|A BLOODY NOSE by Stuart Harper|
I met Stuart when he assisted Laura Pannack on my shoot with her in October 2011. It was a very jolly shoot and Stuart and I got on quite well and so I asked Laura if she could send me his contact details which she did and I wrote asking if he would photograph me and he replied very promptly saying yes. And what do you know? Three years later he did photograph me. In the meantime, we communicated on Twitter mainly about football ( he supports Arsenal and I support Tottenham Hotspur) and also, he started following my Parkinson's Blog, "TODAY, I CUT MY NOSE SHAVING", which was precipitated by me actually cutting my nose shaving - that's tremors for you! He liked the title of the blog as he felt moved by the fact that even something as simple as shaving could become dangerous for someone with Parkinson's.
Well, it took a while to arrange the shoot but, eventually, Stuart came down to Brighton with a polaroid camera and took a number of shots in different parts of the house but he left the bloody nose shot for the end. I think we both had some doubts as to whether the shot would work. I wondered whether it was still relevant any more as my tremor had almost completely disappeared since my surgery in May 2014. I'm not sure what misgivings Stuart had - maybe it was just that, with the passing of time, the idea had become slightly dated. He had brought some fake blood with him and dabbed it onto my nose and allowed it to drip onto my chest. We looked at the photograph together afterwards and then looked at each other and then back at the photograph again and then we both smiled. It really had worked. And then, when I received this later by email, I was so pleased. The colours are so rich; the blue/green of the background, the brown of my skin and to top the lot, the dark red of the fake blood all of which combine so well but what lifts it up onto another level is the pose which Stuart requested from me. It really fixes the viewer and yet it is not straight to the camera which in itself says so much. The gaze is directed beyond the viewer and says "So bloody what?".
It really is a superb photograph from every point of view and I commend Stuart for sticking to his original idea and then executing it so brilliantly. When he sent it to me, he said that he hadn't scanned the other photographs he had taken that day but he felt that this - the last shot he had taken on the day - was the strongest. A very nice guy and an exceptionally good photograph.