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Project Portrait: Day 89

Day 89 of Project Portrait. Next up we have the Terri White. For the past 10 years Terri has been a work colleague, a boss, a mentor a friend, a confidant and a sounding board for my professional and personal woes. I think it’s safe to say Terri means a lot to me. The first time I approached her for a photo she was sporting a massive black eye on account of her falling over in the shower (like your nanna does). The second time round the request came from Terri, who was traveling back from New York and had a window from 7:30 till 8 this morning. So I went over hoping to get a shot of her sat in one of her big windows only to find it was still dark out. So after trying (and failing) to achieve the same light with THE ONLY LAMP IN HER HOUSE (buy more lamps, Terri for my sake) the sun finally came up and I managed to catch this shot in those light blue hues that you only see at the start of the day. So I guess you’re all wondering what the meaning behind this photo is. Well, Terri means a lot of things to a lot of people and rather than trying to explicitly say what she means to me, I wanted to leave it suitably vague for people to find their own meaning and answers to the question, “who is Terri?”. She described me and the experience as “Terry Richardson but without the rape”. Which is, in some ways, is the nicest compliment I’ve had about my work, and one of the most indicative sentences of who I think, and I hope others think Terri is too.

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Project Portrait: Day 88

Day 88 of Project Portrait. Next up we have the lovely Ayelet Noff, who runs her own PR company in Israel. We’ve had chats over email but we’ve never actually met. So when she told me she was going to be in London for a few days I jumped at the chance to shoot her. Now this was probably one of my toughest shoots I’ve had yet – nothing to do with the subject of course. We had no natural light (thanks, winter) it was in the lobby of the Sanderson Hotel and the light sources were all harsh spot lights which make everyone look like they’re in a horror film. But Ayelet handled it all in her stride. We also had an awesome chat about working in PR, journalism, understanding local eccentricities – the Brits never say what they mean, the Israeli’s ALWAYS say what they mean – and getting older in the media industry. She also had lovely things to say about Ben Rooney who I can concur IS lovely – and very kindly sat for me in Kazakhstan. For the photo I wanted to highlight Ayelet’s uber professionalism – she works with 50 companies all over the world and never seems to take a day off – while hopefully teasing out the warmer side that I got to see while chatting to her.

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Project Portrait: Day 87

Day 87 of Project Portrait. Next up we have the lovely Jen Tetteh – Jen works in PR for a company called Albion in Shoreditch. I’ve actually known Jen for years, but only by email until late last year where met at a party thrown by Mic Wright. Meeting Jen on a dance floor on Shoreditch meant my first impressions of her was, in a word, ‘woah’. She shouted, a lot. Even when she was saying something lovely. But I kind of had a hunch a lot of that was all bravado so I decided to meet up with Jen at her offices. As we talked I realised more and more that beneath the awesome hair and dance moves there was a quieter, dare I say it, even shy version of Jen sitting quietly behind the bombastic exterior. We actually got on to discussing some pretty intimate stuff – and she’s even agreed to be part of my next project – so this photo went from something bright and colourful to a darker, quieter look at someone’s inner world. Jen was nervous and curious about what I would see while looking at her through a lens. The Jen I saw was someone with a rich and complex internal life that in her quieter moments creeps out. I managed to sit there long enough – and stop cracking jokes – for that part of the Jen I see to reveal itself.

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Project Portrait: Day 86

Day 86 of Project Portrait. Next up we have Dan Jude, who works at Redwood, a content creation agency. I’ve known Dan on and off since my days as a staff writer at ShortList Magazine. Dan has worked in pretty much all the magazines that have come and gone over the years and was, at one point, editor of FHM. I guess you could say we’ve grown up in media together professionally speaking. Chatting with Dan I came to realise that when you work for different brands you take on a bit of that brand’s identity yourself. When you work for enough publications you start to wonder which bits are just leftovers of former employees and which are genuinely yours? My original idea was to have Dan in and among the beautiful silver birch trees outside the Tate Modern near where he works. But I didn’t quite feel it was working. So we went inside that beautiful building – which for me is the perfect allegory for media in London: of invention, decay and then rebirth – I wanted to capture Dan in mid thought, pondering the things we were discussing. I also love the trail of windows in the ceiling of the turbine hall. Anyway, I love taking these photos, as the message in them isn’t all that clear from first look, so I get to write a big long description here.