I had the pleasure to photograph someone that I would put on a pedestal, James Thornton, founding CEO of Clientearth. His practise is Europe’s first public interest environmental law organisation, and he is in the New Statesman’s top ten of people who could change the world . Not only that but he is an ordained Zen Buddhist and author of 3 books, one of which (Field Guide to the Soul) I ordered on my return home.
The office of Client Earth is nothing less than you’d hope for when visiting this environmental warrior. Based in London Fields, Hackney, they have a high-ceilinged open plan room with organically shaped windows above stunning vistas of the fashionable park. A bbq sits on the balcony in preparation for summer staff dining. The man himself epitomises calmness and serenity, an agreeable soul with an underlying drive.
The day I went to photograph James the sun beamed through the window, providing my subject with a halo which I could only conclude was thoroughly appropriate.
I have been shortlisted for the Vignette Award 2013 (see part of the selction above). Vignette is a quarterly, free magazine focusing on photographic practice from around the world.
In terms of styles, this has to be one of the most diverse shortlist for an award I’ve seen. In the portrait section alone, there are example of street, documentary and contemporary “arty” styles. I’ll let you judge what mine falls into.
The image that I took which was shortlisted was taken of James at Grow Heathrow, my long term project. I had some feedback at the time suggesting that my pictures depicted an unfeasibly happy community without any suggestions of the daily struggle. When I mentioned this to James, her was all too happy to look meditatively out from his cabin into the barren winter landscape.
I didn’t win this award, but I think the judges have chosen a worth fine art picture. Check it out here.
I am showing some of my Grow Heathrow pictures at a week long exhibition entitled Made Possible by Squatting in Tower Hill. The selected photos are of Grow Heathrow residents who have created their own dwellings through recycled and reused materials, some of those featured in my Grow Heathrow gallery
The emphasis of the exhibition is on the ways that squatting has shaped London, and the personal stories and experiences that arise when people decide to seek shelter, make a home or carry out a project in an otherwise empty or abandoned building.
It’s been a year since the government made squatting in residential buildings a criminal offence, it may be that they will do the same with commercial buildings, which could bring about a big change.
One of the other exhibitors is Alex Casper, who claims that “Squats are a place where art is made, found, destroyed. But squatting is itself a form of artistic activity, injecting life into landscapes which would otherwise be morbid and desolate”.
The exhibition is on until Tuesday 16th September, details here.
I went on to one of the most powerful roof tops in London. It provides electricity for the tower block on which it sits, in what is one of the country’s most successful community energy projects.
Not only is it generating power for the tenants, but the much-lauded scheme provides interns from the estate with paid work. In the featured photo they are helping the professionals with installation, but previously they aided Brixton Energy with arguably a harder task, that of raising money from local residents to provide the investment.
The organization behind this project, Brixton Energy, sprang out of Transition Town Brixton. Despite all the good things that the Transition movement does, there is often a criticism that it’s mainly for the white middle classes, so it was particularly good to see the interns didn’t conform to this stereotype. In fact they live in the estate in which they are working.
When I arrived up top expecting positive vibe from the workforce, I was met instead with tension and sulking. The professionals’ expectations didn’t live up to the interns’ productivity, and the schedule for completion was running late. But the difficulties were overcome with the help of Agamemnon Otero, Project Manager, and Brixton was able to proudly reveal it’s 3rd solar rooftop on the Roupell Park Estate.
For more pictures see my Transition Towns gallery.
It was an enjoyable experience photographing an individual in the law industry who is as colourful as her snow globe collection suggests.
Lucy Scott-Moncrieff was the President of the Law Society for the year 2012-13. I photographed her at the end of her term reviewing her year in office.
Prior to this assignment, I knew she was a colourful character from a sighting of her at London Pride march surrounded by leather-clad stilt-walkers with their bottoms exposed.
But when I arrived in her office I was overjoyed to see that it was littered with souvenirs which had been collected from worldwide trips carried out on duty: a mask from the Brazilian Law Society, a Canadian moose head (made from wire). And then came the snow globes, collected from every country she had passed through in the year.
I chose the above picture to show because it depicts Lucy’s commitment to her role, while also revealing the fun side to her character with her collected artefacts in the background. Another picture of Lucy Scott-Moncrieff can be found in my gallery with other exceptional editorial portraits
Last night I went down to be a part of the book launch by co-founder of the Transition Town movement, Rob Hopkins. The Transition Town movement promotes sustainability projects applying a bottom up approach, using a framework of local communities. Founded in 2007, the movement is growing rapidly and now boasts over 1,000 in 40 different countries. When listening to Rob talk it’s not difficult to see why the movement is so popular, as his enthusiasm is infectious and his ideas come across with clarity and logic. Change begins in small communities and spreads throughout neighbourhoods, towns and beyond, that’s the message.
The talk was illustrated using case studies from various projects, such as Transition Tooting’s high street pop-up shop with “nothing for sale, but lots to offer”, a space which served as a room for discussion, debate and workshops. Another was a shop in a Yorkshire village which, when threatened with closure, was taken over by the community in order to serve edible food grown and made by the community.
Crystal Palace Transition Town seems to be one of the most energetic at present, a fact backed up by the numerous speakers relaying projects happening throughout the area. An observer said he thought that the atmosphere had turned evangelical due to various whoops and hollers coming from a section of the audience. A revolution has come and planted itself in this corner of South London, and although it is usually a quiet one, converts can be forgiven for letting out a little celebrating when their Messiah has come to town!
There have to be easier ways of fundraising than abseiling down a tall building while donning a superhero costume. Yet that’s exactly what these five did on behalf of St. Mungo’s, the homeless charity. I love the James Bond like character in the background who looks like he’s making a quick crafty getaway. It’s one of those happy accidents that photographers get after taking about 20 shots of the same scene!
It’s not every day that I get a picture in one of the national newspapers, so when it happens I’m happy. This is a local story which could potentially have repercussions across the country’s pubs. The Landlord of Kilburn’s Black Lion is furious at his supplier’s cost for beer, and has boycotted draught ale altogether, resorting to sell bottles only. It’s a big risk for him, but there are pub landlords who are behind him, so the boycott could spread throughout pubs who are trapped in similar contracts.
The photo shows a wake being acted out for a keg of beer. It’s never easy shooting subjects dressed in black at night time in front of a black pub, so I was happy that I had time to get some height on the procession, and some light came from the right of the camera by way of a TV camera.
There’s another picture from the Black Lion during some more generic shoot of the pub in my assignments gallery
At the opening of the Environmental Photographer of the Year exhibition I was announced as winner of the Video of the Year for Shaking the Tree. The photos and videos in the exhibition at The Royal Geographic Society were selected from over 3,000 entries. I’m thrilled to be a part of it, it’s the biggest accolade that I’ve received. Here I am in the photo talking to employees of one sponsor, Atkins Global.
The film documents how one man inspired an army of fruit harvesters in his local community. Michael and his team of enthusiastic volunteers gather tons of apples and pears each year which would otherwise rot. Too many to eat themselves, they put them to creative use by engaging with high street shoppers and residents. Thanks to the star Michael Stuart and all responsible for making the exhibition happen.
Beekeeping picture at the Foto8 Summer Show
This picture’s done OK for me. You may know it from the homepage on my website, but it was also selected for the prestigious Foto8 Summer Show in East London. That’s me looking suntanned and a bit smug (that’s why I’d rather take pictures) in July 2012. The photo has also been reproduced in the Transition Free Press and helped me get my foot in the door at Friends of the Earth. As from April 10th-May 3rd it will be on show at The Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington as part of the Environmental Photographer of the Year, as well as one of my films, Shaking the Tree. The picture itself was taken during a gorgeous day in Finsbury Park, as part of a workshop. All the participants were told to don a beekeeping suit, which begs me to ask whether I should wear one more often.