How many cookbooks have you got? I’ve always thought the collection adorning the shelves in my flat is a pretty good one. Always - that is until I met John Hamilton, the Art Director for Penguin Books.
I was asked by The Independent’s Saturday Magazine to photograph John for an article about Penguin’s new publication - 100 Cookbook Covers in One Box. John has been collecting cookbooks ever since he was in charge of designing Jamie Oliver’s first Naked Chef book. Fast forward fifteen years and John now has over a thousand cookbooks at home.
No surprise then that I was rather excited to see his amalgamation of cookery design from across the world. John welcomed me in his home in Lewes and soon we were deep in cookbook design conversation. My portrait idea was to make the most of the sheer quantity of the books and surround John with them. Being a true book lover John did not mind a bit - he and his wife were keen to help make the best shot possible. We stacked books all over the table, chairs and sideboard in their kitchen. Piles of books nearly falling over everywhere, but worth it for the shot. I then balanced myself on a ladder to capture photos of John lying on the wooden floor surrounded by his favourite hardbacks.
John is a perfect sitter - up for anything and lovely to talk to. He told me about the mad Lewes Bonfire Night traditions (thank you, I would never have gone without the recommendation) and then topped the afternoon off with feeding me a tasty lunch. An excellent treat after a few hours of being surrounded by cookery books.
Thank you to The Independent’s Saturday Magazine for a great commission and John for being such great company and model.
You can read an online version of the article with my pictures on The Independent website.