Friday
Feb192016

NAKED PROTEST, CRAZY BLOGGERS AND TAMPON TAX

Ahh the first day of London Fashion Week. If ever you should want a window in to the fun madness of London this is it. Fashion tribes all the way from chic to plain ridiculous all there to be seen, bloggers, vloggers and traditional media all jostling to see. Now add to this a wealth of people trying to put their message across to both and shove them all on to a narrow street in Soho to dodge the traffic and that is LFW.

I was there to shoot Superdrug protesting the taxing of tampons as luxury items, a government policy instituted after a poll found 90% of women described their period as luxurious, oh no wait it is just money generating nonsense. My job was to shoot as many cool people as possible holding boxes of luxury wrapped tampons, to highlight just how silly the policy is(no one said my job was easy). Even getting far back enough to shoot anything was an effort without the fact raising a camera would instantly attract at least 5 other cameras only to be scattered seconds later by a white van trying to kill all of us.

Oh and then PETA turned up, with 3 mostly naked women in gas masks protesting the continued use of fur in fashion. In tow were at least 15 press photographers (nothing a paper likes more than nakedness with a cause) with a few security guards trying to get rid of us all. It is a circus but a most enjoyable one, I can only hope an important message on inequality does not get lost in naked protest and celebration of vanity. Oh no wait….it will.

 

Tuesday
Feb022016

A GARDEN STATE OF MIND

Over the years since I left a share house I have been telling everyone who would listen and many who would not how much I want a garden. I have even taken to sitting outside the front of my house to have BBQs on the street much to the amusement of my neighbors. Added to this I recently had an old friend visit me from Byron Bay, Australia and there is nothing like a person who lives in a tropical paradise to make you wonder why you live in a pokey flat in the grey urban sprawl. Lucky the Royal Academy of Arts came along with a job to salve my wounds, they had turned their galleries at Burlington House into sun drenched garden right in the center of London.


Their new exhibition "painting the modern garden" brings together painters from Monet to Matisse and styles all the way from impressionism to avant garde, all influenced by the gardens right outside their doors. These painter's work so usually surrounded by the white space and hushed silence accorded to great artists are here surrounded by greenhouses of colourful flowers and park benches giving you the feeling that you are no longer in a gallery or indeed in London at all. As you reach you the end of this peaceful, garden path, you are presented with the star of the show Water Lilies, 1916-26 by Claude Monet here as a triptych for the first time in Europe since it left his studio. Imposing it most certainly is but presented here without frames it feels like a floor to ceiling window out into nature. Maybe London is not so bad after all, we are all in need of space and real nature but having some of the world greatest artists bring you their view of it is pretty much the next best thing.

Wednesday
Dec302015

Alternative Angles

These days I try not to think of Christmas just as a family, friends, food and liver pickling. It is now the single and only sacred time when I can actually do nothing for 2 weeks without angering people. A time to contemplate the year past, dig through hard drives, wonder what the hell you were thinking when you shot that and look forward to trying to win a pulitizer for a PR shoot again next year.

However as a symptom of the modern age,where people require knowledge of what you are doing at all times, I have already stolen my own thunder. If you read my blog (dont lie you are reading right now) then you already know all about my year. A year of artists, bears and my own exhibition (with the very talented Matt Crossick) a good year, but all that is a scroll away on my previous posts.

So here instead is my year in alternative angles, unloved gems and things I shot purely for my own pleasure. Merry Christmas and great start to the new year, I will see you all in 2016.

Thursday
Oct292015

Annie Leibovitz

I think this one speaks for itself. It is very rare I go and shoot with without being commissioned but photographing a great photographer was a bit too good an opportunity to miss. I was all ready to go photograph her on the roof of Somerset House for the launch of series of portraits of women for UBS. Lights, camera the whole 9 yards but the ever predictably unpredictable British weather had other ideas.

 

So it was that I and 9 other photographers found ourselves in the green room, Annie happily chatting lenses with us, nice bit of natural light from the window. A nice simple portrait and after all I have made it now I have been the subject of an Annie Leibovitz photograph, even if it was on an iPhone.

 

 

 

Monday
Sep212015

SERIOUS FUN

I love photographing art and artists but they can be a funny bunch they can be a bit precious about their work, their image and are generally a little over serious. It is probably the natural result of two people trying to create something but at totally crossed purposes. Art can be an abstract concept but newspaper photography by its nature is about capturing what is really there all be it in the most creative way possible. I personally enjoy that interaction but sometimes it just does not work.

 This is what I was thinking when the Royal Academy employed me to photograph Ai Weiwei at Burlington House for the first major show of his work in the UK. I did not know a lot about this high profile Chinese artist before I met him, I knew he is as much an activist as an artist and that as a result he had suffered imprisonment and heavy censure in his own country. I also knew that this was the focus of his work. so if anyone has the right to be serious and defensive of his work it would be Ai Weiwei. I was expecting a few minutes of straight faced photos with a man with a serious message fed up of the scrutiny of everyone.

It appeared I was right, he walked in and stood at the far side of the room an abstract wave of steel rods in front of him, he looked at us (10 or more photographers), he held his arms out and he left the room. The pessimistic part of me started to think, here we go that’s it, we are done! He walked back in, a small smile playing on his lips, then right there in the hallowed halls of the RA did a full on star jump. Much fumbling with shutter speeds ensued and obligingly he did it again, the atmosphere changed instantly. It was suddenly obvious to all present who did not already know that serious as this man and his work are there is a mischievousness running through all of it.

 

We did three locations, us photographing him, him photographing us, you could just see this as part of a post modern, social media age obsession where everything must be photographed. I prefer to see it as a mark of respect; just as we are capturing him with his creations he is capturing us making ours. (I am bottom left)

Courtesy of Ai Weiewei's Instagram