Friday, 28 March 2014

THIS IS THIS by Paul Wenham-Clarke

THIS IS THIS by Paul Wenham-Clarke

It was late January 2014 and I was wandering around the Taylor Wessing Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. I try to go every year and, when I do, I usually whisk through the whole lot first and then I go round again and spend a lot more time on each photograph. Well, this time, that process went flying out of the window when I stopped mid-whisk to look at Paul Wenham-Clarke's extraordinary photograph of Cindy and Shirley holding Baby Terry on his christening day. The label said that it was part of a series called "The Urban Gypsies" and that series is certainly remarkable but his image that day stood out on its own. Often when I see photographs like this, I feel I can almost sense the thought going through the artist's mind as he takes the picture and it was so in this case. As soon as I saw it, I knew that I wanted to be in a photograph taken by Paul.

I wrote to him a few days' later and asked him if he might be interested in photographing me. He did say yes but he wanted time to think about it first. Well, he thought about it and we made a date for him to come down to Brighton with his equipment with a view to possibly doing a shoot or, at the very least, a few test shots. At the time, I was being filmed by Roy Petersen for a documentary about my project and so I asked Paul if he minded Roy being there at the shoot. Paul was cool with this and so on 28th March 2014, he came with all his equipment which include both film and digital cameras. His intention was to capture the images on film and I am pretty certain this is one taken on film.

Although Roy is terribly discreet, I hope that the intimacy that I enjoy so much with a photographer was not affected too much that day but Paul was very gracious and worked through it with me to produce this exceptional photograph. Paul commented subsequently that this image shows my vulnerability. Although Paul suggested this particular pose, it was influenced by his understanding of how my Parkinson's was beginning to affect me and so I do feel that it is very authentic and sums up how I was feeling at that time - particularly with only 6 weeks to go until my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. Apart from this, it is a beautifully composed image with depth and richness of colour and tone and in the way one is drawn into my condition with my head being in sharp focus. Paul's photographs are very clear and impressive and this one is no exception.

That day, we also did some nude shots one of which is shown below. We both liked this image too but Paul left it to me to choose which one would represent him in my project and I made my choice and I am extremely happy with it. Paul is a very thoughtful and clever photographer and a true artist.




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