|THIS CHARMING MAN by Jim Stephenson|
The title to this photograph is taken from the song of the same name by The Smiths the words of which Jim asked me to quote for a short film he made after the shoot. It is very appropriate because one could not wish to meet a more charming man than Jim. When I say to people "Do you know Jim Stephenson?" they invariably they say that they do and always say "isn't he a nice guy?" and it's true - he is. He also happens to be an excellent photographer. I first met Jim when I went to a Mini Click talk in Brighton and I was so impressed by his easy manner in front of the baying mob of photographers who attended the talk. Later, he invited me to conduct a talk and, in the interval, I started chatting about architectural photography which is his speciality and saying how I was generally unmoved by this particular genre but he spoke so lucidly and enthusiastically about it that he changed my attitude on the spot and I asked him if he would be prepared to involve himself in my project and take my photograph. He said yes straightaway.
Jim originally trained as an architectural technologist and following his graduation, he worked in the industry for almost ten years during which time he began to take photographs for architectural practices and eventually began to photograph buildings full time. His keen interest in architecture shines through all his work but this fascination with the built environment does not in any way restrict his wider artistic leanings as is clearly exemplified by this image.
He suggested that we shoot in the old Fruit and Veg market in Circus Street in Brighton and explained that he wanted to set up a backdrop but in such a way that it formed part of the architecture of the interior of the building - a set within a set as it were. First of all he asked me to sit on a chair in front of the white screen. Then he told me that he had always had a keen interest in Egyptian history and he loved the story of Cleopatra being presented to Julius Caesar and arriving in a rug which was then unrolled to reveal her lying at his feet. He asked me to lie down and wrapped the white sheet around me with my legs sticking out, ready to be revealed to the viewer.
What a great shot it is - it achieved what we were both after ie the set within a set but it has a wonderfully quirky humour which reflects both his and mine. I love it. And not only that, I love it more each time I look at it. And I love Jim. Everybody does.
After we finished with the stills, he shot the short film and, inspired by the the words "he hasn't got a stitch to wear", we agreed that I should undress and reveal my nakedness in the final frames. As is always the case when one spends time with Jim, very interesting and great fun.