Friday, 30 October 2009

PETER'S FRIEND by Mike McCartney

 PETER'S FRIEND by Mike McCartney

On 20th September 2009, I visited Mike McCartney's website in order to find his email address so that I could write to him and ask if he would take part in my project. I found that his email address was not published on the site so I started a discussion in his Forum on the site under the heading of "Photography". Mike replied saying that he didn't really take portraits in the same way as Rankin for example, he just took 'foties'. However, I did not give up and eventually I persuaded Mike to say yes and we agreed to meet the next time he was in London.

We met when he was down to record "Lily the Pink" with Scaffold for a special tribute programme. Jane came along too and we wandered around Kensington Gardens and he snapped away. He is such a nice guy - very personable and with a silly sense of humour. He was also interesting to talk to and I found his stories about the old days of "Scaffold" and "Grimms" fascinating.

After the shoot, he sent me a small selection of images from which it was difficult to choose one and  I plumped for the one of me lying upside down in the leaves. Not only is it a great photograph, I think it says a lot about me and the way I communicate - that is, flat on my back and with a benign grin on my face. No, it is all in the eyes.

We shall always have Southport......
However, when I was asked to exhibit at the Guernsey Photography Festival in 2011, Mike sent "Peter's Friend" along and so this one represents him in the project now.  In 2012, he very kindly agreed to open the exhibition of photographs from "Over the Hill" in Southport and he began his speech with the immortal words, "Can I just say, Tim, it's a pleasure to see you with your clothes on!" 

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

I FEEL FINE by Ania Wawrzkowicz

I FEEL FINE by Ania Wawrzkowicz
I first contacted Ania, who is Polish, in May 2009, having seen her wonderful work on her website. We communicated by email for a few weeks until we met in the Chandos pub opposite the National Portrait Gallery. It is not an especially attractive pub but it has a dark interior with dark brown sticky tables and small booths in which you can sit in private and there is room at the bar all of which makes it one of my favourite London pubs. Anyway, enough of pubs, what about Ania?

Well, she came up with the concept of a photograph or rather a set of photographs in which I would not appear at all. She suggested that I produce a box containing my personal selection of ordinary everyday possessions both old and modern. She would then photograph each item including the box itself and also ask me to write commentaries in a small book, telling the story behind each object. I selected the objects including my MCC tie, my little cricket game I used to play as a boy, a salt and pepper set from the plane in which I took my first foreign trip in 1967 and this record by The Beatles. In every case the object concerned meant a lot to me but also had a significant story behind it.

The items were delivered to Ania in a small case which had been given to me by an old client but I felt very uneasy not because I did not trust Ania with them but because they all meant so much to me and I had never given them away before. I need not have worried as Ania looked after them very well and returned them safe and sound.

The Case
In the meantime, I had written my commentaries in a book which I also gave to Ania to photograph. I found the photographs very moving because they seemed to exude the care and attention that Ania lavished on the project and they were about the very essence of what I am. As Ania wrote herself, "Over the course of time, every object has become a souvenir, a trace of the past whose meaning on a the personal level is much wider than we think and goes far beyond the object itself". Needless to say, all the objects, the case and the book were all beautifully photographed.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

TIM by Emma Davies

TIM by Emma Davies

I saw Emma's wonderful work at her degree show at the Truman Brewery building where she and her colleagues at Middlesex University were exhibiting. I had already answered her advert on Gumtree when she stated that she was looking for people in uniformed professions to photograph. I emailed her again and I met a shy, quiet student at Liverpool Street Railway Station where she kindly agreed to photograph me. We decided subsequently to try two different shoots. The first was an idea I had for a blatant publicity shot - me being photographed underwater reading the Guardian newspaper. The other was to be photographed on West Wittering beach near where I used to live. After quite some time looking in vain for an underwater tank to hire, we set up the shoot in a swimming pool in the garden of a friend of mine, having hired an underwater camera. In the meantime, Emma suggested taking some portraits under water and sent some examples of other photographers' work.

Initially, we did some portraits underwater of which this was one. Then we started the Guardian shots but, by then, I was finding it increasingly difficult going down into the water and staying down and I guess it wasn't getting any easier for Emma either. To make matters worse, the battery on the camera ran out and we couldn't charge it up because there was a power cut!

Afterwards, we had lunch together at Ravenswood and looked at the photographs. Emma was doubtful that the Guardian photographs had worked. I was disappointed but she was right. I realised that the shy, quiet student knew her own mind and that her judgement was far more astute than mine. This was image was our eventual choice and I am very pleased with it. It was Emma's idea for me to stretch out my hand and it really does add depth and dynamism to the picture and the whole thing really works well both on its own and also in the context of the other photographs in the project. I do think that Emma produced a great shot in very difficult circumstances. She was clearly a very talented photographer and deserved to succeed. And succeed she did. This main portrait was chosen by the curator of the "Over the Hill" exhibition at the Guardian Gallery in 2013. In the meantime, Emma has become a documentary photographer who is held in great esteem.

We never did make it to the beach.


Wednesday, 29 April 2009

BOUM! by Pascal Renoux

BOUM! by Pascal Renoux
I first heard of Pascal through Neil Huxstable who was a great fan and  was trying to emulate Pascal's style and indeed has done so very successfully.

I looked up Pascal's website and saw these beautifully lit nude studies and so immediately wrote to him to ask if he would photograph me if I ever made it over to France to see him. He replied confirming that he would. Some months later, Jane and I found ourselves on his doorstep of his house in the small village of Bouin.

Pascal immediately made us feel at home and we discussed what I wanted from the shoot and then got started. He took us up to his studio which had a beautiful soft light coming through the white curtains the effect of which was increased by the reflective material on the ceiling. He also took photographs of Jane and of us both together.

We were then treated to a fabulous lunch and chatted for quite a while before reluctantly taking our leave of him. He is a thoroughly nice bloke and great company.

Pascal Renoux

Tuesday, 17 March 2009



This photographer advertised on Gumtree for nude models but first of all suggested that he would like to do a portrait of me. I looked at his wonderful work on his website, particularly his landscapes, and I asked him if he could do a landscape but with me in it and he readily agreed. We met at 5am on 17th March 2009 near his flat by the Thames just opposite Canary Wharf. He set up the shot and we waited for the sun to rise and then I quickly undressed and curled up on the ground. There was no-one about apart from the odd early morning jogger and it was peaceful and quiet and very comforting.

We did some different shots and we were just about to pack up when I asked if I could do another pose based on a photograph I had seen by Richard Avedon. Once that was done, we went back to his flat for a hot cup of tea and something to eat.

It was a lovely shoot and a great feeling being naked in the fresh and crisp early morning under that spectacular sky.

"Once Tim had approached me and explained his condition, I felt more than anything I wanted to show a personal portrait of someone at peace. Taken on a freezing March sunrise at 6am over the Thames, Surrey Quays - the shoot was very quick and simple to bring about these ideas. The resulting 'body landscape' I feel has a calming, warm and honest starkness about it. It's almost as if Tim is dreaming that grand breaking sunrise above and showing us the amazing optimism he carries inside."