Sunday, 25 March 2012

PANOPTIC by Betsie Van Der Meer

PANOPTIC by Betsie Van Der Meer (Retouching by Matt Wreford)

I came across Betsie's wonderful work on the internet in August 2011 and just had to write to her about my project. She replied immediately saying that she was interested. Unusually (because normally I only communicate with photographers by email for some reason), there followed a sequence of missed telephone calls until we finally spoke and chatted generally about the project. She asked to see the other photographs (which not everyone likes to see beforehand) and so I sent her the link to my Flickr page as well as my Blog and the feature on The Culture Show. She felt it was helpful to see what other people had done. 

We met finally for the shoot on 25th March 2012 at her lovely little house in Brixton and she explained to me that she wanted to capture the sensation of the tremor in the photograph by asking me to shake and move whilst she took the photographs on a long exposure. She has already been out the night before to photograph the lights of the traffic in London and her intention was superimpose me on to the picture of those lights so that there would be this basic element of constant movement. Although it has never been my aim to document my disease in the project, I do not mind at all if a photographer chooses to involve any examination of my condition and so I had no objection to what Betsie wanted to do. On the contrary, I was very excited by how they might turn out and very moved as well; it always touches me when a busy photographer gives up time to plan a photograph of me to such a degree. 

It was an extremely relaxed shoot and Betsie turned out to be a very convivial companion for a few hours. Then the moment of truth when the photos arrived - Betsie sent two and they were both marvellous but especially the one above in which she thought that I looked a bit like an alien but she liked that nonetheless. I thought they were both utterly spellbinding and so full of energy, dynamism and bravura and I told her so. I was so excited by the results that it took me a week to respond with my thanks -  no, seriously, I was away dealing with the Southport show and, although I had had a quick look at them, I wanted to have time when I wrote to Betsie to say precisely how I felt about what she had done. 

She is a great photographer and I feel supremely honoured to have been photographed by her.


Friday, 23 March 2012



Pat Moss wrote a comment on my Blog saying that she had read the feature in the British Journal of Photography and how intrigued she was about my photographic project and that all her own recent projects had been about life with a chronic illness. She said that she would love to speak to me about it. Well, I looked up her website and thought that I would really like to be photographed by her. Pat had just started her Phd which was about the difficulties in communication in families when one suffers from chronic pain. She was hoping to make a photographic body of work which might help that communication a little. At around the same time, I contacted a photographer in Stockport and so arranged to go there for a shoot and then carry on to Preston where Pat lived.
Pat met me at Preston station and took me straight to the location for the shoot. It was the site of an ancient, derelict Jacobean house in Bretherton called Bank Hall in the grounds of which what was an old potting shed, the roof of which had now gone leaving only a shell. Pat wanted me to stand in the left hand window and then move over to the right hand window but leave the doorway in the middle empty. She photographed me first of all with her Mimoya film camera using black and white film which she preferred but, in view of the deadline for the exhibition in Southport, she also took some shots with her digital camera and, in fact, thought that colour might look at least as good as black and white. The whole shoot could not have lasted longer than an hour but it was beautiful; there was a very good feeling about the location - Pat loves being there and I picked up on that too.

We went back to her house for a coffee and talked about various things including the exhibition and she voiced her concern about how the framing would be done, especially the mounting or lack of it. So she offered to drive me to the framers so that we could have a discussion about it which we did. The framer was very easy going and was basically happy to do whatever we wanted so it was a relief to have sorted it out with the help of someone like Pat who had prior experience of these situations.

A few days' later, I received the colour digital version of the photograph and I really liked it. It tied in with my story about the meeting I had had with a speech therapist many years ago, shortly after my diagnosis, when she asked me how I had been. I told her that I had recently joined a local Film Society and had gone to the first film which was also attended by many friends of mine. I explained that I had bought a small plastic cup of wine and took it to my seat but shook on the way and I was very aware that my friends would be noticing this and saying to each other or to themselves "Oh look, there's poor Tim, shaking". The speech therapist said "Tim, you are not the Tim Andrews you were before, you are Tim Andrews with Parkinson's Disease and the sooner you accept that fact, the better" It changed my attitude almost immediately and from then on I was almost totally unbothered about showing my Parkinsonian condition in public and that was a huge bonus. Paradoxically, I also feel that, inside, I am the same person as I was before which I guess might be difficult for people to accept because I can behave so differently physically. This paradox is highlighted by Pat's beautiful photograph and, having suffered chronic ill health herself, she would understand this situation very well.

I had a great time with Pat who is a very interesting, down to earth person and very easy. Often, it helps to meet the photographer before a shoot but, in Pat's case, it didn't matter at all as we got on very well. It just so happens that she produced an excellent image as well!

Pat Moss

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

SISTER by Rebecca Palmer

SISTER by Rebecca Palmer

I wrote to Rebecca after seeing her work on Flickr. She is still a student but what I have noticed with some students is that they are not afraid to experiment. One can see a thread running through their portfolio that shows a desire to run off the track or route which has been laid down for them and so it is with Rebecca. It is clear that she is constantly searching for different angles and to develop ideas. She has a great enthusiasm for the art of photography and, at the same time, she engages with her models and the viewer.

She was very keen to collaborate with me which was very exciting and explained that often, she tries to base her photographs on past events or tragedies in her model's life and she asked if there was anything I had experienced which we could use. I told her of the illness and death of my late sister, Janet, and I sent her a film I had made about her and a performance piece that I had written both of which were called "Sister".

Over the next few weeks, we discussed locations and also an idea for a film as well as stills and we developed the former into a treatment which we intended to have a bash at filming when I travelled to meet her. It was on 21st March 2012 that we met in her home town of Stockport and made the long journey together with her boyfriend, John, a poet, to the abandoned building she had used for previous shoots. We felt a little bit unsure of ourselves because we weren't sure if we would be disturbed but, in the event, we weren't troubled by anyone. Unfortunately, Rebecca took a call from her mother who wasn't feeling well so we decided to get the stills done and try a run through of the film as it seemed unlikely that we would be able to meet as planned on the following day.

One of the abiding images of my sister's stay in the hospice was when l looked through the glass window of the door of her room and saw her sitting in a chair with her head bent down and slowly she brought her hands up to her face and clenched her skull. She was in such pain, such despair. A few days before she died, our vicar came to the hospice and she took communion with some of us in the garden. It was early October but the sun shone brightly and, as she felt fairly good that day, we went down to a local pub by the sea and all had a drink. This photograph by Rebecca was inspired by those two experiences. I am covered by an altar cloth curled up in a twist of agony and despair whilst I await my fate. I loved Janet so much and, when I think of her, she is with me again. This image speaks of her struggle against the incessant march of the cancer through her body as much as it does about the draining of dopamine from mine. And yet, and yet, there were glorious times with her as there are with me now. All is not lost. There is an answer and in time we shall find it.

So, thank you, Rebecca for helping me on my way and, in the process, taking a superb photograph.

Rebecca's Website : 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

WHO WAS HE? by Jemima Marriott

WHO WAS HE? by Jemima Marriott

This was another introduction to someone through the Professional Photographer magazine. I saw a photograph by Jemima in the Portfolio section and liked it and knew for certain that I wanted to be photographed by her. I wrote her my 'standard' email and I was surprised to receive a very open and honest reply in which she explained that she has been a photographer for about 10 years but that, two years previously whilst studying at Falmouth for an MA, she had begun suffering from a very debilitating illness. She had had to give up on the MA and return home but the illness had had an amazing effect; whereas before she was a very hard person, she had now become very emotional and saw the beauty in everything. She had started to work again from a studio space in Tottenham Hale and suggested that we meet up there.

In advance of the shoot, Jemima wrote with an idea for the portrait. After reading about my various experiences with other photographers, she had come up with the concept of a catholic saint - St Peter - because, for her, saints represented spiritual journeys and causes so she thought what better way to represent my own experience with Parkinson's than to replicate an iconic image but give it a twist. She then thought of St Peter holding the key to Heaven but perhaps in my case we could replace that with something of great importance to me.

And so it was that on 15th March 2012, I rolled up at the studio to meet Jemima for the first time. I was a bit shaky at first as I always am but she is such a delightful genuine person that I was put at my ease immediately. Initially, I had to wait whilst she finished off a shoot with a burlesque dancer and it was only when I got home that Jane said it would have been great to have photographed us both together - the priest and the showgirl. Another day perhaps. Meanwhile back in Heaven, we tried various shots with different items including this one where I am holding my Certificate of appointment as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court signed by Lord Denning who was then (1977), Master of the Rolls. We went on to try other shoots including a few nudes but this was the one that Jemima always wanted and I am so very pleased with it. It has that classic religious sheen to it and is beautifully composed and presented. I am so happy with the result. It was a very important shoot because I really felt there was an empathy between Jemima and myself - obviously this was due in part to the fact that we have both suffered illnesses which have had a very restrictive effect on our daily lives. But also, we had had experienced an epiphany in that form this darkness had come light. I had experienced a huge sense of freedom and she had become steeped in emotion and love of people and things. They were both akin to miracles. 

The other lovely thing about the shoot was that I met Jemima's gorgeous mother, Pamela (not Pam 'cos it rhymes with Spam) and her make up artist the delectable Donna. They together with the beautiful Jemima were delightful companions on this happy, friendly day out in Tottenham.

I am so pleased to have worked with someone as nice and as talented as Jemima. She will experience great success in her chosen career and great joy in her life. There may be hard times but I feel sure that she will come through them because she has great courage, determination and spirit.

Postscript. I shall explain why I gave this title to the photograph. When I was reading Law at Queen Mary College in London, the Master of the Rolls was Lord Denning who was a very intelligent man from Hampshire with a lovely country burr to his voice. As Master of the Rolls, he was the leading Judge in the Court of Appeal, the highest court in the land behind the House of Lords. The law lords in the upper house used to get mightily pissed off (as did many academic lawyers) when Denning, in a desire to see fair play, used mould and change the law in order to reach what he thought was the right and fair decision in a case before him. Often, parties would appeal against his decisions to the House of Lords which would then invariably reverse the decision of the Court of Appeal. But it was not always possible for an appeal to the House of Lords and so Denning's decision would prevail in many cases. So, Denning was a champion of sorts. Whilst I was at QMC, Denning (then well into his seventies but still sharp as a pin) came along to judge a mooting competition and, at the end, he gave a very stirring speech in which he told the story of a young judge who, many years ago, was under a great deal of pressure to make a certain judgement in a particular case as it was supported by clear precedents but, even though he was young and inexperienced, he knew that the decision would be wrong because it would not be fair. So he thought long and hard and eventually came up with a justification for a decision going the other way. He told the story of this courageous young man well and revealed that the winner of the case in question was extremely happy and then said "And as for the young judge....(and at this point, he leaned forward with a big grin on his face and spoke with that growly Hampshire accent).....who was he?!?"

Saint Jemima and her friendly priest

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


I am pleased to say that by a quirk of fate, luck call it what you will, I am arranging an exhibition of my project at The Wayfarer's Arcade in Southport, Merseyside from 1st to 15th May next. It will comprise 54 photographs from the project including the wonderful image below by Danielle Tunstall. 

BEAUTIFUL DECAY by Danielle Tunstall

l am trying to raise money for Parkinson's UK, the wonderful charity which works so hard to raise awareness of this awful illness and also to raise funds for research into new medication and possibly a cure. 

If you wish to make a donation to Parkinson's UK, please log on to

Saturday, 10 March 2012

A PHOTOGRAPH by Jemimah Kuhfeld

A PHOTOGRAPH by Jemimah Kuhfeld

I came across Jemimah's work on Alex B's blog and then looked up her website and really liked her work and so I had no hesitation in writing to her asking if she might be interested in photographing me. She replied a few days later, having looked up some of the photographs in my project, saying that she thought it was a great idea. Also, she explained that her great aunt had Parkinson's Disease and, therefore, she knew something about it. She felt that she would prefer to photograph me at home and possibly on the beach as well. She also asked if I was in any particular hurry and it she should be aware of any particular constraints. Constraints? With me? Seriously, I guess she was asking politely if there were any physical constraints due to my illness.

It was another month before she came back to me about arrangements for the shoot and explained that she had been busy making arrangements for her impending wedding. She came to the house on 10th March 2012 with her assistant, Andrew who just happened to be her fiance too. They are a lovely couple and it was an extremely enjoyable shoot with a lot of chatting about this and about that. She shot me in several rooms including the sitting room where this was taken. We even had time for me to show them some of my silly films!

Jemimah sent me a CD of her preferred images and said this was her favourite and, fortunately, it was mine too. It has an immediacy that communicates with the viewer and a sense of place with all our "stuff" in the background including my late mother's dining room table at which I used to work when I was younger and living at home. It is beautifully composed and considered and it says so much about me. I loved the other ones too including, in particular, the one below where I am leaning next to Jane's wonderful painting, ''False Sense".

I suggested a title of "Destiny" for the photo but Jemimah felt that it was too weighty and she wasn't that thrilled about entitling her pictures anyway. Although I like to give the photographs in my project titles, in the this case I could see her point and so it is just "A Photograph by Jemimah Kuhfeld" but it is more than just a photograph by Jemimah Kuhfeld - it is an examination, a statement by a fabulous photographer about me and I am very, very proud of it.

Andrew and Jemimah


Thursday, 8 March 2012

Self Portraits

I am not a very good photographer myself because l have no idea how a camera works and about technical things like depth of filed etc but I do love taking photographs and experimenting with self portraits, of which this is one, often in the course of making my stop motion films.

I like this portrait because of the angles of the bones and limbs, the lines of which travel in different directions and yet are all interconnected. Body shapes are so interesting aren't they?

The link to my Flickr page is:

SACRED DAYS by Susannah Baker-Smith

SACRED DAYS by Susannah Baker-Smith

I went to Islington Art Fair in January 2012 to meet a photographer who had said that she wanted to photograph me and, whilst looking round the Fair after my meeting, I came across Susannah's work being displayed and it really caught my eye. It was similar to Jo Metson Scott's work in that the tones and colours and indeed the whole feel of the images were very gentle but with an underlying strength. 

So I wrote to her and she replied almost immediately saying that she had heard about my project and asked if she could pop down to Brighton to see and asking if there was much natural light in our house. She explained that she was interested in Memory and Imagination and she enquired whether I had any things, place or books which a special emotional significance to me. She felt it would be good to find a kind of narrative rather than do a straight portrait. I said that I liked the idea of exploring memory having just completed the making of a documentary about my childhood home which had recently been sold. I told her that I loved film and the cinema and had loads of books on the movies as well as a reel of film which particularly interested her. I thought of it being wrapped around me but then wondered if that would be wise because it was quite valuable to me and, in any event, would be hard to roll up again. However, she responded saying that she wasn't thinking along those lines (the wrapping idea) but would come with some rough ideas and work from there and see what emerged, her intention being to keep things as simple as possible.

Well, she was a delightful companion on the day of the shoot - very easy to talk to and she worked out fairly quickly where and how she wanted to photograph me. She chose first of all our basement which has a very soft light coming through two windows behind a single bed but then we moved on to other rooms in the house. She declined our invitation to stay for lunch as she had friends in Brighton to see and she left after a couple of hours.

I loved the photographs which she sent through a few weeks later - as you can see the one I chose has a lovely gentleness and, as I look away to one side, it looks so natural and one wonders what I am thinking about. Everything I suppose and nothing. It is a very quiet picture and very simple which is just what Susannah wanted but it says soo much. Mm. 

Susannah liked the title I gave to it very much. It comes from the Kinks' song "Days". For some reason, I thought initially to use another Kinks' song, "Tired of Waiting" as the title but I felt that it would suggest things about the photograph and my pose which were not really true or relevant. I am enjoying sacred days at the moment just like the day I spent with Susannah and her camera. 

Friday, 2 March 2012

TIM ANDREWS 2 MARCH 2012 (5 HOURS) by Clare Hewitt

TIM ANDREWS 2 MARCH 2012 (5 HOURS) by Clare Hewitt
I think that Clare Hewitt must be one of the most committed, hardworking young photographers out there. And not only that - she has oodles of talent and is a lovely person to meet. Clare was assisting the photographer, Venetia Dearden, when she first contacted me. I had written to Venetia asking her to photograph and, apparently, when she read my email, she asked Clare about it and Clare, having read of my project, told Venetia what it all entailed and so Venetia asked her to reply with a view to setting up a meeting. The meeting with Venetia has not yet come about but in the process of trying to arrange it, Clare and I became quite friendly and I looked up her work on her website etc, liked what I saw and suggested that she too might like to photograph me. Clare was very keen and so we met near Liverpool Street and chatted.She explained to me that she wanted to do a 5 hour portrait which would comprise shooting a roll of film an hour as well as doing a time lapse for the whole period and, whilst doing all that, she would record our conversations. This was a new one on me but I think a typical example of Clare's ambitious nature and creative thought.

In the meantime Clare took time out to organise a wonderful exhibition entitled ''A Year in Development'' on behalf of Labyrinth Photographic Printing which was a celebration of the continuance and diversity of analogue photography featuring work by Labyrinth's clients including some people whom had already photographed me such as Zed Nelson, Laura Pannack and Laura Hynd. I was kindly invited to the Private View which was packed and, because of this, I didn't stay long but long enough to see what an enormous undertaking it was by Clare to arrange the printing, framing and hanging of so many photographs quite apart from dealing with all the different artists. I met and chatted very briefly to Laura Hynd, Pedro Paz Lopez, Spencer Murphy, Zed Nelson and Maja Daniels and, of course, Clare and I saw Laura Pannack across a crowded room but I wasn't on top form, Parkinson's-wise, and so I split that crazy scene after about half an hour and a couple of slugs of beer.

Anyway, back to the shoot with Clare. It took place at a studio in Stoke Newington and we started at about 11am and finished five hours later. It was a marvellous experience and very therapeutic. The idea was to photograph me over five hours whilst I answered Clare's sometimes very searching questions and slowly undressed and re-dressed. I cannot recall being particularly nervous at the start but certainly I was very relaxed at the end and you can see the progression of this mood as well as the emotion I was feeling in the wonderful collage of images she has produced. It is an amazing achievement executed by a very unique artist. Subsequently, she released a film of the shoot which can be viewed on her website.

"Initially I was interested in our process as much as the resulting image, in both photographic and emotional terms. We were virtual strangers to begin with, and through the images I wanted to understand if and how our relationship changed over a number of hours, and how we reacted to this photographically." - Clare Hewitt


POSTSCRIPT: Clare and I attempted a second shoot but, for a number of reasons, it didn't work out but I am hopeful that we shall work together again. There have been times n the last few years that I have felt down, certainly more down than I felt in the early years of my illness . On one such occasion, earlier this year, I reached out to the photographers involved in "Over the Hill" and received such a loving response from many of them, including Clare who sent me a picture of her beautiful new baby. It was such an uplifting moment when I saw the photograph and I shall forever be grateful to Clare for this.