2019

Recent work - April 2019

(Above and below) A series of images of street cleaners, enforcement officers, and waste collection teams for Wandsworth Council.

(Above and below) A series of images of street cleaners, enforcement officers, and waste collection teams for Wandsworth Council.

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For Standard Chartered Bank’s annual report.

For Standard Chartered Bank’s annual report.

Corporate portrait for Pearson.

Corporate portrait for Pearson.

(Above and below) portraits for Corporate Financier magazine.

(Above and below) portraits for Corporate Financier magazine.

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Corporate portraits where people are blinking are, on their own, entirely useless, but make an intriguing set that one day I might put on the blog. The same goes for lighting test shots (as in the example above) which - by definition - aren’t even posed. This photo would normally have been deleted straight after import but caught my eye.

Corporate portraits where people are blinking are, on their own, entirely useless, but make an intriguing set that one day I might put on the blog. The same goes for lighting test shots (as in the example above) which - by definition - aren’t even posed. This photo would normally have been deleted straight after import but caught my eye.

(Above and below) Interior designer  Sam Watkins-McRae .

(Above and below) Interior designer Sam Watkins-McRae.

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(Above and below) Workshops for  Mousetrap Theatre Projects .

(Above and below) Workshops for Mousetrap Theatre Projects.

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(Above and below) For the University of London, some portraits of graduates - and some quick candids in between - at the Barbican.

(Above and below) For the University of London, some portraits of graduates - and some quick candids in between - at the Barbican.

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International Women's Day

Landsec commissioned me to take portraits of ten staff members at their offices in Victoria. We had a room reserved, and were free to use any available locations in the vicinity (ie reception, foyer & cafe) as well as Cardinal Place, their adjacent retail centre and outdoor public space.

Poor weather meant we couldn’t shoot outside, so the issue was about getting a good variety with limited indoor options. This became increasingly difficult as the day went on. Happily, all the ladies were very generous with their time (and their patience). Here’s a selection from the shoot:

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Recent work - February 2019

Here’s a selection of recent work , mostly with a commercial / event angle:

We took Joey up on the roof at dusk to announce the return of  War Horse  return to the  National Theatre .

We took Joey up on the roof at dusk to announce the return of War Horse return to the National Theatre.

Also for the NT,  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time  was moving to the  Piccadilly Theatre.  We took the scene where Christopher is lost and bewildered on arriving in London, and shot it at Piccadilly Circus lights. It was probably the least unusual thing going on there, despite Toby being a real rat on this occasion (we’d used a puppet  previously ).

Also for the NT, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was moving to the Piccadilly Theatre. We took the scene where Christopher is lost and bewildered on arriving in London, and shot it at Piccadilly Circus lights. It was probably the least unusual thing going on there, despite Toby being a real rat on this occasion (we’d used a puppet previously).

Egypt’s tourism minister Rania Al-Mashat prepares for a live interview at Bloomberg.

Egypt’s tourism minister Rania Al-Mashat prepares for a live interview at Bloomberg.

One of a set of portraits for Freesat at their offices.

One of a set of portraits for Freesat at their offices.

(above and below) I was sent to photograph BTS of the judges and finalists of for Toyota Mobility Foundation’s $4 million ‘Mobility Unlimited Challenge’ at the offices of (partner) Nesta, the Innovation Foundation. Innovators from around the world presented their technologies aimed to improve the lives of people with lower limb paralysis.

(above and below) I was sent to photograph BTS of the judges and finalists of for Toyota Mobility Foundation’s $4 million ‘Mobility Unlimited Challenge’ at the offices of (partner) Nesta, the Innovation Foundation. Innovators from around the world presented their technologies aimed to improve the lives of people with lower limb paralysis.

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(above and below) Global industry leaders came together for the live launch of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) at the Leadenhall building.

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(above and below) A circus skills workshop for students ahead of Cirque du Soleil’s  Totem

(above and below) A circus skills workshop for students ahead of Cirque du Soleil’s Totem

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Also for  Mousetrap Theatre Projects  ,  I photographed a Relaxed Performance of   Motown - The Musical   .  These performances are designed for families with children with special needs.

Also for Mousetrap Theatre Projects, I photographed a Relaxed Performance of Motown - The Musical. These performances are designed for families with children with special needs.

I ran a (very) informal photography session, and took photos of visitors, at Facebook London’s annual ‘Take Your Parents to Work’ day. This is me - and I don’t like having my picture taken.

I ran a (very) informal photography session, and took photos of visitors, at Facebook London’s annual ‘Take Your Parents to Work’ day. This is me - and I don’t like having my picture taken.

(above and below) Product shots for  Fruitflow .

(above and below) Product shots for Fruitflow.

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MP Ed Miliband speaks about Net Zero Britain at Portcullis House (a discussion on climate policy, not Brexit).

MP Ed Miliband speaks about Net Zero Britain at Portcullis House (a discussion on climate policy, not Brexit).

Four photographs

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While visiting my parents recently, I saw these little framed photos on the mantelpiece in the guest bedroom. The house has always been a kind of museum as my mum sells antiques: for all I knew, these may have been gathering dust there for years, hiding in plain sight among the bric-a-brac.

But that’s not why I hadn’t noticed them before. It’s a magical house: objects inside are - if not invisible - unseen. Since they exist solely not to be broken, they only appear to visitors when in danger - and even then briefly - with the aim of revealing their weight, material and potential repair cost. It takes a second or third look to actually notice anything, to see something as an object of interest.

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Anyway, I was intrigued. There’s something of the gothic about them. And, as personal pictures, they seem familiar as they look out from their tiny, ornate frames. But no, they don’t look like any of the rest of my family at all. Their faces don’t elicit any emotion. None of that sudden sorrow pricked by the image of a great-aunt I might half-remember. These were definitely strangers.

I was also curious as a couple of the sitters are looking off camera. I felt this seemed odd in more traditional times, where a photo-session would take some time and be expensive, I imagine. In other words, you have one shot, but you choose to look away for it. Either they’re dead (Victorian post-mortem photography may or may not have been a thing) or these weren’t family portraits at all, but official royal / celebrity photographs.

Also, there are just four - this is an aside, as I’m aware people didn’t own cameras a hundred years ago - but it made me think: my own childhood fills a couple of albums of images. A hundred photos. Fewer? Not enough to tell a story, but there’s a flavour, perhaps. And throughout the house, on tables, walls, mantelpieces and shelves there are a few dozen framed.

I already have several thousand photos of my family and friends, very few of which I’ll care for enough to print and get anything more considered than an Oliver Bonas frame. I don’t whittle them down: I barely look at them. Everything is downloaded, then uploaded for some future date. Unlike the attic where albums end up (awaiting being thrown away by children on the parents’ death, after just one, cursory, curious browse), there’s infinite space in the cloud.

Memory really is cheap, it seems.

In this stream of recorded consciousness, there’s no hierarchy, no defining moments, no defining times. No editing. Just a near-continuous record of everything both important and irrelevant. Everything captured, just in case, because of the fear of forgetting (as if forgetting’s so awful). Surely we remember what’s important?

Anyway, back to the thread. This lovely collection of four photos.

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Who were these people? Were they related? When were the photos taken? They must have been important to someone. The main difference with our current culture of recording is that these are not ‘moments’ - well, one moment in a person’s life, perhaps - but instead, portraits. They may each be the only picture of the person in existence, and as such have a lot of work to do.

Immediately I put them into my bag (without telling mum - it’s easier to seek forgiveness than permission), planning to return them after taking pictures. I later emailed to ask her about them.

She replied:

Oh, those!

They belonged to a Mrs Annie Haines - she became a family friend when she baby sat [my uncle] when he was a toddler. She died twenty odd years ago so unless I can find a medium and a ouija board -  I can’t ask about her connection - if any - to the subjects.

I helped clear her few belongings when she went into a home a couple of years before she died and kept the photos because I liked them. They are typical of late Victorian/early Edwardian family photographs - especially (as in photo two) where the husband is seated while the wife stands! 

I may be wrong but I think that the handsome young man in the fourth photo could be a ‘celebrity’ of the day rather than a family member. His face is familiar. Sorry, can’t be of any more help. Might be worth taking the photos out of the frames to see if anything is written on the backs…

So that’s what I did:

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Not much. The only one with anything useful to go on is the first picture. A quick search yielded a list of photography studios in the West Midlands in the later half of the 19th century, in this case it looks like Sunderland and Hudson. And the picture is labelled “Great-Grandma Gammage”.

Oddly, I remember Mrs Haines - we used to visit her when I was little.

The rest of her email talked about photos she has at home, on which she does have information. Photos of Georgie, whose death (aged three) was predicted by a gypsy. John, a murderer. An uncle, one of thousands who died building the Burma Railway for the Japanese. I’ve managed to get hold of these and will scan and write about them once I’ve get everything together.

As for these, I don’t really care that I don’t know who they are. They’re nothing to do with me, and there’s no mystery or rabbit-hole of research I’m going down. But in time I’ll inherit them and - just to mess with visitors - put them up somewhere prominent.