Actor Stephen Graham is an English film and television actor and fellow scouser. Who is best known for his roles as Tommy in the film Snatch (2000), Andrew “Combo” Gascoigne in This Is England (2006), Billy Bremner in The Damned United (2009), notorious bank robber Baby Face Nelson in Public Enemies (2009), Scrum in the Pirates of the Caribbean films and he starred as Al Capone in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
Stephen accepted my invitation to sit for a portrait at the London Studio last week. I’ve admired his work for many years. Graham is a screen icon, exceptionally talented and known for playing no-nonsense gritty characters. I aimed to capture Stephens métier in my portraits, asking him to pose as emotionless, then changing to capture fierce and angry expressions.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford is Britain’s top RAF officer and leads the Royal Airforce. I was delighted when Sir Andrew accepted my invitation to sit for a portrait at RAF High Wycombe. Sir Andrew is one of the RAF’s most experienced helicopter pilots. During his flying career he accumulated over 5000 hours on both Wessex and Chinook Helicopters, serving primarily in Germany with No 18 Squadron but including exchange tours with the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. He has commanded in every rank and has seen operational service in Northern Ireland, the Falkland Islands, Lebanon, the Balkans and the Gulf. Aiming to capture Sir Andrew’s vast experience and leadership, I opted for a solemn emotionless pose. Asking Pulford to pose in dress uniform.
As a Historical Portrait Photographer, I felt privileged to undertake a sitting with Iain Duncan-Smith. Renowned as a veteran soldier, Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, Former Leader of the Conservative Party, and Secretary for Work and Pensions, his political career rivals many, and as such earns him a place of historical significance in British Politics. For me, I was therefore delighted when he accepted my invitation to sit for a portrait at Caxton House, London. I have long had an avid interest in socio-political history and as such have been aware of Iain Duncan-Smith’s presence on the political scene since my own childhood. Over the past few years, as the country has gone through a period of austerity, he has become a somewhat controversial politician eliciting different opinions from various walks of life.
Certain Portrait Sittings can weigh on a Photographer with a sense of trepidation. After all, the rapport and interaction between Photographer and Sitter is often notable in the finished images. The sitter needs to be on board with taking guidance and direction from the Photographer. When the sitter is someone as famous and eminent, as well as a natural figure-head and powerful, it can be somewhat daunting. Before the sitting I viewed various clips on YouTube, read opinions in newspapers and on social networking to gauge public opinion. In some instances he was described as “cruel” and, conversely, “just” in others. There is no doubt he splits opinion, and I wondered what the man would be like to work with.
When taking Historical Portraits I am keen that they should represent historical fact and not be a political statement in themselves. Effectively, the viewer should be able to overlay their own opinion of the character of the person in the picture. Iain Duncan-Smith is well known amongst photographers for creating a neutral portrait, ideal for history itself to become the judge of character.
Once I arrived at Caxton House, I was able to explain the type of Historical Portrait I hoped to achieve. I began by capturing a plain and determined expression. This naturally fed through to Duncan-Smith’s accustomed political stance and stature that we know from his rousing political speeches and broadcasts. These images portray the sense of power of the man speaking with authority and determination on the floor of the Commons.
Any trepidation I had soon melted away, as in person Iain Duncan-Smith is both kind and easy to work with. He is used to having his portrait taken and as such was at ease taking my direction and guidance for the shoot. Timed shortly after the failure of the Universal Credit Bill, pushed by IDS, it was ideally timed to represent the cross-roads which faced him as Secretary.
As opinions have come in to me following the images I am able to inwardly smile at my ability to create a portrait ready for the viewer’s opinion and not weighed down with my own political sentiment. Some feel I have captured the “essence of evil” while others have determined I’ve captured “a proud and well-respected politician”. Two sides of a coin: both correct in the eye of the beholder, both upholding those individual viewers’ opinions. If I can obtain varying opinions, both positive and negative, then I have achieved what I set out to achieve: impartiality. I have remained true to, and delivered on, the essence of the Historical Portrait.
Photographing Iain Duncan-Smith was both inspiring and rewarding, paving the way for many more political sittings and the challenges they bring.
As part of my long term project Ambassadors. I wrote to the Italian Ambassador Pasquale Terricciato who to my delight; graciously accepted my invitation to sit for a Portrait in London. The sitting took place at the Italian Residence in London’s Grosvenor Square. Upon entering the building I could sense its history, the Ambassador very kindly gave me a personal tour. Allowing me to view previous portraits of Italian Representatives throughout the past 200 years, who like the Ambassador have represented Italy in UK.
After a fine cup of Italian Coffee we set to work on the portrait. Terricciato with over 30 years in politics is a veteran of the diplomatic service. I aimed to capture a portrait to reflect the responsibly and importance of his office; directing Pasquale to look solum and responsible with a series of plain and emotionless expressions. The Ambassador very pleased with the portraits announced he would hang the finished product on the historic embassy wall. This is praise indeed as it will be appreciated even 100 years from now.
Ambassadors is a new project, driven by my passion for Historical Portraiture. The work will comprise of Ambassadors portraits from each political embassy in London. My first sitting took place in July with Ambassador of Mexico H.E. Diego Gómez Pickering. It was wonderful to meet the Ambassador himself a former journalist; capturing his portrait. It was interesting to learn that 2015 is the year of Mexico in the UK and their are great deal of events and exhibitions taking place. Mexico has been a country i’ve always wanted to visit and It was wonderful to learn some new facts about Mexico. I’ve already arranging portrait sittings with several more Ambassadors and I hope to complete the project in the next few weeks.
William Hague is a British Conservative politician who was the MP for Richmond from 1989 to 2015. He also served as Leader of the House of Commons from 2014 to 2015 and as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2010 to 2014. He was the Leader of Conservative Party from 1997 until Iain Duncan Smith took over the position in 2001.
Until this point, I had longed for the chance to work with a truly significant British historical character. William Hague’s name is synonymous with modern political discourse, but to meet him in person, you would not think it.
He is a very witty man who was reeling jokes off through the entire sitting. I was pleasantly surprised with how well he held himself for the portrait, so well in fact that the finished frame is very reminiscent of a Holbein piece – dignified and full of grace and authority.
Images where taken with my medium format Mamiya 645DF, Leaf Credo 40 & 100mm Mamiya Leaf Sekor AF 110mm f/2.8 LS D & 80mm f/2.8 LS D. Thank you to Calumet Photographic for supporting the Photoshoot.
Two words to describe the Bowens RX400 kit, portability and power, for the photographer on the move they are an ideal solution. I had the chance to test out the RX kit on a recent photoshoot with Red Dwarf and Coronation Street actor Craig Charles.
The Rx 400 Kit is smaller than the standard Bowens Gemini kits, with the test button now integrated with the power LED. On the back, there are three switches: one to change the modelling light mode, one to change the modelling light control and one for setting whether the device beeps when its ready to be triggered again. The 400Rx also has the standard Bowens battery port, so is able to be used with the Travel Battery-pak .
Built into the 400Rx is a radio receiver compatible with Bowens Pulsar radio triggering system the system allows for 24 channels, accessed by using the two buttons on the transmitter. The Pulsar Radio trigger is lightweight, compact and solid . With the receiver being built in, you don’t have to have things attached or dangling from the monolight, but there still is a sync port in case you don’t have the option to use the Radio trigger.
The kit is a great choice for those just starting out, and seeking their first set of strobes, or those looking for kit that gives them portability, without having to carry bulky heavy lighting systems. With the kit you can create easy two light setups without any fuss. On the photoshoot with Craig (Image Below) taken with a Canon 5DMk III you can see the quality and power of the two strobes.
Captain James .T Kirk, TJ Hooker, Denny Crane, icon William Shatner sat for a portrait session in Studio City, Los Angeles last month. From the age of 7 I have watched Star Trek, and admired William Shatner as an actor. Now was my chance to meet and work with a screen Legend. Arriving at his Office in Los Angeles, I could scarcely believe my eyes, as I spotted William Shatner through the window blinds. Taking a few deep breaths, I got to work setting up my portable studio kit. With a number of ideas floating in my head, I explained to Bill, that I wanted to achieve a ‘plain simple expressive look‘ he replied jokingly ‘I don’t do plain‘, I quickly redescribed the look as ‘emotionless‘, and ‘Bill obliged me with a series of wonderful expressions.