Monday, 11 January 2016

Super Granny campaign and behind the scenes video


Aristotle once said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Nowhere is it as obvious as it is with teamwork. I try my very best to surround myself with people who encourage and inspire me and without them some photoshoots would be impossible.

My biggest commission so far came at the start of 2015 and I can finally share it. I was working with Frontera. Art director, Federico Garcia Arias, mentioned a project for a pharmaceutical company he was working on. Asteoporotic antifracture drugs’ advertising may not sound overly inspirational to you, but trust me - Fede would quickly make you rethink your conservative views. His eyes sparkled with excitement when he explained his idea to me: super grannies. Just think about it: all grandmothers are pretty super, but one can only imagine if they were as healthy and energetic as they used to be - they really would be Super Grannies.

With a great concept in mind, we came up with the idea of a granny character who took caring for her grandchild just that step further (well, a good few hundred steps further). Knitting a scarf? She can knit a mile of it! Making him dinner? Will twelve courses be enough? You get the idea. And we also got a very clear idea. This is exactly where the concept of a great team comes in. With a project like this you simply cannot make it happen without surrounding yourself with the right people. I reached out to one of the best producers I know, Liam Bergin, who would guide me through the process and solve every issue before it ever became a problem. Gylian Hyland who lead the styling was equally great - I mean, where would I get a mile long scarf without her? And of course Jennifer Frazer who was our marvellous granny took pride for a grandson to a whole new level.

The list goes on and I could be here for three days talking about the professionals who turned a mad idea into an actual advertising campaign. Instead, I will give you a taster of the atmosphere we had for the three days on location turning our beloved gran into a Super Granny in this video.  Thank you to all who made it happen. Bring on more inspiring people!

Federico Garcia Arias - creative art director
Florence Cellot - account director
Natalie Saunderst - Account manager

Thirdberg - production
Liam Bergin - producer
Rosie Welsh - assistant producer

Nina Sagri - hair and make-up
David Lau - digi tech
Sheila Udeagu - lighting assistant

Gillian Hyland - stylist
Yanini Nikitina - styling assistant
Tom Jarmon - props assisant

Asa Cohen - boy

Three Four Snap - lighting and equipment hire
Jack Lawson - Video


Friday, 8 January 2016

Paul McKenna for The Independent


I hear that the first day back to work from a holiday can be a depressing experience. Just look at how many articles are published this time of the year including how to go back to work without crying, how to survive your first day back, how to focus more, and so on.

Well, my first day back at work was rather different. I got up early and headed to an amazing house to take portraits for a feature in The Independent on Paul McKenna, the famous hypnotist. Paul has published numerous self-help books and his newest one is out just now. And I see the appeal - wouldn't we all want a bit of "Instant influence and charisma"? That would certainly help fight that first day back at work feeling.

I found Paul's job rather inspiring and took the hypnotism and self help as my influences on the shoot. Paul did not mind being his own therapist and looked like he enjoyed himself as Vishnu. We cracked some mirrors and had a great time - exactly the way you would want your first day back at work to be.

My photographs of Paul McKenna  are in The Independent's Section 2 today. You can read the article here:


Sunday, 3 January 2016

A year of firsts: 2015

Is it me or does time fly quicker every year? 2015 is gone and the time has come to take a good look back at what it brought me and it seems that it brought a lot of firsts. Here is just a short selection of them:

First final in the AOP awards
My favourite image I've taken to date was selected as one of the top images at the Association of Photographers Awards. The mayfair lawyer Raymond “Jaws” Tooth was captured on a fun shoot for The Sunday Times Magazine. See the shoot with Raymond here:

Independent Saturday Magazine - Cover

First national cover
Equally satisfying was seeing my picture on a national cover for the first time. The Independent Saturday Magazine commissioned me to capture the world of virtual reality pornography. Certainly not the first cover I expected! A selection of my favourite images is here:

Simon Williams - from the new project @

First solo exhibition
A big one for any photographer. My “Brits Abroad” was exhibited at the 12 Star Gallery in London. Seeing my very own images on a gallery wall and having people come to see my work specifically is simply other-worldly. A quick look at the exhibition is here:

Untitled Session2263-Edit

First time I covered anyone with 150 liters of wine
Speaking of personal work, I must admit that shooting my friend Nik Darlington was one of the most fun shoots of 2015. One crazy wine merchant, one keen guy with a camera (that’d be yours truly),  and 150 liters of wine. What could possibly go wrong? The photos are here:


First global campaign
The world ‘global’ started popping up in my commissions. AXA’s “Challenge Everything” campaign was my very first global advertising adventure and saw me jet off to the steep streets of Montmartre, shiny roads of the City of London and narrow wet markets of Hong Kong. More of these in 2016 please and in the meantime here is the blog post from the campaign to enjoy:

First time I cycled 700 miles
Last, but not least I could not look back at 2015 and not see my cycling adventure. 5 friends, 2 states, 700 miles and way too many anecdotes to fit in a blog post: I cycled from Portland to San Francisco taking photographs along the way. The West Coast light is extraordinary, second only to the feeling of completing an epic cycle like this one. The photos are here:

Looking at the above, all I can say is … here’s to 2016. May it be another great year!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

I shot the BBC's News Quiz promotional images


Yes, you've heard me, I shot the BBC's News Quiz promotional images. 

It was with surprise (and upset) that I listened to Sandi Toksvig's last News Quiz on BBC's Radio 4. Her self-deprecating humour and eye for the best and funniest truths about Brits had me in fits of laughter on many trips down to my family home in Devon.

It was even with greater surprise that I received a phone call from the BBC asking if I would like to photograph the News Quiz's new presenter - Miles Jupp for some publicity images for the brand new series. I have never worked for the BBC before and getting to photograph for one of my favourite productions felt like a really great way to start a new working relationship.

I worked closely with the BBC's picture editor Anna Lenihan and we came up with way too many ideas to fit in the couple of hours I would have with Miles. Having settled for a shortlist of the best ones, I photographed Miles just down the road from BBC's headquarters in W1A. We had a couple of hours and Miles very quickly convinced me that he is a worthy successor to Sandi - quick with his jokes, observant and almost irritatingly witty. Surely the best jokes in the show are scripted? Well, we shall never know with presenters this good. Miles was a great model too - clearly enjoying ripping through paper walls that we put up for the shoot.

You can enjoy the results of our work by looking up The News Quiz on BBC iPlayer. It's even worth clicking the play button to listen to Miles, too: LINK

Thank you to Miles Jupp for being an awesome sitter and the BBC for letting me be a tiny part of one of your best shows.

0355_MilesJuppBBC_Clift v4
0530_MilesJuppBBC_Clift v3

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Own your mistakes - John and Jackie Newman for The Sunday Times Magazine


I have never moved that quickly in my life. All the careful planning, the early start, the precise placement of lights hours before, the deep discussion of ideas over the past few days - it was all for nothing because John Newman and his mum weren’t at this location, they were at another one 10 minutes down the road...

A few days before The Sunday Times Magazine had called and asked if I was free to photograph a feature for them. The prospect was both exciting and nerve-wracking: I really wanted to do well on my first Relative Values piece for them*. My sitters were going to be John and Jacquie Newman. You have all heard John’s “Love me Again” and probably a good few more. John seems like a bubble of energy with his impressive dance moves, stunning singing and a great style to match his stage persona. This was going to be great!

I scouted the location before online and looked at loads of it on the web. We were shooting in a country pub and I wanted to get everything right. I spoke to John’s agent a number of times just to check the details of the shoot. I arranged for an area of the pub to be available just for us. I had all the mad ideas in my head. On the day myself and my assistant arrived hours before, we set everything up and tested the lights a number of times. I felt nervous but prepared, the best way to be before a shoot. Then I waited. A few minutes into the agreed time I got an impatient phone call asking me where exactly I was and how late was I going to be.

Who names two pubs in a small town exactly the same?! I mean how many Prince of Wales pubs can there be in Herne Bay? Would you have checked? Would you? Don’t tell me you would.

I have never moved that quickly in my life. All the planning, all the setting up - all for nothing because John and his mum had very little time, especially as I ended up arriving late for my carefully planned shoot. At least I had John’s extroversion to rely on. I mean a guy who dances like this can only be bursting to be photographed. 

John, as it turns out gets it all out on stage. When he is off stage he is a calm, reserved, and quiet guy. And … slightly camera-shy. Here is when Jacquie Newman, John’s mum came in to save the day. Jacquie is one of the loveliest people I have photographed.The fact that they both were. Separately they were slightly nervous, possibly of doing a photoshoot together, but together they supported one another and started laughing. They giggled away. In fact they giggled so much I found myself joining in. So much fun to shoot. A pub, a great mother and son relationship and some good laughter. What more could I want for a successful photoshoot?

The photograph of John and Jacquie Newman is out today in The Sunday Times Magazine. Lessons learnt? Don’t give up when it has all gone wrong - own your failures and you might just end up giggling at them as I did.

Find out more about John’s music:


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Featured in the Portrait Salon Exhibition


My photograph Juliette and her family is today going on show as part of the Portrait Salon 2015 exhibition. Bringing together a huge array of prints this exhibition will show the true depth and variety of portraiture in photography today. It a great honour to be amongst so many brilliant works.  

It is open from 6:30pm on Thursday the 19th of November in the Embassy Tea Gallery. 378 prints will be on display until the 22nd of November.

You can find out more here: