Tuesday, 23 August 2011

AT REST, AT PEACE by Kamil Szkopik

AT REST, AT PEACE by Kamil Szkopik

I contacted Kamil through seeing his work showcased in the Professional Photographer magazine. He responded saying that he would be pleased to photograph me. I was thrilled - it is always a thrill when someone says yes! We had some correspondence by email during which he explained his initial idea for the shoot. He said that, back in Poland, there used to be a tradition (and maybe still is in some places) that people would prepare for their death by putting to one side an outfit in which they were to buried. He remembered his Grandmother reminding him many times where her death robes were just in case..... He thought it was amazing that people were concerned how they would look, how they presented their body to the world after they died. Anyway, he went on to say that he wanted to shoot me wearing the garments in which l would like to  be buried but that, if I wanted to be  buried naked then fine, I could be naked. He felt that such an image where the dress code is taken on to another level of understanding would be very strong. I said that, as I loved being naked, that would be my dress code but that I would bring a suit as well. 

Incidentally, it is interesting how many photographers have ideas about death and mortality when they contemplate photographing me. I suppose it is understandable - after all, why do I want to be photographed? It must have something to do with my mortality because, even though Parkinson's Disease won't kill me as such, it makes death slightly more likely (my neurologist said that I was likely to die one year earlier than I might otherwise) and when the illness gets appreciably worse, it could be termed as a living death.  But enough of all that, let''s get back to the lovely Kamil.

Eventually,  I arranged to come up to his home town of Milton Keynes and on 23rd August 2011, Kami collected me from the station and took me to his new studio that he had recently rented which was situated in the middle of an arts centre comprised of some ancient buildings in a beautiful rural settingwhich is not quite what one expects when coming to Milton Keynes. The studio itself was magnificent - quite large, light and airy. It had a good atmosphere but maybe also I was beginning to relax and get to know Kamil whose fresh faced enthusiasm was infectious. He said that his idea was to photograph me lying down naked and thereafter to create a collage of the shots and, although we tried some alternative shots and poses, it became clear that this first concept was the strongest.

Kamil was a delightful companion for the day; we talked at length about my project and his work and then, after the shoot, he took me to see a local exhibition of his work, the high standard of which reminded why I had wanted to be photographed by him in the first place. After a delicious meal at his family home, he deposited me back to the station. I felt very lucky - it had been a great day. Shortly afterwards, Kamil came to visit me in Brighton and he met Jane and fell in love with her paintings and our house. He brought with him some rough images from the shoot to show me and I liked them a lot although Kamil explained that they were not finished. Indeed, they remained unfinished for quite a while afterwards because  I heard from  him that the very next day, he had had an awful accident at work which unusually for him, brought him right down for a while as he had suffered some awful injuries. 

However, by the time he sent me this final image, he had got a lot better. It is strange that when my untrained eye saw this final version, I was completely and utterly knocked out by it because partly I suppose it was the final edit and I knew that I could relax and enjoy it. I had already chosen the title and this ultimate image seemed to fit it like a glove. It is a glorious piece of work with a beautiful tone and structure created by an artist of the highest calibre, a man whose strength of character and ambition will ensure success in his future career but most of all, he is a man with love in his heart and passion in his bones and are not these important too?

Kamil, you are a prince.  

Link to website: kamilszkopik.com (from April 2012)

Friday, 19 August 2011

SPIRIT by Annie Marie Arpin

SPIRIT by Anne Marie Arpin

I came across Anne Marie Arpin's work on Flickr and what struck me most was the freshness and simplicity of her photographs. Often I say that I am not a vain person and yet I suppose it could be argued that there is an element of vanity in choosing a photographer whose work one admires with a request that he or she produces an image of oneself in the same or similar style. However, it is not obvious to me and I just felt that I would like to meet the woman who produced these lovely open photographs.

And so it was that I met Anne Marie in London and we had a coffee together and talked about my project and her work. She is quite shy but that is part of her charm and one is aware that, under the surface, there is a quiet intelligence which, coupled with a strong personality, infuses her work with brio.

We agreed to meet for a shoot at some later date and eventually we chose 8th August 2011 right slap bang in the middle of the London Riots which had started in Tottenham only a couple of days previously. When I arrived in Hackney, I noticed several pockets of one or two young people hanging around the centre. We went to a pub which Anne Marie had chosen for the shoot. It was very quiet in there and we had a drink and she shot some photographs. She used a medium format camera, a Mamiya 7 but she admitted that she was a little nervous because normally she only photographed friends, I said that today I would be her friend. After about an hour we left the pub and walked outside and I noticed that the pockets of people were now three or four in number. Anne Marie asked if I felt any tension in the air and I said that I certainly did but we went to the park in any event for some more shots. The park was almost completely deserted and, after about thirty minutes, we wandered back to the centre and by now there was a large crowd of young kids blocking one of the roads. A bus was held up by a guy ambling across in front of it and it was clear that there was no way that the bus driver was going to move or toot his horn as it would almost certainly have started a riot there and then. I was planning at that stage to take a bus to Victoria but decided against it and escaped via the Overground and about an hour later, all hell let loose.

BUT in spite of all the trouble and tension, it was an enjoyable shoot and I liked working with Anne Marie very much indeed and I loved the photos she sent to me. Again, it was very difficult to choose an image but we both liked this one and so I have included it in my project. The calmness of the pose and the green of the tennis court belies what is happening only a few hundred yards away but more than this - it is a perfectly composed picture and a beautiful example of a simple portrait. It is exactly what I wanted from working with Anne Marie and fully justifies my decision to approach her. She is a great photographer.        


Monday, 15 August 2011

A MARRIED MAN by Natasha Caruana

I liked Natasha's work a lot when I discovered it but, at that time, I had no idea that she taught at UCA Farnham which incidentally is where Jane got her Fine Art Degree. Natasha is a fabulous photographer and so I was thrilled when she agreed to photograph me. The most intriguing and, I guess, the most controversial part of her portfolio is the "Married Men" project which involved her going onto a site where she met married men with whom she went out on dates and during the date, she took photographs, never of their faces but for example, their hands or a table setting but without the man realising that she was doing it as part of a photographic project.

Anyway, Natasha suggested at the time of initial contact that we had dinner together and she could add me to her collection. Needless to say, I informed Jane about this immediately and she was cool with it. After several postponements, we met in London and Natasha took me to St James's Park for a picnic lunch which she had prepared herself  - I love picnics! Over lunch, we quizzed each other about our respective projects - she was a delightful lunch companion and it was a thoroughly enjoyable occasion. 

On the way back to the tube station, she asked me why I wasn't wearing a wedding ring. I explained that, when Jane and I got married in 1979, it wasn't really the custom for the man to have a wedding ring and so I had never had one. I asked her when she had noticed this and she said "Straightaway"! I do feel that her previous experiences with married men in her project might perhaps have made her more suspicious. 

I am still waiting for Natasha to send me the photographs she took with her camera but below I have included some which we both took with mine.

Please take the time to look at Natasha's website as I think you will very much enjoy what you see. A great photographer and a very nice person.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011



I met Clare for the first time in London in March 2011 at an exhibition of her fantastic photographs from the project she had been conducting with Buz Williams (whom also has Parkinson’s Disease). I warmed to her immediately; she has a vital intelligence and a very warm heart and she moves and speaks with grace and beauty. I adored the shoot itself. I felt I was allowed to express myself with total abandon and we talked about this and we talked about that and we listened to George Harrison on the record player.

Clare sent me this amazing image afterwards and I loved the tone and the light but I was moved particularly that Clare had gone to so much trouble to produce such a brilliant image. But then she could not do otherwise. There are no half measures with Clare and her work - if she photographs you, she examines you, learns who you are and then displays it with bravura and wit and a hint of danger for all to see. Unafraid and unashamed - me and her both.

Some weeks after receiving the photograph, the following email from Clare arrived:
“Dear Tim
Musing over the pictures...ideas and more. 
Thought that I should have had you in my big black skirt with the mask and then just now looked on line and saw Jane's work
...and black skirt and NEGOTIATION, beautifully poetic but curious to be on a parallel train of thought. 
As always that is what keeps me going along, this synchronicity and the quest for an authentically powerful image with movement that is free...
See you soon
Clare x” 

It was interesting to me that she chose Jane's painting "Negotiation" to make her point. It is my favourite painting from Jane's series, "Station of the Skirt" which can be found amongst many other wonderful works of art on Jane's website.

I continue to see Clare, who is now a firm friend, and she continues to photograph me. I want her to do so until I die.

WEBSITE: http://www.clarepark.tv/