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

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