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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.

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Project Portrait: Day 123

Next up we have Kathleen Patricia Keefe. Kathleen got in touch with me after I shot Adah Parris last week and wanted to put her name forward. This is one of the reasons why I have loved doing this project – it’s given me the chance to connect with people and hear their stories in ways I never thought possible. For Kathleen, she’s an artist, a milliner and a book binder. She’s also a carer, charity shop volunteer and life long fan of Frida Kahlo. She has spent her life collecting clothes and trinkets that remind her of the artist ever since discovering her work in art class at school. So for this photo I wanted to make this an ode to one of Kahlo’s paintings. Frida was famed for her strong, very direct self-portraits that were loaded with symbolism. She often used bright colours and objects that provided very direct references to where she was in her life. This is the first of two portraits I took of Kathleen – the second will come on Wednesday. In the half an hour I spent with her, she gave off this wonderfully calm, centred and above all, peaceful vibe. Which from what I know, is something Frida Kahlo always struggled to find. But it’s amazing how someone can find a sense of self through others – and there’s a little Frida pin on Kathleen’s lapel that nods to that. This was one of the most relaxed, enjoyable and above all, fun shoots that I’ve done and I can’t wait to share with you the next two from this series.

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Project Portrait: Day 122

Next up we have Hannah Ross. I met Hannah while on my therapy training course last year. Hannah works for ActionAid when she’s not exploring psychodynamic ideas with me. This was shot at her home in south London. For this portrait I wanted to show Hannah as the strong, articulate, independent woman that I saw sat across me during our sessions. But despite the bright red hair and the love of colour (her living room was full of it), I always felt there was a quieter side to her. I got the sense there was more than meets the eye, in the best possible way. So I took lots of photos of Hannah at home, a lot were very good, and I’d be more than happy to share them. But as I’m learning with these photos, I’m trying to do more than just get the exposure and framing right. I don’t want these to just be headshots. I’m trying to get these images to say something – that doesn’t necessarily require these lengthy descriptions to go with them. I know I’ve got a long way to go, but having lots of interesting people around to shoot makes it a lot easier. 🙂 Thanks Hannah!

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Project Portrait: Day 131

Next up is another photo from my weekend spent with my family. This is my brother, Chris. About 12 years ago he bought a one way ticket to Pakistan after he graduated university and never came back. During that time he’s travelled throughout Asia, Australia, New Zealand, had a brief stint in Turkey before cycling the entire length of South America on a bicycle. You could say he’s a bit of a nomad. That was, until the guy in his arms came along. That’s Bruno, his six month-old son. Since then he’s been getting used to fatherhood – which from seeing my brother for the first time face-to-face in three years, looks bloody hard. So for this photo, we were riding an old steam train (my dad’s idea) and Chris was sat in the back feeding Roux on his own and I just saw this image and thought it went some way to summing up the above. The thoughtful look out the window, the dutiful pose, it kind of reminded me of Dorothea’s Lange beautiful photo of a migrant mother during the Great Depression. I thought a lot about how I was going to capture my brother, this wasn’t the photo I was expecting to use, but seemed to say more about Chris now, than it did the brother I grew up with.

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Project Portrait: Day 120

Next up we have only my second group photo in over 100 portraits! But this is a very special photo for me – this is a portrait of my family. Now for people that know me, they’ll know that my family has been through a lot over the past 15 years. But despite our ups and downs, we came together last weekend. The last time we saw each other face-to-face, my two nieces and nephew weren’t around, nor my wonderful fiancee, Emily, or Elaine, my step mum. But they’ve been amazing additions to my family and it was a great privilege to bring them all together – despite the family tradition of a) resisting photos and b) making fun of my camera equipment. One of the main reasons I have loved doing this project is because it’s allowed me to spend time with people, some I knew, some I have yet to. With this photo, I got to spend a day with my family, after a long hiatus. I hope this is just one of many photos I get to create with them.

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Project Portrait: Day 119

Day 118 of Project Portrait. Next up we have Adah Parris. Now, where do I start? Adah is as close as I’ll ever probably get to meeting a polymath. She has a degree in maths, is a performance coach, a Reiki practitioner, a marketing expert, a head dress maker (she’s wearing one of her creations in the photo), a networking genius and currently helps people and businesses find their purpose and direction as well as running a youth programme for young minds. We actually met while I was working on my startup, Provenance and she was brought in as a mentor. But we spent most of our time moaning about the flaws in the accelerator programme we were both part of. We don’t meet up that often, but Adah has always been someone I wanted to photograph. Why? Because she’s one of those people that wears so many different hats in her life it’s very difficult to say what Adah ‘is’. So for this photo I wanted to try and convey that. I wanted to use an old physics trick to show how light separates to create this explosion of colour behind her to signify all the different things Adah is and does. She’s always smiling and always positive, but I wanted something a bit quieter to hopefully say something more about what I see. There’s more to Adah, and to anyone than what we see at first glance. If you’re interested in being part of this project, get in touch!

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Project Portrait: Day 118

Next up we have Nick Duxbury – a journalist currently working at Inside Housing. He was in my journalism class way back when in 2006, when we were all hopeful about the awesome jobs we were all going to get – and then the 2008 financial collapse happened. Since then he’s managed to stay in this super turbulent industry of ours, but has still found it a struggle. We probably haven’t seen each other since we graduated, but it was amazing to hear how we’d both had similar stories – Nick also tried to break out of journalism and start his own company, we’ve both worked for absolute peanuts as freelancers, we’ve both felt the pull of regular, stable work as opposed to the swashbuckling irregularity of freelancing. Still, it was amazing to spend an afternoon catching up on a gorgeous afternoon in Canary Wharf. For this photo I wanted to try and capture Nick in an environment that he’s been working in for six years (Canary Wharf) but without it being too dominant, as I know Nick’s really a country boy at heart.

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Project Portrait: Day 117

Day 116 of project portrait. Next up we have a very dear friend of mine, Gill, who is a screen printer and artist. We actually met while we were both training to be psychotherapists. She was the first person I sat next to and we formed a very close friendship during some of the emotional gymnastics we had to perform in order to be able to handle listening to others. Gill was going through a particularly nasty divorce during our training and we formed a bond over my experiences watching my parents do the same. We’ve continued to be friends ever since and she very kindly came to sit for me and help kick start this photo project that I’ve got so much from. While Gill has come through that dark period of her life, and she’s a very happy, smiley and engaging person, this photo jumped out at me because it captured the emotional scars that are left when you go through something as traumatic as a divorce. That’s not to say you never recover from something like that, but it does leave its mark, and I felt this picture leant itself to that idea. It’s a very quiet, still image, that manages to speak volumes. For me at least.

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Project Portrait: Day 116

Day 115 of project portrait. Next up we have someone who has already been in this series before – my sister Francesca. But the last time I shot her, it was outside and it was a headshot for the work that she does. This image below was shot for a competition I’m entering. Portrait of Britain (http://www.portraitofbritain.uk) is a photography competition asking people to submit portraits that they feel sum up what Britain is today. I felt my sister’s story, and that of her two girls perfectly encapsulated this idea. She was born a Christian but has since converted to Islam. She was a high school drop out. She was a teenage mum. She’s a single mother. She’s had some pretty dark moments along the way. But in spite of that, she has come out the other end this incredibly strong, peaceful, and above all happy individual. I’m incredibly proud to call her my sister. This image was an ode to the journey she’s been on, but also, how despite the trends you see in the news (people quitting school, girls getting pregnant in their teenage years, the rise of Islam and Islamophobia) the people these stories are about are not failures as some would like to portray them. They are just people at one particular stage in their own journey and shouldn’t be written off because of that. My sister is an incredible woman and I hope this picture goes some way to showing that.

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Project Portrait: Day 115

Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve found the time to have someone come and sit for me outside of my job of writing and my new job (kind of) taking pictures. Months in fact. But I’ve been taking lots of photos, as I’m sure you’ve all seen, but I’ve never forgot the intimate nature of the work I did taking portraits. So it gives me great pleasure to present my picture of Robert Delamere. Rob has been my best friend for six years, and in that time we’ve traveled together, written together and shared a big chunk of our lives together. So for this photo I wanted to create something of the Rob I knew. Rob is an award-winning theatre director, producer, start-up founder and development guru. He’s also one of the top 50 most creative people in the UK according to Creative Review. You could say he’s a serious man, and lots of people think so. But that’s not the Rob I see. He has a playful spirit and is always looking for ways to break out of the mold people try to put him in as a ‘serious creative’. So this photo is a response to that. Shot in black and white after a few beers in my studio, it’s a personal portrait of a person that many people say they know, but in reality, I don’t think they do.