Monday, 10 August 2015



Early one morning in August, I was running down to the beach from my house to meet Max Langran for the first time. I was running because I was late. We had agreed to meet at the Bandstand on Brighton sea front at 4am but although I had set my alarm, it didn't go off and, at about 4.05am, I was woken by the buzzing of my mobile phone - it was Max texting to say that he was waiting at the Bandstand. You know that lovely feeling of freshness  you experience when you are up before everyone else in the whole world mixed with rushing around still slightly half asleep? No? Oh well, never mind. I was late and dashed to the loo, to the shower and then to the front door, grabbing and swallowing my first dose of pills on the way. I arrived at about 4.15am and met Max, a very personable young man and, immediately, we fell into step together as we walked westwards along the front to find the groyne that Max had in mind for the shoot. It was quite cloudy and not yet light and so this was perfect for him. 

Max had posted an amazing photograph of an electric storm on Twitter and I had then looked up his work on his website where there was more of the same and wrote asking if he might consider photographing me. He responded quite quickly saying that he would. This was in 2014 but then other things intervened including, in particular, my son's two disastrous back operations or rather, one disastrous operation followed by an infection which could only be cured by a second operation followed by an equally catastrophic prescription of a pain killing drug that he had to be weaned off over a period of months. Anyway, all this meant a lot of cancelling and rescheduling of shoots including this one. Max waited very patiently and finally we agreed on a date.

On the morning in question, we eventually found a groyne that was suitable and as the light came up behind a thick wodge of cloud, Max began shooting. His idea, or at least one of his ideas was to create an image comprised of a number of composite photographs. The black and white picture below is made up of about 50 separate shots. He sent me that one and the colour photograph above initially but explained that he was still working on the edits. Finally, he sent me the final versions of these two plus a third which he also thought had worked. I had had to stand quite still because in that light, there had to be a long exposure. Max commented afterwards that there was a certain irony in this bearing in mind my Parkinson's. He felt that each of the shots worked and that I worked as part of what usually would have been a landscape image for him.

It was difficult to choose one as I liked them all but in the end, I stayed with my original choice. I felt that this represented most accurately my feel of the morning. The low light, the relatively calm sea with just one wave or two and the feeling of being alone in that place (apart from this guy with a camera who kept on photographing me). After the shoot, we strolled back together and then said goodbye. We had got on very well and chatted very easily. 

Max is a very nice man and a very, very good photographer and I like this photograph very, very, very much. What good fortune has come my way when I can walk (or run) down to the beach at dawn and spend a happy hour in the company of such a person?

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