|TRACEY EMIN by Michael Birt|
So, I was on a number 28 bus from Brighton to Lewes and hoping that my tremor would calm down before I arrived at Michael's house for our shoot today. It didn't but, as soon as I saw Michael's smile as he answered the door, I knew that it was going to be alright - and so it was.
I don't often write about a shoot in advance of getting the photographs but now and again, I have such a nice day that I just want to tell everyone about it. Michael is handsome, slim and he owns a beautiful smile which seems to play on his lips and around his eyes continuously. He is a fan of The Beatles and - hang on, stop there, what is there not to like? He tells interesting and sometimes moving stories and is very generous when you tell him a story. He is a gentle man and a gentleman. He cares and that is what being a gentleman is all about.
It was a thoroughly satisfying shoot. This is a photograph of Tracey Emin he took and I have included it here because we talked about it and her - it seems that we are both fans. It is also a great picture - centred, intimate, challenging - like all his photographs. We talked about The Beatles, Southport, Ken Dodd, Clive James, Marlene Dietrich, Margaret Thatcher, Danny Devito, Richard Griffiths, Grandchildren, Mike McCartney, Roger McGough, Marilyn Monroe, The Graduate, Blue Jasmine,
Charleston, Monk's House and Peanut M&Ms and a lot more besides.
After the shoot in his sitting room which benefits from a north facing light and a view of a lovely Biwa tree in his garden, he asked me to share some home made soup and salad with him, followed by a mug of tea and a biscuit. By then, I really felt that I had outstayed my welcome but the warm handshake and another flashing smile at the door said otherwise.
This is why I have enjoyed this project so much. It is full of nice people like Michael Birt who also happen to take very good photographs.
Thank you, Michael.