient-poor soil of the Brazilian Cerrado could be altered with fertilisers to become ideal for producing cereal crops, including soya beans. Since then, half of the natural Cerrado has been destroyed – an area bigger than the UK, Germany, Italy and Portugal combined. We need to act now to stop this.

So…..after you’ve watched the video, please, please go to wwf.org.uk/cerrado and take action (it’s really easy – just a few clicks and we will email the supermarkets on your behalf to ask them to stop stocking this soya).

The House of Fairy Tails

I came across Caroline Robert in a recent issue of Creative Review, and have become a bit addicted to visiting the interactive website she created for The House of Fairy Tales project. As well as radiant artwork and a fun take on interactive web, this project caught my eye as as about using art and play to educate, and it took me back to my days at Aldea Yanapay in Peru. It’s a great way to educate kids, it fosters creativity, and lets face it…who doesn’t love a good old fairy tale!
For a bit more on the project, see below…
Established by the artists Deborah Curtis and Gavin Turk, The House of Fairy Tales is a child-centred artist led project which draws on an extensive team of artists, performers, writers, educationalists, designers, musicians, film makers, dreamers and philosophers to create magical, parallel worlds where learning is play and play is directed learning.
Operating across a number of formats from workshops, publishing, advocacy and education packs, The House of Fairy Tales is about making education inclusive, inventive and fun.
The mission at HoFT is to ‘encourage a flexibility of thought and a love of life and the planet to the young people going through their vital first stages of education and to inspire educationalists from all over the world to bring up young people to love and respect their communities and their world. Hippy ideals for sure, but vital if we are to be optimistic about the future’.

Conquerors of the useless, or so they say…

Green, South America, Travels


After being back for knocking on a month now, I think it’s about time I update this poor thing. To be honest, I’ve been spending most of my time working on a new site for my photos, plus working my way through them, as there are bloody thousands, editing, renaming files, blah blah blah. Anyway, while I haven’t been working…I’ve been enjoying…

180 South – this beautiful film/documentary follows photographer Jeff Johnson and his two mates – pro surfer Keith Malloy and climber Timmy O’Neill -as they set out on a trip working their way all the way down the coast of South America to get to Patagonia. Their goal is to emulate the epic journey made by Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins in 1968.

Aside from the beautiful cinematography and amazing soundtrack, this film is an exposé of the environmental degradation that Patagonia faces. What I found most moving was how the film put a positive spin on this by focusing on activists who are pioneering change to stop the damage.

Although most people in their right minds are concerned by environmental issues nowadays, it’s all to common for the media to present doom and gloom stories, which almost makes people feel a bit helpless, and to be honest, just brews compassion fatigue. More constructive coverage of these issues would not only help educate people, but would also encourage more people to get involved, simply by showing them how.

All in all, you must watch this.

And finally, credit where it’s due, thanks to Ben Ellis who sent me this film in the first place.

Chasing cockerels + milking cows

Digital, Photography, Travels

Salento, Colombia. Where all the coffee comes from.

Cockerel in Salento, Colombia

La Serrana eco farm and hostel – amazing farmhouse, amazing people, and amazing breakfast. So fresh as it comes straight from the cows and chickens on the farm, plus freshly baked bread every day.

La Serrana, Salento, Colombia

Valle del Cocora with its 60m high wax palms

Valle del Cocora wax palms

Happy milky cow

Milky cow, Salento, Colombia

I love Colombian clouds.

Incredible clouds, Colombia

Aldea Yanapay


Aldea Yanapay

I arrived in Cusco (Peru) a few weeks ago, expecting to stop for a few days, do the Inca Trail, and head on to the coast. 3 weeks later and I`m still here.

Aside from my love of the many delights of Cusco (which I will be writing about soon – still have a few more places to visit today), the real reason I have stayed the extra stretch, is because I stumbled upon, completely by chance, one of the most amazing + enlightening concept I have come across so far, probably ever.

Aldea Yanapay is essentially, at the moment, an alternative free of charge, non-profit school that welcomes children from challenged backgrounds, to come and learn about an alternative way of life. The school operates as an extracurricular school (so children attend for 4 hours after their normal compulsory curricular school ends). The idea is to offer the children a safe  place where they can come and learn through art, play, and other creative channels, and where they can talk to their alternative “Families” (classes) about anything and everything.

My first encounter with Aldea Yanapay was when I picked up one of their leaflets in my hostel. I had been looking to get involved with some projects out here, to do something worthwhile to break up the tough weeks of travelling, relaxing, eating and drinking!!

I had actually arranged to teach at a school in Lima through a friend who works for Manzanita A (a fantastic organisation formed by a group of Peruvian social workers), but I was slightly hesitant as I was scheduled to teach maths, and as my Spanish, and to be honest my Maths also, are a little short of basic, I wasnt sure how much benefit I would actually bring to the organisation, and most importantly the children.

So, back to the point, when I picked up the leaflet, I headed over the delicious  Aldea Yanapay cafe/restaurant (415 Ruinas, Cusco) to find out more. One thing led to another and the following Monday afternoon I was enrolled as an art teacher.

After many papier-mâché globes (I was teaching in World week), a wrongly painted Union Jack flag (embarrassing), and lots of mess, I started to wonder what else I could do to help Aldea Yanapay. As an organisation with great ambitions (to evolve into an eco-village, with an orphanage, eventually spreading outside of Peru), I knew that they could really do with some help behind the scenes, especially in Marketing. 

I got talking to the people running the project, and have now volunteered to take on the Marketing of the project on a long-term basis. Obviously I will not be in South America forever, but as a big chunk of the marketing is online, I can do this remotely from wherever I am.

Albeit an amazing project to work on in every way, there is a lot to do. I have already spoken to a few of my contacts from London who are really keen to join forces with me and help out, but if any of you can spare an hour here or there, whether it be working through social media, helping with some linkbuilding to their website, or simply helping me out with some design work (as I am oversees until November I don’t have my Mac and design suite with me), please get in touch.

On the other hand, as one of the key objectives of all this is to find new volunteers, if you are travelling to Peru and interested in free volunteering, please contact me and I will put you in touch with the right people, who are lovely, super-friendly, and very welcoming by the way.

I`m off to catch an extremely long bus to Máncora now, but will be back with more news (and hopefully covered in salt and sand) soon.

Adios amigos.