Saturday
Nov192016

PUNKS

This one does not need much waffle from me. Last Friday I was at Museum of London's debate of the future of punk as part of their Punk exhibition for TNR at PA. It was lively debate during which pretty much no body agreed with anyone else, very punk. If you ask me as a lover of all things metal and punk it has bright future, it may no longer be a mass movement but it is all the more subversive and important for that. Anyway, enough of that, here is little set of pictures I did of all the lovely people I met there.

Sunday
Nov132016

36 HOURS IN NEW YORK

I know, it sounds like a romantic comedy but let me assure that this is not at all romantic and only funny if your a satirist, then it is gold. This is a blog about how purely by chance I ended up in New York City the day the most hard fought and divisive presidential elections of our generation was finally decided.

Monday morning of last week I was busy photographing a Martian landscape in Trafalgar square (I know, I am constantly saying sentences that nobody ever says) when TNR Communications at PA gave me a call. "would you like to go to New York tomorrow morning?" errm yes, yes I would.

So the next morning I was on the early flight out of heathrow doing a mid air shoot for Virgin Atlantic, but that is story for another time. Having landed in the big apple, job done, I had a day and a half to myself before I flew back out. Lucky for me the eyes of the world were of course on NYC with both Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump in the city on eve of a momentous presidential appointment whatever the result. With no accreditation and a little more than a tourist as far as the American press were concerned I decided to go at things from a different angle. The heart of any real election is the voters, so I went out on the streets to document them watching the results coming in.

There was a relaxed atmosphere at the Rockefeller Centre and in Times Square as thousands of Hillary supporters gathered to watch what they expected to be the inauguration of the first female president of the USA. People chatted happily (apart from the NYPD telling me to get up off the floor every 2 seconds), surrounded by the stars and stripes, cheering every democrat state victory with no Trump supporters present at all. It became more and more tense as the results were consistently too close too call. There were never very many Trump supporters, New York being largely democrat and as senator Hilary's home ground but they increased noticeably as the night went on. You could almost see the moment it dawned on the crowd that Trump would win, there was a palpable feeling of dread before they started to drift away.

I did not see it out to the end, at midnight having been up over 24 hours and more than a little depressed over the now almost certain result  I headed for my hotel. What the legacy of this night will be remains to be seen, but you have wonder at a society that would rather elect a reality star than a woman.

 

Wednesday
Sep282016

THE HEIGHT OF FASHION

Fashion week may be over for another year but 500ft up on the roof of 1 Canada Square there was one more shoot to be done. The photoshoot was of two models showcasing several Autumn/Winter looks ahead of Canary Wharf Autumn Fashion Weekend. A catwalk had been specially built for me 50 floors up on the edge of the roof looking out over the whole of London, a truly amazing view.

There are however a few issues with taking photographs so high up on a windy autumn day. In my mind it was all so easy, pop up a beauty dish high up close to the model, sand bag it, get someone to hold on to it for good luck, great light, job done. The health and safety officer had other ideas, after taking one look at my light, declaring it was a wind sock not photographic equipment and strictly not to be used. I quietly explained that fashion shoots don't happen without lights, when eventually we came to a compromise this turned out to be strapping every inch of it to the catwalk supports 5 meters away, not ideal! Every part of the stage was surrounded by crash mats in case of kamikaze models, dodging the drips from the ceiling. Apart from that and some very cold and windswept models the rest of the shoot went well and for what is essential a garage at the top of a building I think we made it look pretty good.

The reality


 

Thursday
Aug112016

BASTILLE DAY AND BREXIT

 

Some subjects need time to cool off. 

I have spent the last 14 years of my life professionally involved in news gathering, photographed a few historically significant moments, listened intently through many intense political interviews waiting for a portrait and walked the corridors of power. I know all this and I know what is newsworthy but this does not make me a political expert, very far from it. My opinion is only as valid and maybe less than everybody else's. 
With all this in mind I am going to keep it to myself (my opinion on Brexit that is). I know what you are thinking, mere seconds ago you were on the internet reading a blog now someone is refusing to share their opinion, has the world gone mad. I of course have a very strong opinion on the matter, I know no one who does not (I bet you can probably guess what it is) but it is part of my job by it's definition to be impartial and this is a professional blog so..... This a blog about nothing ever being what it seems, the internet as a mind coolant inhibitor when mouths are running hot and the fragility of time.
On Thursday July 14th I was invited by the French Embassy in London to cover their Bastille day celebrations. I was pleased for commission, it seemed like a good thing to be involved in given the climate at the time but it was going to be fairly standard event photography.  However, no sooner had I arrived than I was told Boris Johnson was not only coming but was making a speech. This would usually have just given me a smile, knowing that something funny was just about to happen but given the occasion, the Brexit referendum being only weeks old and this being Boris's first engagement as Foreign Secretary after his controversial appointment, this felt like an historical political moment. Sometimes these things just drop in your lap, you have to be prepared to capture it, no job should be under estimated no matter how straight forward it may seem.
Boris was his usual enticing but bullish self, managing to compare Brexit to the sans-culottes uprising within the first 5 minutes while at the same time promising close ties between the French and English would continue. His clowning while seemingly misplaced made for some great pictures as always. By the end however there was a definite atmosphere and he was booed as he finished, which seemed to sum up how divided we seem at the moment, it felt a big moment somehow, like a turning point.
This was all eclipsed of course just hours later by a terrible act of terrorism at another Bastille day celebration in Nice. Moments in time are fragile and therefore so is the news, once something has happened it will last forever but its context may be changed many times even before the day is out. One thing I hope we can all agree on is that we are better working together than striking at each other and that despite a whole world waiting impatiently for our every opinion we might just pause once in a while to consider that time makes fools of us all.

 

Tuesday
May172016

The Cannes Cannes, political camouflage and the closest I will ever be to being a Royal Academician

I say a lot on this blog about how much I love my job but sometimes even for me it is just a job. Every job is a challenge and a pleasure but some of it has to be bread and butter, at times like these this blog falls silent. Then along comes a week where all your favorite clients throw great jobs at you. 

It started, like so many good things do with a whisky. Dalmore had brought together an elite group of bartenders try out a new spirit (not even named yet)  at Donovan's bar in the Browns Hotel. It is beautiful bar full of the work of photographer Terrance Donovan and a stained glass window behind the bar that is great for bottle shots. Old friends and wee dram of something new.
Next stop was The Cannes Film Festival where me and a large photography and video team from TNR were there to shoot Kendall Jenner. A 14 person strong team, London to Cannes, 3 days, 10 hours sleep and hugging a poor woman I had only met that morning all for Miss Jenner looking pretty with a Magnum. All joking aside it was crazy shoot with so much to do but you cant really argue with photographing a pretty (and polite) 21 year old on a sunny french beach with a great team of friends and unlimited free ice cream. Added to that I was in charge of all social media photography, both shooting and editing, meaning my images were being seen by hundreds of thousands people worldwide, a new challenge but a great one.
Leaving Cannes at 6 am having got to bed at 3am (all work honest!) I headed back to London for a shoot at the Royal Academy of Arts. For the past week they have been wrapping the scaffolding at the back of the RA with an artwork by Yinka Shonibare MBE to celebrate their 250th anniversary. It is an artwork on a grand scale, with archive photography from their whole history, which just so happens to include one of mine and a beautiful African print across the top. Now throughout this 250 year history, artists have been fighting for the honor of getting their work in the RA, I have decided on the RA is good enough for me.
So here we are one week later and I am up at 3am again! I am with the Royal British Legion painting veteran Darren Fuller to blend in with the Houses of Parliament to protest the "invisibility" of veterans on the census. As if standing a man in one place for 5 hours to be intricately painted was not tough enough the whole place had been closed off for the state opening of Parliament on Wednesday, so that the only people inside were us and the bomb squad! Not a great time to be a bearded man with a big black camera bag and crazed over tired look in your eye.
So if ever you feel like you wish you had my job just remember that when you are in bed, I am probably not. Sometimes it is dull, sometimes it is cold, sometimes you want to throw your camera at people, I just don't tell you about them. Most of time though I would not do anything else far outweighing the times when I am just not capable of doing anything else.