London Portrait Profiles

Portraits

 

I’ve updated the London Portrait gallery on my website, which features profiles of individual commissioned by magazines, taken in a corporate and editorial style. Some are expressive heads during interviews, while there are also some stunning headshots taken in London. It is my aim to capture the subject in a natural way which conveys some of their personality, while also bringing out the best in sitters. Often I will shoot on location, arriving hours prior to a meeting in order to find inspiring backdrops nearby. I use minimal off-camera flash in order to create light which enhance features where appropriate.

Some of the work on my gallery are of Members of Parliaments (MPs) portraits whom I enjoy meeting. This gallery also consists of legal portraits – lawyers and those working in law or the wider sector.

 

Beigel Bake Portrait Project in JC

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.

http://www.thejc.com/arts/arts-features/149222/how-humble-beigel-became-great-leveller

 

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

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.

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.

From Siberian Gulag to home in Queen’s Park

IMG_6476

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.

Photographing a group of apprentices

Apprentices

These determined young individuals are all working as apprentices in the city of London.

They have jobs ranging from Housing Officer to part of a communications team.

I like the contrast between fresh faced employees and the sense establishment that the location brings.

The light is a good mix between natural available fill from the windows on the left and behind subject, and brollie to my right.

Best of all there is a professional air about this group, yet it doesn’t feel too staged.

Shortlisted for Vignette Award

James window

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.

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