Beigel Bake Portrait Project in JC

JCI’m grateful to the Jewish Chronicle for publishing my copy and images from the recent Beigel Bake portrait project, that I worked on with colleagues in #Ldntwentyfour7 Here it is in full:

As a Jew living in North west London I love spending time in this city’s creative epicentre, which for a number of years has been located over in the East End.

The area is awash with the latest trends worn by hipsters sporting the bushiest beards and skinniest of jeans. It’s been that way since cheap rents enticed a large artist community to colonise large studio space.

These days affordable living is being squeezed out, but the area hasn’t lost it’s cool factor. Designer cocktail bars proliferate and pop-ups can be seen on every street corner preparing the most innovative food fusions.

All that makes it even more incredible that 2 competing beigel bakeries in Brick Lane have been in existence for a combined total of 148 years, selling the same product in a similar stripped-back environment. Beigel Bake, the better known of the two has built up an iconic status for Londoners who come far and wide. Hungry customers arrive safe in the knowledge that they will receive a beigel so fresh it will invariably still be passed across the counter still warm.

My challenge as a portrait photographer was to submit one image to represent each hour of the day that Beigel Bake stays open. Twenty four in all. I undertook this project with 4 friends each with the same brief, for an exhibition showing as part of Photomonth.

The location was chosen on the basis that we couldn’t think of a place that better shows off the rich diversity of life in the metropolis today. Waifs and strays rub shoulders with city gents on a Tuesday morning, Italian tourists mingle with northern hen parties on a Saturday. Sundays are for cyclists and shoppers laden with flowers after returning from the flower market. And any night of the week cabbies pop in for a social and a cup of tea, as well as security guards at the dead of night and paramedics when they find time. All are served equally by women (usually) treating each customer as equal.

One of the first portraits I took for this project was a mother in a shiny electronic wheelchair sandwiched between a doting son and daughter. They were clinching brown paper bags of greasy salt beef beagles, the shop’s signature filling. Although the family had driven from Leytonstone she recounted fondly how her parents had led her to the same shop regularly when they lived nearby, and that their parents had done the same before them.

The business itself is owned and managed by 2 generations of family. Asher Cohen started the business after working for his brother next door, before eventually branching out and opening Beigel Bake in 1974. When Asher isn’t putting in a shift one of his two sons can be seen overseeing the sale and production of the 7,000 beigels that are produced each day. Despite all the gentrification going on all around the neighbourhood the price of a plain bagel is still only 25p, or under £4 with a generous slab of meet.

Brick Lane is a fun place to take a stroll and loitering at the top end was really not a struggle for this avid people-watcher. The most enjoyable times were on a Sunday when the street is at it’s most bustling, and at the short period of transition between night and day on a weekend morning, when clubbers arrive fresh from the party.

It was at such a time during the twilight hour that I came across a group who hadn’t been drinking. They were super cool DJs with an equally hip entourage. When they piled out of a van having made a beeline for Beigel Bake and I felt immensely proud that these individuals, celebrated within mainstream UK youth culture were engaging in a tradition inextricably linked with my own cultural and religious heritage.

Living in London it seems all too rare that tangible aspects of Jewish life are revered in the mainstream, as they undoubtably are at this round-the-clock London institution.


Beigel Bake

Beigel Bake


Beigel Bake in London’s East End is a bakery that has built up a loyal band of customers since its doors first opened in 1974. They come regularly from all corners of London seeking a taste of beigels baked in a traditional Jewish style, with fillings such as hot salt beef, cream cheese with smoked salmon and chopped herring. In a world of pop-ups and fast-changing fads, Beigel Bake’s long-standing presence has become part of it’s popular appeal.  As part of London photographic collective LDNtwentyfour7, I took a portrait each hour of the day in and around this establishment. Our collective currently boasts 6 members, all of whom submitted 24 pictures to be shown in Canvas, a Brick Lane gallery and cafe. We captured portraits of local characters, epicures, midnight snackers, eaters-on-the-goers and morning after-the-night-before revellers.

On a personal note I was able to try out my new camera purchase, a Hasselblad 6×6. It’s a format that I’ve always admired when seeing pictures on gallery walls etc. It’s not just the square aspect, but the fact that the photographer is looking down rather than straight at the subject that adds to this camera’s allure.


PhotoVoice Awards Shortlist

The Cornish AmericansGrow Heathrow


A selection of my photos from Transition Heathrow have been shortlisted for the Photovoice awards at Printspace in Shoreditch. On the theme of community, 5 other photographers have work featured showing diverse areas such as the reinvention of the Cornish in America today (Robert Herron) and Communes in Huerfano Valley (Zoe Childerley). All welcome to the Private View 20 August.

Tim Farron MP portrait

Tim Farron

Tim Farron MP, the leader of the Liberal Democrats at Portcullis House, Westminster.

I’m delighted that Tim Farron MP was voted to lead the Liberal Democrat party. Not that I’ll necessarily be voting for him, but because when I photographed him during an interview he came across as full of integrity with lots of fresh-faced enthusiasm. The interview took place in Portcullis House, Westminster for Inside Housing magazine. Due to his schedule I got very limited time to take posed portraits, so made the most of the opportunity to photograph him in discussion. Other British MPs portraits can be seen on the portraits section of my website.

New Camera, New Portraits


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

OJ7A3955 OJ7A3968 OJ7A4008


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


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



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.