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I’m an award-winning photographer!

So today I found out that I won a pretty big competition on the Portrait Photo Awards for my portrait of the lovely Jennifer Cole Fernandes. I’ve been taking pictures properly for less than a year now and it’s been a hugely challenging but rewarding experience. From shooting people ad-hoc in an office to working with the likes of Uber, Magnum and Absolut to winning my first award. I can’t quite believe how quickly it’s all gone. I want to thank everyone who has helped me, listened to me guided me and sat for me. All the travelling to people’s houses, helping out friends and spending all my spare time experimenting and learning (instead of seeing friends and family) is only possible because I have amazing people around me and supporting me. Special thanks to @emi1y_maguire for putting up with me @dateconcierge for finding people for me to shoot and @andrewibbotson for letting me turn his office into a makeshift studio. Thank you everyone. You can see my photo and other amazing photos at the following link.

Project Portrait: Day 126

Next up we have Samanta Giblin Echo. Samanta was another person who threw their name into the hat to come and sit for me. Samanta has just finished two years of intense therapeutic arts and child counselling studies, something she had wanted to do for over 10 years. She is also the one in her family who always takes the pictures and is never in front of them. So Samanta was a little nervous. When I asked her why she volunteered she said, “it just felt like the right time, but the day before I was coming up with excuses not to come.” But I’m so pleased she did turn up. We spoke at length for over two hours about everything: childhood, parents, adulthood, being a parent, the stuff life throws at you and the stuff you throw at life. We covered some pretty serious ground on all of them, and I had come up with lots of elaborate setups to try and convey some of the ideas we were talking about. But this photo, right at the beginning when I was just easing Samanta into the idea of having a giant lightbox just off camera to the right flashing at her, summed up the experience. I can say from the conversation we had that Samanta has seen and been through a great many things in her life, but in spite of that, has found a point in her life where she could honestly say she was happy. This photo says just that. I’m happy. It’s not a high-fiving, “life is awesome” kind of happiness. It’s a relaxed, gentle happiness, the kind that washes over you when you’re not expecting it. Thank you Samanta for sharing and giving so much during this, it was really a very moving experience for me. If you’d like to be part of my project don’t hesitate to get in touch – I have 250 places left to fill!

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Project Portrait: Day 125

Next up we have the last of my mini-series on Kathleen Patricia Keefe and Derek Keefe. So we had the two of them individually before and this last one is of them as a couple – and I guess you could say it’s a culmination of the thoughts and feelings I’ve had about them. This picture is another homage to Frida Kahlo, in particular, a photograph of her and Diego Riviera, her husband and also an artist. In those pictures, it was usually Diego standing and Frida sitting. But I wanted to swap the two around as that felt overly patriarchal for this portrait. Kathleen cares for Derek full time and is his aural guide through life. So it made more sense to have her standing. I also wanted to bring in some of that symbolism I mentioned Kahlo loved to put in, this time with flowers. On the table are a bunch of gladioli. In painting the presence of these symbolize strength and moral integrity, and the giver of them is supposed to pierce the recipient’s heart with passion. Despite having only spent half an hour with the pair, I could say, wholeheartedly that they have strength and moral integrity in spades. This week they’re currently celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary together and appear to be just as much in love as I imagine they were when they first met. If this photo manages to convey even a 10th of that idea, I’d be a very happy man. Happy Anniversary you two.

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Project Portrait: Day 124

Next up we have Derek Keefe – who is Kathleen Patricia Keefe’s partner. This is part two of my series with the lovely couple. I originally only planned to photograph Kathleen, but when I saw Derek he was someone I was absolutely captivated by. He had this tremendously thoughtful look in his eye and was probably the most gentle soul I’ve ever met. I took some pictures of him head on and absolutely loved them, but when Kathleen told me Derek was deaf it completely changed the picture I wanted to take. I think people with a disability are unfairly surmised as such. I think others, me included often just see someone for what’s wrong with them rather than look for all the wonderful things that are, to put it crudely, right. Derek is a testament to that. He was funny, kind and allowed me to take his glasses off so you could see his lovely blue eyes. For this image I wanted to make his ear the centre of the picture, but make it slightly blurred so your eye starts exploring what else is going on with Derek – of which, I think is a lot. There’s more to people than meets the eye. Or in this case, there’s more to Derek than his ears. If you’re interested in being part of this project, do get in touch.