Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Competition Winning

Occasionally I will enter photo competitions. Now I'm not very good at them-in that, I'm not very good at knowing what they are looking for.

However, when the BJP announced the 'Portrait of Britain' themed competition, I knew exactly what might slot in. And so, you can see these three winning images of mine in amongst many more across the country shortly. The images will rotate on digital screens within main railway stations and transport hubs across the country during September 2016.

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Concert

First and foremost, I'm a portrait photographer. I like to control situations and light them accordingly. This commission was though, the very opposite.

Shooting a gig is nuts-how do you know what will happen or what the light will be or where in the room to be? I have shot concerts before, but the snapper normally only gets the first three songs and is in 'The Pit' with a few others, hugging the sweet spot. So a chance to shoot the whole event with an Access All Areas pass is a rarity and a gem.

Underworld are a great band and the Roundhouse a great venue, but with no proper instrumentation and not much movement, trying to find the best angle and moment is a challenge. Great night it was, which would have been perfect if I hadn't had a lens lost and never to reappear in the crush and dancing..

Here is a small edit including some shots that the band used as part of their US promotion.

Our Tina

Causing a bit of stink recently has been the demise of BHS and the acquired wealth of Sir Philip Green's family.
I was asked a couple of years back to capture Lady Tina Green at an event opening in the West End. My ten mins with her was strange-she gave little away and did not want to be drawn on any friendly chat about Monaco. Mind you, I remember being told not to take my "professional looking camera outside" in Monaco, "the Police will stop you as the LOCALS don't like it.."
Still, checkout the BEAST of a diamond on her finger. Tax free of course.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Murray Mints

Stars and their dogs. Well, it's not easy with pooches. Mr Andy Murray handed me one or two fun shots in between all the barking.


Thursday, 30 April 2015

From the other side

It's not often that I get to see one of my shoots from the other side-the sitter, that is. The poor bugger who has to put up with my quirks and working methods.
Well, the lovely writer Clare Dunkle, has just directed her time spent with me in a studio in Frankfurt last week:
http://www.claredunkle.com/claresblog/

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Ark

Back in the summer of 2014, I was asked to join a BBC drama filming in the desert in Morocco, with the task of producing all the 'Specials' over the course of a couple of days.
Sounds great - yup, I'm up for that. Great cast, great location-now all I had to do was ge the panning sorted.

Arriving in the middle of the night, I dragged my bags down to my room with a porter, which was set way back from the main hotel. Keys in, I slumped into the darkened space, throwing my bag onto the floor. Now, when the local porter yelps, you can be reassured that it is ok to join in: My room was covered in ants. Covered. So, being British, I said 'thank you' to my helper and turned to make the best of it. Cut to 5 mins later and I m at the desk asking for help as ants overrun my bags, and I switch rooms.

The following day, and I am out in the searing heat. This was a great shoot all round, despite the lack of location power and the occasional 'mistral' windstorms which played havoc with my kit.

Infact, my abiding memory will be the actress Joanne Whalley looking at me anxiously and insisting that I see a medic for my eye, which has swollen like a toad now that the sun cream has drizzled into it and mixed with the sand and sweat.

They had planned to shoot the building of the Ark in reverse-start the scenes with it finished and then gradually disassemble it so it appears to be progressing. Otherwise you'd have to wait every day whilst the team added on another layer. The day I left, an enormous water truck was due to arrive to add the flood effects. In 35 degrees, I have no idea where it came from. In television, anything is possible.

The Ark BBC1 30th March 2015.





Tuesday, 24 March 2015

McQueen & Moss: a lesson learnt/Part 2

Arriving at the enormous venue with my assorted camera bits hanging awkwardly off both of us, we gained entrance and were shown to a drab entrance area, where the Taylor-Wood picture was mounted rather high up on a wall.

Now there's only so much you can do with one light, a battery system and a reflective background, so I set up in the only way possible-head on, and blast 'em with light. Camera on tripod we waited. And waited. Finally, Kate Moss arrives, looks at me, says nothing and walks on by looking around the various preparation areas for the models and make up. I waited a while and then went to ask about the shoot and where McQueen was with Miss Moss. Just then, the man himself arrives, looking shy and flustered.

Five minutes later and I have dragged two extremely reluctant subjects in-front of my set up. My goodness they did not want to do this-perhaps no-one had told them, but they just looked defensive and well, furious. 10 frames for the sweaty photographer and they are gone.

Not a great start, but hey, it can only get better. Except it didn't. Infant the rest of the evening was meant to be a breeze-celebs would be brought to me for a considered snap in amongst the throng of the party. Trouble was, by now I felt like dying and my dear old Pentax had decided to refuse to load any film. And then Kristin Davis, star of the top show of the time "Sex in the City' comes over.
" Hi," she says. " We have some photos to do?".

'Er, yes, I mumbled, as I crouched on the floor, camera in hand, in pitch black trying to get the bloody camera loaded. 'Any chance you could pop off for a bit and I will come find you?' I pleaded. And so with enormous grace, she did. She popped off, forlornly, glass in hand. I kinda admire her for not telling me that my time was now past, but that's a star turn in my books.

And so the evening never quite recovered-Tim Burton,Manolo Blanik..a passing group of the weird and wonderful and I am snapping with a useless piece of kit, knowing it is going to be a failure.

Jess and me retire for a think. 'Why don't we go and see if we can sneak into the fashion show itself?' I suggested. Jess looks at me like I am mad, but we gather our kit and creep in to grab a seat around the perspex box the will hold the event.

Ten minutes later and myself and Jess are being unceremoniously ejected from a back door onto the street, camera gear everywhere.

So there is only one picture I can add to illustrate this story. It's not the best I have ever shot, but I will never forget taking it (see Part 1).

This whole fiasco set a template for every shoot since-think and plan ahead, don't take too many chances and, just occasionally, you have to say no to a job that you can't do brilliantly.

McQueen & Moss: a lesson learnt/Part 1

Back in 2004, film was still king, and Alexander McQueen and Kate Moss were the royalty of the fashion world.

Sitting outside my sunny office in Tunbridge Wells, I answered a call from the Times Magazine picture desk: Did I want to want to cover a rather special 'party' event in London. It would mean a visit to the PR to get a special pass for myself and an Assistant the following day.

Now, I don't really shoot parties, however, the American Express 'Black' party would be the exception. I was told I was going to be the only photographer on the inside, apart from Richard Young, and that it would be held at Earls Court. ALL of Earls Court-and all completely dressed in black velvet. 

I was given a somewhat restrictive list of conditions that I had to sign as I collected the passes for myself and my Assistant (Jess): 1 camera/1 lens/1 light, no bags and no stands or tripods, we CANNOT enter the Fashion Show itself and we must wear only black. My shot list was to be a two shot of McQueen and Moss infront of a Sam Taylor-Wood photo of Moss, followed by shots in the party of specific celebrity guests and then leave before the fashion show.

The day came, and I felt terrible. In-fact so terrible, that I rang to try and pull out of the whole shoot. 'No, I 'had to attend' was the response as I paced the office wondering how I could stave off that dreaded feeling of acute nausea:you can never be ill as a photographer.

My first mistake therefore, was going-I sweated the whole way there trying to pull myself together. My second was that I had also packed a daft set of photographic choices- a sturdy, but completely unreliable Pentax 6x7, and one underpowered Bowens head with a battery and a softbox. These are the days of film and I was going to be working in giant black rooms with only tiny amounts of available light, oh, and my editor would be popping in to see how things went.

Oh, and how they went...

See Part 2




Thursday, 8 January 2015