|OVER THE HILL by Roberto Foddai|
‘Alright boys, this is it, over the hill’ is the intro of the song “Bring on Lucie” by John Lennon and, although the phrase ‘over the hill’ has somewhat negative connotations, it is announced on the record in a very positive way by Lennon who goes on to sing ‘Do it, do it, do it, do it now!’ and so, for me, the title of this exhibition is optimistic despite the double meaning.
In May 2007, I answered an advertisement in Time Out from Graeme Montgomery, whom I know now to be an extremely talented professional photographer. He was compiling a book of nudes and wanted to photograph the first 100 people to answer the advert so I thought ‘why not?’ and went along and found that I was number one! Strangely enough, two other photographers advertised in the following two issues of Time Out, this time for people to pose for portraits, and they both photographed me subsequently. That was that for a while until, in February 2008, I answered an advert in our local newspaper from a student, Daisy Lang, who wanted to photograph people with illnesses for her final year’s project. Subsequently, I discovered that there were many photographers advertising on the Internet for models for particular projects. I wrote an email to the first photographer explaining that I was 57 and had Parkinson’s Disease and that ‘I wanted to continue on my path of being photographed by different people during the course of my illness’. Suddenly, as I wrote those words, I realised that I had my own project.
Since then, over 300 different photographers have photographed and filmed me and it has been incredibly interesting and exciting as I have seen the project develop day by day. I have met many wonderful, skilful people many of whom, normally, I would never have met let alone spent several hours with them.
It has been a fascinating journey. I have always loved photography but never had the patience or skill to practice it successfully. However, being a model has enabled me to collaborate with brilliant practitioners of the art and to be part of the artistic photographic process.
I decided on "Over the Hill" as the title of the project in January 2009 but I had not discussed this with anyone until I met Roberto Foddai a few weeks later to talk about his ideas for our shoot. He produced two pieces of headgear he wanted me to wear and said that one of them had some wording on it which he felt was somewhat ironic. He turned it over and on the front were the words – ‘Over the Hill’.
This project is dedicated to my wife the artist, Jane Andrews, who has taught me about integrity, truth and wisdom through acts, words and deeds all of which are encompassed in her truly wonderful paintings which can be found on www.janeandrews.co.uk
Free the people, now.
Do it, do it, do it, do it now.
Monday, 10 November 2014
Friday, 24 October 2014
It was dark. She sat patiently waiting for the final glitches to be sorted out. She spoke quietly but that made me even more alert to the words with which she described the ideas that
she transposes so eloquently into her photographs and her films
All the while as she talked I thought of the exhibition
at Regency Town House that I missed
If you ever see an exhibition
by Emma Critchley
DO NOT MISS IT
her talk by showing
still photographs and films
I was utterly entranced by her work
The work that I thought I knew so well and
yet I realised that I knew nothing The film "Aria" was simply
one of the most beautiful pieces of moving images I have ever seen As the notes soared
into the darkness of the Fabrica building the body of the swimmer flipped and cut through the
water as if it were flying. It twisted and turned and I felt tears well up as I turned and and twisted with it.
The film "Heartbeat" featured a woman standing under water with the beat of her heart connected somehow to a strobe light. Emma explained that the longer you stay underwater the slower how heart beats. Wih every beat the light flashed up a silhouette of the model's body and as the film progressed the beat got slower and slower until you thought it was the end and then... another beat.........and another
This work is of the highest order. It all comes from Emma's deep love of water or her love of deep water and her incessantly inquiring mind always searching for new ways to express what lies in her heart
I am so privileged to have worked with her
I am so privileged to know her
She is a supreme
Saturday, 11 October 2014
|BEAUTIFUL DECAY by Danielle Tunstall|
Over the Hill comes to Brighton!!
56 still photographs and 8 films from my project will be exhibited as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe at Create Gallery New England House, New England Street, Brighton from 4th to 17th October next. The exhibition will feature the work of mainly Brighton based photographers although there will be a few exceptions including the stunning image shown above by Danielle Tunstall; she lives in Leamington Spa which, as we all know, is just round the corner from Brighton. Oh, alright it's not but, for God's sake, rules are there to be broken.
The exhibiting photographers are:-
And films produced by the following:-
Thursday, 9 October 2014
Saturday, 4 October 2014
A Private View
Whisper it in the breeze,
As it rushes through time;
Say it in the way you smile,
As you swallow your wine.
This gamut of emotions
Which teaches us each day,
Each hour, each minute to learn
How to kneel and to pray.
I found tonight true friendship,
So simple, so pure;
I discovered its hidden secret,
Its mysterious allure.
So come, follow me,
Come join the wars of the past.
Fill up those heaving body bags
Until it is over at last.
I am too tired to elucidate.
How much time is left to me?
All I can do is write these words
And count from one to three.
Whisper it in the breeze
As those who came before have done.
Say it in the way you smile,
As you swallow the crumb.
Take of my shoes, my socks,
My crumpled suit and tie.
Begin to play as we used to
When we had no need to die.
Sunday, 21 September 2014
|OSMOSIS by Julia Horbaschk|
There was a young woman
Whose surname was rather peculiar
It began with an H
and ended with K
If you can pronounce it, well, Hallelujah!
Seriously, though, there is a young woman called Julia who has been assisting me with the organisation and curation of the Over the Hill exhibition at the Create Gallery as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe. I wouldn't say that I could not have done it without her help but that her help has been absolutely invaluable. She has worked tirelessly at a time when she has had a lot on her plate with moving, looking for a new job and various other activities that she tells me about but, as I don't listen, I can't tell you what they are. No, seriously, she is involved with the Arts Forum and the Big Screen on the Beach in Brighton.
Her background is marketing and this has come to the fore as she has set up an interview with BBC Radio Sussex as well as with three TV stations including BBC South. She has also secured sponsorship with Bang & Olufsen in Hove where the manager, Mike Sparkes, has been incredibly helpful by lending us two super duper televisions so that the nine films being shown at the exhibition can be seen to their full advantage. She has also arranged for 4Print & Design in Hove to produce 1,000 flyers free of charge as their contribution to the event.
She is clever, resourceful, hard working, positive, intelligent and an excellent photographer as the above image shows.
So, Julia Horbaschk, thank you for everything!
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
|WHAT DOES THE LION SAY? by Antonio Olmos|
If you log onto the website of Antonio Olmos, you will see some of the most beautiful of photographs.
This photographer is a genius because he dives deep and he searches for and he finds a jewel but he knows that, if he dives even deeper, he will find the real treasure, he will find the real truth, the real essence of the man sitting before him. How does he do this? What special power does Antonio have? He doesn't. He is a human being like you and I. But he knows that the more he discovers, the more the man sitting in front of him uncovers. He takes hold and he leads his subject along this path of discovery and he opens him up for all to see. Look at this photograph and tell me I am wrong.
After the shoot, Antonio sent me sixteen photographs saying that he could not choose between them. I looked at each of them and then looked again and again but I could not decide. It was like that scene in the wonderful film by Wayne Wang, "Smoke", when Harvey Keitel's character shows William Hurt his album of photographs all taken at the same spot at the same time each morning with the camera pointing in the same direction. "But "says Hurt,"They are all the same". Keitel replies "Look again, my friend". I looked again and although the shots were taken at different times and in different locations, slowly I began to see each of them on their own merits. Finally, I looked at his one which was, in fact, similar to several others. But this one had a spark. There is a glint in my right eye. A glint of hope. It says "I am moving forward. I have made a discovery today. About myself. I am Tim. All is revealed''.
I was recommended to Antonio by the lovely Sarah Lee and it took me a long time to get round to contacting him. Sarah took my photograph in April 2013 but I did not write to Antonio until February 2014. He wanted to come to Brighton to photograph me but he said that he was a nice guy and pleasant company and he promised me that he would not be a pain in the ass. Well, I delayed seeing him until after my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. He admitted that he was worried that I had gone off the idea of him photographing me. We set up another date for him to come to Brighton. In the meantime, however, my son Tom had had a serious back operation and was at home recuperating with us but experiencing post operative complications so I asked Antonio if he wouldn't mind if I came to his place instead. He agreed and I am so glad he did.
I arrived and we had a coffee and a chat. The house was empty as his family were away. He took me outside and he asked me to sit on a chair in different parts of the garden. At this point it all felt quite serious. He asked me to take my shirt off. All the time, we talked and slowly our companionship grew as we each revealed more to each other about ourselves. He said that he was pretty sure that he had got the shot he wanted but suggested we go to the park nearby. The park was almost empty and we wandered around and he asked me to stop at various points and he photographed me with my shirt on and with it off. At one point, I lay on the ground and he asked if I minded him straddling my prone body for the shot.
Eventually we made our way back to the exit and then he pointed to some long dry grass bleached by the sun. He asked me to sit in the middle of it. Then he looked around and I knew what he was going to ask."Can you take your clothes off?'' he said. I was worried that this was a public space and that we might be seen. He assured me that hardly anyone came to the park at this time and any case he would keep an eye out and warn me if they did. I took off my clothes and lay down as he requested with my hand on my thigh. Then he said I could get dressed which I did extremely quickly as he admitted that this was his first male nude photograph. I felt quite proud. We returned to his house but he wasn't finished. He took me upstairs and photographed me some more and I am pretty sure that the photograph I have chosen was taken at this time.
So you see, he thought he had got the shot he wanted in the garden. But we both discovered that there was more to come. It is this that I find so wonderfully exciting. I was tempted to choose the nude shot - it reminded me of a lioness resting in the prairie grass. It is a beautiful shot but the one I chose eclipses it.
And he was right - he is a nice guy, a very nice guy and pleasant company, extremely pleasant. He is Antonio Olmos, photographic explorer and genius.
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
|FROM THE EARTH by Claire Nathan|
I have a niece, Amy Samantha Andrews, known to me and everyone as Sammy. She is charming, pretty and kind and utterly adorable. She decided that she wanted to learn more about Photography and when she was performing at a wedding (she has the most beautiful singing voice), she went up to the photographer and asked her if she could help and advise her with regard to this new pastime. The photographer agreed to help and they became friends in the process. The photographer was Claire Nathan.
Sammy came to visit me in hospital just after I had undergone my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery and mentioned that she knew Claire who was interested in my project and that I should contact her. I did so after looking at her website. Her portraits were very good indeed but what clinched it for me was her picture of Sammy - it captured her lovely fresh and lively attitude to life so perfectly. There then followed a series of emails to and fro with photographic and artistic references as we slowly began to create an idea of what we wanted to achieve. For me, it was the connection to Claire and for her, it was a splash of colour, of brightness to create an uplifting image in the face a some of the awful things that life can throw at us. We needed a make-up artist and Claire said that she had worked with Alice Hopkins before and that she was tremendous.
We met at Notting Hill tube station on the morning of 13th August 2014 and she drove us to her house where I met her charming husband, the film maker, Dan Nathan, and Alice. We chatted a fair bit but eventually got down to the make up which took a while to get on. Claire was very clear as to what she wanted and Alice was very patient as she made the final touches before the shooting began in Claire's home studio. It was a very happy shoot and we all talked about good times and bad but in a way which enabled each of us to take a few faltering steps towards a greater acceptance of our lot and to reconcile ourselves to tragic events even if we still did not yet fully accept them and understand their meaning for us. People say that I was brave to have my surgery - I wasn't brave, I had no choice. When my sister died, life carried on.
And I can feel you dreaming
And I'm dreaming of you
Together slowly drifting
Into the powder blue
You expect the world to stop but it doesn't. You have no choice but to walk through those empty dark days and hold hands with those close to you and find solace there and eventually you come through to the other side. What has this got to do with this photograph? Well, everything actually. It was part of a journey where I have walked along a path which at some point crossed another path on which Claire is travelling and there we met. And there she took this photograph which, if we hadn't met, would never have been taken and the world would not have seen this part of me or this part of Claire. It is a great photograph. I have recently uploaded a slideshow of my project onto Vimeo and this song by Madness is part of the soundtrack......
So can't we just stay?
Can't we just stay?
The world is giving up
And there's just me and you
Together slowly drifting into the powder blue
Into the powder blue
Into the powder blue
Into the powder blue
Into the powder blue
Tuesday, 12 August 2014
|TIM IN HIS STUDY by Rosaline Shahnavaz|
When I came to write this post, I looked up my email correspondence with Rosaline and found that, although I had first written to her in July 2014, she had in fact first written to me in December 2013. At that time, she was working as Gabriella De Martino's assistant and Gabriella had recommended that she contact me to suggest that she take my photograph as part of the project. Rosaline was too polite to mention this when I contacted her. However, if you had seen me in December, you would have understood why I had not responded. At that time, my Parkinson's had got much worse and the number of usable hours in the day very much reduced so it is no wonder that I didn't reply although I'm sure I would have done if I had looked at her work. As it was, when I did look at her work through some links on Twitter, I was entranced. Every person is very much a part of their environment. There is a placidity in each and every portrait which shows this. And this is what Rosaline did with me. She was hardly here for any time at all but, after a quick tour of the house, she plumped for various spots that she felt were where I liked to be. And then she was gone! I hardly got to know her and her partner, Ben, who accompanied her which was a shame but, in some way, that makes her shots even more impressive.
She sent me two shots afterwards but this was the one that immediately grabbed me. It also harks back to the second photograph I had done by Mark Russell in 2007 with me sitting there surrounded by all my "stuff". And also, it is beautifully composed and captures a peacefulness in my demeanour that I noticed from her other work on her website.
I am sitting in the same room as I write this. I have just been down to the sea but I didn't swim because the tide was too far out and it would have taken me ages to get in far enough to swim properly but there was a gorgeous moment when the sun, almost orange, rose behind the pier. I love living here and that love and the satisfaction with my lot are all part of the expression on my face in this great image. It is very representative of me. Sometimes, I feel that life is going far too fast for my liking.
Stop this train
I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in
But honestly won’t someone stop this train
- John Mayer
Monday, 11 August 2014
|IN A BRIDGWATER TEA ROOM by Nisha Haq|
I came across Nisha's work through another photographer, Joanna Burejza, but how I am afraid that I don't have a clue! We started corresponding in May 2013 and, at that time, her first idea was to do a head shot portrait involving using a studio and multiple mirrors at Southampton Solent Unversity but first of all some exhibitions and the Parkinson's Disease got in the way and so it was not until August 2014 that. on a trip to meet a friend near Taunton that we finally met at Bridgwater Station. We spent the morning and early part of the afternoon in Tea Room and very nice it was too. Nisha was very chatty, I was very chatty and the food was good. What I particularly like about Nisha is that she is not afraid to take photographs. I suppose that can be a bit of a drawback if you are a photographer but I have found that one or two are a bit tentative at first whereas Nisha was not and started photographing me almost immediately.
And then I received some photographs from her - four photographs to be precise. I chose this one mainly because, although I am looking into the lens, it has caught me in between poses so it is a pause but it is a natural pause which seems, to me anyhow, to say a lot about who I am; I recognise that guy in the photo. Also, there is seemingly no barrier between me and Nisha and yet, we had met for the first time only about 30 minutes before which says a lot for a photographer especially one as young as Nisha. That said, I have no idea how old she is but she is certainly young compared to me. The colours in the shot are so good too. The dominant colour is blue (my shirt) but this contrasts so beautifully with pallor of my skin and the soft pattern of the wallpaper beyond. Gorgeous.
A few months later Nisha came to the exhibition in Brighton but it was just about to close for the day so we didn't get much chance to talk. It was also a little strange to see her other than across a table in a Bridgwater Tea Room but what a lovely person she is - quite the most perfect companion on that day and, hopefully, other days to come
And, get this, we're going to work together again!
Wednesday, 6 August 2014
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
|Under the Pier by Cat Lane|
The wind blew cold that day,
Under the pier.
Not with a winter's chill when leaves have dropped,
Leaving wiry arms and fingers,
Black against the grey sky.
No, the cold of a place where the sun cannot penetrate.
Nervous in front of those who also sought shelter from the sun,
You reassured me with
We had eaten together earlier.
You were nervous this time, this first time.
We talked in a desire to understand, to calm, to reveal.
We each brought tears to our eyes
But not sad enough to fall.
You cried again later when we parted in the street.
The emotion of the day, our meeting, poured out
I clasped you to my chest and told you that it was all right
strangers before that day.
The day the wind blew cold,
Under the pier.
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
|TIGER MEETS TIM by Briony Campbell|
Early in 2014, I was sent details of a forthcoming talk at PhotoForum to be given by Briony Campbell and so I looked at her website and was bowled over by her fantastic photography. She responded very positively to my initial email and began talking about shooting at our house in Brighton but dissuaded her because so many had already been done here. So, it was that on 22nd July, I travelled up to her flat in Hackney for the shoot. The lovely face of Briony welcomed me at her front door and almost immediately, I had a very good feeling about the shoot.
She made us each a delicious smoothie and toasted some muffins and we talked about the this and that for about half an hour before Briony began to get the tripod set up ready for the photographs. She had an interesting way of shooting in that she looked at the shot through the camera but she then positioned herself to the side of the camera when she pressed the shutter. Although I was looking straight at the lens and normally in those circumstances, I try to look through the lens into the eyes of the photographer, this time the photographer was connecting with me away from the camera. Just a small thing but actually quite enormous in the context of my project. But there was more. She said that, if she ended up 80% satisfied with the results from the shoot then that was really the best she could hope for and that she would be very happy with that. Well, I enjoyed our encounter so much that I wrote to her afterwards and gave it 95% as far as I was concerned. I said that the missing 5% was because, when she decided to drape the tiger blanket over me, I did wonder if it would look better if I was naked but I did not want to break the spell that had been cast as we slowly but surely crept up the scale towards her 80% mark. We also did some shots inside without the blanket and some outside on her balcony with the help of her flatmate who held the reflector. Then her boyfriend arrived and we had a coffee and I said goodbye. I hop skippity jumped down the stairs of the building thinking what a hop skippity life I was leading these days.
Briony responded to my email after the shoot saying that she had really enjoyed it too even though it seemed strange to her to be creating an image that made me part of her home rather than trying to capture the essence of me in my own home. However, she felt that I looked so good under 'Tiger' that she felt it was meant to be and this reversal of the usual scenario seemed appropriate since my project is about the experience of being photographed rather than the exercise of photographing. She had also used the shoot as part of her new project of photographing visitors to her home and I was now a member of her new 'club'.
A few days later, I received three photographs from her. Her favourite was the Tiger shot and I am very happy to go with that one although I really liked the other two. The Tiger shot has the sense of me visiting a foreign land (her flat) and the raised eyebrow says that I am king of my own little jungle in my head, in my tiger outfit, on her settee and, at the same time, the stick on the wall above my head is the shape of a "T" for Tim, Tiger Tim.
But most of all, and this is what gives me the most pleasure, this is a photograph of me by Briony Campbell, a great photographer, my new collaborator and my new friend.
Saturday, 19 July 2014
|SPACE by Poulomi Basu|
I turn over in bed. I must have slept quite deeply because there is an ache where my shoulder had been leaning on the pillow and creases on my skin matching those on the sheet. It is still dark so I switch on my mobile phone. The silver light from the screen momentarily lights up a small corner of the room. I check the time. It is 5.30am. I haul myself out of bed and put on the bedside lamp. I take my pills and I finish the the cup of water - it has been a warm night and the water is tepid. I pull on my shorts and two T shirts, turn off the light and go downstairs. After putting on my beach sandals, I leave the house quietly shutting and locking the front door behind me. I plug my iphone into my ears and to the accompaniment of the Beatles' "Lady Madonna" I stride down to the sea. The street lamps are still on but the sun, not yet above the horizon, is beginning to light up the sky.
A black cat with no tail and only three legs hobbles across the pavement and I wonder if that heralds a double helping of bad luck but then maybe the lack of a tail and one leg cancels out the bad. However, I remember that I am not superstitious and walk on. As I get nearer to the sea, the wind blows stronger until I reach the main road when it drops to a soft breeze. There is hardly anyone about. The tramps in the shelter have not yet woken. There are no fishermen. A beachcomber walks slowly, head down, over the pebbles but he is some way away. All is quiet and the sea is like silk. I take off all my clothes and I plunge into the water. The sun is slowly rising behind the buildings standing like tall fingers facing the sea. I push out and then twist and float on my back. At times like this, I feel that all I see is mine.
I told Poulomi of my love of swimming, especially in the sea, and she felt that that was where I had to be photographed. She was going to use film and digital but for this shot, she really needed to be above me so she sat on the shoulders of her husband, CJ Clarke, who was accompanying her on this short trip. When she first climbed on, CJ wasn't quite ready and he began to stumble and I suddenly feared that the two of them together with Poulomi's expensive cameras would be joining me in the water but CJ steadied himself and Poulomi began to take her photographs. As I floated past her, I thought of the more exotic and sometimes maybe, more dangerous locations she had travelled to in order to take her wonderful photographs and yet, her she was, in Southwick photographing me.
They were very good company that day and Poulomi was very much the intrepid explorer, seeking out and discovering new things about me. It is very subtle but this picture says so much. My posture in the water reveals an awe, almost(but not quite) a fear of the enormity of what is in the sky and beyond. I appear to be still but the large area of empty sea is there for me to float into. Even when my Parkinson's was worse, much worse, I could swim and so the sea is like a cradle carrying me, naked like a baby, on through the rest of my life, an undiscovered country. One can almost touch the water. It is such a gentle exploration of my body, my state, at this time of my life.
Poulomi is so good at what she does that she can say all this in one little picture taken in Southwick.
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon
We'll meet (I know we'll meet) beyond the shore
We'll kiss just as before
Happy we'll be
Beyond the Sea
- Jack Lawrence
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
|A SCAR IS BORNE by Peter Dench|
Some are born witty, some achieve wit and some have wit thrust upon them. Not sure which applies to Peter Dench but he is certainly a very amusing chap. I think I first came across him in the Professional Photographer magazine ("PP") and I wrote to him first of all in August 2010. As you can see, it took another 4 years to get together although, in the meantime, we kept up an intermittent email correspondence and I followed his adventures in PP as well as bumping into him (well, he was in the way) at a Mini Click event when he gave a very funny talk about his work to an adoring audience.
Then all of a sudden he was in my house with his camera photographing me and making me laugh as you can see by the tears rolling down my cheeks in this excellent photograph. No, seriously, he is a lovely jolly chap with a beautifully droll sense of humour and he knows how to photograph a packet of All Bran when he sees one. This photograph was taken a couple of months after my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery and you can see my Patient Programmer nestling above my left nipple and the scar just above it where the surgeon slipped it under my skin.
It seems strange to see me lounging around the kitchen topless - bit like the famous scene in "Ryan's Daughter" (what a film) when Robert Mitchum comes in from working outside and his wife, played by Sarah Miles, persuades him not to put his shirt on when he sits at the table to eat his lunch. Well, not exactly like it but there is a similar incongruity about it and yet that gives substance to the shot. After the shoot, Peter left and it was only a little later that I remembered that we were going to have lunch together and all I had given him was a glass of water. I wrote to apologise but Peter very courteously said that the water was delicious and surprisingly filling. I am sure he was telling the truth, aren't you?
Saturday, 12 July 2014
|WHO DID I MEET? by Natalie Adlard|
Who did I meet? I met Natalie when I went to Nottingham to be photographed by Ellen Chamberlain. Ellen had asked if I minded her bringing along a friend and I said no because I didn't and also because Ellen had already said that she was quite shy and I was aware that she probably needed some support. I wondered before when requests of this nature were put to me whether the attendance on a shoot by a friend might in some way impinge on my relationship with the photographer but I have found that, in practice, that has never happened and maybe that is because the photographer is more relaxed as a consequence.
Natalie and Ellen are clearly enjoy a very close and strong friendship and, when I asked Ellen if she minded if I asked Natalie to be part of my project, she immediately said that she didn't which very much shows the strength of the bond which exists between them. Natalie was quite quiet during the shoot as clearly she was intent on and content to take a back seat because, after all, it was Ellen's shoot. Nevertheless, I was very impressed by the photographs she sent me afterwards especially this one which stood from a collection of very good work. It is rich and clear and, unusually has captured my smile which does not appear in many of my photographs.
So, here we are - a photograph by Natalie Adlard - totally unexpected but a great addition to my project. Natalie is just starting out on a Photography career and, in my opinion, if she keeps up this sort of work, she will be very successful.
|AN OLD NEW LEAF by Ellen Chamberlain|
Sometimes, I trawl through Flickr and see what I can see. I look at someone's work which I particularly like and then go on to their favourites and then find someone else and go on to their favourites and then I find a photograph that has something for me and I look up the photostream of the photographer and get an idea of what they are about. One day, not so long ago, I found the photography of Ellen in this way. I thought it was exceptionally good and I wrote and told her so. She replied the next day, saying that she had heard of my project and was pleased to be asked to partake but pointed out that she was a shy person and had never before photographed anyone she didn't know. I suggested that we could meet before the shoot to get to know each other but, when Ellen told me she lived in Nottingham, I scrubbed that idea. She asked if she could bring a friend.
The day of the shoot was very warm. I enjoyed the train journey as I always do and I nodded off from time to time. I arrived in Nottingham and met Ellen. She was very young and slightly ill at ease - her friend Nathalie stood by awkwardly. But the day slowly unravelled before us and we began our stroll through Nottingham Town Centre which could be any town centre in any English town - Primark, Top Shop, Boots, Millie's Cookies etc, etc - it is a shame when such historic towns all look the same. We headed for the Castle and stopped for me to pose for some pictures there. Then we had a drink in the oldest inn in England and we chatted but none of us were fully relaxed. Eventually, we reached a small area of grass and we sat down under some trees and I think our more relaxed body language made the difference and we began talking more meaningfully about things and making jokes. Ellen has a lovely accent - I don't know what you would call it - a Midlands accent, I suppose - she thought mine was posh. I know I have said this so many times before but the most marvellous aspect of this project is that I communicate on a certain level with people so much younger than I am, who live such different lives and yet we are brought together by this common love of Photography and what it can do. This photograph was taken as we sat on the grass and well, it is a great photograph. The leaf is the representative of the other leaves on the ground and on the trees which provided shelter from the sun and something for us to twiddle with as we talked. It always helps to have a leaf to twiddle when you are getting to know someone.
It was time to leave and so we made our way back to the station and said our goodbyes. I was very touched when Ellen said "I know this is weird but can I give you a hug?" - it was the nicest hug.
She wrote soon afterwards with a collection of photographs from the day but I knew that it would one of those taken as we all sat on the grass that I would like the best and that is how it turned out. I have turned over a new leaf - I liked the old leaf but the new leaf is better.
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
|SELF PORTRAIT, BRIGHTON, 8 JULY 2014, 6.03AM by Simon Roberts|
All good things come to those who wait. I wrote to Simon on 13th March 2010 and, sure enough over four years later, we met on Brighton beach for him to photograph me. Actually, it is likely that that first email in 2010 fell into his Spam and he never read it. Having in the meantime moved to Brighton, I started to hear more about Simon and not surprisingly because he is a very good and a very successful photographer. I have learned that the two do not always go together but, in Simon's case, they most certainly do.
Anyway, fast forward to 2013 when I wrote again and this time he replied saying that photographing me was an "intriguing proposition" and asking me to give him a flavour of the other photographs that had been taken. I duly sent him a link to this Blog and also a link to the video of The Culture Show that had featured my project when broadcast in 2011. However, Simon is a busy man, understandably, and it wasn't until early 2014 that we finally met to chat about the shoot. It was then that Simon revealed his idea which was to photograph me photographing myself. He thought we should try the beach and maybe somewhere else but, as it happened, I took my own self portrait on the apron to the short brick pier near the bandstand and sent a copy to Simon and he agreed that that was where we should have our shoot.
Finally, we met there on 8th July at about 5.30am. As he requested, I brought my Rolleiflex with me and my tripod and remote shutter release. As I know nothing about cameras, Simon very kindly agreed to set up my shots and, as I posed for my self portraits, he took his photographs. We must have spent about an hour doing this from various angles until Simon said that was it.
I then received this one photograph and, of course, it is brilliant and will have pride of place at the show at the Create Gallery in October along with, at Simon's suggestion, the contact sheet of the photographs I took that day, some of which didn't come out too badly. But when you have one of the great photographers helping out, what do you expect?
Simon is a very nice guy. He is quite serious, particularly about his work but he has a warmth and a little twinkle in his eye which shine through when you get to know him. And he is an excellent photographer. How do we know this? Well, look at this photograph - it is full of movement; my pose and the contrasting slow swell of the sea beyond which also provides the perfect backdrop. The colours are beautifully light, the silver blue of the water, the yellow buoy, the paler blue of the sky, the rich green algae on the sandstone pier, my skin made ruddy by the sun and the wind, all combine to produce a gentle kaleidoscope of different hues that melt together to give us image that is like a magic potion poured over the page. Delicious.
Thursday, 3 July 2014
|HEAD IN THE CLOUDS by Nicola Benford|
It was with the proposed show at Create Gallery in mind that I made contact with Nicola as I thought she was still based in Brighton having initially seen her work mentioned on the University website. However, having seen the quality of her work, I also knew that she was a very exciting prospect. So, I wrote to her in December 2013 and she replied that, as she was working full-time, she wouldn't be able to shoot me just yet but she did look forward to working with me.
Eventually, we started making firm arrangements for the shoot and she asked if I has anything bright and breezy to wear. I had just come out of hospital having had my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery and, whilst I was in there, my darling brother had bought me this dressing gown made of pure silk - Nicola thought it was perfect. By now she was living in London but her parents brought her down with all her equipment and she looked through the house for a suitable spot and we tried some in our sitting room with me lying on our chaise-longue whilst listening to random selections from my 45 vinyl record collection but eventually we ended up in the room with the half-painted walls. She thought the white paint looked like clouds. At one point I dug out these glasses which I wear when I play Roger A Destroyer in my silly films and it was because of the glasses that I chose this particular image. I thought the brown frames provided just the right contrast with the other luscious colours in the shot.
Nicola was a delightful companion during the shoot and I was pleased that she was using her Japanese Bronica camera because there is something about them that is so reassuring. Not only do they make this wonderfully solid clunking sound when the photograph is taken, but also the results are so rich and deep. As I have said many times, I know nothing about cameras but I thought it was a reasonable guess at the outset of the project that about 90% of the photographers would use digital but in fact it must be about 50/50.
Nicola is a superb photographer and I was not disappointed when I received the photographs - they show what talent she possesses and that she will go far in her chosen profession. As with all talented young artists, she needs that lucky break but that will not be enough. She also needs to persevere and keep learning but having spent a few hours with her, I have no worries on that score.