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.

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Monday, 20 April 2015

A bird's eye view - Falconry portraits

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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.

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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Not your average Saturday night out - canoeing for TimeOut

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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.

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