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.
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 afeature 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 thiscan 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.
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.
Do you like your photo taken? I know for a fact that only few people actually enjoy being in front of the camera. Most either actively dislike it or, if work requires them to, train themselves to be at ease when they would much rather not be photographed or filmed. Hats off to anyone who volunteers particularly if they are not comfortable with the experience. People are the biggest challenge in my job, but they are a challenge I relish.
When I was asked by Thirty Three to photograph a global advertising campaign for AXA’s graduate recruitment I was really glad to hear we would be working with AXA’s own employees. AXA wanted to highlight the energetic personalities working for them and the global nature of their work. Real employees, loads of energy and plenty of travel it was then. I worked alongside director Joe Morgan to show the energy and fun working for AXA can bring a fresh grad. We shot in three cities - London, Paris and Hong Kong, each time featuring a new team of AXA’s employees. I wanted to show the energy these people have for their work, the readiness for a challenge and the spark in their eyes.
Alas! When you throw people who’ve never been photographed before in front of a camera they tend to just freeze, with no clue what to do. I needed to let the model out of each of them and onto the streets of our great locations.
If you throw enough energy at your sitter, they will throw it back, and AXA’s recruits all did. I abandon all shame for the best photo - we danced to disco on London Bridge, sprinted up the Rue Foyatier in Montmartre and gesticulated wildly in the Hong Kong’s wet markets. I guess if the photographer does it and enjoys it, then the rest of the team also thinks it’s ok. Plus, your non-model models get distracted by your behaviour - AXA’s people were all a bit surprised by my antics to start with and loved it by the end of the photoshoot.
Thank you to Thirty Three and to AXA for a fun challenge and for all the models for overcoming the initial reserve and giving it all to the idea. I could not agree with the campaign’s slogan more - do remember to CHALLENGE EVERYTHING!
Today is Remembrance Sunday. People have been sporting the poppies on their lapels and wreaths have been laid by the Cenotaph. We spare a thought for the soldiers who have fought in wars for Britain. We can all see them: army people, dressed in uniform, standing tall, armed and fighting the enemy as well as the elements.
If you open the Sunday Times Magazine today you will see soldiers standing to attention in their regimental hats, but not in their military uniforms. These men and women are in their new uniforms. The classic uniform of the city job - a suit and tie.
This recent commission opened my eyes to a whole new world of post-military life. I was invited to photograph ex-servicemen who have gone on to have successful careers in the city for firms like Deloitte and Barclays. Maybe a lifetime focused on warfare is not the best preparation for office politics, but it certainly does make you a determined and formidable person. The city banks and big businesses are starting to pay more attention to these people when seeking for employees.
Every military person I’ve met has always been a friendly, polite and great person to be around. There is a presence within someone who’s been through such experiences and I enjoy trying to capture that. It was a pleasure to do so for the magazine and help look upon life after the forces from a new angle.
Massive thanks to Russ O'Connell for the commission and Matt Rudd for his insightful article. You can read the feature online here: LINK
What do you imagine the head of the civil service to be like? Would the word “fun” feature in your top ten adjectives? My girlfriend, a civil servant, would not be too happy to read that even on my short-list “fun” would not make it too high… Oh, how wrong have I been and how glad I am that this view came tobogganing down a hill in London the other week.
The great team at The Sunday Times Magazine asked me to photograph another “Relative Values” feature - I was to capture the relationship between Nell and Robin Butler. Nell is the brain behind Come Dine with Me (and a number of other TV shows). Her father, Lord Butler served five Prime Ministers and headed the British Civil Service for a decade. Unlike with Ruth and Dennis Wilson the other week, this time I had the opportunity to speak to Nell before the photoshoot and it was one of the best things to do. As you will read in the article in yesterday’s The Sunday Times Magazine, Nell is the sort of person who lights up the room and I could not agree more - she was enthusiastic and happy to share stories over the phone. Among many she mentioned how much she enjoyed tobogganing down a hill near their family home with her dad. This instantly gave me an idea - a go-cart down a London street.
Guess what was Lord Butler’s reaction to my go-cart? He loved it. What a great family these two are. We shot, we talked, we laughed and I heard my fair share of civil service stories. The morals of this shoot are twofold: “fun” should be on your list of adjectives describing a civil servant and more importantly: always do your research. Had I not talked to Nell beforehand, I would never have taken a go-kart with me to the photoshoot. And what a great shame would that be!
Thanks to Lord Butler and Nell Butler for a fun morning and The Sunday Times team for such a great commission!
It’s rugby fever in England right now with the world cup coming to an end after many exciting matches. So here’s my photoshoot with Gloucester’s captain and all round fine man Billy Twelvetrees. I captured Billy on the beach in Salcombe for Crew Clothing playing a cheeky game with the local rugby team.
I grew up in a corner of Devon with beautiful sandy beaches and endless photography locations. Not only that but it is also where Crew Clothing had its first shop and where Billy likes to spend his holidays. This made Salcombe the perfect place for our shoot. Obviously I suggested a game of rugby on the beach, something I did a lot as a teenager.
There are definitely advantages to shooting in your hometown, firstly you know exactly who to call at the local rugby club to gather together a team at short notice to play rugby with a famous fly-half. Secondly you know all the right spots to shoot, no scouting required. And thirdly my Dad can easily turn up mid-shoot in his boat with 10 pasties for the crew from the local butchers.
It was such a pleasure working with Billy again, for our last shoot he jumped about in the cold water and this time jumped face first into the sand time and again for us so we could get the perfect shot. He's always totally up for your ideas. I worked closely on the shoot with the director Joe Morgan splitting the day between to capture stills and video showing the rugby expert enjoying the seaside and promoting the game.
Find out more about Billy’s thoughts on the world cup and get some tips from the top man on Crew’s website: http://www.crewclothing.co.uk/billy/
If you open The Sunday
Times magazine today you will come across an incredible story about a poet and
Second World War veteran and a Golden Globe winning actress. I had the pleasure
to take their portrait.
The “Relative Values” is
a weekly feature of The Sunday Times Magazine about two relatives and their
relationship. When I got a call to photograph Ruth and Dennis B Wilson who only
found out they were related less than a decade ago, I had no idea what to expect.
I won’t give away too much of that story, but I can tell you it’s a
I met Ruth and Dennis on
a day when their large family was organising a gathering at Ruth’s parents’
place in Warminster. The house was busy and they were both excited to see each
other. In the hustle and bustle I had only a short moment to take a portrait
which would tell you something about their relationship.
A relationship is a great thing to photograph. When I
work with just one sitter often I am in the leading position: coming up with
ideas, giving directions, encouraging my subject to reveal themselves to me for
the best image possible. Relationships are different - they simply happen.
There will be an ambient around two people who know one another without anyone
trying. The conversation will flow, the stories are there, the relatives are
relaxed in their own surroundings and company. As a photographer my job was
almost not to interfere here - I can take a backseat, watch two people being themselves
around each other and … snap: a relationship captured in a still frame.
People often tell me how exciting my job seems to them. However, if they ever saw me collapse in heap after 8 hours straight of editing pictures on my computer, they may change their minds. I have to admit though, a lot of the commissions I do are not too bad: from jetting around the continents for a rebranding job, to meeting top celebrity divorce lawyers. Exciting as these are, rarely do I get an assignment that feels like the full-blown holiday many of my friends imagine when hearing about my work.
If I were to choose a good weekend away in Britain, I would happily opt for Kent’s countryside with the winding roads and stunning coastline. Add a spot of wine-tasting to it and it is no surprise that Kent has recently been voted one of Europe’s top holiday destinations. It just so happened that my recent commission took me to the Gusbourne Estate where I was asked to create an image library for various promotional uses for the vineyard. The light was gorgeous, the people fascinating and I spent two days on the estate getting to know the ins-and-outs of producing top-notch wine in the UK. I made friends with Andrew, the chairman of the estate who upon his retirement as an orthopaedic surgeon bought some land and fulfilled his dream of owning a vineyard. I discovered that ancient as the craft of winemaking is, there is plenty of very modern science involved and I thoroughly enjoyed how the vineyard dog - Hamish - followed his favourite human John the vineyard manager around.
It is commissions like that that throw the whole work/life balance debate out of the window for me. Why not just enjoy both work and life at the same time? For more of these commissions I am happy to do twice the number of hours in front of the computer. Well, almost.
Thanks to Gusbourne Estate for providing me with the weekend feeling on a job and to Wondersphere for the fabulous commission. You can get your hands on a Gusbourne wine at Selfridges, Fortnum and Mason and Oddbins. I would thoroughly recommend them. Especially the blanc de blancs.