As clients go hotel chains are pretty good, combine that with a trip to one of my favourite Cities and I was on to a winner.
Last month I was commissioned to shoot a set of lifestyle images for Park Plaza Hotels at their latest hipster hangout; Art O’tel in the fabulous Amsterdam. When we arrived the hotel actually hadn’t opened… even turning on the shower made the nylon seals creak on their introduction to water.
We met our models the affable Diane, Suzanne and Simon who very much had the look of a young Dolf Lungren circa Rocky III and slowly worked our way thorough the various locations on our shot list. We started in the bedroom… social graces tend to disappear pretty quickly on these shoots and reckon it took about two hours before Dolf was photographed being fed grapes in bed! (and I thought I had a good job). Once he was full/I had got my picture, Suzanne then obliged with some sexy silhouettes.
The team worked quickly to swap duvets for evening gowns as we relocated our equipment. As is normal in modern contemporary hotel design (apparently) the lights are very dim, so it was my challenge to light our talent and maintain that super cool and likely expensive ambience.
I’ve worked with Park Plaza for a while and have a great relationship with them which is a real asset when trying to be creative. Over drinks on the first night… we hatched a plan. Taking the shoot away from the hotel we explored some of Amsterdam, culminating in a boat ride through the canals, ducking lights down at the last minute to scrape under the low bridges.
Big thanks to Jillian Sanchez who ably assisted me with the light ducking; check her out here.
December 6, 2013 No Comments
Halls filled with men touting the latest missiles like they were video recorders, sheiks indulging in a few new business jets and fake replicas of Big Ben… Dubai is odd.
Rising out of the desert, the city stands with it’s bright lights and towering structures, a magnificent symbol of it’s own prosperity. I was in Dubai this week for Bloomberg News covering the International airshow.
“Five Thousand Dirham a night” exclaims my taxi driver. The cost of a night in the new Armani hotel, at the start of my ride/his guided tour by cost (I wasn’t staying there). All this glitz and glamour contrasts with it’s strict Islamic routes and conservative customs. At the show, men and yes I mean predominantly men, walked around exhibits and had their pictures taken with what are essentially war machines as announcements were made that companies were buying hundreds of airliners.
The part of the trip that I was looking forward to the most was the air display, I’d never shot one before and with F-15‘s flying at close to the speed of sound I was expecting a challenge. That challenge came but not in the way I’d expected; the perfect blue skies gave way to a sand storm that blew off the desert and swept over everybody in the crowd. It quickly became apparent that the show would be cancelled for the day and I retreated to the media centre to clean my cameras. The next day was far more successful, and the fast jets came out to play… as did I.
My efforts were rewarded with a front page on The Financial Times, see it here.
I’ve done allot of traveling and wasn’t expecting any surprises on this trip, but I was very wrong. The Arabic culture is fascinating and something I hope to explore again.
November 22, 2013 No Comments
12 months ago, I had a very good night out. I drank a fair amount of champagne and felt quite delicate the day after. I’d just won Bloomberg, Business Photographer of the year; my first Picture Editors Guild Award after entering the same competition at every opportunity since I was at college.
Last week, I attended the same event and to my surprise…. I managed to do it again. This year I had stiff competition with nominations for 3 of the best news photographers that are currently working in the U.K; Anthony Devlin, my friend the exceptionally talented Leon Neal and Stefan Wermuth from Reuters. My reward was a handshake with Nigel Farage… and a lovely shiny trophy to put alongside last years in our front room.
It was an absolute honor to be recognised for what I do within the industry, but it really wouldn’t be possible without the support the Bloomberg picture desk, a great team who I love working for.
I was also nominated as British Airways, Entertainment and Fashion Photographer of the year for the images I have been shooting with the Independent and was highly commended in this category.
Images in this post were shot for Bloomberg News and won the business category. An exhibition featuring images from all nominees of this years awards is currently on display at The Museum of London.
Mark Carney arrives for his first day as the new Governor of The Bank of England
November 10, 2013 No Comments
Ginger lads don’t do well in the heat. It’s a fact that I’m reminded of on every African trip or even in a barmy July in the U.K.
The Met Office put out a warning for a sustained 2 week heatwave but as most of the country basked in heat, some were dealing with far hotter conditions. In Sheffield, the home of British steel, molten crucibles of steel swing from chains, while men with arms like tree trunks weald iron presses to create monstrous castings that dwarf even their own significant frames.
I was visiting, The Forgemasters, a heavy engineering firm, which can produce anything from oil rigs to nuclear reactors. The company can trace it’s heritage back to the start of the steel industry in Sheffield in the 18th century.
Arriving for my press tour; laden in camera’s (3 of them…) I was issued with a thick, woolen protective suit to go over my clothes. News that day said that the temperature was at a 7-year high… Great! perfect day to go into something akin to hell.
As the press officer who was escorting me grew tired and I wasn’t far behind him, I saw the picture above, it was just there waiting to be taken, I did nothing clever, needed no filters, nor lights. It was just simply there.
Heaving myself back on the air conditioned, 16:05 to St Pancras, ecstatic with my picture (if not a bit smelly), I thought again of those tree-trunk men, a world away in the “cold” of the North.
Assignment for Bloomberg News
October 12, 2013 1 Comment
A painting of the late Baroness Thatcher hangs over a meeting room in Number 10 Downing Street, patterned carpet and locked book cases add to a memory of a place I have been before.
I once had a paltry 8 seconds or… 3 frames to photograph former Prime-minister, Gordon Brown in this very room. Two years later; we have a Conservative government and I am back, this time waiting for our current PM, David Cameron. Usually, in my world knowledge is power but this time I feared the same fate and enough pressure to make diamonds!
As the PM was being interviewed by Bloomberg, I rolled around on the floor looking for angles as he spoke. After a few minutes his press officer asked me to stop, so I picked myself up and went back to the light I had set up for a portrait at the end of the interview.
When the interview finished; Cameron stood, buttoned his jacket and made for the exit. I dashed to his press officer and thankfully she ushered him back in for what turned out to be a leisurely 12 second photo-shoot. After I directed him slightly we talked (briefly) when I mentioned that I’d just driven back into town from another job in Whitney, Oxfordshire, which is his constituency.
Once he had made his farewells and left the room, it was my first real chance to see what I had got. I looked at the back of my camera… It was sharp… It was well exposed… It was actually pretty good.
So, what can we gleam from the extra 4 seconds I was allowed with Mr Cameron… not a great deal, but he was certainly more comfortable being photographed than his predecessor.
All Images are available for editorial use via Bloomberg.
June 20, 2013 No Comments
First a confession, as a foolish 19 year-old I was “inked”. My tattoo was ill thought out and slightly wonky, it’s only redeeming feature is that as a flighty teen I was accompanied to the backstreet parlor by the future Mrs. Jason. Its faded design now serves as a memory of that day.
If I’d only known how much better it could have been. On Saturday I went to ‘The Great British Tattoo Show’ and found out just what works of art can be created with a needle. The artists at work were just that, creating painterly images, intricate and visually articulate.
The designs however, did vary… from Captain Kirk and Dr. Spok to one girl who had a portrait of herself as a zombie tattooed on her own arm.
What I really enjoyed was how much participants relished being photographed. Funnily enough, most of the attendees were exhibitionists and didn’t disappoint when I set up a few portraits before a quick edit.
The images were used really well in the paper, taking their place as ‘light news’ on page 3.
The paper and my pictures will be replaced in the newsagents tomorrow, not like the more permanent canvasses on display at the show.
For the talented Sarah Morrison’s story on the event click here.
May 26, 2013 No Comments
January can be a tough month for freelance photographers, the nights close in early and generally the work is thin on the ground with budgets exhausted towards year end. With extra time on my hands last month I decided to pack up my kit and head to the studio for a test shoot.
In the fashion industry a ‘test” refers to photographers, models, make-up and stylists working together for the common good, to make something beautiful. In this instance I just wanted the opportunity to practice some new techniques that I could apply to the editorial portraits that make up the majority of my work.
My first step was to assemble a team for the day, I already knew a friend who has a start up fashion label and I contacted a makeup artist that I had been working with last year. Models however were a different matter, I had no idea where to source them so I took to twitter and Facebook in search of beautiful women, like buses they all came at the last minute. Eventually securing the services of Abitha and Giada, both whom had a great deal more fashion experience than me.
Ably assisted by the legend that is Tim Bowditch, we started with a lighting technique that I’ve wanted to emulate for some time. Nadev Kander, lights subjects in this way regularly but he generally does it in a studio with a couple of assistants, my plan was to develop a method for achieving a similar result with 10 minutes in a hotel room!
While Tim and I messed around with yards of coloured gel and giant pieces of polystyrene the girls rattled through different looks with their range, carefully keeping an eye on their strategically positioned tape.
With my winter blues remedied, I was pleased to have worked with some honest creatives trying to be the best they can. I’ll be using more of these ideas this year, so come back and see them here.
Big thanks on this shoot to:-
Kate Littlejohn -makeup
Marie-Claire de Sachy (de Sachy-Brown) clothes and styling
Tim Bowditch – Assisting (see his superb photography here)
February 14, 2013 1 Comment
Last week I rode a train through the Swiss mountains, hanging out of a window, whilst ducking back in to avoid cartoon style decapitation. I was on my way to Davos for the World Economic Forum or WEF.
The WEF is an annual conference for corporate big wigs and financial leaders, where they discuss the economy and schmooze each other in equal measure. The venue for this meeting of minds is Davos; not a Greek island but a ski resort a couple of hours away from Zurich.
On my first day at the forum I found myself searching for these various luminaries in the main communal hall, it was like shooting fish in a barrel, a very dark barrel!
Within 20 minutes I had headshots of the CEO’s of Coca Cola, JP Morgan and Britains richest man Lakshmi Mittal. Everywhere you looked pinstriped millionaires either sipped their coffees or fended off eager journalists.
As you can imagine security was tight, and that dictated the brief for one of my first images. I was asked to recreate an image that had been shot in previous years; a sniper standing next to a “DAVOS” sign on top of a hotel. To achieve this we brought over a Canon 500mm F4 lens which gave me the perfect crop. That only meant that I had to wait in the freezing cold for my balaclava clad model to do his stuff… 2 hours later, I had my picture.
On the second day of the conference, Prime-minister David Cameron arrived. Having already made his now famous European referendum statement and dominating the front pages, he was big news; especially if he met with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkal, who’d likely give him a good dressing down. Publicly the two were still “allies” but the closed meeting was made away from the cameras. Cameron made his address to the WEF with the charisma of a breakfast TV host, stylish but contrived.
If Davos was a frenetic place for me, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like for some of those attending officially. One day I was also tasked with following Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien with reporter Matt Miller as part of his Day in The Life series of interviews.
Having flown on his private jet to Zurich from Boston the night before O’Brien blustered through meetings as I struggled to keep pace, eventually losing Matt who was needed elsewhere I jumped into his chauffeur driven Lexus while he chatted away on a conference call. Having already taken a punt by getting in the car I didn’t have a clue where I was going; hopefully not back to Zurich. Next thing I knew we had been ushured into a hotel room to meet The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, where I was faced with the terrible “grip and grin”. They shook hands for what felt like forever as I fumbled for my flash and managed a couple of frames before being ejected back into the snow. Read the full story here.
The days were long and hard but fortunately I was with a great team from Bloomberg who are as talented as much as they are brilliant company. Collectively under the supervision of Bryn Colton, our onsite Editor and fondue connoisseur; we survived the week, despite my colleague Simon Dawson’s hatred of dairy products and my propensity to fall over in the snow (because of the ice or otherwise).
Images from this post are available from www.bloomberg.com.
January 30, 2013 No Comments
Yesterday, I found myself in The Independent on Sunday newsroom in discussion with The Picture Editor, Art Director and Graphics editor trying to solve a tricky problem. We needed to illustrate a story about the ridiculously poor service offered by parcel courier firms, who managed to loose thousands of deliveries on the run up to Xmas… Not easy, especially as it was needed for the front page.
Most of our creativity hinged around battered boxes and a cheeky mock-up of a failed delivery note in a letter box. In that vain I gathered some brown paper and got wrapping. Now, even though I had opportunity to practise over recent festive season, my wrapping skills aren’t amazing, but in this instance “boy wrapping” was exactly what was needed. As any man will admit it’s all very stressful so my next step was to take out those frustrations on the box, to give it a battered look.
I went about shooting the parcel in a variety of locations, always allowing space for the designers to add the masthead and various other text on the page. Finally ending up back in my makeshift studio, carefully trying to craft the right amount of shadow on to a white background.
Once I’d finished photographing a box in various corners of Kensington we still wanted to try the delivery note idea. The Graphics Editor, Cath Levett had mocked-up a brilliantly sarcastic UK-Fail delivery note. Again after crumpling it, I gingerly wedged it into the front door of what looked like an empty town house and rushed the pictures back to the office.
While the image of the delivery note told the story, it was still probably a bit word heavy for the front. After a few different page designs, the final consensus was to use the beaten up parcel on a white background which made a strong, graphic front page.
It’s not the most exciting picture I’ve ever taken, but sometimes the route to achieving a goal makes it worthwhile. I’m lucky to be able to give my input into these ideas and work with such a small but perfectly formed team.
You can read the full story by Susie Measure here.
January 6, 2013 2 Comments
Time once again for my annual audit; to look back at the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met during 2012. The pictures I’ve pulled together in the gallery below represent my most memorable moments, not those that have necessarily made the headlines.
During the Summer I got the opportunity to photograph the Olympics for The Independent on Sunday, a highlight for any photographer especially in their home city. London came alive and I had a front row seat to watch both the opening and closing ceremonies; Jess Ennis winning on “Super Saturday” and Usain Bolt in the 100 Meters.
Portraits are my bread and butter and this year I met several icons. From Jo Lumley smothering me in lipstick to mistakenly shaking Ice T’s fist, this year’s crop have proved an eclectic bunch. One of my more interesting encounters was with inventor Trevor Bayliss, who I visited on his island in the middle of the Thames.
So, that’s it. Thanks to those who have given me commissions and everyone I met along the way. Here’s to more adventures in 2013!
A couple of my colleagues have done similar roundups, see Ben Cawthra and Leon Neal for some excellent work.
January 3, 2013 No Comments