Vanessa is one of my favourite photographers and so I was extremely pleased that she reacted positively to my approach asking if she would like to be part of my project. She pointed out that she had not really made so many images of men (at least not consciously) and, therefore, it could also be space for her to explore.
We arranged to meet initially at, yes you've guessed it, Waterloo Station and then look for somewhere to have lunch. We chose the Turkish restaurant called Tas in The Cut opposite the Young Vic Theatre. On the way, Vanessa asked me if I had mentioned the name of Rankin in my original email in order to entice her to work with me. I admitted that I had done so and she said that it didn't work because she was not an admirer of his work. I pointed out that she had agreed to photograph me anyway!
We had a long lunch and discussed the project and me and my illness amongst other things and we left it that she would arrange to come down to Milford to photograph me there. And so it was that on 12th February 2010 Vanessa came to Ravenswood to photograph me. She used a large format camera and took photographs both inside the house and in the garden. When she photographed me outside she asked me to put a golden coin in my eye so that she could focus the camera on that. I suggested that, for one shot, I left the coin in place.
When Vanessa eventually was able to send me an image she chose "this little threesome" as she put it and said that it was rather nice to include the shot with the coin in my eye as it spoke not only of her methodology but also of her eyesight which seemed to her to make sense in this context. She also pointed out that the other two close images were really quite similar but the subtle shift in my expression in each changed the emotional mood of the whole piece. She ended by saying that she hoped that the project would continue to be a great and interesting adventure. And so it came to pass....
Vanessa is one of the great photographers of all time.