Tuesday, 28 August 2012

TIM by Paulina Otylie Surys

CHAINS by Paulina Otylie Surys

It has been said that "all good things come to those who wait". This is a perfect example. I was photographed by Paulina on 28th July 2012 and, sure enough, I received this picture from her on 22nd February 2019! In fact, there is a small number of photographers who have yet to send me any images and, in one or two cases, I have been waiting longer than six years seven months but I have to say that I never gave up on Paulina for three reasons. First, I knew that her photograph would be excellent and it is. Secondly, she took the shoot seriously and, thirdly, I have remained in contact with her over the last six yearsor so and she assured me that she would definitely send me a portrait and she did!

So why do I love this picture so much? It is unique - no other picture in "Over the Hill" has this tone which is so redolent of her work. Beautiful light and shade and body (and I don't mean mine) and the uncanny mixture of humour and gravity in the use of the chains and the leather straps. Am I into bondage? Or am I trying to control my tremor? or both??

In January 2012, I was flicking through Flickr and screeched to a halt at Paulina's photostream. Her work was stunning. I wasted no time in writing to her asking if she might consider taking my photograph. She replied very enthusiastically and, after some correspondence by email, I accepted her invitation to be part of her shoot replicating "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Hieronymus Bosch as a commission for the British Journal of Photography. I had never taken part in a professional group shoot before and it turned out to be great fun. The shoot took place in a wonderfully atmospheric crypt of a church in London. The models were a little cool with me at first but that was probably because I was a chatty amateur on their patch but Paulina was a darling and handled the whole thing brilliantly and the models warmed up gradually and I think everyone enjoyed the day. Halfway through the afternoon, Paulina quietly took me off into a chapel and took this shot and some others which was so kind because the pressure was on to finish her main shoot and she wasn't feeling well.

Paulina sent the group shots quite quickly and they looked amazing but, as I say, the individual shot of me took a while longer but I kind of like that. I felt very moved when it arrived and very grateful. What a lucky guy I am to have worked with Paulina, not only a supreme artist but also a lovely person with a beautiful smile.

WEBSITE: www.paulinasurys.com

Sunday, 26 August 2012

SLEEP, GENTLE SLEEP by Charlotte Steeples

SLEEP, GENTLE SLEEP by Charlotte Steeples

Charlotte left a message on my Blog in March 2012 saying that she had heard about my project and wanted to know if she could be considered for the project and she included a link to her website. Now this could have been tricky because, although I had not made any rules about who might photograph me, what if I didn't like her work? I need not have worried because I really felt there were some very good images on her site and, in particular, there a sense that this was a photographer keen on discovery and willing to take risks. Oh alright, I'm not a photographer so what do I know? Well, not much, but I do know what I like and, as this is my journey, it can only be down to me to choose. Anyway, I replied to her message positively and we arranged to meet on 26th August as I was coming over to her home town of Richmond-upon-Thames that day to meet my youngest sister as it was her birthday.

We met near Richmond Station (memories, memories) and walked to Richmond Park as we had agreed that Charlotte would take some photographs there even though the proper shoot was scheduled for the following weekend in the City. Charlotte has this infectious enthusiasm and that showed in her pretty open face right from the moment we met. It took us a good 15 minutes or so to get to the park but during that time we chatted about this and that and we were firm friends by the time we arrived. We had talked previously about the possibility of trying some nude shots provided there was no-one about to be offended but at first, we found some good locations for some more conventional portraits. Eventually, we came upon a rough path through some tall grass and I quickly stripped off and lay down for a few shots of which this was one. I got dressed and we wandered some more and did some more clothed pictures. 

The proper shoot was the following weekend and for this Charlotte asked me to dance to music in some head phones in various locations around St Pauls and the City. Her concept for the shoot was to focus on the fact that my diagnosis had enabled me to escape from the drudgery of work and so she wanted to portray my new found freedom by dancing. As it was a Sunday, we assumed it would be fairly empty but as I surfaced from the Underground, I was suddenly in the midst of lines of crash barriers as well as dozens of policemen and women and stewards - it was the day of the Marathon in the Paralympics! Nevertheless, we found some good spots which resulted in some very neat photographs. We finished off on the Millennium footbridge (the one that used to shake - I wonder how they cured that..........) and ended up having a full English Breakfast each in a nice little cafe where Charlotte took a few headshots. It was a beautiful day all round and it was an absolute pleasure to share it with someone as nice as Charlotte.

Then I had the added pleasure of receiving the photographs shortly afterwards. The shots in the City were fabulous especially the ones on the steps of St Pauls and on the bridge but I kept harking back to a particular nude in Richmond Park and when Charlotte said she liked it too, I decided that was the one to represent Charlotte in my project. 

Charlotte is wonderfully talented photographer with an eye for the unusual and a great sense of fun and yet she takes her work very seriously and, as you can see, it pays off.

WEBSITE: http://www.charlottesteeples.com/

Friday, 24 August 2012

FLYING SPIRIT by Chris O'Donovan

FLYING SPIRIT by Chris O'Donovan

In early 2011, I saw some photographs by Chris O'Donovan in "You" Magazine and liked the style and so looked up his website to find even more scrumptious images. I wrote to him immediately and he responded extremely positively. He had googled me and thought that some of the images were amazing. He also mentioned that his grandfather had had Parkinson's Disease. Eventually, Chris came to Brighton and it is safe to say that he was captivated by the house and also by Jane's paintings. He is a lovely man who has an attractive boyish face and an enthusiasm to match. I received a long message from him the next day in which he explained that he had been up until 4am brainstorming ideas which fizzed out of his email like little fireworks. One idea he had was to set me in the house watching all my mementoes fly through the air past me but technically this proved hard to do and, as he said, when he arrived for the shoot itself, it would take a long time and he would rather spend time photographing me rather photographing objects. He was also very taken indeed by Jane's paintings and originally said that the wanted to include them somehow into the shot. This never happened but, as Jane is the architect of the layout of the room in which the shoot took place, she does have a strong presence here.

The shoot took place in August 2012 and did not include any flying objects but did feature a fish tank which was perched somewhat precariously between two chairs in our sitting room and then filled with water which worried me and would have horrified Jane......if she had been there! I could not bear the thought of the tank splitting and all that water flooding the room as well as the kitchen below. Thankfully no disasters occurred and Chris shot from below the tank whilst I plunged my head and hands into the water.

We cleared away the tank and then tried some nude shots most which were lit with a lights placed both inside and on the balcony. I had brought down to the room some of my most treasured possessions but in the end we only used my late grandfather's silk top hat. And it was one of these shots that Chris favoured most of all and which I chose to represent as Chris's contribution to my project. I have used this pose in some photographs before but what sets this picture apart is the wonderful lighting and the weird context of the image in that I am seemingly dancing in my sitting room with top hat but nothing else. There is grace and beauty in the picture which are captured perfectly by Chris. And the viewer asks why? And the obvious answer is "why not?"

Chris sent me low res versions of all the photographs he took that day and it was fascinating looking through and remembering how it all unfolded in the shoot. We had so much discussion about what we planned to do and I feel that we had to go through all that to get to this one fantastic image which sums up Chris's zest for life and the undiluted delight that he takes in creating photographs. Very much a collaboration of ideas, feelings and passion.

I adore this photograph.

WEBSITE: http://www.chrisodonovan.com