Ok first a confession; I am not really a Star Wars fan. Less of a never seen Star Wars more of a seen so many great films it kind of slips off the list. So that blot on my copybook of geek off my chest, I do get very excited about new films, especially one where there is chance of a revamp for an iconic franchise.


I was pretty happy then to be to be stood out in the cold at 11.00pm on Oxford Street outside the Disney store for TNR for the launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys. As you can imagine R2-D2, Darth Maul and a lot of fans made for quite an atmosphere which only got more intense when the stars of the film turned up unexpectedly. 


Like Star Wars or not there is something comforting in a common bond so strong it caused the star of what could be this year’s biggest film to get genuinely excited that she had the same shoes as a grown woman queuing for a toy at midnight. Or maybe that is just the geek talking.....



This job has some down sides. Every time the answer to the question "What time is the job?" is don’t bother going to bed, you prepare yourself for the pain. So it was last week when I woke at 3.30 to drive to Salisbury, leaving the house in the dark in summer is about as much fun as it sounds. Muttering of who the hell wants to get up at stupid o'clock and why don’t I get a normal job ensues.

However the rest tends to be upside, you just get to see and do some amazing things. I was visiting Stonehenge to photograph Thea Hunt, English Heritage’s new child executive who was leading a group of children on a very special visit, with unsupervised access to the ancient monument. So as the sun came up through the stones, photographing something that has not changed in 5000 years you can’t help but feel lucky. Muttering of glad I got up and it is a pretty amazing job really ensues.


7/7 10 YEARS ON

On the 7th of July 2005 at 8.50am when the bombs went off at both Kings Cross and Aldgate I was sitting in an office in Farringdon having passed through Kings Cross on the tube just an hour before.

I had only joined my first London agency a year before and did not know London very well, so when reports of a gas explosion started to come through of a gas explosion on the underground I had no idea what to expect. When I arrived at Kings Cross I could see from just the sheer numbers of emergency services there this was not a gas explosion. The whole of the Euston Road was cordoned off and you got the feeling of highly ordered chaos from a city taken by surprise. I found my way under a cordon, on to the Euston Road, all the way to the central reservation, yards from the stairs coming up from the Underground.


What I saw there I will never forget, wounded were being brought out and into ambulances. Clearly very seriously injured and with the faces of the rescuers telling a story of shock and disbelief. I walked away still not knowing what had happened but knowing it was probably one of the biggest moments for London I would ever photograph and fearing that this city I was only just getting to know would change forever.


We will always remember that day and the 52 people who lost their lives to a misguided attempt to terrorize a city but London will never change. It is a city of so many people, so many races, so many cultures, so few of us born in London. We are most of us immigrants here including me but when faced with adversity we are all Londoners. So as I stood in the same spot this morning as I had 10 years ago and around Kings Cross with so much having changed I felt part of this city that will not be bowed.



As abstract a concept as this is, I am a fairly typical Londoner. Like the overwhelming majority of the population I was not born in the capital, this contradiction typifies what it is to live here. The Tube is the best and worst thing ever, for every modern building and goes up an ancient one is preserved, it can be both claustrophobic and open but chief among these contradictions are the crowds. They are everywhere, pressing my 6ft 3 frame into Romanesque arches against the wall of a tube, making it far better risk being run over than to face the curb on Oxford Street but within these groups lie the essential truth of London. But more on that later.

Over the past couple of months I have been working on a project for the Museum of London and TNR Communications. Myself and fellow PA Photographer Matt Crossick were commissioned to think up and shoot a display of 7 images for the museum's foyer representing London. Many ideas were submitted and when Matt came up with the idea of photographing crowds I had my misgivings. Crowds are grey, amorphous, impersonal and not representative of the colour the city has to offer. However, the museum loved the idea and we went ahead. I was wrong (it won’t surprise anyone who knows me to find out), crowds offered something special I had not seen.

So as I gathered with crowds of people throwing paint at Cinnamon Kitchen, trying to watch an eclipse through low cloud, marching against racism and dressed as Wally for ‘The National Literacy Trust fun run, I realized this was London. The crowds were a microcosm of the city as a whole, a mass of people all appearing to look the same and do the same things but on closer inspection each individual and so very different. I love the interplay between subject and camera, what part of their personality can you bring out and capture one on one. Here there were hundreds, each face telling a different story while at the same time showing a sense of community.

Some of my work from the exhibition:


This is the first time my pictures have been printed so big in such a public space so I am pretty excited but more than that I have learnt after 10 years here as a fairly introspective person among 8 million others, that crowds can be a good thing. It is on for a year so definitely go and take a look and once you have maybe next time you feel your blood pressure rising at the site of a hoard of people, take a couple of minutes to look at their faces before you plough through them.



Westminster is strange place where in the corridors of power meet policy makers, journalists, charities, committees and tourists. You would think it a press photographers dream, the most powerful people in the country, scandals and triumphs etched on their faces, stride through iconic architecture with interesting backdrops round every corner.

You would be wrong! Past the murals, the statues, the pomp where we are not allowed to photograph for security reasons you are lead into the real corridors of power. Dungeon dark, ever winding, lined with books (make your own allegories), where we are not allowed to photograph for security reasons. Finally you will invariably find yourself in an office, oak paneled black holes sucking light from netted windows barely illuminating their owners in this particular case William Hague. It is not that these places are without personality Mr Hague has large collections of books on the wall (he writes on the history of politics) he has a sword on his desk from his time as foreign secretary and a Rhino statue signifying his work on animal welfare. These however generally have the same effect as the light, they are absorbed, assimilated and room retains its overall character.


By contrast to the room the ex Conservative leader, ex Foreign secretary, leader of the commons and "Thatcher's Boy" who is leaving politics this May turned out to be a personable and even funny subject. Shooting for the FT you first photograph almost an hour of interview, getting to know your subject looking for opportunities, there was only one but I knew I had to play it carefully. An hour of interview generally leaves you with about 5 minutes to get a portrait. When the interview finished, as I always do I first went for the safe option, you have to get a shot in the bag because if you mess it up the likelihood is you wont get another chance. I sat him at his desk, books in the background, it is ok but looks a little like an official portrait when an MP takes office, I asked him if he minded having the mug I spotted earlier on the desk, I fully expected him to say no, but he seemed delighted and I got my shot. I then begged and pleaded for another picture elsewhere, out in the light but time was up.


You very rarely get feedback as a freelance unless you really mess something up but my Picture Editor for that piece Annabel Cook said "the mug makes it". Just shows you have to keep your eyes open for the small things.

Full FT article:


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