Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A MOVEMENT STUDY by Oscar Latorre-Bosch

A MOVEMENT STUDY by Oscar Latorre-Bosch
Oscar came along to hear me speak at PhotoForum in the Calumet shop in Euston in February 2013. It was a bit nerve wracking, not because Oscar was in the audience but for two reasons - first, my whole family were there well, Jane, my son Tom, my twin sister Sally, my brother Anthony and his wife Georgina and secondly, some guy at the back was being a bit difficult but I got over that eventually but his intervention caused me to shake more than I might otherwise have done. 

Oscar tweeted some nice comments to me and so I looked up his excellent work on his website and wrote to ask if he might photograph me. Well, in the end, he filmed me. He had given it some thought and he concluded that it did not seem possible to show the Parkinson's movement in a still picture so instead, he decided to record my natural movement on video and then study it using different computer techniques. First, it would be in hyper slow motion from still frames of the video using 'morphing'. Secondly, normal motion as originally recorded and thirdly, in stroboscopic motion i.e. partially freezing movement using 'strobing'. He created a detailed mood board and was meticulous in getting the effects he wanted.

The moodboard, a card, a half drunk cup of coffee and a pen

His lovely assistant, whose name I can't quite remember (but I shall try to before the end of this piece - Cortina?) put these polystyrene plates on my arms and Oscar asked me to stand and slowly circle my arms whilst the camera rolled. I then got dressed but do you know how difficult it is put on a shirt while you have polystyrene plates on your arms? Yes, well I started again and Thingamebob (erm Jaguar?) helped take them off and then I put my shirt on - you learn something new everyday in this modelling game. 
The plates, Me and Oscar

Oscar then interviewed me on film. In fact, I don't think I have ever seen the full interview but I recall that some of the questions were quite daft in the best possible way. (Audi? No, that wasn't it)

And then, I went out with Oscar and whatshername (Joyce - Rolls Royce?? No) and we said goodbye in the street and I caught the train home. And that was that, a jolly little shoot which was thoroughly enjoyable. And the film? Well, it is a mesmerising study of the movement difficulties involved with Parkinson's. These motor problems come and they go -it really is a bit like having plates attached to your arms which control how you move. It is quirky and funny but it also taps straight into the way in which I moved from smooth to shake and back again. It is also cleverly lit and it has a feeling of there being some knowledge "out there" which we cannot yet explain but hopefully to which we shall find the answers on this voyage of discovery which is Parkinson's Disease. Morris Minor? No, what was her name?!? 

The film (and the 'Making of') can be viewed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYXnmPl4EFI&noredirect=1

MERCEDES!!! That was it! An unforgettable name. She was beautiful and very friendly and good fun.

WEBSITE: http://www.latorre-bosch.com/html

Sunday, 17 February 2013

LA LUNA by Seb Eckstein

LA LUNA by Seb Eckstein

Sometime in 2012, I was approached by Sue Eckstein who was a lecturer in Clinical and Biomedical Ethics at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) asking if I might like to give a talk on my project at the BSMS in Falmer near the University. I met Sue and her colleague, Bobbie Farsides, and we arranged for the talk to go ahead in December of that year. As usual, I got a bit carried away with the whole thing and, at one point, suggested to Sue that, in addition to everything else, we played "La Luna" by Madness at the end and invite everyone to dance. Sue was horrified by this and so was I when I was informed subsequently that she had had part of her left leg amputated in 2010 as a result of bone cancer. Up to that point I had no idea that she had a false leg - typically, she had never mentioned it. I forgot about the song until, at the end of the talk as we all began to file out of the lecture hall, the dramatic opening bars of the song rang out. I looked across at Sue who flashed her beautiful smile at me. 

Sadly, Sue died of the cancer which had returned with a vengeance (she would like that cliche) in November 2013. She was the loveliest of people; very intelligent and articulate but extremely easy going and warm and that smile.........

In the meantime, after my talk, she introduced me to her equally lovely son, Sebastian, of whom clearly she was very proud and explained that he was a photographer. I cannot remember exactly what happened next but he agreed to photograph me. My daughter was just about to move into a flat in Brighton and she allowed us to shoot there. We tried various ideas centred around me dancing to the music we played and this is one of Seb's great shots. I cannot dance as well as I used to but for these, I really went for it and thought again of my mother, who was a dancer in the 1940s, as I struck various poses for Seb. I understand that these shots were part of a school project which was very received quite favourably by his tutors. Unfortunately, Sue became very ill and this meant that Seb had other things on his mind than producing anything for me to look at. We tried to meet a few times but things kept getting in the way. So, it was not until quite recently that we met to look at the pictures taken on that day. I loved them and realised why Sue had been so proud of her young son. 

Before writing this, I began to think of a title. It didn't take me long. It had to be La Luna.


Oh the places I remember from the moment I was born
From Battersea to Birmingham, memories forlorn
Just faint wafts of nostalgia blowing gently on the breeze
I sit among the evergreen, of all I have received

Estrellas y la luna, the rays are breaking through
Out come the twinkling stars shining down on you

Well, I'm in and out the window, my mind a wandering star
So many clear cut chances, I put right over the bar

Easy in the kitchen making daily bread
Wormwood in your soul, a time bomb in your head
You've packed your things, you're leaving, this time you know where
But the places you remember will always still be there
Will always still be there

Estrellas y la luna, the rays are breaking through
Out come the twinkling stars shining down on you

Look, children singing raucous out in the street below
Squeezing the last drops of fading light before it's their time to go

Easy in the kitchen making daily bread
Wormwood in your soul, a time bomb in your head
You've packed your things, you're leaving, this time you know where
But the places you remember will always still be there
Will always still be there

Estrellas y la luna, the rays are breaking through
Out come the twinkling stars shining down on you

Estrellas y la luna, the rays are breaking through
Out come the twinkling stars shining apart for you


Saturday, 16 February 2013

FALLING by Mattia Maestri

FALLING by Mattia Maestri

I met Mattia when he was assisting the great Giulia Zucchetti on her shoot with me in July 2012. That was such an enjoyable shoot and we all got on very well and so it was no surprise when Mattia wrote to me subsequently asking if he could photograph me. I asked him to send me some examples of his work and he did and I was suitably impressed. He had certainly taken his duties as Giulia's assistant seriously and that conscientious attitude shone through in his own work too. 

After a short exchange of emails, I arranged to meet him at a studio in Dalston on 16th February 2013 where he had everything all set up. First of all, he asked me to wear some yellow gloves and to be stripped to the waist and sitting at a table with my gloved hands before me. Then he asked me to remove the remainder of my clothing and for me to stand in various positions and to collapse with my eyes closing as I did so. This sounds quite straightforward but, with my condition having worsened in recent weeks, I found the sensation of falling with my eyes closed rather worrying at first but gradually, I relaxed and we tried different positions and timing until Mattia was completely satisfied. He seemed very pleased with what he had done and certainly, I found the whole experience very satisfying.
I received the glove photographs from him first and I really liked the contemplative pose at the table and the slightly bleached blueness of the shots. These seemed very peaceful and calm. However, then I received the ones where I was falling -  I loved the close ups but my immediate favourite was the full length shot because, again, there was a peace and tranquility about the the whole slide of my body towards the floor. It was so louche and languid and gave the impression that I was content to allow whatever was affecting me to lower me gently to the ground. I loved the image and each time I look at it, I love it even more. Why is that? What is so special about it that affects me so much? I think it is all tied up with the relationship with the photographer. I had complete faith in Mattia that he would look after me and help me produce the shots he wanted. I became increasingly relaxed and confident that Mattia would arrive at the place that he had pre-planned with such care and expertise and that he would take me with him. If Mattia does that with all his models, then he will produce great work.

It was simple, clear and easy. Just like falling off a log. Like falling to the ground in soft, slow and sleepy motion. Like dancing, slowly, gloriously.....just like the slow dance that love is...

Thursday, 14 February 2013

REFLECTIVE RAIN by Travis Hodges

Reflective Rain by Travis Hodges

Well, it was like this you see, I was at Miniclick at The Old Market Theatre in Brighton and I found a seat at the back next to this guy and we got talking and I told him about my photographic project and he introduced himself as Travis and said that he was a photographer and he gave me his card. It is sometimes the case with a chance meeting like this that it subsequently becomes hugely significant and that is precisely what happened here. At the time, I thought immediately what a very pleasant person he was - very genuine and good company, albeit for the brief period we chatted. The next morning, I looked up his work on his website and I thought ''this guy is good''. I found his work quite inspirational. The portraits had a quirkiness that made me think back to the man whom I had met the previous evening and realise that he had flair and imagination - in bucketloads. I scrolled through the gallery and stopped at the portrait of Big Issue vendor Dave. It shone like beacons can sometimes shine - bright and dazzling. Dave is looking up into the sky dreaming of what? His life before? His future? His drink on the way home? His supper? His kids? Whatever it is he sees in the clouds, it has painted a look of wonder on his beautiful face. Did I say that Dave, a Big Issue Vendor, is beautiful? Yes, he is and not because Travis has made him so by employing some sort of photographic trickery but because he has recognised and captured the innate beauty of a human being in his lens and reproduced it for all to see. It is a great photograph. Beautifully lit and composed and considered. 

I received notification from Twitter that Travis was following me and the next thing was a direct tweet from the man himself saying he had an idea for a portrait if I was interested. Interested? I'll say I was and I replied saying just that but explained that it would have to wait until January because my diary was so full up to Christmas. Travis then responded saying he was happy to organise the shoot in the new year. At the same time he informed me that his idea was a studio style portrait with the expression being everything. He wanted to shoot through wet glass to give a dappled pattern which he felt would give a separation between the viewer and subject, a physical barrier that mirrors an emotional one. He proposed to shoot wider to include a bare chest; with nudity being a recurring theme through my project, the glass would become a protecting element. As I said at the time, I like it - let's do it. 

Then the significant bit happened. Travis mentioned that he organised a talk series in London called Photo Forum, much like Miniclick and wondered if I would like to show my project, talk about the ideas behind it and some of the individual images and possibly invite a few of the photographers along to talk about their own image. I replied saying that I had been invited by Brighton Medical Centre to give a talk about my project in December and that I would be very happy to do something smilar at Photo Forum. Why was this hugely significant? Well, because I did give a talk at PhotoForum on 14th February 2013 and ten of my photographers were there and spoke and my family were there too and heard perhaps for the first time exactly why I was doing what I was. I was so moved by the fact that the photographers came along at all but even more so by the kind sentiments which they expressed that night. I hope to write in more detail about the evening in another post. 

The Diptych

The talk at PhotoForum was preceded by my shoot with Travis who welcomed me warmly when I arrived at Calumet in Euston where both the talk and the shoot took place. Travis set up a slide projector showing an image of water on glass and he reflected that on my body. I was completely knocked out by the two images he sent to me and I told him so. I was very torn between the two and so was Travis who has ended up presenting them as a diptych on his website. I was very tempted to do so but I felt that this image was so strong on its own that I couldn't dilute it with another, admittedly superb, photograph. The expression is all. It is dripping with emotion and the dappled effect only enhances this. I am so very proud of this photograph which was taken on a day of huge significance for me, a day on which I stood before family and friends and told them what my project meant to me. A day on which I was photographed by Travis Hodges.

WEBSITE: http://www.travishodges.co.uk/




05:51 PM - 16 Nov 12

Saturday, 9 February 2013

ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY CHARACTERS by Chris Floyd



In July 2010, the brilliant photographer and ace tweeter, Chris Floyd, decided to begin photographing people that he followed on Twitter. The idea came to him when he realised that he had not seen or spoken any of his best real and actual friends for over a month. However, in contrast, he communicated with some of the people on Twitter several times a week. The project began and continued until, one day, he counted the number of shots to date which totalled 130 odd. He knew where it had to end - at 140 characters - the maximum allowed in a tweet.



The exceptional photographs are on display at Create in Brighton until 24th February and I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Private View. It is a very interesting show that says as much about Chris as it does about the subjects of his wonderful images. As I said to someone on the night (it might even have been the man himself), only Chris Floyd could have taken these pictures. They are snazzy, fun, crisp, black and white gems, to be treasured forever. Chris is a fun guy but he is deadly serious about the quality of his work and boy, does it show. I urge you to get along to see a scintillating collection of portraits by one of the UK's finest photographers. 


Also, alongside the exhibition, Create are offering the public the chance to have a private portrait session with Chris on 23rd and 24th February. You'd be mad to pass up this opportunity. 

Chris Floyd's Website : http://www.chrisfloyd.com/

Friday, 1 February 2013

MASK OF THE DIVA by Martina O'Shea

MASK OF THE DIVA by Martina O'Shea
Every so often, I find that I just cannot choose between two images taken by a photographer and so I choose them both. This has happened only three times before and this is the fourth time. I loved Martina's shot of me at Hampstead Heath, "Eye See You" and yet I love this one too and I found that I could not ditch either of them.

Martina and I had always wanted to do another shoot together and, whilst she had some lighting available to her in her home studio, we took advantage of this one evening. We tried various subtle changes to this pose and this one works because of the head slightly bent over to one side giving it a softer, almost feminine effect. The arms crossing the chest in a somewhat skewed heart shape lend it a pathos which is beguiling and, to me, the lighting is perfect - slightly bleached and cold which accentuates the sadness of the image. It is quite beautiful and it has been taken by a young and very talented photographer who knows what she wants to achieve in a shot and has the confidence to get it.

On the same evening, Martina also made a large sticky roux of flour and water and we played around with that on my head but I haven't seen the results yet otherwise, Martina might be one of the few people to have three images in the project! That may still happen as we are talking of another shoot together. I have done additional shoots with some of the photographers and I do enjoy them. To some extent, the pressure is off and, as we have worked together successfully before, it is a more relaxed situation and enables both the photographer and myself to improvise and experiment which can be so exciting as it was with the lovely Martina.

Gotta go!

WEBSITE: http://www.martinaoshea.com/