My campaign for KitKat has been going from strength to strength. Now my work has appeared on the Huff Po website.
Next up we have the lovely Penelope Laura Downes and two of her fabulous children. These two were the most fun to shoot by a very long way, as you can probably tell. I was originally planning to only capture Penny but when I saw these two I thought this could be fun. The young man on the right turned up in full spiderman and refused to show me his face. But after a bit of cajoling from his big sister, he came out to play. I haven’t had much experience shooting children, and I realised that there’s probably about a four-minute window in which they’re willing to sit still and look at the camera. About 30 seconds after this, they were all on the floor and all I could capture was legs. So in that, these two taught me a lot: don’t faff around, move quickly, and above all, don’t take yourself too seriously. So thank you Penny for letting your kids teach me a valuable lesson.
Next up we have the lovely Uzma Lodhi. Me and Uzma went to secondary school together, we were in the same form class and had a bunch of lessons together, included the ill-judged business studies (I have zero interest in supply and demand). Anyway, Uzma had been following this project and swang by my studio on the weekend. We haven’t seen each other for more than 15 years, which is a feat in itself. But perhaps what was most surprising was how easy it was to talk to someone I hadn’t seen in more than a decade. As you can imagine, we spoke a lot about school, our perceptions of each other and what happened to all those faces we shared our lives with for seven years. It was a surreal, but kind of magical experience. To be taken back to who I was at 11, 12 and 13, and then comparing it to where we’ve both ended up today. For this photo I just wanted to tap into those rose-tinted memories of sunny days sat on walls in and around school, whiling away the hours. I think most of us look back on the positive childhood memories with a gold tinted lens. Laughing, messing around. I didn’t really enjoy school all that much, but I do have some very fond memories, and I have to say re-connecting with Uzma helped me rediscover them again.
Next up we have the awesome Stephen Vasconcellos-Sharpe. Now, where do I start with Stephen? Stephen runs a magazine called Salt, which is all about bringing together people and ideas that transform the planet in a positive way. He is also running something called the Compassionate Manifesto, which is a platform for the world’s top 50 thought leaders to come together to solve some of the world’s problems. AND he’s trying to set up a rival to Davos – an invitation only conference for the world’s financial and political elite. So I think you can all agree with me when I say Stephen is trying to make the future a better place for all of us. Stephen is a bright, brimming with energy Scot who is falling over himself to tell you about the wonderful things he’s doing. But it hasn’t always been that way. He’s had his darker moments, too. And he wasn’t always the global citizen for good. But like so many of my portraits, I’m interested in this idea of transition and transformation. It seems people come to me at a point in their lives where they can safely say they’re turning away from a version of themselves in their past and are actively finding a vision of themselves they feel happier, healthier and more at home with. This portrait attempts to show that transition. The dark blue tones of the past creep up Stephen’s face, but he’s firmly focused on the brighter, warmer, happier future. The past is always still there, but we can choose to be either defined by it or galvanised by it. Something I think we can all benefit from.
This one is a long one so prepare yourself ;)Next up we have the awesome Sadaqat Ali. I met Sadaqat while I was attempting to be a startup founder a few years back. I managed to accelerate away all my money and ended up being rather unceremoniously spat out the other end of startup life. Where as Sadaqat kept going. Sadaqat was born deaf – the only member of his family to be so. He grew up in a part of Birmingham that on the one side was affluent and leafy, but on the other, was part of the grittier inner city. He saw friends being sucked into the darker side of life but because he physically couldn’t hear the temptations coming from that side of the tracks, he steered clear. Despite finding school boring, he managed to escape to college where he discovered a love of learning. So much so that Sadaqat now has three degrees under his belt. While others went into social work, Sadaqat started launching businesses. All of which help people, be they deaf or not, gain access to services or facilities to help them better themselves. Oh and he’s married to the lovely Saduf Naqvi and has two children. Which is what lead to this portrait. Sadaqat said something amazing to me while we were working together. “The biggest thing I have learnt so far about my experience is that my deafness has not only protected me from harm but has given me a different lens with which I use to see the world and the opportunities it has within it.” So for this picture I asked him to take his hearing aids out and put them on the table. So they weren’t hidden. I want people to see Sadaqat’s secret to being an enormously successful entrepreneur. Something others would class as a disadvantage. I also wanted to show the strength and a stillness I felt while sitting in front of Sadaqat. I hope that comes across.
Next up we have Glykeria Kissa and Antonis Ninos – a lovely couple who I’ve worked with on multiple occasions. They came down to the studio for my portrait marathon. For this shot I wanted to try and convey how they are together. They met on an island in Greece (where they’re both from) when they were teenagers, and have been together for eight years since. They’ve traveled together, lived together, studied together and now find themselves in London together, graduating from their Masters and heading out into the world together. So for this shot I wanted to try and show that connection. How a relationship is made up of two people pulling together to make the whole thing work. How two faces make up one if you will. I have yet to met a sweeter, more dedicated couple to each other.
Next up we have Sam Butterfield and his lovely daughter Marlie. They were another brave pair who put their names forward to come and sit for me. The original plan was to shoot just Sam but he asked if it was ok to bring Marlie with him. She was a bit shy and looked a bored while I was setting up my lighting to shoot Sam. So I asked if we could do something together. Marlie really liked climbing so I found the only thing she could climb on, her dad. She was a bit reluctant at first but soon relaxed into the idea of having her dad as a climbing frame and this wonderful image presented itself. It’s been a huge joy to have people take time out of their lives to come and sit for me, and it’s even more of a pleasure when I get the chance to share work that I think has so much joy in it. I’ll be posting my portrait of Sam later in the week but wanted to share this one first. If you’d like to be part of the series, please do get in touch