Sunday, 11 May 2014


In March 2012, I saw the most wonderful photograph of Daphne Selfe in the Guardian - it was full of life and vivacity. It sparkled. So, I had no hesitation in writing to the photographer, Nick Ballon. 

DAPHNE SELFE by Nick Ballon
Nick was very willing to be part of my project and initially we were going to use the former residence of James Parkinson in Hoxton Square as the location but Nick's work and my illness got in the way of that and so after a long period during which we kept in touch, we ended up in my house in Brighton where this wonderful picture was taken. 

Why do I like it so much? Well, there is the incongruity of the man wearing a mask and presumably getting ready to dash off and do some good deed in his guise as a super hero plus the fact that it is all happening in such sedate surroundings. If you didn't know me and my project, you might think "What the f.......?". At this point, I should also say that I have often declared that, in my photographs, I am not playing a part but that each one shows the real me or a part of the real me. One might think, therefore, that this disproves that but it is not the case. As some people might know, I make silly short films and put them on You Tube and Vimeo and there is a series of films where I play the part of Zorro. In those films, I am acting but in this photograph it is the real me preparing for my scene and yet it still works in its own zany, surreal way. An other reason I like the photograph is the mirror. It is reflecting the window opposite but it is part of an exquisite composition which includes the the brass bedstead, the shelf of teddies and other toys and soft folds of the bed cover, all of them beautifully photographed. It is full of meaning and movement and shape. My figure dominates but when you allow your eye to wander, it collects all these other little jewels which together go to make up the wonderful whole. 

When you meet Nick and you gaze into his handsome face which always seems to bear a slight smile, you immediately feel at ease and in the presence of someone very assured and astute with an ability to see the bigger picture. In anyone else's hands, this could just be a silly photograph of a guy mucking about with a mask. It isn't - it is a photograph of a man given a second chance in life and who has fond memories of childhood and adulthood that are not being rejected but which have been put behind him as he prepares to set off on another thrilling adventure. I am not afraid of the past, I have no regrets, I love where I am now and I loved where I was that day - in front of the camera held by Nick Ballon, one of the best photographers and one of the nicest men.

I cannot end this without mentioning Alma Haser who was helping Nick that day. As anyone who knows her will tell you, she is an utter delight and a brilliant photographer in her own right. She and Nick are an item - how lucky they both are. 

How lucky I am.

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