Mark Gillett

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MDS Roundup

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MDS 2013 Roundup

This years MDS was as unique as any. I suppose the only constant is the toughness. There were new faces, returning faces, young faces, and old faces. There were race winners and life winners and those who did not make the end. But without doubt everyone will go home with an experience of a lifetime.

Patrick Bauer's Briefing

Patrick Bauer’s Briefing

Covering the MDS has always been a real pleasure for me. Not because of the race but more for what the desert throws up at us. It strips us back to the raw. Show us who we really are. It then asks us to live it in a way no other environment I have visited has ever achieved. This bit I still cannot explain but if you ever have the privelege to spend time with bedouin, you will find no truer human beings.

I have travelled to deserts for 30 years now. Made private expeditions, taken children across them, many adults to the Middle East Empty Quarter and I have run the MDS as well as returned for the last 7 years to photograph it. It never disappoints.  Read the rest of this entry »

Marathon des Sables 2013

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This is now my 7th Marathon des Sables and as usual it was very unique. The format was slightly changed which disturbed a few people but I think this will settle down soon and people will accept it in its new form. But this was just a tiny part of the MDS. What really makes this race is the people and the colour they bring each year. The emotions were running fully from start to end.

Stage 2 was one of the toughest I have seen for a while and the heat really kicked in from stage 3 reach the high forties in the sun. Sometimes fifties. The race provided many faces as usual. Some of sheer pain and some of sheer joy but all full of a human’s most powerful emotions.

As a photographer this year I was extremely busy but no more or less than normal. We could not get out much during the race but over the next few days I will be able to catch up with some specific stories, write my press articles and get back in touch with some of those beautiful times of the last 7 days.

If this is a race that is in your mind to do, dont hold back. Go to http://www.marathondessables.co.uk and sign up. I believe anyone can do this race but there has to be a want.

Here are a few images from the week..

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The 1000 Mile Yukon Quest Starts

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http://on.fb.me/12jgTbH

The Quest finally got underway today and it was warmer than any year I have attended… Out car read 1 degree on the way to Braeburn.

Here are a few photos and I will blog post stories as they emerge.. For today it was just important to get the first images out. We are now at Braeburn editing, posting and creating our first short video for the race….. The first mushers are due in around 11pm so it could be a long night… Posts coming…

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February 3, 2013 at 2:40 am

Oman, Truly Raw.

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We are all now back from Oman and the filming project. New Year has passed and the tree will come down this weekend. We also have a puppy to collect! ha…

This last week in Muscat and nearby places has been more beautiful than I could have imagined. The work element was just a privilege and over the next two weeks you will see some of the work released. Other bits you unfortunately will not see but I can assure you it was very special and very beautiful.

But as usual it was not the work or place, alone that made it so special but the people who I was with, met and reunited with that gave me so many memories that photography and filming can never do justice to to. I have always advocated that a photographer does not need a camera or video. Its more about what you “notice” and not what you see or capture.. The camera is just a tool to share that beauty.

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Emily and Becky

My daughter was blown away. A little scared at first when we wandered the souk for the staring eyes unsettled her. But not for long as we talked to shopkeepers and photographed our way with ease. She began to relax until we had a chai in a shop that maybe alone she would not have dreamt of entering…. I chatted to two Bangladeshi men who were delightful and we ordered some bites to eat. More and more Emily and her friend Becky could see the peace and respect that the people had for each other as well as themselves. How friendly everyone is. But also how the staring is merely an inquisitive nature that we all possess when presented with something so different before our eyes…

We met with some old friends who hosted us one evening…… This was one of my most memorable times this last week.

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Royal Race Day – Backstage

Our filming also allowed us many privileges. We filmed horses running in the sea at sunrise, rehearsals of the Royal Cavalry for the Royal Race Day and were permitted access to a different part of Oman. A part equally beautiful, and equally friendly and trusting. Read the rest of this entry »

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January 4, 2013 at 9:05 am

Cairo Ramblings Continued

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My time in Cairo has come to an end. I spent my last day wandering the city again. I have to say I had no desire to visit some of the sights that I perhaps should have but the real city life is what I wanted to see.

I caught my bus to the centre, got a short taxi ride, then walked most of the day. I found myself never going more than a kilometre or so before stopping for a tea, or shwarma.

Streets of Hussein Azhar

Streets of Hussein Azhar

I then found myself talking to some great people…

One shopkeeper told me how slow the business is right now. Read the rest of this entry »

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December 14, 2012 at 12:46 am

African Safari DSLR and GoPro Workshop

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I have now finalised the African Safari DSLR workshop thanks to Rebecca Hart who worked so hard to pull together much of the information for the trip.

We will work together on personal filming projects and are inviting participants to join us, work alongside and learn from the workshop sessions between game drives and bush walks that I will deliver during the time on Safari.

All the details are in this document – African Safari Workshop – so please contact me/us if you are interested in joining the trip.

Sierra Leone Images

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June 28, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Sierra Leone…

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I finally finished my two Sierra Leone edits… What a joy to do.

Sierra Leone had, for a long time, been one of those destinations I have wanted to reach. I have seen horrendous reports of war, expedition logs from friends, charity banners, all sorts of stuff and I just needed to go to see for myself, and now I am not sure why it took so long….

But even so, when I was asked if I would go my initial response was “no.  Not unless you can find a commission fee.” Because at the time my head was too full, charity was not a priority and I just could afford to do it “on my own dime”… Also, charity in Africa has always been a contentious issue for me so to go and give when I was not willing simply didn’t make sense.

A month went by and SuitCase finished filming and photographing at the Diamond Jubilee in Windsor and I was exhausted…. I wanted a break. A holiday, some time in the sun and without any stress, maybe relaxing on the beach…. I pondered a few destinations, Morocco, LA, Scillies (too cold, though) but nothing grabbed me….  And then on about the third evening of no Jubilee, tapping my fingers or twiddling my thumbs, I called Lewis Alderidge, one of the organisers of the Sierra Leone Marathon.. The person who had called a month or so earlier…. “So! tell me more” was pretty much all I said to him…. Lewis “rabbited” (don’t take offence mate..) on for about 30 minutes but what he didn’t know was that I was sold in the first 15 seconds….

In short, I told him I would go if they found my flight and ground costs and I would provide images and a short 3 minute film for YouTube. I was very clear and said that I couldn’t afford to fund myself and I wanted a break…. Africa sounded like a good idea. Charity was not in my head but if it gave me a week away and I could help them a bit, I was up for it…. [Is that harsh?]

Anyway, he confirmed, booked my ticket and I prepped for it the night before going. Oh apart form the jabs I needed…

In all seriousness I was delighted to be going… I did think I would have a few days photographing the coast which I had read so much about but it turned out differently..  As with all charities they needed to get me everywhere.. To see everything. Film the lot and photograph a gazillion children in school and so on. They needed blood. But then that is what they do well.

As soon as we landed, my visions and memories were quite bluntly yet beautifully taken back 20 years to when I went to Nigeria.. I have visited South Africa and Kenya also but this was different. Raw in every sense. Nothing had changed in 20 years… The airport had its damp musty smell, bars on windows and unpainted walls, masses of people outside waiting to get your bags, take you to the hotel that paid them the most commission, or just stare at you as you walked through the doors to the outside humidity and mass of more people.

I was back in Africa and hadn’t realised how much I had missed it. How much it hit every sense I had. I stood happily for around two hours just waiting to find out where we were going. Stood and watched the organised mayhem that Africa is.

Eventually we were bustled onto three buses and taken to the ferry across to Freetown. Our truck made it on but the big one got stuck at the ramp. Not that anyone was bothered. The shouting began between the driver and boat people. But not in a nasty way. Just the way they discuss this stuff… Who was pushing, who was driving and who was propping up the back wheels to in order to get the bus on the boat…  I photographed it along with everything else I saw… The people on the boat, the runners who had travelled with me for the Marathon. Everyone sweating profusely but just accepting that this is Africa.

Eventually we sailed, beers were consumed and the journey really got underway.

I will leave you there for now and let the videos tell the story….  I thoroughly enjoyed working for this charity and would do it again… Street Child do a great but most importantly and honest job of getting education to kids and kids off the street into families… they gave me back my faith in charity done well…  Kiln who sponsored the race were the perfect match for the event and their runners did a great job in raising lots of needed cash too…

The Sierra Leoneon people are perhaps the most beautiful I have met for a long time.. They have true soul. A happiness we are missing so much in our own youth and a deep beauty I just can’t explain. So go, experience it and love it for what it is… And if you can help the charity, then give a little bit too..

I hope you enjoy the videos.

MDS 2012 – Next Story of Human Endurance

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Well, if you followed us at the Yukon Quest and loved that then follow us at the Marathon des Sables in April.

This mountain of a race takes part in the Sahara Desert from 7th April. You will need to add me as a friend on Facebook, “Like” the MDS page and “Friend” the UK MDS page It’s best to do all three.

The race is 250 Km through the Sahara and runners carry all their own gear and food for 7 days.. It is run over 6 stages looking a little like this… Day 1 – 28km, day 2 – 35km, day 3 – 38km, day 4/5 – a huge 80km, day 6 – 42km and day 7 – 21km.. So pretty damn tough.

Runners will battle temperatures of up to 50 degrees, blisters and soreness like never before, total exhaustion and inevitably some will drop out… They cover sand dunes that go for ever, mountains and valley salt flats on a daily basis. This years race will be as exciting as ever so go to those FB sites and follow it through here…

We will for the first time be filming it with GoPro and mobile cams and uploading to the social networks as we go along… Images will also be uploaded to the official site on a daily basis…  I will upload blogs for the English-speaking runners and supporters and other reports can be seen on the official site www.darbaroud.com and the Facebook pages mentioned earlier… There is no shortage of information coming out of the desert from the 7th April. No excuse not know what happening deep in the Sahara.

Search this site for older articles from previous years to get a flavour.. It’s the toughest footrace on earth.

A Piece of My Heart

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I have never seen the moon as in I did in Yukon

I left Whitehorse two weeks back after spending three weeks following the Yukon Quest. Now I sit in a cafe working through images, planning for my next adventure, planning for the new business SuitCase Media & Productions. Well, not necessarily new but the growth of my business and who I actually am.

But this part of the world, North America, has really stolen a piece of my heart. The land, the skies and the people.. I fell in love with Alaska and the Yukon.

I have tried to put my finger on what it is as I have travelled to some pretty great places over the last 30 years. I have seen most of the world and many cultures… I have fallen in love with many places but on a different level. It’s almost like I was at home when following the Quest.

I love the way people live. Purchasing things that were necessary not as here in the malls where you can buy a gazillion things you don’t need. Clothes to fill your already full wardrobe, covers for your phone for which some people must have a separate wardrobe too, another pair of shoes for Wednesdays! All rubbish, all fashion but not necessary.

What I noticed in Alaska and Yukon was that everyone had a truck because they needed one. Needed it to carry the wood for the fire. A beautiful fire but a necessary one. Many have a skidoo for the same. They need it for their livelihood to to get about. Shops in the main street sell goods that are necessary and in Whitehorse the exceptions were goods for tourists which provides and income for the residents.

But more than this too there is a cosmopolitan feel to Whitehorse. People from around the world and all ages. A good youth culture and a feeling of modernity without brash flashiness. As I walked the streets during my last days it was beginning to warm up and I wanted to stay behind to witness Spring. To see the rivers break. I imagined getting back to Dawson to see the ice bridge break up and the hills come alive with the sun. And see the carnival atmosphere of the towns when Spring finally takes hold.

I did not stay, though, and am now in UK and off to Paris tomorrow. Then Barcelona on Tuesday. Both beautiful places that many people dream to visit so I am grateful for everything I have and everywhere I have been, and the piece of my heart I left in North America will still be there when I return. I hope that will be soon and I have many people I would like to meet up with again.

A final note is “good luck” to Lance,, Brent, Kristy and Hugh Neff in the Iditarod..  I don’t think I left anyone out.

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March 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Brent Sass and His Team

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I just watched Brent Sass preparing his dogs for the next leg of the Yukon Quest, from Peli Crossing to McCabe Creek. I watched in awe of how he is with his dogs…  He had a bag of booties and told someone how he bought 4000 of them before the race. 4000 at 85cents each… Thats a lot of cents! 

He then attended each dog taking the paws one by one and checking them for soreness or injury. Not just checking though, he took each paw and pushed gently checking between the claws. He then would kiss the dog and give it a hug, then slipping on a bootie and tying it carefully.. Each foot painstakingly checked and cared for. Each with a new bootie for the next leg of the journey and all to be repeated again very soon.

Brent shows his team the respect they are due for without them he would not figure in the race. If he did not care for them he would not be cared for by them. But more importantly if he did not care it would eventually bite in the rear in some way…

He chatted to some of the photographers with passion too. Never too busy to give of himself. Never too tired even though he had not sleep much for the last 8 days… Never too focussed that others don’t matter.

Brent is a kind of special competitor.

He is not alone, though as this race seems to breed special people and strong teams.. I have watched other in the same way and they are different from other sportsmen that are so often too obsessed with themselves and non caring. The Yukon Quest has some real stars.

Last night I watched Lance Mackey arrive at Stepping Stone, stop for a Burrito and  then checkout.. He had no reason to chat but did… But that is another story and my next….. The race continues…

The rest of Brents team… http://on.fb.me/AqJLtm

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February 13, 2012 at 1:06 am

Yukon Quest Latest Video

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February 11, 2012 at 2:14 am

Dawson City… Yukon Quest Halfway Post

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Images of Dawson and our time in the City….

We are now into our last day in Dawson City and I find myself not wanting to move on. Its a beautiful town at the base of Midnight Dome on the Yukon river. This time of year the river is frozen over and bridges to the community on the other bank but come spring the bridge disappears and only with a long drive can you get you to the other side… The town is made up of traditional western style buildings and walking the streets brings back memories of series like The Virginian and High Chaparelle. Its the most gorgeous city and not one to spend only a few days in.

Our hotel, the El Dorado is typical with a large bar, simple dining and pool tables at the back. There is also the Downtown and for eating the best lace in town must be the Drunken Goat whee the food is just perfect.

Its now -20 degrees and in a few months the river will flow again, the paddle steamer will fill with tourists and the hills will be a lush green with hikers and walkers roaming the paths.. I want to come back and see the spectacle of the river breaking and spring taking hold but know I won’t have time this year. Perhaps next.

Now my mind is back on the Yukon Quest and getting our images out for the organisation and the videos made to help promote the race. A race that is now well and truly in my blood.

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February 11, 2012 at 1:37 am

Large Format Wall Prints

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Well, I have finally put together a gallery of images that would look good on your living room, bedroom or office wall…  All the prints are available at any size and normally will arrive unframed so you can custom buy to suite your home. The two galleries I have begun with are a general and one specifically of Paris. Email me to get a price.

Go here to view - http://www.junglemoon.co.uk/parisprints/

And here – http://www.junglemoon.co.uk/printgallery/

Select and send me the form email with any questions or orders….

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January 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm

EyeforLife

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Learn to look at your world from a different perspective. Take an EyeforLife course.

Exciting times ahead with EyeForLife…. We have our new courses starting in October. Checkout the website http://eyeforlife.net/ for all the latest info. In late November we will run a trip to South Africa on safari, this is not to be missed. All details are on the site too, or just email me or Yousef.

We will also take online participants if getting to a course is not possible.. Obviously the Safari is not possible online, well, not yet anyway.

Back to breakfast now!

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September 7, 2011 at 7:42 am

MDS 2011

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Just back and here are a few images from the portfolio…..  The portfolios can be found on my Facebook and Flickr page and will be on junglemoon soon….

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April 13, 2011 at 10:26 am

Eye For Life

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I have now been presenting the Eye for Life course for a year in Kuwait. It has been constantly developing and improving and the post on the AYMSTRONG blog sums up what its all about. Read it here http://bit.ly/e1iFgB and come back and trail through a few post on my blog…. Your “eye for life” is critical for your future…

The next Eye for Life courses are being planned for May. If you would like information, please contact me or Yousef at AYMSTRONG for details.

Mark

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March 11, 2011 at 10:39 am

Yukon Quest

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This is just a beautiful event to follow….

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February 15, 2011 at 10:12 am

Online Courses Coming Soon

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Stand out in your life; use your photography to get you there....

I will soon be offering online photography workshops and using your skills and your passion we will examine you as a photographer and how this can have a positive impact on your approach to life too. If you want to stick simply to photography this is also possible.

The online courses will work as one to one, group or ad-hoc learning using Skype, internet phone, chat and email. Modules will be completed and tasks set. This coupled with evaluations of your work on a regular basis will allow you to build on your skills, examine you as a photographer and person and enjoy the challenges that life throws at you.

If you are interested please email me or respond to this post…  My contact can be found my Junglemoon website along with further information you may need.

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September 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Writing

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I haven’t been posting for a few weeks or very much through the last summer months.. but I have been writing. Mostly personal stuff that I do not wish to blog but also writing my book. I started this some time ago, actually about 3 years and am sure I will get it finished someday soon.  I also have another book on the go using my images with words as a means of inspiration. Images inspire many of us and this includes me of course.

Please take a look through my latest on Flickr but also on my old pbase site as I would be interested to know if any inspire you. If they do, tell me why… For me this is the one that gets me right now

Just for peace of mind….

Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman... A masterpiece in architectural design.

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August 31, 2010 at 3:16 pm

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