Saturday, 16 May 2015

Not the cover you'd expect - virtual reality porn for The Independent Magazine

Independent Saturday Magazine - Cover
I bet all photographers dream of the moment they get their image on a cover. I too have day-dreamt of an awesome photo taken by me appearing on a cover of a national distribution publication. I could see the subject's face full of expression, the immaculate styling, the dramatic light and my name underneath the headline.
Little did I know my first national cover will be of... virtual reality porn.
Yes, you read that right. The photograph on the cover of today's Independent Magazine was taken by me. And the story behind it is living proof that you never know what's around the corner.
I got a phone call a couple of weeks ago from the Independent asking if I am interested in shooting a story on 3D pornography for them. How could I say no to that?
So off we travelled one day to an establishment in the middle of an old air base specialising in virtual reality pornography. (For the uninitiated: it includes one of those futuristic headsets and I have to say that is the extent of my knowledge. The Independent piece today by Oscar Quine will hopefully shed some more light for all of us.)
I think it is fair to say that both Oscar and I expected the place to be a bit more ... seedy. What we found was a white, sterile, lab-like office more similar to the McLaren factory than to what I imagine a porn-producer's office may look like. I had planned for a different aesthetic for the shoot, but the place lent itself rather nicely to a more conceptual take. The journalist tried the headset on and I made sure to capture his reactions. There was also a freakishly real 3D printed model of a porn star lying around, so I made sure to include that in a few of the images as well. Little did I know when taking the shots that my first cover for the Independent would be of a load of cameras pointing at nothing at all. But that’s just the way it works in this business, the good things sometimes jump out at you and give you a pleasant surprise.

Thank you to The Independent Magazine team for such an unexpected commission.
Do make sure you pick up the magazine today for the article.


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Frontera Staff Portraits

Frank Walters

I have recently been working quite a lot with the Frontera Group - a healthcare advertising agency based in London. During a break on my first shoot for them (blog post to be published soon) I sat Craig, the company’s founder and Fede, the group’s Creative Art Director down for a quick portrait session. I liked the photos taken and decided to give them as a thank you gift to Frontera. It turned out that they liked them too. They liked them so much they wanted more of the same. So, a few weeks back I met the whole Frontera team and took portraits of them to be hung in their offices. Great fun.

Anne-Marie Smith 00076-Edit
Anne-Marie Smith
Federico Garcia
Chloe Duvale
Craig Mills
Paul Morrissey
Albert Capes
Simon Emberson
Alex Woodhouse
James Rose
Natalie Saunders
Careena Gharu
Chalo Yepes
Stuart Banks
Theo Coppinger-Lee

Thanks Frontera:

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Body Confidence Collection

Body Confidence Collection - Every Body is Ready

Are you beach body ready? If you’ve seen the posters on the London Underground recently then you may have pondered that.*

I got rather angry when I saw this outrageous ad campaign (it’s for some dieting product). So I thought I would re-make them the way they should have been. Teaming up with designer Lianne Darley we created spoof posters for the "Body Confidence" campaign. We reached out to social media and found volunteers to be part of the campaign to feature people of all shapes and sizes.

Take a look at the website and help spread the positive message:

Body Confidence Collection - Every Body is Ready
Body Confidence Collection - Every Body is Ready
Body Confidence Collection - Every Body is Ready
Body Confidence Collection - Every Body is Ready
Body Confidence Collection - Every Body is Ready

* Do you have a body? Great you are ready! Just remember: always wear sunscreen.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Raymond Tooth for The Sunday Times Magazine

Raymond Tooth STM

If you don’t try it won’t happen. I remind myself of that frequently but never was it so true as when I photographed Raymond Tooth for The Sunday Times Magazine (the issue is out today - do check it out).

“Go photograph a top divorce lawyer in London” was my brief. I don’t know that many lawyers, but get the impression they are a completely different breed to photographers. I could only imagine how different a celebrity divorce lawyer would be to me. A little bit of research only increased the doubts - Raymond Tooth is known as “Jaws” in the legal circles and wins case, after case, after case. Daunting? Just a little.

In my head I had the grey suits and the polished wood interiors of his office and was wondering how far will I be able to push it with this man. Possibly not too far, but should that stop me from trying? On my way to the photoshoot I stopped by a toy shop and bought a latex shark mask. An outrageous idea, I knew, but who knows - maybe Mr Tooth would be up for it?

The moment I walked in, I knew I was in for a treat. Raymond is not just a natural born lawyer, but also a natural born model. A few minutes into the first set of images in his office (the polished wood just as I imagined) he suggested getting a cigar as a prop, always a great thing to photograph. Things just got better from there on. Near the end of the shoot when he was clearly relaxed I tried my luck with the shark mask. It worked - he loved the idea and we both had great fun trying out different poses. In fact, he liked it so much he asked me for an autograph on it and then went to show it off to his secretary.

I sent The Sunday Times Magazine a selection of shots not sure they would be as keen on the idea of the shark mask as Raymond and I. But if you don’t try, it won’t happen. And yet again I was greatly pleased to hear that they chose a shark photo for today’s edition.

Thank you to The Sunday Times Magazine team and to Raymond Tooth for the opportunity to make outrageous ideas happen. We need more people like you.

The Sunday Times Magazine is out today. Do check it out.


Monday, 20 April 2015

A bird's eye view - Falconry portraits for Countryfile magazine


I love my job. I love the weird and wonderful briefs I get and the unpredictability of this whole photography malarky. One day I am photographing the Duchess of Cambridge for a charity visit and the next I am donning falconry gauntlets to follow a hunt in Bedford for Countryfile magazine.

The brief was simple enough - join a hunt with birds of prey. Unfortunately, I can’t show you those pictures yet as it hasn't been published. However I like to go beyond my brief and add my own twist to a shoot. The client’s commission is a starting point of the process for me. I make sure I fulfil it and then I try to do more than asked for. This time the impressive birds and the passionate individuals begged for a series of portraits. I could not resist setting up a little studio in a shed to capture the people and their birds.

Birds of prey are scary, I can tell you that. They may look small from a distance but a meter tall eagle deciding to fly off in a small, dark shed with a slender young girl holding on to him is quite an experience. Luckily, the handlers were much more composed than I was and we got some great shots of the impressive animals and the people who love them.

Many thanks to BBC Countryfile magazine and the English School of Falconry for an awesome experience.

Hawking_CountryFile_19-2-20150019 1-Edit

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Not your average Saturday night out - canoeing for TimeOut


Sometimes it is the most unlikely associations that get you assignments. I have been trying to forge a relationship with London’s TimeOut magazine from the moment I moved to the big smoke. I was labelled “the water man” by their picture editor at our first meeting and then heard nothing. Nothing, that is, until last week when TimeOut called and said they had a job for me and that there will be plenty of water.

TimeOut have a rather excellent brief for themselves - show the best of London to Londoners and visitors alike. This, from my understanding, means trying London out. Literally. This time a TimeOut journalist was joining a group of keen kayakers for a sunset paddle on the Thames. “Brilliant”, I thought and then when the practicalities of it hit me I faced a few new challenges. 

1) night time paddle means zero light 
2) Canoes are not known for their spaciousness, so not much equipment could be used 
3) Paddling is a two-hand job. So is photography.

Luckily the team at Moo Canoes was ready to help. I was given an expert canoer as my guide and principal paddler and off we went. I used all the city lights possible to light the images and my guide’s canoeing experience meant he could somehow paddle for us and hold a flash at the same time. I packed light for the shoot and together we made it work.

London’s skyline viewed from the calm surface of the Thames at night is quite a sight. We canoed under Tower Bridge and up the river coming back down along the South Bank. I don’t know about the journalist as I have not read the review yet but the group we went out with certainly enjoyed the experience and despite the technical challenges I had great fun too. So there, if you feel you have done it all in London, I would recommend a sunset canoe trip under the London bridges. Not your average Saturday night out.


Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Help for Heroes in Camber Sands


A client coming back is always a nice feeling. A client coming back three years in a row to ask you is the best feeling. I have now done a fair few shoots for Help for Heroes and every single one is an adventure. They are wonderful to work with and I’ve now photographed five catalogues for them.

This time we all went down to Camber Sands to photograph the Spring/Summer 2015 range of clothing and accessories for the charity. Last time I wrote about celebrating Christmas with Help for Heroes in June. This time, when the world was all wrapped up in cosy knits, sipping mulled wine and counting down days on their Advent Calendars we hit the beach in shorts and tanktops. The spring and summer collection had just hit the H4H offices and we were tasked with capturing the spirit of long summer days and fun times out on a wet, windy and cold December day. Luckily with some cleverly placed lights and the sun being kind to us it turns out all you need to feel summery is the right attitude. So off we went for cycling adventures, messing around on the beach and playing in the sand dunes.

The catalogue is out now and you may have had a copy through your letterbox. Would you ever have known it was December had I not just told you?

Help for Heroes do some great work for ex-servicemen - have a look at their website and online shop to support their cause.