|HALF FOOL by Anthony Hatley|
I first met Anthony in 1979 when I was working as a solicitor in Haslemere and I acted for him on his purchase of his first property. I believe that he was working in IT then but now he is a successful professional photographer and, of course, I am no longer a solicitor. As Anthony said recently, who would have thought that, 32 years later, he would end up photographing me in Brighton? During that time, I continued to act for him and his charming wife Diane and also now and again we would bump into each other outside the office and so it was that, in 2011, we met at a retirement party for an old colleague of mine. We took the opportunity to chat briefly and catch up and it was agreed that we would get together for a shoot in the not too distant future.
A few months later, Anthony emailed me and eventually we arranged that he would come over to Brighton for a shoot on 28th September 2011. Anthony arrived with flowers for Jane and so started a very enjoyable day firstly spent inside the house and then ending up on Brighton beach. Anthony had a very clear idea in his mind what shots he wanted but also he was not afraid to improvise and, all the while, we chatted about this and chat. It was a very easygoing and thoroughly fulfilling shoot. It ended quite a few hours later when he bid me goodbye at our front door and gave me a big hug which was unexpected but was borne of a longstanding friendship the strength of which was cemented that bright September day.
Anthony subsequently sent me a shortlist of eleven images which I looked at very carefully and in the end, I plumped for this one. Not only is it a superb photograph, it has Jane 's fantastic painting ''Running on Empty'' in the background. That painting is part of her ''Station of the Skirt'' series in which Jane examined women's roles in society in general and her role in our family unit in particular. It took me a long time to understand the meaning of this painting hence the title I have given to this beautiful photograph taken by a great photographer.
Some months after receiving this final image by email, I received a package in the post. lt was addressed to ''TJR Andrews'' which l thought was interesting because, nowadays, few people if any, write to me in that way i.e. using my full initials. l began to work out in my mind who it was from and although this sort of meant that l was on the right track, nothing prepared me for the surprise l had when l opened the parcel. lt literally took my breath away. l saw that it was a book and, by then, l had deduced that it was a gift. l pulled it out and read the words "Half Fool" as l looked at the fantastic photograph on front. Jane was sitting across the table from me and asked why l had said ''Blimey'' as l stood up and then immediately slumped back down in the chair opposite her. l said "It's a book....of photographs by Anthony Hatley... you know the former client of mine who photographed me here''. She replied "Oh you mean the guy who brought the lovely flowers?" But l did not answer as by now l was reading the dedication printed inside which ended with "I am proud to be photographer 161". l told Jane that she would have to read it as l would only cry. So l handed her the book after looking through it and she read it out loud and tears welled up and trickled down my cheeks. She then looked through the book herself. ''These are wonderful photographs, you know'' she said. l could hardly believe the kindness, the generosity of spirit and the humanity of the man who had sent this wonderful present. Wonderful - a well used word often thrown away in speech. The adjective of ''wonder'', which conjures up a picture of a child beholding something so full of beauty and light that all he can do is behold it with awe and with eyes and mouth open. Something magical. Spiritual and mysterious. Not just a book of beautiful photographs by a very talented photographer but much more than that. A simple act of pure kindness. From a man whom as he left me that day, hugged me with the same warmth that prompted him to send this gift, this ''early Christmas present'' as he put it.
At the end of the film of the musical, ''Camelot'', King Arthur despairs of his life thus far but is uplifted by coming across a young boy whom has stowed away to fight with Arthur in what is likely to be his last battle. The boy upholds the principles of the Round Table and so Arthur commands the boy not to fight but to return to England to preach the gospel of the Round Table lest it be forgot. l liken this to my life as a lawyer. Did l really make any difference to people's lives? Was it all worth it? Will anyone remember? Arthur is asked by King Pellinore who the boy was. Arthur replies triumphantly, "One of what we all are...less than a drop in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea....but it seems that some of the drops do sparkle. Some do sparkle!"
Thank you Anthony for a wonderful day and a wonderful portrait.
Link to Website - http://www.anthonyhatley.co.uk/
Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
|ENERGY by Kim Fielding|
Kim was introduced to me by Tiff Oben and he even agreed to put me up whilst I was in Cardiff for the shoots with Tiff and Kim himself and Ami Barnes. I had spent the day before shooting with Tiff at tactileBOSCH followed by a dinner party hosted by Kim at his flat and so, by the time I got to Kim's studio in his cellar the following morning, l was very relaxed and easy. By the way, I should just mention that tactileBOSCH is an amazing place. It is an alternate gallery space and was established by Kim and Simon Mitchell in 2000 since when it has been the venue for exhibitions and performances by many established international artists as well as emerging local artists.
Anyway, back to Kim and his cellar. I followed him (Kim) down the stairs and immediately l sensed that it had a great 'feel' to it. Kim had wanted to photograph me using his flash gun but for some reason it wasn't working so we made do with a string of fairy lights and other things. We both agreed that I should be naked for the shoot and Kim started shooting immediately as I began to undress. At first, I perched on a shelf under the stairs which was like an eyrie. Then I stood holding the lights and a torch and then finally I stood on a mattress and swung this light in an arc. That was what did my back in. It was already a bit dodgy after jumping up and down on hard concrete the week before for a stop motion film but balancing on a sprung mattress got it going again. Apart from that, I loved experimenting with the lights and I could have stayed down there for ages but I had to go on to my next shoot. However, I have been invited back to Cardiff and it is likely that, when I return, I shall end up being involved with the same photographers again.
I waited for the photographs to arrive from Kim and soon enough a CD arrived in the post with the most amazing set of images on it. They were all awash with colour and movement and also beautiful little surprises like an eye appearing out of nowhere. They are presented with such elan and confidence that they become intoxicating and, strangely, they seem imbued with an almost erotic energy - strange because I didn't feel particularly erotic down there - in the cellar I mean.
I chose the above image as Kim's contribution to my project. It has everything - bizarre flashes and tones of colour, great movement and a contrasting stillness which all goes to make an incredibly vibrant and challenging image. But I want more and it seems as if Kim will kindly allow me to return to Cardiff for that. He is a wonderful photographer - he has such bravura and he never stops still - just the sort of guy you need to run an Arts Centre. And what is more, he is a thoroughly nice bloke. I am so, so lucky to meet people like Kim which, if I had still been a lawyer, I would never have done. All thanks to Parkinson's Disease - weird isn't it?
Link To Flickr Page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39043424@N04/4926241655/
Monday, 26 September 2011
|KING GAMMELYN by Kirsty Mitchell|
How much do the stories read to you by your parents when you were young, affect your life and your ethos when you are older? I don't actually recall my mother reading to me although I remember that we owned Beatrix Potter books and my mother would often quote from Winnie the Pooh. The book I do remember reading at school was ''Wind in the Willows'' and immediately, I identified with Mole. I liked Ratty but I was never a rat, at least not then.
Why am I rattling on about this? Well, Kirsty Mitchell's amazing "Wonderland" project was influenced heavily by the stories that her late mother told her when she was little and when her mother died, not so long ago, Kirsty was inspired to create a land and characters based on those stories as a tribute to a mother she loved so much. Whilst in the middle of this huge undertaking, I happened to come across her work and was blown away by it. So much so, that in July 2010, I wrote to her asking if she would photograph me. She replied in a manic rush which became familiar to me over the next twelve months or so saying that she was ".. drowning, drowning, drowning in work at the moment..." (yes, three drownings) but also that she was just about to launch her website and had been working relentlessly for the past six months building up to this and was now at her wit's end BUT she said that she was interested in my project and that she thought there was a very strong chance that we could do a one off special portrait in her Wonderland style but before that she genuinely needed a bit of a rest. Phew!
Of course, I was delighted and told her so. Well, she never did get a break but, when I wrote to her again about three months later to congratulate her on the latest Wonderland pictures, she said that the only way she could really fit me in to her schedule was to incude me in Wonderland and so become the only male participant. I replied, "YES, YES, YES, YESSSSS!!!!" (Yep, four YESes and four exclamation marks).
We continued to correspond in the same way (ie more manic emails from Kirsty and more exclamation marks from me) and she gradually unfolded her ideas about the fallen King I was to play, first of all in a swamp but then in a woodland setting. Finally, on 26th September, I arrived at her front door and entered what seemed to be a very calm and ordered hive of activity to meet Kirsty for the first time as well as her fiance, Matt, and her make up artist/partner, Elbie. She reminded me how the Wonderland series had all come about and, as we chatted, she showed me the incredible costume of the sad old King whom I was about to play. I was made up and then donned my costume and we drove off to the secret location in some woods near Leatherhead in Surrey. First of all, I was asked to clamber up a bank and sit on a chair suspended halfway up a bank and all the wiry entrails of the roots of the tree were knitted roughly into my hair and Kirsty took her photographs of which this is one.
Then came the fateful journey to another part of the woods. Stupidly, I offered to carry a box of stuff and hit the front of my right lower leg on a branch. I was wearing lilac tights but the bruise swelled up pretty quickly and soon I was in some pain. I was then asked to sit under a tree for the second, final pose and the race was on to finish the shoot before the sun went down. This combined with my rapidly swelling shin, began to induce a lot of tremor so Kirsty had to wait whilst I calmed down. She was incredibly patient but I wondered whether I had given her enough of what she wanted especially as, a few months later, she decided to shoot a younger male model as a younger version of the King. However, she has assured me subsequently that I was one of the most successful parts of her wondrous project. I was now officially part of Wonderland and had been photographed by Kirsty Mitchell, the wonderfully innovative creator of this world.
Kirsty is a ball of high octane energy fired on by an indefatigable drive and creativity handed down by her lovely mother who inspired her project and this new beginning in her life and who must be looking down on her equally lovely daughter with a knowing look and a great deal of pride.
And talking of pride - just look at the photograph! How would you feel?
|GETTING READY by Tiff Oben|
In August 2009, I was fortunate enough to appear on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square as part of Anthony Gormley's ''One and Other'' project. Tiff also appeared on the plinth that summer a few weeks after me when she became the first female nude plinther. Her intention was to make the hour on the plinth an extension of her own artistic endeavours which explore gender, sexuality and subjectivity as unnatural constructions. She undertook a metamorphosis of gender from male to female using costume and masquerade. She stepped on the plinth dressed and made up as a man and then undressed and then donned a female wig and became a woman. It was a very brave performance at 4am with some rather rude hecklers below but she survived. I looked up her website and saw that she was a photographer and so immediately I contacted her asking if she would photograph me and she said yes!
|READY by Tiff Oben|
We emailed over a long period of time and she explained that she was heavily involved with a local Arts Centre in Cardiff called tactileBOSCH run by a guy called Kim Fielding. She was keen for me to speak to Kim about the possibility of him not only photographing me but also about possibly displaying photographs of my own project at the Arts Centre. Eventually, we set up a time for me to visit Wales for further discussions and some shoots with both Tiff and Kim as well as Ami Barnes whose work I saw showcased in the Profesional Photographer magazine. I travelled to Cardiff by train and Tiff met me at the station and we took another train to tactileBOSCH. Tiff had been involved in an installation project at the centre which was the joint creation of Tiff and long-time collaborative partner, Helene Roberts, whom together built the space where the shoot took place. Tiff and Helene and Kim Fielding curated other artists into it including highly respected Welsh artist, Shani Rhys James, and Ali Simpkins and Tom Belton and Dave Cushley. Part of the space was made to look like the entrance lobby of a seedy Victorian hotel and that was where we shot the pictures. Our initial idea was to shoot me dressed and undressed in the same poses.
It was a close run thing choosing between "Ready" and "Getting Ready" to represent Tiff in my project. In fact I chose "Ready" first but I have to say that, whenever I looked at "Getting Ready", I did feel that this was me, the seedy me, the extrovert and the taker of risks as opposed to the saintly me, the shy man who plays safe - I am both people. So, after further thought, I plumped for "Getting Ready"which is a brilliant photograph full of light and darkness, colour, sexuality, challenge and unashamed exposure. Tiff liked the simplicity of the double portrait in "Ready" but also liked the darkness of "Getting Ready" so she was happy with either choice. They are both wonderful images and I was very, very pleased that I had contacted Tiff.
Link to website: www.tiffanyoben.co.uk
Link to Plinth Performance: www.oneandother.co.uk/participants/TiffanyOben
Thursday, 22 September 2011
|NICE AND EASY by Omkaar Kotedia|
This was another one which took a long time coming to fruition, I suppose because both of us were busy. I think I contacted Omkaar through Gumtree but to be honest, I cannot remember. However, I can tell you that it was sometime in 2009. We began corresponding by email. Seemingly, we lost contact but he had not forgotten me and, out of the blue, I received an email asking if I might still want to be photographed by him. I responded positively and, eventually, on 22nd September 2011, I managed to make my way to his studio in West London for the shoot..
We hadn't met before but I had a good feeling about the shoot and about him - I suppose you can glean from lengthy correspondence by email what a person is like. I found Omkaar to be a very warm, easy-going guy whom, like me, has an interest in the cinema and so it was a very relaxing shoot because we had a lot to talk about. He asked me to wear what I felt comfortable in because he wanted particularly to capture my personality.
I really liked the collection of images that he sent to me subsequently - they are not as theatrical as some of my more recent shoots but I like that. Someone came up to me at the Lightbox exhibition and said that, of all the images in my project, he preferred the more conventional portraits and I knew what he meant. They have a peace and presence all of their own and are unique; the pose in the more conventional portraits is very similar but each one tells a different story. Furthermore, it takes great skill to draw a person's character out in such photos, especially, as in Omkaar's case, where he had only just met me. But he put me at my ease almost immediately and that is all part of the skill of a very good photographer.
And a very good photographer is what he is.
Tuesday, 20 September 2011
|THE RED BALL by Heather Buckley|
Heather is a local Brighton photographer and when I saw her work for the first time, I was struck by the brightness of the images and the positivity of thought and deed which had clearly influenced the outcome of the shoots in question.
We met at Brighton Pier on a bright September day and introduced ourselves and then immediately set about starting the shoot. Her first idea was for me to lie on the shingle of the beach which was level with the top of a flint wall. She was hoping that it would subvert the normal perspective. Normally, I hate being photographed in the public gaze but this was nice because I could see only the sky above as I lay there whilst Heather clicked away. After this we moved on to the pier proper and first of all took some pictures in three deckchairs side by side with me wearing a suit in different stages of undress. I liked the idea a lot but in the end Heather decided not to pursue these shots and so I never saw the results. Then we wandered around the pier and stopped whenever anything took our fancy including a game which involved rolling a ball into various holes and scoring points in the process. I had no idea what the game was all about but Heather became increasingly excited by how these shots were going and she encouraged me to improvise when I rolled the ball and, as I did so, she leaned over and took the photo blind from the front but look at the wonderful result. Isn't it a brilliant photograph? Highly original, full of movement and life.
I was so pleased when I received this from Heather as I had not looked at the photographs during the shoot and so I had no inkling of how fresh and inventive it would look.
Heather loves photography and that is so clear from her vital, lively images. A great day and a great addition to my project. I am so glad that I approached Heather to take part and even more glad that she said yes!
Link to website - http://heatherbuckley.co.uk/
Link to Blog - http://heatherbuckley.co.uk/blog/
Link to Flickr paage - http://www.flickr.com/people/heatherbuckley/
Monday, 19 September 2011
Thursday, 15 September 2011
|THE URBAN SPACEMAN by Abbie-Trayler-Smith|
Abbie is Harry Borden's partner and it was Harry, I think, who told me that she was interested in photographing me. l wrote to her first in 2010 but I wasn't aware that she was pregnant and so it was a while before I wrote again and she replied explaining about the baby but confirming that she certainly wanted to photograph me. That was in January 2011 but it wasn't until eight months later that we finally arranged a date for the shoot - 15th September 2011.
On that day, I arrived at their flat in South London. It was part of a block which had been purpose built perhaps in the 1960s? I'm not very good with modern architecture. It was an unimposing building and the lobby was nothing special but I was about to be amazed. I went up to the sixth or whatever floor on which they live and Harry answered the door explaining that Abbie was out with their new-ish baby. I followed him through the small hall and into the kitchen and it was then that I was amazed. The kitchen was quite large with double aspect windows the views from which were incredible. You could see from Wembley Stadium in North London right round to Clapham in the South and, furthermore, the streets immediately surrounding the block were mostly tree lined and heavily laden with dark green leaves even as we were approaching Autumn so it looked like we were surrounded by forest and then, to cap it all, almost right next door was an enormous Victorian building which Harry said had been some sort of institution; it was quite gothic in style and, if I remember correctly, was cream with dark roof tiles and topped with turrets and spires. The whole outlook really was astounding and I laughed when Harry explained that, of course, their block was the blot on the landscape for everyone else living in its environs - poor sods.
Harry made me some toast with honey (yum) and then Abbie returned with baby in buggy and her assistant whose name I cannot recall I'm sorry to say. I'd like to blame Parkinson's Disease for these frequent memory lapses but I have always been bad with names. Harry was chattering away delightfully but eventually was banished by Abbie with a polite request that he took his time going for a walk with their new charge so that she could concentrate on shooting me.
I had told Abbie that I had seen on her website a beautiful photograph of a curtain blowing in the breeze that had brought to mind Lee Miller's photograph, "Portrait of Space" and I suggested that perhaps she could shoot me behind a blowing curtain. She had been quite enthused by this idea and so we tried a few shoots inside with me topless against a wall on which there were shadows created by me and then again with shadows on my skin reflecting the design on the curtain by the sun. After about two hours, we called a halt and, by that time, Harry and baby had returned from their exile and I bade the happy family farewell. Abbie walked me to my car and gave me a warm hug before I got in my car and set off with a big smile on my face.
The smile returned when I received the photographs of which this was one - good, isn't it?
I wake up every morning with a smile upon my face
My natural exuberance spills out all over the place
I'm the urban spaceman, I'm intelligent and clean
Know what I mean?
- Neil Innes and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
Monday, 12 September 2011
|PARADISE by Zed Nelson|
''The image references the Garden of Eden, our natural vulnerabilities as human beings, and our mortality''
- Zed Nelson
I don't know where first I saw Zed's work but it seems to be everywhere which is not surprising; he is such an incredible photographer that he must be in constant demand. It was in March 2010 that I wrote my usual email asking if he would photograph me. He responded immediately saying that he thought my proposal unusual and fascinating in that, in essence, I was making myself into a piece of living art. He went on to say that he was impressed by the simplicity and apparent honesty of the proposal and was really interested to know more. I was so pleased that he had responded in this way and endeavoured to answer his many questions as best I could. Already, I had a good feeling about this man.
However, for one reason and another, it was not until 12th September 2011 that I found myself standing on the doorstep of his home in North London wondering what he would be like and what we would be doing. The door was answered by a man with the kindest open face and deep dark handsome eyes - wrong house! No, only joking - the good looking guy was Zed himself and immediately as I crossed the threshold, I felt welcome. In fact, I was lucky to be there because Zed was just about to rush off to an assignment in the Sudan for which he was still awaiting a visa but he seemed amazingly calm about the whole thing. We chatted a bit and he explained that his idea was to place me naked amidst the trees and shrubs of his garden and that this was inspired by him seeing (and I think, photographing) his girlfriend standing in the same spot. He said also that he felt some trepidation about the pressure to come up with something that matched up to the other photographs in the project. This surprised me because I felt no such pressure myself and had never really seen it from the photographer's viewpoint before. So, I undressed and we tried various poses and positions and Zed clicked away, pausing every now and then to carry out some judicious pruning of overhanging branches. I have to say that it was a very comfortable, easy shoot and that had a lot to do with Zed's calm and friendly manner.
As for matching up to the rest of the project, well he really shouldn't have worried. The picture is stunning. I was overjoyed when I saw it. I was in Paradise.
Link to website: http://www.zednelson.com
Wednesday, 7 September 2011
|THE REAL ME by Gabriella de Martino|
I am afraid that I have no idea how I came to discover Gabriella's work but what I can say is that it is unique. She seems to be able to get her models to adopt poses that are unusual and yet, at the same time, completely natural for that person. Just look at the wonderful work on her website. Have you looked at it? Because if you have, you will understand why I wanted to be photographed by her.
I wrote to her in January 2010 but it was not until a year and a half later that she replied apologising and explaining the delay which was due to her having had quite a tough time but saying that she now had a studio and good work was coming in. I'm not surprised - she is a brilliant photographer.
We corresponded by email over the summer of 2011 and agreed that she would come down and photograph me in Brighton. Initially, she would start with full nudes in the house and take it from there but then she heard about the nudist beach in Brighton and so the eventual plan was to shoot me there very early in the morning and then go to our house for some clothed shots. So it was that I picked her up from her hotel on the seafront by Kemptown at 5.15 in the morning of 7th September. We drove straight to the nudist beach and parked in the road behind. It was still quite dark and I noticed in my lights that some cars were parked ahead. I turned the interior light on but unfortunately, this seemed to spark off a series of movements in the road ahead of us and I realised that this must be an area where Dogging occurs. I should say that I have never partaken in any dogging (although we did own a poodle once) but I had read about it and apparently doggers communicate by turning lights on and off. Suddenly this guy ran past the car and it was then that I suggested that perhaps we return to the bright lights of the seafront and chat there until it got a bit lighter.
After about twenty minutes, we returned to Dogging country by which time the other cars had disappeared and we walked to the nudist area with the chair that Gabriella had asked me to bring. The wind was blowing and the sea was fairly rough and had gouged out quite a large cliff in the stones and Gabriella asked me to stand on the edge of this cliff and then sit on the chair whilst she photographed me with her beautiful little camera. This took about an hour or so and then I got dressed and we went home where she met Jane and saw her wonderful paintings and then shot some more before she went off in search for a good Brighton breakfast.
Some weeks later, I received what were an incredible collection of images which I told her were wonderful and I meant it . They were stunning and showed such sensitivity and compassion for her subject. They made me want to cry. I was amazed how she had captured the very essence of me. The pictures of me on the beach at first seemed to speak of my loneliness but then I looked again. I was not alone - I was with Gabriella and, with her unusual skill, she had pulled me towards the viewer and said ''This is Tim. He is like you and he is like me. He is not alone. He is in love with a beautiful wife. He thinks. He feels. He does. He lives and he breathes like you and I and, like you and I, he is unique not because I have made him so but because he is. Like each one of us.''
Gabriella is special. She loves what she does and that produces great images and I am extremely proud to say that I have been photographed by her.
In years to come, people will say ''Wow! What was it like to be photographed by Gabriella De Martino?!?" and I will say,
Monday, 5 September 2011
|FIGURE STUDY by Jennifer Pickett|
I saw Jenny's work at her degree show in the summer of 2008 at the Truman Brewery Building in Brick Lane London where she exhibited a series of self portraits fashioned by scanning her body. I wrote to her asking if she might be interested in photographing me. She was but asked me for my history and why I felt I wanted people to photograph me and whether there was any particular message I wanted to get across. I sent the required information adding that I had had a number of conventional portraits done already but that I relished the unusual and that her work fitted the bill.
However, it was not until February 2010 that we met, at her mother's house near Redhill, and chatted about what we were going to do just before she jetted off to undertake a few month's voluntary work in South Africa......some 19 months later, the shoot took place! In the interim, Jenny had fallen in love with South Africa and had extended her stay.as she had accepted the offer of a job as a co-ordinator with a charity and then became a BTEC trainer. Nevertheless, we stayed in contact by email and so I received regular bulletins about her work over there. She returned briefly in the summer of 2011 so I seized the chance and we arranged the shoot or rather, the scan. She dusted off her scanner which she had not used for almost three years and, indeed, it was fortunate that she still had it as she was selling all her worldly goods to cover the cost of her return to South Africa.
The shoot took place in Redhill on 5th September 2011 and it was very interesting and great fun. It was unlike anything I had ever done before in the project and produced some unique results including this study of my head and shoulders which Jenny and I both agreed was the image which worked best. I was like a child with a new toy with Jenny guiding me expertly and setting up each scan. I am so pleased with the images she produced which, as she promised, are totally unique and absolutely wonderful. They give the impression that I am floating in a green sea and every so often I come to the surface to look at what is on the other side before I sink back into the depths of the ocean.
Jenny has returned to South Africa and has sent her first message and is clearly enjoying the new challenges. She is a lovely woman with a delightful demeanour and has such determination that I have no doubt that she will succeed in whatever she does whether in the townships of South Africa or elsewhere and with or without a camera or a scanner.
Jenny and me
View Jennifer's original work here - http://www.source.ie/graduate/2008/bournemouth/picjen/picjen4.xml#pagedown
POSTSCRIPT - I heard today (9th October 2016) that Jennifer is living in South Africa and has now got married and has a little girl.