Beigel Bake Portrait Project in JC



I’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.


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.

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.

President of the Law Society


Lucy Scott-Moncrieff

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

Photo in The Telegraph

Last draught beer at Black Lion

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


Portrait in Sunday World

Sunday World

It’s not often that I get a commission from a tabloid newspaper, but last week I was phoned by the Sunday World to photograph a female nurse who appeared on the Graham Norton TV show. As an audience member, she told a story about how she caught the eye of an attractive man at the gym, but tripped up on her treadmill at a crucial moment as she was establishing eye contact. When I met her in Stratford, I realised that the part of the appeal for the newspaper was merely to splash a picture of a young lady across their pages, so I dutifully obliged by producing an aesthetically pleasing one. Hearing the story before setting off, I took the orange dumbbells which are a large part of the focus.

To see the one I picked for my website, please see my best editorial portraits here.

Portrait commission for Briefing Magazine

I had a sizeable commission from Briefing Magazine to shoot 7 portraits around London and Bristol. They’re all leaders in law firms, so the brief was to have them looking powerful and leader-like, and crucially outside their normal office environments. One of my favourite portrait photographers is Harry Borden, whose pictures I like because they’re quite understated, and he has a great eye for placing people in often unexpected locations. I feel inspiration from his work. With my portraits here, I was given 30minutes+ in order to strike up a little bit of rapport and wander around the immediate vicinity of the subjects’ workplace with them. I’ve often struggled in the past to feel comfortable with city workers, because their jobs seem so different from mine. However I now realise it’s best establish common ground outside the workplace, whether it ‘s about cycling,  London-life or the perils of hair blowing in the wind! I’m happy with these images because as well as having high impact I feel I’ve captured a little of their personalities. Well, all except one who didn’t let his guard down, no matter how hard I tried. (Can you guess which one?).

Grow Heathrow feature published by Inside Housing


I am really chuffed that some of my images from my long term project documenting Grow Heathrow have been published across 4 pages in Inside Housing magazine. It’s rare that pictures are used so well, without cropping arbitrarily by editors and designers. Some of the copy is also mine, though adapted by the features editor Lydia Stockdale to make it more relevant to the readership. I’m happy that a magazine with such integrity has dedicated so much space to such an important story, thanks everyone involved. I’m planning on returning to the site and continuing with the project. Click here to view the rest of the project.