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Maker Monday moments – July round-up with Michael de Groot and Karl W Newton.

It was a very warm, humid and busy Maker Monday at the end of July so it was fantastic to see such a great turn out at 1000 Trades, despite the Summer holidays having begun.

One of the best elements of Maker Monday is being part of a large community of practice and we were delighted to welcome Michael de Groot and Karl W Newton to talk about their practices of podcasting and photography respectively.

Our first speaker, Michael de Groot presented a fun and fact-filled introduction to all things podcasting. At the start of his presentation, there were two or three in who had been involved in podcasting (including Michael himself). By the end of his talk, Michael had converted most of the room to give it a go.

Michael has been podcasting for almost three years. He talked about how he started his own show, sharing lots of info and stats on the global popularity of podcasting alongside the added bonus of its affordability i.e. low cost or in Michael’s words, “virtually for free.”

Michael invited the audience to share their reasons for what they listen to and why. Of course, there were a number of reasons such consumption of information, access to resources, the pursuit of personal interest or amusement and the podcast is also a perfect medium for the commute.

Michael talked about its growth being concurrent with the ownership of smartphones. Some stats shared by Michael included:

  1. Listeners consume six 1⁄2 hours each week.
  2. One-third of the time of audio content are podcasts. 5. 2 million podcasts indexed on Google.
  3. 52% is on Apple Podcasts, 19% on Spotify.

Michael then invited everyone to gather around their tables and come up with an idea for a podcast and nearly all the ideas were fantastic.

For example, amongst the great ideas:

  • A comedian or voice actor playing a historical figure and give their viewpoints on modern problems and issues;
  • The psychology of music – why do certain types of music evoke certain emotions in people. Each episode could focus on a different emotion. Their dream first guest would be Paul McCartney.
  • Generation Sound – a cross-generational podcast discussing music and sounds and breaking down the generational gap, with a focus on helping people through sound, for example, people with dementia.
  • The philosophy of happiness – what makes people happy and why it makes people happy with first guest Eddie Izzard.

With these ideas as a starting point, Michael started to introduce a number of the free and low-cost tools available, for example, which is an app where free podcasts can be made.

Tips and tricks shared by Michael included:

  • Consider your topic, genre and audience.
  • Invite guests as they make podcasts more interesting, or alternatively discussions between two experts.
  • Multiple devices to record – including smartphone, tablet or desktop or record using other methods and upload to Anchor.
  • consider opening and closing music and possibly transitions during the podcast. Don’t go overboard!
  • Sharing podcasts on social media, website-blog (embed audio player).
  • submit your RSS feed for using sites such as

Michael talked about equipment. It is really easy to get a podcast going with mobile devices such as a Lavalier Mic, an extension lead and an adapter, and it is possible to use two microphones and earphones (buds) which are easily obtainable for relatively little cost.

By the end of Michael’s talk, most of the room were interested in podcasting, a testament to his entertaining presentation and his ability to show podcasting as something everyone can do.

Michael de Groot can be found at:




Our second speaker, the excellent photographer Karl W Newton, came to talk about his work as a photographer as well as posit some very personal views on his art and how creativity should be prescribed on the NHS.

Karl started with a video excerpt from David Bowie. In the video, David said “if you feel safe, you’re not in the right area”, and within a context of “doing things that I wouldn’t do”, Karl talked about his own journey of becoming a photographer and how he has embraced his art to capture people and places.

Karl talked about how he learnt to capture great pictures, developing his own style by creating candid scenes with a narrative and using different angles. He talked about how his influences have shaped his work including David Bailey, Liam Wong David Lachapelle, Art Wolfe and Henri Cartier-Besson before going into sharing tips and tricks of his practice.

Karl also provided many insights into how to capture the ‘great shot’, tips that we can all benefit from including patience, an appreciation of space (looking for all angles), staying 30 seconds longer, and shooting in raw mode (as opposed to jpeg).

A couple of other standout tips included:

  • the important role of ‘editing’ a photo, which Karl said is absolutely fine in arguing with fellow photographers about the merits of editing, Karl said that spending hours in a dark room is “editing to an extent” anyhow.
  • watching movies as a trigger point for inspiring his ideas and imagination.
  • the crucial part of enjoyment, expressing oneself and doing it for yourself first.

When asked about how many shots he takes to get the ‘great one’, he said out of around 700-800 shots, maybe 2-3 will be ‘decent’, which caused a noticeable wow from the audience.

Karl provided a snapshot of his work, highlighted examples of his work that back up many of the tips that he shared. Karl captures photos with multiple meanings, many of which he doesn’t notice on the initial shot. Great photos transcend the lens. For example, in this very jovial shot from a recent Donald Trump protest in London, Karl only saw the banner initially yet there was so much more going on, predominantly capturing the humour of the rally.

Karl has clearly acquired a talent for capturing moments where people provide multiple meanings such as this matchday shot on the tube ….

… or there is this shot of heart-shaped balloons on New Street in Birmingham where the interest becomes more the woman’s acknowledgement that Karl is taking the shot. Patience is so crucial to capturing not just a moment but a series of moments, some of which where serendipity is a deserved outcome.

Like Michael, Karl’s talk was about sharing ideas and concepts that we can all be inspired by. Karl’s focus was on the construction of a photo and its meaning – its composition, the reaction of others, the story and narrative behind the photo, the enjoyment derived from a photo and the use of colour.

These were all very apparent and crucial parts of Karl’s work.

In the final part of Karl’s talk, he suggested that creativity should be prescribed on the NHS at no cost or financial burden. Karl talked about his background working with people with addiction using art therapy, in particular, the powerful story of a man with decades of drug addiction who found himself creatively.

In Karl’s words, “we are all born creative, even if it gets lost along the way. Therefore, the key to being creative is finding that creative spark hidden within.”

It was an area that provided many conversations and brought a consensus from many in the crowd especially a few who have worked in the community arts or arts into the health arena.

We have discussed the arts and creativity in the health arena in previous Maker Mondays, and Karl’s closing remarks have the potential for a wider and more profound discussion around creativity and its profound impact on people.

Karl is a case in point – someone who has clearly found expression through photography and is so willing to share his story, his work and his art, all with real generosity of spirit.

In Karl’s words, “just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done!”.

You can watch Karl’s talk here:

Karl W. Newton can be found here:

Twitter: @kwm_photouk

Facebook: /kwnphotography

Instagram: that_brummie_photographer

Follow Maker Monday @maker_monday on Twitter.