Wednesday, 20 March 2013

"TIM" by Peter Dazeley

TIM by Peter Dazeley
Once upon a time, there was a man with Parkinson's Disease, who found himself involved in a photographic project which all started by chance. He used to be a lawyer but was forced to retire in 2006 because of his illness. He had plenty to do because he loved watching cricket and going to the cinema and he also set about writing a memoir about his time as a solicitor. Then, one day, he saw an advertisement in "Time Out" the late, lamented listings magazine. It was from a photographer who wanted to publish a book of "real" nudes as opposed to professional models. Our hero thought "Why not? I'm not a solicitor any more with a reputation to consider" and so, he went along to be photographed by a great professional photographer called Graeme Montgomery. The rest is history.

238 photogrpahers later, Tim (for that was his name) found himself in Peter Dazeley's studio in Parsons Green, West London. He had come across Peter's work on the Spider Awards site and he loved the gloriously and imaginatively lit nudes that Peter had displayed on the site. He looked up Peter's website and found all manner of riches there and so, licking his lips, he sent Peter an email; the same email he had been sending over the last six years to each of the photographers in his project. It was the second day of February 2013, (Ricky Commissar's birthday - more of that later). A few days later, Peter's agent, the lovely Sarah Ryder Richardson, replied saying that Peter was away on location and asking Tim for a bit more information so that she could discuss my proposal with him on his return. Tim sent the lovely Sarah all kinds of information about the project and, sure enough, a few days later, she responded saying that "Dazeley" (for that was his professional name) would be very pleased to photograph me.

Subsequently, Tim and Dazeley agreed a time to meet for the shoot and Dazeley wrote to him saying "I'd like to collaborate with you. I love starting with a clean piece of paper and the sitter contributing. So I think you should come along with a small selection of clothes you feel comfortable  in, lets see what we can produce together...."

And so it was that on 20th March 2013, Tim walked into one of the happiest studios he had ever visited and he was met with a very warm handshake from a well dressed man with a kind, wise face - Peter Dazeley. He was introduced to Sarah, who was indeed lovely, and his two assistants one of whom was called Florian and the other whose name esacapes me for the moment. Tim immediately felt at home and was offered refreshment whilst they finished setting everything up. Peter was clearly in full command and, as one would guess from the amazing images on his website, he knew exactly what he wanted but, as with all great artists, he had this wonderfully spontaneous instinct for the unusual, the exciting, the unique take on a shot. Frist of all, he asked Tim to pose in his tweed coat and then he asked Tim to take off all his clothes and wrapped some grey cloth around his head and body. The images were relayed onto Peter's computer and he invited Tim to look at these pictures and to comment. It was a marvellously relaxed shoot even though Tim realised from what he saw on the computer and the manner in which Peter went about his work, that he was in the presence of a Master of Photography.

Towards the end of the shoot, Peter's very young son arrived. He was delightful and Tim was very moved by how Peter related to this boy - full of love and care. Tim thought of his love for his own son and felt the breathless heaviness of memory wash through his chest like a lion's roar. A small sting of water seeped out  of the corner of Tim's eye as he thought how lucky he was to meet people like this. This was what made his project such a beautiful thing; working with people and sharing a small part of their lives.

Tim was asked to stay for lunch in the studio; a simple meal of cold meats, humous, cheese, bread and salad. After the meal, Tim showed his new friends some films he had made and uploaded onto YouTube. Then it was time to go. Peter walked Tim to the door and gave him a book of his photographs which he had signed. Another warm handshake and the nicest of smiles and Tim walked out into a the spring sunshine of West London thinking "Am I living in fairy tale? Is this really happening to me?" And do you know what, dear readers, it wasn't a fairy tale. It was really happening to him and yet, they all lived happily ever after.

Postscript One: A few days later, Tim received the pictures from Peter which he loved and chose the one above but he could have chosen any of them for they were all so beautiful. Tim leaned back in his chair looking at the pictures on the computer screen and slowly his face creased into the largest smile you could ever wish to see.

Postscript Two: Ricky Commissar was a boy Tim went to school with when he lived in Finchley, North London. He left the school at age of eleven but ten years later met Ricky again. Ricky's family were from Russia originally and his house in Hendon was called "Cremlyn".


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