New Camera, New Portraits

Square

For several years now I’ve been coveting  a new-old camera, one that enables me to take square portraits on medium format film. After asking a loads of fellow photographers for advice, and spending weigh too long in certain specialist camera shops handling bodies of various vintages, I plumped for a Hasselblad 500c/m.

I’ve only had a few rolls of film back, but am enjoying getting acquainted with this beast. It has a waist level viewfinder, so I’m looking down when taking portraits, a dynamic which visibly alters the resulting aesthetic. A longer time period is needed to focus and compose, which leads to an altogether slower process. I wander if they look any different in your eyes to an image taken on a camera phone?

Thanks to all the subjects here.

Massive college posters

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I was delighted to see my pictures leap off the screen and onto these giant hoardings, advertising courses that the College of NW London offer. I spent 2 days going around the various departments shooting specifically for this purpose, spending more time than usual lighting as I knew the quality required was of paramount importance. 2 off camera flashes were used in mostly. The fact that this college offers lots of practical courses meant that desk/computer shots were thankfully kept to a minimum. I was relieved when I saw that the images were not pixelated even at over 2 meters tall – thanks Canon 5D3!

 

Stroud Potato Day

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Recently I have become a core member of my local Transition Town, Kensal to Kilburn. But for several years I have been photographing events and projects initiated by Transition Towns, all of which are about engaging in, or promoting sustainability. The Stroud Potato Day was my first venture to a Transition event outside of London, a 2.5 hour journey to be precise. The annual selling of tubers in this west country market town was flagged up in Rob Hopkins’s (co-founder of the movement) recent book, as it’s been running successfully for several years. The group positioned themselves in the town’s main indoor shopping mall, Merrywalks, in order to utilise the busy Saturday footfall. Passers-by and enthusiasts alike are able to choose between 18 varieties of potatoes to purchase. Tubers are for growing rather than cooking. As with previous years  business was brisk, with one variety selling out within the first hour and a half. Shoppers were drawn in by fresh cake made with potato flour, and the unusual sight of a Transition member donned  in a hessian sack. Thanks to Helen and all at Transition Stroud and Down to Earth for persuading me to grow spuds for the first time this year. More of my Transition Town images here.

NW6 wine comes of age

NW6 Wine bottling event

Last Autumn part of my local Transition Town, Kensal to Kilburn were out gathering local produce such as apples, pears and grapes. It was my good fortune to taste some of the wine that had been maturing in 3 separate demijohns since then, all of which had a unique taste. Not entirely mature, the consensus was to postpone bottling until April, with hope that a better flavour will be evident, and a street party is organised of the 2nd attempt. NW6, the London postcode of Kilburn and Queen’s Park is being used as the brand. The heartwarming way in which it has come into this world is through a collaboration of up to a dozen vine owners, all local, plus the involvement of 30 neighbours. “We trampled barefoot, our legs blood red as we came out of the barrel.” remarked co-ordinator Leo Johnson. More pictures can be seen on my Transition Towns photos gallery.

Legal management studio shoot

Briefing No 14

Most of the portraits I get commissioned to take are on location, at a subjects house or place of work. So I was excited to have landed a job in an East London studio, photographing a group of six individuals from the legal sector. The Shoreditch ambience was evident in the jazzy vibes emanating from the music box, rustic warehouse aesthetic and coffee on drip. Windows along the main studio wall could have caused me havoc with hotspot reflections from lights, so I was thankful to have arrived far enough ahead in order to work out a way of minimising this. Furniture came in all shape and sizes, providing a nice variety of interesting seating options, and the group was mixed enough in appearance to enable a final image that I was pleased with. The reward? A cover as well as DPS in this month’s Briefing. More London editorial and corporate portraits here.

Fiona Woolf in The Guardian

 

Woolf

One of my pictures appears in The Guardian, the newspaper that I most regularly read. It’s of Fiona Woolf, Lord Mayor of London, who was controversially given a role to chair an enquiry into child abuse. But I took the picture almost a year ago for a legal title, an intimate interview at which she admitted myself and the journalist into her expansive office. More of my profile portraits can be viewed on my website gallery. When I have time I spend painstaking hours key wording images prior to submitting them to picture libraries and agencies, and occasionally they see the light of day in high profile publications.

Sustainable Transport Exhibition

Exhibition Invitation

Exhibition2

In the summer of 2014 I was selected to undertake a commission in collaboration with FotoDocument, Photoworks and Bioregional. I was given 3 months to complete a photo essay on a One Planet principle: Transport. At the same time 9 other photographers were asked to complete similar essays on sustainability principles: Water, Materials, Zero Waste etc.

Previously several of my personal projects have been about either transport or sustainability issues, so this was a dream commission for me. And to top it all it was set in Brighton and Hove, the first city to gain One Planet status. That means it received accreditation from sustainable development charity BioRegional, and will therefore be able to implement more sustainability projects.

All of the projects are showing in site specific locations: Sustaianable Food is on at the Open Market for instance. Mine are up at Brighton’s main railway station until July 2015, so please use this excuse to come down to the south coast for a visit.

 

 

Eviction Threat at Grow Heathrow

Eviction Resistance

Eviction Resistance

I have been photographing a community known as Grow Heathrow for over 3 years, a community garden and site for activists protesting against third runway expansion.

Recently there has been a threat of eviction from a landowner who wants to regain control of the plot, despite leaving it as dumping ground previously. Local support in the area is unquestionably in favour of the residents of Grow Heathrow, who throughout over 4 years have created a community hub.

The local County Court gave the landowner to permission to take his land back on the day of August 14th, but the show of support from residents and friends of the site was so strong, that Mr. Mallick didn’t have the means for eviction. There was also a massive media presence, with news of the day broadcast by the BBC and on The Guardian, Independent etc. Singing, dancing, speeches all took place, as well as gardening as usual, and meals served up made from vegetables grown on site or skipped.

More Grow Heathrow images here taken over the course of 4 years.

Time Out London

WC Spread

 

Four years ago I took part in a group project with several other photographers. We set out to document the World Cup, the only problem being we didn’t have tickets to any of the matches, or flights to South Africa. But being stuck in London wasn’t all bad, as most countries are represented here (we didn’t meet any North Koreans), and they they know how to gather when their country is competing.

In the process I had a Brazilian hair cut, sipped Algerian sweet tea, downed schnapps with Danish and consumed plate loads of paella with the victorious Spanish. I looked oddly out of place in a Dutch sea of orange. There were pints of beer flowing and a dancable samba band playing throughout Brazil’s involvement.
At a time when contentious migration issues are being debated in Britain, the 2014 World Cup will again be a time to celebrate with different nations the diversity that makes London one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities.

More images can be seen here

From Siberian Gulag to home in Queen’s Park

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Frank Hewetson is not a name that most people are familiar with, but he is one of the prisoners recently released from a harsh prison sentence in Russia as part of Arctic 30. After a worldwide campaign to get the international activists freed, Franks, at home when I met him said he thought it was only the advent of the Winter Olympics that forced their release. And that of Pussy Riot, incidentally, which happened at a similar time. The Queens Park resident spoke animatedly of his time in a first in a freezing Siberian cell, followed by a more comfortable room at St. Petersburg. As a non-smoker, one of the biggest issues was the fact that his 2 Russian cell mates were chain-smoking throughout. Aside from the thick air, they got on amicably, and ironically Frank handed cigarettes that he was given to his cellmates in the interest of friendship.