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Project Portrait: Day 93

Day 93 of Project Portrait. Next up we have Lucy Fisher – a mum of three, a journalist and a PR whizz to boot. Lucy is one of the first people I have photographed who saw my work through a friend of a friend and got in touch. Apparently it was the blurbs that did it. So here’s my attempt at a blurb about Lucy. I’ve been working on a new series of photos – not quite as idiotically long as Project Portrait – that attempts to cast mothers in a different light. We all have our preconceptions about what a mum would wear, how they would look etc. but I wanted to create a series that took mums out of that context and tried to say something different. I wanted to create something almost painterly. To elevate them to a level that a classical painter would have seen as a worth subject. This is my first in that series. Having only spoken to Lucy for an hour while I built the set and lighting it was abundantly clear that her life is about thousand times more complex and stressful than mine. Juggling a career, a family, a new home, a marriage and an extended family is no mean feat. We also had a chance to talk a bit about our childhoods and the idea for this picture just presented itself to me. I wanted to create something peaceful that Lucy could just be in. Like a bubble I guess. This is the result. I’m really pleased with the result and it was an absolute pleasure to spend time with someone who manages to combine so many different facets of a life and make it look easy. So Lucy, this is my homage to you. Hope you like it. If there are any mums out there that are interested in being part of this project, get in touch.

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Project Portrait: Day 92

Day 92 of Project Portrait. Next up we have Paul Rider. Paul is a creative director at We Are Social. I’ve known Paul for years as we both started at ShortList Magazine together way back in 2007. I remember us sitting on the freelancers desk together in that dingy office in Islington. We both moved to Wired afterwards – and have stayed in touch ever since. Photographing Paul was an absolute joy. We both totally geeked out on our love for beautiful, considered photography – he’s even had his portrait taken by Dan Winters – see my previous shot for more on him. This was taken in the We Are Social offices, which had an amazing array of walls with great textures and muted colours. There were about six or seven photos that I loved during this shoot, but it was this one, and the ever so slightly out of focus face that jumped out of me. It was also a great learning experience as Paul directs photo shoots for a living and knew all the cool ways to frame each shot. I’ve also learned over the past few months that I’m a sucker for photos in focus and even get upset when I’ve used a too narrow depth-of-field meaning parts of people’s features aren’t razor sharp. But with this one, the slight blur adds a lovely warmth to the image that I don’t think I could have got if it had been any other way.

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Project Portrait: Day 91

Day 91 of Project Portrait. Next up we have the lovely Lucy Sparks. Lucy is a solicitor and partner at a family law firm. Lucy got in touch after I asked for help finding new subjects. She’s also a friend of Emily Mags. This photo was shot at her home but I wanted to try and create something dreamy via my new skills with lighting and colour grading. I’ve also been studying a lot of the work of Dan Winters – who is probably one of the biggest photographers in Hollywood. He creates these amazing atmospheres and textures with his shots. This photo is actually my take on Winters’ work with Natalie Portman. It’s also the first shot where I’ve taken my time instead of my normal rush job. I’m pretty happy with the result.

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Project Portrait: Day 90

Day 90 of Project Portrait. Next up we have Leo Bassam – Leo is a front-end developer working on three different companies at the same time. He came down from Stoke-on-Trent for the day and very kindly came by my studio to sit for this picture. This picture kind of represents the next chapter in this project. Leo was the first person I’ve shot using a set of strobe lights I recently bought. So far I’ve been learning how to use sunlight and the lights that I can find wherever I’m shooting. It’s been amazing to do that, and to really push the camera and my ability to find ways of using what I have. But recently I decided to take the plunge and learn how to control light – to become better at creating photos with different looks and feels. So here’s day 1 of that attempt. Leo was also starting a new chapter with all the companies he works on and for, plus it was the new year so it all fitted in nicely. It’s a simple photo, lighting Leo from the front and then adding a gentle purple light on the wall behind. I can’t wait to learn how to light properly. Watch this space.

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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.

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Project Portrait: Day 85

Day 85 of Project Portrait. This one is a bit of a special day for me. I’ve been reading a lot about old photo techniques and how they generated these incredible looks and feels, but were abandoned for their complexity and use of dangerous chemicals like cyanide and mercury. One such technique is wet plate collodion. Photos taken via this process were known for the incredible levels of detail they created and the amazing colour palette that no other photographic process seemed to be able to recreate. Well, I’ve been quietly obsessed with these images and so I set out to try and create one myself, and this is it. Now, I have to disclose I couldn’t find the right chemicals and or the space to do it for real, so I’ve spent hours trying to learn how to do it in Photoshop. Some might say it’s cheating but for me the act of learning techniques that would previously be unavailable to me are all part of this project I embarked upon months ago. So I took a portrait I took of the lovely Matt Verity and turned it into a wet plate collodion version. It looks like he’s been painted in silver. I hope y’all like it as much as I did creating it.

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Project Portrait: Day 84

Day 83 of Protect Portrait. Next up we have Marcel Kalveram, a software developer who works at Hanno with Matthew Lenzi and Laïla von Alvensleben. Marcel has spent a few days at The Hatch using one of our spare desks. When I mentioned to him the idea of taking his picture I immediately thought about how transient communal workspaces can be. At The Hatch there have been dozens of people who have come and go, using a desk for a day and then disappearing. Marcel is based in Valencia and I imagine this might be the only time I meet him. For this portrait I wanted to try and convey a sense of how transient London can be sometimes. So I got Marcel to walk past the lens, to suggest two people passing without really knowing one another. It’s a feeling you get dozens of times living in a big city. The grey tones are well, if you’ve ever spent any time in London that colour is everywhere.