I'm very excited to announce that my next exhibition is being held on London's South Bank at Gallery@Oxo for a limited time - 24th to 27th August with the private view (invite only) on 23rd. This project was a while in the making... I'm very much looking forward to getting this out there! Please come along if you are nearby, it's free entry and it would be great to say hi. Info below:
Rarely do the worlds of my passions collide as they did on this shoot (and I have a lot of things I'm passionate about!). Not all will know this, but my first career was actually in music (long story) and specifically within that, the majority of my work was as a pianist/keyboard player. So to be asked to shoot classical artist, Keith Porter-Snell ... at Steinway's London showroom... well, how could I not!?
There was me thinking I knew the world of piano quite well until the theme of our shoot discussion unfolded to reveal a whole topic of 'left hand only' pianists - Keith being one of them due to a muscular problem in his right hand. This was all new to me and totally fascinating. Keith has been busy researching the history of this art as there is a severe shortage of music written for left hand only pianists. His story is quite unbelievable in places, as he detailed his quest to retrace lost and hidden works which were once commissioned by someone of influence to the great composers of that era. Quite simply, there is music written which he can't access but is eager to play. His passion for music that has pushed him beyond giving up after having realised he'd lost the use of his right hand, has kept him on this remarkable journey. My anecdotes won't do it justice!
As ever with my work, the pleasuer is as much in meeting such people and hearing their story and journey, as it is taking their portraits. This shoot gave both in equal measure - AND I got to spend some time playing some beautiful £150k pianos as we compared notes!
I'm pretty sure I was destined for cooler climes - you only need to take one glance at my Scandinavian-looking skin/hair combo to work that out. Scotland, Iceland, Norway... I feel at home in these places!
A few months ago I decided to take a fairly spontaneous trip to northern Norway and base myself in the city of Tromsø to explore the arctic circle a bit, and to hopefully track down some of the native Sami people from the area. Although I technically fell in love with photography via landscapes (and I still love to shoot them), my focus and real interest now is people, their faces, their journeys and their stories. It turns out this Sami people have this a plenty!
I only managed to spend one day photographing with the fascinating Johan Isak Turi Oskal and his family, as I had caught the end of the season, just before they would then relocate back to the mountains; this particular group of Sami were reindeer herders, so they naturally follow the seasons. They were very hospitable to me, fed me well and told me amazing tales from their culture as well as their current up-to-date struggles with the government and oil conglomerates and their fight for land which is traditionally the Sami people's by right.
I left having learnt, experienced and with a deep thirst to return and to document the wider community as they adopt their traditions to modern life. Thank you for having me!
I also thought I'd share a few other images from the trip which sum up just a fraction of the beautiful sights I saw as myself and my film-maker friend explored relentlessly in the short time we had...
Here are a few of the final images from a recent shoot I did for folk artist Chris Brambley. It was so nice to work alongside fellow creatives who brought so much vision to the table - the discussion was exciting and the idea development natural. Big thanks to the management too for letting me be free to do my thing with this.
Both images took new levels of commitment including: (subtle) trespassing, location scouting in downpours, getting cold and wet, risking some not-so-cheap gear and crafting a scene spending a good length of time securing guitars to trees. The crucial smashing up of guitars was also a chore.... (not at all!)
commitment to the cause....
I'm absolutely chuffed to announce that I have just been awarded first place at this year's PhotoX awards, run by the Art Gemini Prize! Big thanks to the orginisers and judging panel, it's an honour to have another one to add to the list.
The winning image was my portrait of Louis Pettipher, winner of the 2015 Doggett's Coat and Badge Race. It was shot as part of my River People series, which was exhibited last year, and it's very flattering to see the project carry on getting press and attention. For those that don't know - check out the amazing history of the world's oldest rowing race here ... fascinating stuff! Louis was the 302nd winner of the race and is still awarded the same uniform that was originally designed back when the race began. We shot this portrait on the grand staircase at Fishmonger's Hall, the night he was officially receiving his award at the celebratory dinner with Princess Royal. I had to compete with sniffer dogs going around my gear (and me) whilst I shot this as the Princess' arrival was imminent - nothing like a bit of added pressure!
I sadly missed the exhibition for this award as I was out of town, working on a new project (coming soon) but I've just heard that the image will be shown again in September at The New Artist Fair 8-10 Sept at the Old Truman Brewery.
Here are some images from a vast library I helped create for a Soho-based tech recruitment firm. Shot across two days, we had a lot to fit in as they were going for a complete brand overhaul and (as is often the case) they needed an extensive image library to be able to accommodate all their marketing needs for the next year or so - website, collateral, social media etc...
The client was very proud of their location in Soho, and it was key to get this message across to convey them to the correct demographic of tech-savvy new young professionals seeking new roles. So along with the candid lifestyle photography of the staff, striving to capture honest and real reactions - in an area of imagery which is commonly forced - we had many other briefs which included images to surmise Soho life - trying to capture the essence of Soho in 2017 and some 'Instagram-style' (that was the brief) table top images to match various themes for the website.
We then also had five models come into a studio we set up in their office, to help us produce a series of new header images for the website. This was a strong move, creating a real campaign around the idea of a recruitment firm catering for all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and backgrounds. The faces were not in shot, highlighting that it's more about what you can do and your skill set than it is about what your face looks like. As an advertising photographer in London, it's always nice to be able to shoot such a varied campaign - really engaging with real people, as well as working with models. Spending time with the client, getting into their mindset of why they believe their business is the best, provides a unique insight for an outsider and is most definitely a critical part of the job in advertising photography. The client were a pleasure to work with and thank you to all who were involved, especially John at Shootjam.
Having recently stumbled upon an incredible urban location in Central London a few months ago, I was eager to find an appropriate use for it. Finding such a space in the heart of London a stone's throw from St Paul's is just a bit unheard of - the most bizarre underground carpark which goes down 14 floors and only used for the first 4!
When BMA models got in touch about a fitness shoot for some new models they had recently signed I realised this was it. The general image of fitness photography is very clean cut which nicely represents clean living and sells the brand of fitness as a positive one. Everyone smiling, clean and happy - it's easy right!? I'm not convinced. Time to get rid of this #instafitness lie - working out is messy, knackering, pushes us to our limits, it's sweaty, brutal - we do not look our best when we're working out!! So I was keen to bring a bit of grit and reality into this, 14 floors or deserted concrete beneath London seemed like an apt place to do so.
Lucas and Millie were a dream to work with - I definitely pushed them as I wanted it to be real, and they stepped up to the challenge (as all good models should do ;) !). I hope everything you see here is real - it was my aim. Lifestyle photography should be honest, it should reflect... lifestyle, and the lifestyle of the fitness world isn't always that polished!
I am slowly falling in love with South Africa. I am recently back from my second trip there and I am fully fascinated with this country. It's easy to see why Cape Town is such a popular destination for filming and photography - stunning light, stunning scenery and stunning people; the local wines and steaks make this even sweeter!
I had a few meetings with agents in Cape Town before exploring parts I've not been to before and getting to see some family at the same time. A few images of the trip are below, they sum up a fraction of who I met and what I saw - as always, trying my best to do things justice with my lens whilst soaking up the culture (and hiding my white British skin from that sun of their's!).
I also managed to shoot a few new additions for the Horizon series which is ongoing as I follow my work around the world. SA has some good horizons! I'm really treasuring this long-term project and as it slowly builds, it's starting to make sense. I plan to exhibit in 2027!
I recently had the privilege of encountering (and attempting to capture) the many faces of Lenny Henry. Growing up with Lenny being a household name, it was an honour to be asked by Birmingham City University to photograph him as part of their announcment of him becoming the university's new chancellor.
It is my responsibility as a portrait photographer to endeavour to document honesty above anything else. Personally, my journey into commercial photography came via the means of technical intrigue - at heart I had always been a technical photographer, striving for perfection in all that I do. I soon realised that this was not enough and my journey has changed course over the last few years, as I redirect to prioritise honesty and authenticity in my work. Naturally, however, the technical side of things has to be a given, so it's not ignoring that - just a change in priorities and adding a new layer to the work I produce.
My biggest challenge with Lenny on this shoot was that he initially didn't want to be there (he is right in the middle of a PhD!). This is not uncommon, I spend a lot of time photographing various VIPs for whom a photoshoot is an interruption to their day, and they would really rather be doing something else, somewhere else. Being a true professional and having posed for 100s of shoots through his career, Lenny quickly gave me his professional persona - which could have easily been more than fine for the job I was commissioned to do. However, it struck me that he didn't want to let me in, and that I always see as a challenge. Portrait photography is as much about rapport, reading situations and people skills as it is about a camera - I feel the majority of the work is done without looking through the viewfinder. I wasn't simply able to settle for showing the comedic, instant, professional side of Lenny as this is something that's been seen over and over - I needed to get an honest reaction out of him, to catch him off guard. Not in a manipulative way, but in a way which was real - I simply being ready to capture whatever came of that.
I'm pretty sure he left the room slightly happier than he arrived and I feel like the shot highlighted above was a snapshot into the personality beyond the methodical and professional wall that naturally needs to be there for someone in his position. Lenny is an institution and he fully deserves to be able to put up any front he likes - I just can't resist trying to peak over the wall from time to time!
On a recent work trip to New York, out of everything I shot and saw in 10 days, mindlessly strolling around the backs streets of Williamsburg on a winter's late afternoon was definitely a highlight. Having absolutely no agenda, targets, deadlines or aims and equipped with one camera, one prime lens (admittedly this was a Phase One hanging around my neck so not exactly street-wise) is, for me, nothing but freeing.
Literally shooting what I see, what I want, when I want with no thought of 'I'm meant to be this kind of photographer, I should be shooting this' etc... back to basics: look, learn, wait, capture, move on. I wouldn't call this street photography (every time I hit the shutter on this Danish machine, the pigeons 2 blocks away scatter), I wouldn't call it travel - it is simply just an interpretation of an aimless walk, purely for the pleasure of creating images.
So here is some of what I saw.
I had the pleasure of shooting the wonderful Kelli-Leigh recently, for her cover of iSing magazine. As a photographer passionate about people, a good portion of the pleasure of my job comes from simply hanging/chatting/getting to know my subjects. You know this is going well when you spend twice as long as you're meant to on the shoot! Kelli is talented, ambitious and a dream to photograph - as much as I love a challenge, I also enjoy having my job made easier for me occasionally!!
The whole shoot was set up at her home studio in Greenwich and as usual with editorial photography commissions, there are always fairly strict guidelines of what's needed to best suit the text theme and layout. We got slightly carried away and ended up shooting a load more looks than initially intended, making use of introducing colour and movement to some shots to really make the most of one environment, producing a wider variety of options. This is one of the main challenges of an editorial photographer or on location portrait photographer - this is not your space, you often don't know what to expect when you arrive and you have to deal with it, make it work and turn the tables so you're in charge of what is happening from a lighting perspective. But, it's also what I love about it - I'm a problem solver at heart and it keeps you nicely on your toes!
To help launch a new partnership with British Rowing, Hertz rentals commissioned a shoot to capture the essence of what this will mean at grassroots level. Queue adopting the life of a rower for a morning and a really early, really cold start on the riverbanks of the Thames! It's always good to be back on the River Thames as it has featured heavily in various work I've done over the last few years, thankfully we were awarded for our efforts with brilliant winter early sun. As challenging as this can be (overcast is often preferable for capturing people), every advertising agency knows that sun just sells. We naturally associate happiness and good times with sunshine so getting it on a photoshoot in London is pure luck (fully deserved from plenty of rain dodging over the years)
Pulling out all the lifestyle photography tricks and quickly building a rapport with my real-life models, we got to work while the light was at its best, attempting to surmise what life is really like for rowing enthusiasts: teamwork, camaraderie, hard work and dedication - fun being central to all factors. The final images were used across Hertz's online spaces along with British rowing.
This is the ad campaign I shot for Yell last year (playing catch up!). It was a lot of work in a little time with many a logistic to be sorted.. but with a few early mornings and long hours, we produced a campaign that the client was really chuffed with. The concept, which was developed by the agency, True, comprised effectively portraying the benefits that can be had for Yell’s client base if they give themselves an online presence. Many SMEs across the country still are yet to have a significant online existence (website, SEO, social media etc) - this is the customer we had to communicate with. Yell have a huge history in the UK off the back of the Yellow Pages, but this is a response fit for the 21st century as the yellow book seems all but redundant now.
It was a very technical shoot from a photographer’s point of view - a lot of careful planning needed to ensure the before and after shots lined up, physically and lighting-wise, so they could be comped together in post production accurately. We were combating the cold (MacBooks don’t like the cold apparently), traffic wardens, tree branches in our way (we cut them down with a Leatherman!) and the weather not quite being that Californian sun we were after. That’s all part of the fun of shooting in London though. The hairdresser shot was particularly challenging as we had to shoot across the road and it couldn’t be closed so there was many a modelling direction hailed between the traffic!
The campaign has had some great exposure, mainly online and also on quite a few billboards which is always extremely satisfying as an advertising photographer. The behind-the-scenes footage was beautifully captured by Sam Hayes-Watkins.
Through no link at all to the previous post, and absolutely pure coincidence, the editor of The Savoy magazine recently got in touch after finding my London Sleeps series online. He wanted to run a feature on it and also interview me - I, of course, obliged.
I started shooting the London Sleeps series a few years ago, and it has been picked up by others such as The Londonist and featured in my book Tideway, but for interest to resurface after a while without shooting or talking about it, was flattering. Though as a photographer, I don't shoot my personal work for anyone else - it is purely an expression of what I alone want to do and say, when others take an interest it does make it even more worth it. It's less of an ego boost and much more of a confirmation that others share your vision and appreciate your interpretation, thus making the cause/effort/hours/the cold/police harassment more worthwhile!
To see the whole series please click here, otherwise - see below for the featured article.
I was recently commissioned to photograph Dr Guy Meadows for British Airways' in-flight magazine, Business Life. The Savoy Hotel kindly provided us with a suite for the shoot and although the art director came with the concept, which we developed once in situ, you can never tell if the subject is going to be up for it... Fortunately, on this occasion, Dr Guy absolutely got on board and was a pleasure to shoot. When you're asking a grown professional to jump around on a king sized bed at the Savoy, whilst dressed in a shoot (over and over again), and also sit there very calmly whilst pillows are chucked at him - you can never quite anticipate the reaction!
Above is the chosen image, which is now flying around the world, below is an outtake that didn't quite make the cut (but it made the blog!).
Thank you to Digital Photographer magazine for recently featuring me and my work in an article on 'habits of successful photographers'. I used to read this magazine years ago, when I was an enthusiastic teenager, to be featured is an honour - and they even plugged my book! I found this in WH Smith at Heathrow just before I was about to leave on a recent work trip to New York (more on that coming up) - a very nice way to say goodbye to the UK for a bit....
I feel like the whole nation is still buzzing right now, off the back of the amazing achievement by team GB in the Rio Olympics this year. A truly amazing achievement - I'm really hoping Rio doesn't let us down on the Paralympics after 2012 proved what was possible. Before the athletes flew out, I got to meet up with the GB weightlifting team, near Leicester, to photograph them at the Cybex HQ.
At the point of the shoot, the team were unaware who out of them would be flying off to Rio - despite this, there was no obvious tension in the air. The girls made it an absolute laugh and were all really up for getting stuck in. I also got to meet and shoot GB's Paralympian extraordinaire, Ali Jawad. Ali was born without legs - instead he put his arms to great use and became a champion powerlifter. Inspiring.
Rebekah Tiler ended up winning the ticket to Rio and the 17-year-old did us proud in a group of very suspect athletes with quite a list of doping between them!
The River People exhibition finally came down on Friday 10th June, having been up for 7 weeks. I have been absolutely blown away by the response from the media, the press and the public towards the portrait series, detailing the lives of 12 people whose lives are connected to the Thames. It was heartwarming to revisit the exhibition one evening, whilst showing a friend around who was visiting from San Fran, and get to read some of the many kind words and comments various visitors had left in the guest book. It really does make all the difference when an idea I had 10 months ago transforms into a project that has not just intrigued people and put a great deal of attention back on the River Thames, but also genuinely touched people by causing an emotional reaction.
This was all helped by the attention it received from the press and media. The exhibition was recommended by Time Out, featured on Londonist.com, I was interviewed on BBC Radio London, ITV London news and also given a very generous full page 3 spread by the Evening Standard. It could also not have happened without the great support of the host venue: ICE.org.uk and the sponsors of the project: Tideway.London
I'm flattered. Now onto the next project...
It seems like an age ago now but as the exhibition comes down next week, I realised it's probably about time I blogged about it. The launch night on 21st April was an amazing night, with much thanks going to the hosts (ICE) and sponsors (Tideway) for helping making it all happen. The invite-only event saw over 250 people come out for the drinks reception, speeches, canapées and book signing - whilst everyone took in the exhibited prints to a soundtrack of sophisticated jazz.
It was such a pleasure to see it all come together after so much time and effort was spent organising, producing and actually shooting the series. Then the release of 'Tideway' my first book was another challenging, yet thoroughly rewarding, experience - all having the same deadline was the stressful part! Having most of the River People subjects attend and meet one another was a huge bonus.
A recent TV interview for London Live - talking about the winning image. #KingOfSewers was not what I was going for!.....