The Pedestrian Tyne Tunnel

I thought London was the only place that was lucky enough to host gems like this, but here it is in The Toon.

I fiiiinally got my 36 exposure film developed and was very excited to see the results and show you! But not before I get geeky on y’alls now: The Pedestrian Tyne Tunnel is a fascinating and stunning piece of architecture – Imagine being able to say “My commute to work involves walking along the river bed”. That’s cool.

Built in 1951, it took off to a great start with around 20,000 people seamlessly placing themselves on the right side of a numbered wooden step and descending 306 times its depth. At the time of construction this was the deepest single-rise escalator in the world.

After spending so much time on that step one must have become rather familiar with it, only to then be thrust off it into a deep, moderately lit gangway with two exits curved for reinforcement titled ‘Pedestrians Tunnel’ and ‘Cyclists Tunnel’, and quoted “Christ almighty that’s a canny wak!” probably.

The awesome commute by foot along the river bed begins and takes a claustrophobic 20 minutes. I didn’t make it to the other side so my engrossing story stops there, though I can admit that the walk back up 306 wooden steps was a story in itself.

The Pedestrian Tyne Tunnel is now a Grade II listed building and will soon be renovated, so if you’d like to capture shots similar to mine, do it now! Or you can purchase mine for a small fee…

Project: Shikara

I’m proud to say that I created the logo and branding of our wonderful Indian eatery, Shikara. It’s been great to be part of such an important local project which also undoubtedly serves the best Indian food in the North East, in the most blingtastic two-storey restaurant I’ve seen outside of Mumbai!

A hot pink Indian sunset in full swing, Kerala, 2008

It all started with a photograph I took whilst travelling around India in 2008. I was on a Shikara boat at the time, and the hot-pink sunset was in full swing. Back then, I didn’t know this photo would come to be so influential.

My first task for Shikara was to create a “coming soon” banner to place on the restaurant frontage during building works. It would feature this photograph. I also wanted to create the scene I saw myself when there, but with an illustrative edge which would eventually become the restaurant’s iconic logo.

Shikara’s “Coming Soon…” banner backdrop + illustration

The vibe of the restaurant is getting there: The silhouette of the boat and the palm-tree backdrop portray the excitement of an undiscovered and intrepid journey, and the deep pinks and purples invoke a bold but organic feel with beautiful, calm waters ahead, all embracing the excitement of the restaurant “Coming soon”.

Now that I have a feel for the theme of the restaurant and the artwork to support it, the logo falls into place. The font I chose was the strongest contender as I really fell for the fabulous lower-case ‘a’: Its form echoes the archetypal Indian motif which features heavily in Indian textiles and fashion. The ‘S’ in Shikara becomes the water, the dot above the ‘i’ becomes the setting sun, and the other lettering becomes the stilts for the boat – I’m really starting to get excited about this one! Add the hot-pink sunset colour and make the sun stand out (or moon, whatever you’d like it to be!), and we’ve got Shikara’s logo.

The Shikara logo embroidered onto the waiters’ waistcoats

I also did the menu design as well as photography for Shikara, covering everything from the installation of their light fittings to their opening night and foodie works of art. See the photos here.

Click here for more information about Shikara Indian Restaurant in Whitley Bay or to book a table with sea views, chandeliers, bulbous wine glasses and fantastic Indian eats.


Thinking Digital in 2012

Thinking Digital – Livecast Lounge

A rather obvious blog title for such an innovative event, already titled ‘Thinking Digital’, but it illustrates the event perfectly – we’re all now Thinking Digital, whether we like it or not.

ipads everywhere





Sitting in Auditorium 1 of The Sage, Gateshead, I have to admit, I was possibly a little out of place at this conference. I first realised this when I was one of only two people in the room without an iPhone. And again, when I climbed to the top of the auditorium to take an aerial photo of the audience whilst the host, Herb Kim, was opening the conference, and all I could see were little glowing rectangles on everyone’s lap. I’ve got a pretty good camera so zooming in I could see that each little glowing rectangle was either an iPad or an iphone, and even further I could see that almost everyone was on either facebook or twitter. At one point, someone lost their Blackberry and it was brought up to the stage, and the owner was playfully mocked in front of the whole auditorium. Sure enough, they’ll return to the conference next year whored out with iDevices – I think they’ve learned their lesson.

Despite being primitively stocked, myself, I definitely appreciated what was to come. With almost 30 speakers talking about their digital discoveries, or day to day breakthroughs made with the aid of pioneering technology, I often forgot that I was supposed to be taking pictures. Don’t worry though, I didn’t miss a thing. If you were there and can say that you aren’t in any of my pictures, I’ll come round to your house and personally shoot you (with a camera, of course).

Trendy-Magnus mid-anecdote

My favourite speaker, and probably others would agree, was Magnus Lindkvist, who appropriately coined himself ‘the Comedic Trend-spotter’. What a brilliantly funny guy, whose English is encyclopaedic! Another favourite of mine was Professor Sugata Mitra, humorously talking us through his wacky methods of research and educational findings from the slums of India. Ken Segal, the namer of the iMac, was a pretty epic addition to the line-up. Sebastian Seung gave a memorable talk – the creator of an Android game which helps scientists go beyond the realms of theory and actually map out the entire human brain. A Facebook guy, Simon Cross, was there, promoting hacking (naturally), and speaking amongst many other incredible minds.

BBC’s Raplh Riviera #captioncompetition?

Coming back to the beginning, I have to be grateful for the exsistance of twitter for my being here. If it wasn’t for Michael Raven at Blink Collective, linking me up with Emilia Flockhart of Thinking Digital, I wouldn’t have had the awesome opportunity to witness this world event and at the same time promote my photography to the whole of the UK and beyond – my photos from this conference have now featured in print in The Metro NewspaperThe Journal, and online on TNW (The Next Web) to name just a few. So a big shout out to twitter and its tweeters, and the organisers of TDC12 that gave me access-all-areas at the conference!

And finally… My favourite pic of the whole two days has to be of BBC’s Ralph Rivera. I liked him.

To see all 245 official photos from the Thinking Digital Conference 2012, click here and tag yourself and others!

If you are a newspaper or blogger and would like to use any of my pictures, please click here, help yourself, and credit me as ‘Leah Pattem’.

Getting in Tune with the Beat of The Toon

Bringing Bollywood to The Toon

I’m getting in tune with the beat of the Toon and am having a ball. This last month has taken me to exciting places: I’ve dabbled in a bit of event photography with my new (and bonkers) friend, Martin – we covered a ground-shaking Bollywood night at Newcastle University, and a very dapper evening at ‘the living museum’, Beamish. I’ve also done some daytime event photography for networking events such as the Bridge Club (good people in good spaces – come along!) and Benchmark, an events company, and am working with Newcastle United Football Club, covering their charitable events. I’d really better start understanding a little bit about football. At least I’ve now seen the stadium! Canny big isn’t it?

More excitingly, I’ve recently been taken on as an apprentice videographer with a friend of a friend! Watch this motherf*cking space eh! I’ll be starting out with weddings (we knew I couldn’t avoid them forever) and will quickly work my way up to commercial cinematography, with a job having already begun with Pirimal, a global pharmaceutical researcher!

Mod Hair Tailor: Ange

Mod Hair Tailor: Jamie & Hugo

My favourite shoot this month has to have been with The Hair Tailor, Beppy – a lovely Mod hairdresser who runs a studio in her house but is rapidly working her way up in the world of hair-art. She gave me the challenge of shooting her haircuts in different styles, but at the same time capturing her clients’ personalities and getting really creative with it! Check it…

Ross (Futurehead) workin’ it in Create Kitchen

On top of all of this, I’m working with my good friend, Andrew Fenwick, on a high-profile campaign for a local Indian restaurant, Shikara. I’m in charge of the branding, logo design, illustration, creative consultancy, press photography and video. So really, I’m no longer just a Photographer, I’m a Photographer, Videographer and Graphic Designer! Or you could just say… I’m pure mint. We may also have a few more clients in the pipeline, so we’re very excited to see how it all pans out!

Oh, and one more thing – the most recent thing I did – I shot The Futureheads cooking a three-course meal with a top chef at Create Foundation, and ate their food which was alreet! It’s led to me covering Sunderland’s Split Festival later this summer and hopefully (hopefully!) Evolution Festival too!

Whatever next eh?



L-O-V-E Dough

L-O-V-E Dought

My latest shoot at J. Donkin Bakers has been the most exciting shoot I’ve done as Geetha Photography so far. Seeing the inner workings of a large bread and confectionery factory felt more like a wizard’s kitchen than a bakery. Everything was done by hand and at rapid speed and there was flour, dough, breads and cakes everywhere. It smelt incredible and I was totally in the way.

The staff were lovely. A man, heavily tattooed – “L-O-V-E” written across his right knuckle and “H-A-T-E” written just below: I got a shot of that hand kneading dough and dipping it into poppies to make what is known as Poppy Knot Buns.

Poppy Knot Buns

Another of my favourite shots is this portrait. With taking portraits I’ve found that people often struggle to bring up a smile, but he just looks like that all the time anyway!

A real character

This bakery is 90 years old this year. It began as a passion for cakes by the late, great J.Donkin. His pocket-sized recipe books are still in good shape, though covered in 100 year-old flour and sugar and written in near illegible early 1900’s script.

The Genoese Sponge

One note struck me in particular. It had been written in neat, blue fountain pen on a telegram slip of The Regent Palace Hotel at Piccadilly Circus, London. It lists the ingredients of a Genoese Sponge – a cake still popular today.

The recipes have inevitably changed over the years – I don’t know what Welsh Butters are or where you can get 6lbs of mixed fats – but the passion for breads and cakes genuinely holds strong within this traditional, grounded family company.

And I got free cake.

J.Donkin Bakers HQ is located in Ashington. To get in touch, you can visit Managing Director, Chris Donkin at 16 High Market, Ashington, NE63 8PD or contact him on 01670 812126.

V Gallery Opening Night

Whitley Bay’s Brand New V-Gallery Holds Opening Evening for Artists and Public

Owner, Mark Swinburne in V-Gallery’s café corner

V-Gallery, an exclusive gallery and café in Whitley Bay, will host its opening evening this Thursday 15th December. Featured artists, as well as the gallery’s founder, Mark Swinburne, will be on hand to introduce an exciting range of locally inspired art across a range of creative media.

Mark Swinburne, proud owner of Whitley Bay’s recently opened V-Gallery, will be hosting an opening evening from 6 to 9pm on Thursday 15th December both for the artists on show and for the local public.

Swinburne opened the doors to his gallery in July this year and already boasts an outstanding collection of local art: from watercolours, oil paintings and photography to sculptures, woodwork and metalwork. Featured artists include Ray Campbell (watercolours), Leah Geetha Pattem (photography), Katie Carr (fine art and sculpture), Darren Mundy (graphic art), Neil Woods (local cartoons), Rene (oil painting), Alex Perry (photography), Matt Hale (photography), Steven Clarkin (watercolours), and Robert Gibson (large-canvas oils).

The opening party coincides with the launch of V-Gallery’s brand-new coffee shop. As something Mark has dreamed of for a long time, the gallery now combines a relaxed atmosphere with the thrill of being surrounded by an exciting collection of local art. The coffee shop boasts a fantastic medley of organic and fair-trade coffees and Suki teas from around the world, as well as a wide range of cakes, scones and biscuits made locally by Maureen of Whitley Cakes.

Founder and owner Mark Swinburne is looking forward to the event: “We expect there’ll be a lot of people! Ray Campbell, a local watercolour painter, and Leah Geetha Pattem, a local photographer, will be here to talk with members of the public about their work – and for one night only, Ray Campbell is going to begin a new painting, live in front of the public. It will be exciting to see such a talented artist in action!” Swinburne is passionate about supporting up-and-coming local artists.

Always on the lookout for new local talent, he encourages amateur artists – old and young – to approach to him at the gallery to display and sell their work there. Festooned in brightly coloured lamps, V-Galley is an unmistakable new addition to the Whitley Bay scene, and is located in the heart of the town at 37–39 Park View.

Press Contact:

Mark Swinburne, V-Gallery, 37–39 Park View, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear.

Tel.: 07586 315 722.     E-mail:

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