|A VERY HANDSOME MAN by Michael Birt|
I should say at the outset that the title to this photograph is taken from the subject heading of the email from Michael to which his photograph was attached - I am not having the gall to call myself a very handsome man. I have no idea whether I am or not. But, but - this is a beautiful photograph. The tone and colours give it such depth and he has captured a look in my eyes which is not a complete smile nor is it completely engaged nor is it blank - it has everything. It seems to me to reach back in my life and to represent all the stories I recounted to Michael on the day of the shoot; stories of childhood, of music and comedy, of art and love, of pleasure and disaster.
It also says a great deal about how we communicated with each other. I had met Michael quite a few times before and I noticed that I always felt that we were friends and yet we hardly spoke and had no other history than these meetings which were often at photographic events. Now, having spent such a long time together on the shoot, I know why I should have felt this way. He is a human being with a love of life, of living, of people and of his chosen occupation. For these reasons, I do not feel that anyone else could have taken this portrait. Once, years ago, I said to a photographer that I supposed that with the advent of such super-duper cameras, anyone could take a good photograph now but he replied saying that that was not the case and I think it is true. Really good photographers have to love what they do and know how to do it. They have an innate skill and an imagination. They have to love all that they do and Michael is just such a man.
When I received this photograph, I leaned forward to the computer in anticipation and then looked at it and leaned back in my chair with a purr of pure pleasure. It is a glorious portrait. I felt that it was so good that really I should bring my project to an end now so that this is the last one. I'm not going to do that because I am just too bloody greedy - I want MORE.
I cannot think of anything else to say except feast yourselves on some great photography by Michael Birt, a very special man.
Saturday, 14 December 2013
Thursday, 5 December 2013
|Still from The Big Freeze (movie) by Alison Palmer|
I met Alison at the talk hosted by Mini Click in Brighton in the summer of 2013 when we got chatting with a few other people in the break. She was very direct and serious but, as I was to discover, she has a nice laid back sense of humour which comes out when she has relaxed with you. It is clear from my emails that we discussed working together although I don't remember doing so. I wrote to her asking what she had been thinking since the talk and she replied with a loooong email first of all saying how moved she was by the talk particularly because she had had first hand experience of illness in her family. She laid out some ideas for the shoot but, reading them now, I'm not sure that any of them ended up in the final film but that often happens - it is not always what you write but rather, it is the act of writing that opens your mind allowing it to become creative.
She suggested a few dates for filming and eventually, she came to our house to have a chat and we watched some film of my mother and the documentary I made about her house, my childhood home, and both got quite tearful in the process. Alison said that this shared emotion tapped into the idea that, no matter how and what our current physical vessels are experiencing right now today, we are all intricately connected through our DNA make up, our physiology and our mindscape, to all of those family members who have gone before us, some of whom leave very powerful markings on our personalities, physical stature and reside within and under our skin whether we want them to or not. Afterwards she wrote again at some length with various ideas, some of which never transpired including me carrying my mother's old wrought iron gate down to the beach! If you have ever seen that gate, you'll know why this was never an option - it weighs a bloody ton.
On the day of the shoot in December it was quite cold and initially, we stayed inside and Alison interviewed me and did some filming. It was a long day and I remember feeling quite whacked at the end of the day but also very satisfied as I felt that we had got some good footage. That was December and I did not get to see the first version of the film until the following August (after the editing was completed by Ken Plas) because we were both so busy. Jane and I watched it and we were very moved by it because it showed me as I was before my operation. I made a few comments to Alison on this first version and was concerned that Alison didn't feel put out by my suggestions as I know how I tend to take over films in this way because of having made so many myself. However, she took it as constructively as it was intended. I have now seen the final version and this time I was a bit more detached and I think it is excellent but I do feel that it is for others to judge because I am too close to it really. What I can attest to is its authenticity and the fact that, although it will move some people, there is no surfeit of sentimentality. It takes a committed and talented film-maker to achieve this and that film-maker is Alison Palmer.
The film will be shown at upcoming exhibition at Create Gallery as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe from 4th to 17th October.
The film will be shown at upcoming exhibition at Create Gallery as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe from 4th to 17th October.
Monday, 2 December 2013
|Arthur Wiggle and Maurice Woggle|
These are "The Wiggle Woggles" who appear in my short film of the same name which you can find on You Tube. This has nothing to do with my photographic project, "Over the Hill" as such except that, if it wasn't for Parkinson's Disease, I would never have started the project in the first place and may never have had the time to start making my own silly films such as this classic.
The film started off as so many of mine do with the purchase of a record at our local Oxfam charity shop (one of the best in Brighton). This record was a 78rpm recording of a Xylophone tune. I was at a loose end one day and so, inspired by the tune, I raided my dressing up box (doesn't everyone have one?) and put on these clothes and within about an hour, The Wiggle Woggles were born.
This film is one of Jane's favourites and it is now enjoying its first public performance at "!MAGICK! House", an artist's open house at 43, Orange Row, Brighton BN1 1UG (at the back of Gardner Street) as part of Brighton's Christmas Open Houses. It is being shown along with lots of other very interesting exhibits including a brilliant new painting by Jane "2 Steps Back" which can now be viewed on her website. The house is open for viewing from 11am to 4.30pm on weekends only from now until 15th December (incidentally, our 34th wedding anniversary).
Wiggle Woggle cards can be purchased for £1 each at the Open House and a DVD containing two films can be ordered for the cost of £5 each by emailing me at email@example.com - all profits will go to Parkinson's UK.
Friday, 1 November 2013
|THE WONDER OF YOU by Sophie Gerrard|
Sophie came to me through Twitter. You know the score - you search for photographers and twitter throws up people whom they think you might want to contact. And so it was with Sophie. I looked at her website and thought her work was exceptional. In particular, I liked the beautiful photograph of the lush green field in Mastichak, Bihar, India. It has a marvellous depth of colour and there is a tiny dot on the horizon - is that a person standing there looking back at Sophie? Could she do a similar shot where I become the dot on the landscape? It is such a romantic picture in the broadest sense.
So, I had no hesitation in writing the usual email to Sophie who told me subsequently that it arrived at a very opportune moment in her life. Anyway, although she spends some of her time in Edinburgh and I like Edinburgh, we decided to meet up in London where she spends the rest of her time. We met at Hampstead Heath Station and had a cup of tea before strolling onto the heath. The light was fading which was exactly what she wanted and she took various shots in different areas some topless and the rest full clothed.
What I found with Sophie was that she really involved me in what we were doing. She explains what she has in mind and how she wants it to look but not in a way that gets one flustered or nervous. It is all very easy. And, like all good photographers, she found out what made me tick and drew that out in the photographs.
It was some time later that I received about twenty images from the shoot by email. They were all good and, initially I chose the one below but eventually after going back to them a few times, I knew that it had to be the one above.
Again the depth of colour is so captivating - there is a darkness which perhaps foretells of the the darker days I am beginning to experience and which come inevitably as the illness takes a hold. But it is not a sad picture to me because it was a happy afternoon spent with a very nice person who knew what she wanted and got it. No nudity, no theatrics, no make up - just a very, very good portrait, beautifully composed and atmospheric.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
|TRACEY EMIN by Michael Birt|
So, I was on a number 28 bus from Brighton to Lewes and hoping that my tremor would calm down before I arrived at Michael's house for our shoot today. It didn't but, as soon as I saw Michael's smile as he answered the door, I knew that it was going to be alright - and so it was.
I don't often write about a shoot in advance of getting the photographs but now and again, I have such a nice day that I just want to tell everyone about it. Michael is handsome, slim and he owns a beautiful smile which seems to play on his lips and around his eyes continuously. He is a fan of The Beatles and - hang on, stop there, what is there not to like? He tells interesting and sometimes moving stories and is very generous when you tell him a story. He is a gentle man and a gentleman. He cares and that is what being a gentleman is all about.
It was a thoroughly satisfying shoot. This is a photograph of Tracey Emin he took and I have included it here because we talked about it and her - it seems that we are both fans. It is also a great picture - centred, intimate, challenging - like all his photographs. We talked about The Beatles, Southport, Ken Dodd, Clive James, Marlene Dietrich, Margaret Thatcher, Danny Devito, Richard Griffiths, Grandchildren, Mike McCartney, Roger McGough, Marilyn Monroe, The Graduate, Blue Jasmine,
Charleston, Monk's House and Peanut M&Ms and a lot more besides.
After the shoot in his sitting room which benefits from a north facing light and a view of a lovely Biwa tree in his garden, he asked me to share some home made soup and salad with him, followed by a mug of tea and a biscuit. By then, I really felt that I had outstayed my welcome but the warm handshake and another flashing smile at the door said otherwise.
This is why I have enjoyed this project so much. It is full of nice people like Michael Birt who also happen to take very good photographs.
Thank you, Michael.
Sunday, 20 October 2013
|SPELLBOUND by Svetlana Masterova|
Svetlana is bonkers but bonkers in the most delightful and endearing way and notwithstanding her bonkerism, she is a very dedicated and talented photographic artist. I came across her work on the Women Erotic Artists (WEA) website. Yes, I know what you're thinking - what was I doing in the Lingerie Department of Marks & Spencer last Tuesday afternoon? Well, I was looking for a present for my plumber and lost my way if it's anyone else's business. No, seriously, Jo Wonder (who has also photographed me) was in email correspondence with me concerning the inclusion of my "Wiggle Woggles" film in an Open House she was organising and in her email there was a link to the WEA website so naturally I clicked on the link to look for photographers and found Svetlana's work and a link to her website. The work on her website was excellent and I could see in her portraits that she was really engaging with her subjects and that is what I love to do with a photographer and so I had no hesitation in writing to her asking if she would photograph me.
She agreed straightaway and said that she would like to come to Brighton to do the shoot and mentioned that she had only photographed a male nude once before and that, apart from that, it had always been women and that she felt men were more body conscious and therefore had little experience in this area but that if I was still interested we could choose a day and shoot something beautiful. She then looked at some of the other images in my project and admitted that she was now "officially nervous".
Anyway, she came down and she burst into my life like a mini tornado. She is such an emotional vibrant personality with a wonderfully droll sense of humour. It was such fun and, as we got to know and trust each other, we relaxed into the dizziest of dizzy shoots and the time flew by. I loved this image when I received it shortly after and told Svetlana that I loved it and that I loved her and, of course, did the honourable thing and asked her to marry me. Of course, she was completely overcome and admitted to crying on reading this but not hysterically. But, seriously, I love the picture because it completely sums up how we were motoring at that stage with complete abandon. It was a special day with a special person and it is documented in a special photograph, the specialness of which is almost too difficult to put into words, as you can see.
So, here we are "Spellbound" by the magical wizard of photography, Svetlana Masterova - Красивый, веселый, специальный человек.
Friday, 11 October 2013
Saturday, 5 October 2013
|HEADS AND TOES by Holly Oliver|
The word, "Lovely", is somewhat overused, especially by me, but sometimes when it is used to describe some experience, some person or some thing which (or who) is unique and special, it is the perfect adjective to choose and so it is in the case of this shoot, this photograph and this photographer. I don't use Twitter that much (I tweet about once a week on average, I guess) but when I do, I often put UK photographer into the search engine and, on one such occasion in August 2013, I came across Holly Oliver who was not only a photographer and a very good but also she was based in Brighton, now my home town.
So lucky (and lovely) Holly received my usual email which differs very little from the inaugural email sent out at the beginning of the project in 2008 (NB although the first photograph in the project was taken in 2007, I didn't realise it was a project until early 2008). She apologised for taking a whole day to reply (lazy) but thanked me (polite) and said that she would love to photograph me (lovely her and lucky me). Over the course of the next few weeks, we slowly formulated an idea for the shoot which ended up taking place on the Harbour Wall at Brighton Marina with Holly, in the main, using her polaroid camera. Holly was a bright and breezy email correspondent but even so, it was a very pleasant surprise to experience the brightness and breeziness at first hand when I met her for the shoot on 5th October 2013.
The main memory I have of our time together was that it was so easy. We met in the Red Roaster, a cool little coffee place in Kemptown and, after an initial chat, we caught the bus to the Marina and walked to the Sea Wall which that day was populated by a number of fishermen. The sea was quite calm and wore a beautiful silver blue sheen as it rose and swelled and pushed gently towards the beach stretching across to the Pier. The anglers seemed a happy bunch and, although they reminded me of the scene in ''Play it again, Sam'' when the exultant Woody Allen thumped a fisherman joyously on the back sending him headlong into the river below, I managed to resist letting my joyousness get the better of me and the worse of any of the anglers. It was a close run thing though.
Eventually, we found a suitable spot and, two packs of old polaroid film later, it was all over pretty quickly. We ambled back to the bus stop chatting all the while and then parted at the Old Steine. A few days later, I received these two sets as well as individual scans of each picture. They are not as "finished" as most of my photographs and, by their very nature, they were never likely to be. However, what they do is really conjure up the whole feel of the shoot. Individually, I like them all but, when I saw this montage with Holly's toes in the shot, I felt that this had to be the one for my project.
Holly brought round the original polaroids the other day and it was like being given a piece of glittering jewellery. Each print is a diamond. A precious unique item that I can touch and look at and put back and take out again. And every time I do so, I feel rich, as rich as a very rich man with a loving family, a good and happy life, loyal and devoted friends, laughter in my life, freedom, favourite books and LPs and singles, photographs, DVDs and amongst them all in a small cardboard box some treasure which was given to me that day that Holly took me to Brighton Marina.
Holly and Me
Friday, 4 October 2013
|BRIGHTON ANGEL by JoWonder|
So, Jane discovered the work of the amazingly quirky JoWonder, Artist, Performer, Filmmaker, Photographer and even Stand-up comedian and, what with one thing and another, Jo found herself living in a our basement for a couple of months, having decided to move out of London. Jane and Jo became friends and, as their friendship grew, I began to get to know her as well. She is like a little fairy who flitters about delivering little wandfuls of magic dust to people, sometimes whether they like it or not. Well, they usually end up liking it because she is such a unique bundle of fun. She looks like a pretty doll but has a cackling laugh which is beautifully infectious.
She is interested in so much and liked the sound of my project and either because of that or because she recognised something angelic in my make up or because of nothing, she suggested this photograph which I was more than happy to do even though I had not really seen much of her photography but had seen some of her movies which in turn are bizarre, witty, animated, fresh and intelligent.
So very early one morning, I walked down Montpelier Road with her and she photographed the empty street and then photographed me dodging the the odd car that roared through the 20 mph limit recently imposed in certain areas of Brighton.
And then she presented me with this fun diptych. The Brighton Angel by the one and only wonderful JoWonder!
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Sunday, 22 September 2013
|SMILE by Vici Watkins|
Yes, a very satisfying shoot and a marvellous photograph to boot. That rhymes doesn't it?
If you just smile.
.....and she brought a delicious carrot cake with her!
Friday, 6 September 2013
|The Opening of the Private View|
On 1st October 1977, I qualified as a solicitor, having undertaken my Articles of Clerkship (now known as a Training Contract) at the firm of Raper & Co in Chichester, West Sussex. I applied to several firms for a job as an assistant solicitor including Burley & Geach who made me an offer which I did not refuse but they also told me that there were no prospects of Partnership. Four years later, I became a partner of the firm. I continued to work at the Haslemere office until 1985 when I moved to our new office in the nearby village of Grayshott where I remained until 2006 when I was forced to retire due to having Parkinson's Disease. On 6th September 2013, thirty six years after I had qualified, I returned to open a show at the Haslemere Educational Museum. The Private View was attended by many people I have known for some years including several former clients and my former senior partner as well as a number of other acquaintances from my days as a lawyer. It was very interesting, not only to return to my old stamping ground, but also to speculate who might come along. I was very touched that those who did attend spoke so movingly about the project and me and my health problems particularly Alan Perry whom I have known for over 35 years and who said some very kind things in his address. I really felt glad to come back and to mix together the two worlds I have inhabited i.e. the legal world and the post diagnosis world of modelling, filmmaking and writing.
The photographs on display show a brilliant cross-section of the marvellous array of the challenging and inventive work in the project. Some of the photographs have been exhibited before but a large proportion have not and I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Haslemere not only to see my show but also the other wonderful exhibits on show elsewhere in this great little museum, the reputation of which has increased hugely over recent years. This has been due mainly to the hard work and enthusiasm of the staff and volunteers as well as to the wise decision making by the trustees led by the ubiquitous Alan Perry who brought an energy and an intelligence to his dynamic chairmanship in recent times, and which has been continued by the present incumbent, Melanie O'Dell.
Some years ago, a short time after my diagnosis, I went to see a speech therapist as my speech was beginning to become slurred. One day, she asked me how I had been and I explained that recently I had joined a local film society but when I attended the first film in the programme a few nights before, I had bought a plastic glass of wine and, as I walked to my seat, I felt very conscious of friends watching me do so and possibly thinking ''there's poor Tim, shaking''. The therapist said to me that I had to get used to the fact that I wasn't the Tim I was before, I was Tim with Parkinson's. That helped me a lot. I am Tim with Parkinson's but, at the Private View, the old Tim was still there.... deep inside and it was he who introduced the new Tim to some old and valued friends.
A film I have made about the exhibition can be seen here. A longer version with me talking about each of the photographs on display can be seen HERE.
MUSEUM WEBSITE: http://www.haslemeremuseum.co.uk/
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
|HERE COMES THE SUN by Kevin Meredith|
It was the the summer of 1974 - for me the summer of love. I had a new girlfriend and she was with me on the day I went to Wembley Stadium for an open air concert featuring The Band, Joni Mitchell and Crosby Stills Nash & Young. It was a gloriously sunny day and, as we sat there waiting for the show to start, they played music over the loudspeakers. Everything felt wonderful; I was in love, it seemed like everyone around us was in love, the sun was shining. Then suddenly, we heard the opening bars of "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles over the sound system and for the next few minutes I was transported into a heavenly place and thought how much better can life be?
Looking back through my emails, I was surprised to see that I wrote to Kevin as long ago as March 2013 after I had seen him mentioned on Twitter and then looked up his great work on his website. My memory was that my first contact with him was being introduced when I was talking to Alma Haser (and James MacDonald) at a Mini Click event in Brighton. It doesn't really matter but when I met him, he came across immediately as a nice person - a bit bluff but with a little bit of softness exposed possibly in his eyes or the way he talked or the way he moved or all three. Anyway, in March 2013, he replied to my email saying that he would be pleased to photograph me and that he would propose creating a montage portrait an example of which he sent me. I was thrilled because I really liked his style and, when I first saw his work, I thought 'I want to be in a photograph taken by this guy'.
As it was, it took until August before we set up the shoot on a morning not unlike the one which heralded that magical day in 1974. Kevin picked me up at 7.15 am and we drove to Stanmer Park and then spent a god hour or so wandering around this beautiful place. We saw one woman walking a dog but otherwise there was no-one else there - certainly we didn't see anyone else. I was wearing a grey shirt and Kevin found a spot where we started the montage shots. He used quite a small film camera and, before each shot, he measured with a ruler the distance between the lens and the part of me he was photographing moving from my head down my body to my lower legs. Being photographed is quite an intimate experience but this was particularly so as it was so close and he was touching me. Then, as we moved about the park into the woods, he asked me to get undressed and we did some nude shots, some montage and some not. All the while, we chatted and gradually we relaxed into easy conversation. This is the bit I like best - getting to know the person with whom I am collaborating. Kevin is a sensitive person and very experimental in his outlook on the art of photography. He is interested in so many different types of photograph and methods of taking them and he wants to pass that enthusiasm on to his audience and his students. He doesn't gush but he is very into what he does.
I waited a few months for the results and then, in short rush of emails, he sent me the images. Oh, before that I saw one image of his of me lying naked on the ground on Instagram. It was beautiful. Anyway, the montage shots were all that I had hoped they would be - crisp, revealing, intimate. However, Kevin then sent through this shot and I was blown away by it. It is stunning. I do find it surprising how these shots are so meaningful to me at this time. Now, maybe Kevin had this in mind when he created the image but the branches going through my head seem to sum up how befuddled my brain is becoming with the progression of my illness and yet there is still a strong burning source of creativity shining through which for the moment is in the ascendancy. I was worried that I would have to tell Kevin that the original idea of the montage would not feature in the image I would choose for my project but he didn't seem phased by this at all and he readily (and generously) accepted my choice.
So, here we are - "Here Comes The Sun" by Kevin Meredith. Aren't I a lucky bastard to have photographs like this and to meet and work with guys like Kevin?
Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right
Wednesday, 21 August 2013
|IT'S OVER by Jack Latham|
I like the name Jack. When I was much younger, I used to read a lot of Jack London books and I think that maybe the reason I like the name so much. The books were full of wonderful adventures and derring do in more innocent times. Then, subsequently, I was intrigued that John F Kennedy was also known as Jack - it sounded so cool. Then there was Jack Nicholson whom I first saw in "Five Easy Pieces". I admired the way he played slightly amoral characters who stood up for what they believed was right - for example, see the scene in "Five Easy Pieces" where he clears the table in the restaurant and the scene in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" where he commentates on the imaginary football game (or was it baseball?).
But, back to Jack - Jack Latham - the complete antithesis of Jack Nicholson. Whereas Nicholson is all knowing smiles and an uncouth manner, when I met Jack for the first time, he was very polite and looked like someone who had seen Shangri-La. His open, honest face and his easy, almost child-like wonder about his work and my project were immediately affecting so much so that I would have done anything he would have asked me to do in the shoot.
I went to his flat in Hove and we talked for quite some time before we ventured outside for the photograph. He had already suggested, and I had agreed, to photograph him as well. He took me down into a garage area below the ground floor which was like a moat around the block of flats. I had looked down upon this area from the bridge entrance to the lobby when I first arrived and thought it might make a good location for a short film I was planning. Jack used an enormous large format camera which is the one he lugs over to the USA when he goes on his travels down the Oregon Trail. I still know nothing about cameras but this was very impressive with the large plates and the cloth to cover his head as he set up the shot. First of all, I stood by some scaffolding and he took two shots there. I then told him I had been attracted by the place I had spied from the bridge and he really liked this part where a low concrete wall stuck out at right angles to the higher brick retaining wall. He wondered about me climbing onto the lower wall but then settled for me standing against the bricks and staring straight ahead. I stood against the wall and instinctively placed my hands against it to provide balance. He took a shot and then asked me to close my eyes and slightly bow my head for the second shot and he said at the time that this was "the one".
However, when it came to me choosing an image for my project, I preferred the first one. It was plain and simple - a man in grey leaning against a wall but there was so much more to see. The man is standing with the fingers of his left hand stretched out against the wall as a sign of, what? Moving on, going forward, not really staying still, restless. His clothes are creased by action. This is not a sedentary person; he is always doing things even if he stops every so often to think. He has his back against the wall but he will not give in. It is a brilliant shot suffused with an underlying emotion and a passion which come not only from the subject but also the photographer both of whom, in the moment the shutter has clicked, are at one.
We returned to the flat and I took a photograph of Jack with another of his cameras (don't ask me what it was). For some reason, I wanted him to be leaning over the balcony but with his head turned towards me. I wanted communication. We talked some more about his travels to the States and about the tragic death of Tim Hetherington and the birth of his own identity in his chosen art. Somehow, Roy Orbison came up and he said that "In Dreams" was his favourite song which didn't surprise me. Eventually, I said goodbye and, as I left, I felt that I was leaving some magic behind. I turned on my ipod shuffle and the beautiful voice of Brian Wilson rang out and then the magic worked and "In Dreams" came on. Jack was still with me - a good solid, gentle and sensitive man with an angelic face and a good solid name.
Monday, 19 August 2013
|DAYDREAM BELIEVER by Stacey Hatfield|
Sometimes, people creep up on you slowly and you realise that from the very start they were special. One such special person in my life is Stacey Hatfield. I am afraid that I cannot remember how I came across her work but it was certainly via Twitter in May 2013. However, I had met her a few months before when I managed to wangle my way in to a Nadav Kander Private View at a gallery near Oxford Circus. At that time, I was beginning to have more trouble walking and I could ever be entirely sure how I would be at a function like that. As it happened, I felt good as I stepped into the gallery. There I met Christina Theisen who had assisted Jillian Edelstein on a shoot I had done in North London. Stacey was with Christina that night and we chatted briefly but I did not remember her name so that, when I came across her work some months later, I did not put two and two together.
Then, in the summer, I was invited to talk about my project at a MiniClick event in Brighton and Stacey came along. In the meantime, we were corresponding and slowly but surely, I was beginning to sit up and take notice of this Stacey Hatfield. What began to dawn on me was that she was very committed and serious about her work - it was what she was about. We arranged to meet for a chat at the NFT Cafe on the South Bank and I think what finally hooked me was the way she scoffed her chips. I don't know why but I really like it when a person scoffs and she scoffed in a very beguiling way. Anyway, in between mouthfuls of chips, we began to talk and plan our shoot. This discussion continued by email until she and her lovely friend, James Brannon, came down to Brighton. By this time, we had fixed on a plan to shoot me on the beach but that was ditched at the last minute and we agreed to concentrate the shooting at my home.
We camped in our sitting room and whilst we chatted and I posed and she clicked, I played some vinyl 45s on my record player. We played lucky dip - they chose a number from left or right and I then took the record from the stack on the shelf and played it. All good fun. It was a very happy shoot and, by the end, Stacey said "Boo!" and I finally realised that Stacey was Special Stacey with a lovely smile and a keen intellect and a serious interest in her Art as well as being an arch Scoffer of Chips.
So, by the time that she and James returned to the house a few weeks later, we were really clicking. This time, they filmed me dancing to a tune from Amelie. I wasn't on top form physically but with their support, good humour and love, it worked. I thought afterwards that I wished I had been better physically and then I could have really nailed the dancing but, in fact, that didn't matter because the film was a record of what happened at that time on that day. It is a beautiful, lyrical piece which has Stacey stamped all over it. I do daydream and I do believe in love. That is what this photograph and the film say and they say it with assurance, power and love. It is a Stacey Hatfield photograph and a Stacey Hatfield production. How lucky am I?
Friday, 9 August 2013
|OSMOSIS by Julia Horbaschk|
You know when you are sitting at a table in a cafe or a pub after a function and you are chatting to the other people seated there - people you have only met that day for the first time - and one person above all others, holds your attention by dint of his or her engaging personality and the intelligence of his or her questions and comments? Well, that is what happened to me the day I met Julia for the first time. It was on 13th July 2013, the hottest day so far of that beautiful summer and I had just given a talk at a MiniClick event held in Brighton. The heat explains why not as many people came along as we were hoping but enough did come to make it a very good event. I spoke in the first half followed by about five photographers and then we had a break for lunch before a Question and Answer session in the afternoon and it was during the lunch break that I met Julia with some other members of the audience. We talked about this and that, including my project and in particular the question of nudity. Afterwards, she gave me her card and later I took the opportunity to look up her photography online and I was impressed with her work and her description of it.
I made contact with her and we met again at The Meeting Place Cafe on the Brighton Seafront and Julia said that there was a beach near Portslade which would be perfect as the location for our shoot if, as seemed likely, I was to be nude. I wanted also to try to find an unharvested cornfield up in the hills to the north of Brighton, if we could fit that in on the same day. Our first visit to the beach was very short and sweet and very wet! Julia took some photographs from some way off and then nearer the remains of some old, rusted metal breakwaters by which time the wind had got stronger and the rain was lashing down so we ran away to the car and thereafter retreated with honour to have a cup of coffee. The next shoot was much more successful in terms of decent images taken because the weather held and we got all the shots we wanted. We did not find a cornfield but we did find a suitable alternative in a quiet spot at the back of some newish houses where there were tall bleached grasses growing.
All the images looked great at the back of Julia's camera and I very much looked forward to receiving the finished articles. As Julia herself wrote of the beach shots on her blog, "The vast seascapes with the humble presence of Tim's body speak to me most. They point to fragility of life, power, drama and synthesis of the elements; an Osmosis of air, water, sand, sea and us."
Julia was quite quick in producing what she felt were the best images and I think very much that they captured the feel of those days brilliantly. The isolation of the location, the thoughts behind each shot, the feeling of utter liberation which I enjoyed but more importantly, the comradeship arising out of a true collaboration and meeting of minds. Julia is an absolute professional when it comes to Photography but she has a delightful personality and a wacky sense of humour. She is also married to a charming husband, Mark to whom she introduced me and who clearly is very interested in and supportive of her work.
It took me sometime choosing a final image for my project but I went for the above in the end - not that I had any real doubts; I merely had an embarrassment of riches from which to choose a single photograph to represent Julia. I love this shot - the way I am stretching up to breath in the cool morning air or maybe I am hoping to be beamed up to sit on a cloud as it scuds over this buzzy seaside city.
Since those two shoots, Julia has helped me shoot one of my silly films on You Tube (see http://youtu.be/nV1wQhPe0do and http://youtu.be/JWsE9i0XEJg) and together, we are looking to collaborate on more exciting things in 2014.
Monday, 29 July 2013
|PIECE OF CAKE by Valda Bailey|
When I first arrived at Farley Farm, many years ago, I was full of wide-eyed wonder. I had long been an admirer of Lee Miller's photography and a large part of that was based on her hedonistic lifestyle which, like that of the Bloomsbury Group, was unchartered fantasy for me. I am talking here not of sexual fantasy but more of an interest in seeing how art transcends morality. Therefore, imagine how it felt for me to walk around the gardens naked and pose for Valda's wonderful photographs. Also, how appropriate it should be Valda who photographed me there as her own work had struck me as so beautiful when I discovered it via her correspondence on Twitter with the likes of Rob Hudson.
Valda came to tea with us at Brighton armed with the most delicious home-made cake I have ever tasted and this may very well have given Valda her idea of a formal, naked, tea party for one in the grounds of Farley Farm. At the shoot, Valda brought lots of goodies to eat as well as a two tier cake stand. I provided the crockery, table and chair. She had two thoughts for a location - either the formal rose garden near the house or the open field by the car park. We plumped for the former and had great fun whilst Valda clicked away as I gorged on the sandwiches and cakes which Valda had brought with her. After the tea shots, we wandered around the gardens and tried poses next to several of the sculptures. This was one of the first shots and I remember that Valda purred as she took the photograph. I felt good too as I obeyed her request to lean against the trunk of the tree and let my arms hang loose like the rest of me. How many visitors to Farley Farm in the past had done the same?
Valda wanted to shoot me next inside the old greenhouse by the Kitchen Garden and after we finished there, we finished up in the field where I shed my clothes again and, holding only a polka dot umbrella, I went bonkers in the field much to the possible surprise of visitors to the village shop in the car park which abutted the field although I guess that the inhabitants of Muddles Green have seen stranger sights over the years. The wind was quite strong and it was as much as I could do to keep hold of the umbrella - I secretly hoped a big gust of wind would lift me up like Mary Poppins.
So that was that - a magical morning in a special place but Valda agreed to my suggestion of a drink and a chat at the local pub, neither of us really wanting the magic which had been conjured up between us to dissipate but, eventually, the time came for us to let it go and I returned to Brighton and she to her home and the editing of the photographs.
And look what she produced! A sumptuous feast for the eyes. When I first received them, I flitted from one to the other like the wasps which had buzzed about the sandwiches and cakes which Valda had made with the same love and care that she now displayed in the final edits of her photographs. I fed on each of them and, as I guzzled, I drank in their intoxicating colour and vibrancy until I had to stagger away with a belly full of wonder. I had to choose one of these images for my project but I needed to rest first. I noticed that she hadn't sent me any of the shots in the field and, when I asked her about these, she realised that she had omitted to send them and they followed soon after. They only made my task more difficult. I decided to choose two - something that I have done only four times before. Valda had been daunted by her task and the responsibility of following some amazing work by others but she need not have worried. Even Lee Miller would have been proud of what she produced and what is more, Valda has cast a sweet shadow over Farley Farm and, whenever I return,
my mind will drift back not only to Lee Miller and her life there but also to the gloriously happy day on which I was photographed by Valda Bailey. She is very self-effacing but she is exceptionally good at what she does and I suspect that, deep down, she knows it.
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
|CARRY THAT WEIGHT by Emma Critchley|
I promised that I would write another post about my shoots with Emma Critchley and so, here it is. I loved the first shoot with Emma but the problem we had then was that the water in the pool was too murky to produce decent pictures. However, it set me up for the second shoot in that I got to know Emma a bit better and also her assistant, Hannah, and also I got used to being underwater and swimming in the pool. When I first went into the deep end on the first shoot, Emma told me to take a weight into each hand and allow myself to sink to the bottom when my feet would touch the ground as I landed but that, if I panicked at all, I should let go of the weights and I would float back up. So, I took a weight in each hand and held on to the edge of the pool, took a small breath and let go. I sank down, my feet touched the ground, I panicked, dropped the weights and shot straight back up gain! Emma said "That was quick!" Eventually, I got more courageous and and managed to stay down there long enough for Emma to shoot some images which informed her as to what to go for when we returned another day when the water was clearer. This we did on 17th July 2013.
I got the bus this time and arrived punctually. I got undressed and plonked into the pool and, of course, it was glorious again. This time, we went straight to the deep end and started on the shots which had succeeded the first time. Emma also adjusted the lighting which produced some interesting effects. I suppose the shoot must have taken about three hours again, maybe more, but the time sped by. I absolutely adored every minute of it. Not only was I swimming (and sinking) as I posed for the photographs, we were chatting too and it was all very relaxed. I do so love the shoots.
Afterwards, we had lunch in the Mad Hatter in Montpelier Road and then later on, I received the initial versions of Emma's favourite images form the shoot. They were simply wonderful. There were basically three that were the very best and it has been so difficult to choose just one as each said something different. However, after a lot of thought this is the one I chose. I really like the awkwardness of my pose and the shadow behind me. Emma produced them in black & white as it made the space more ambiguous. It reminds me of a painting by an old master but I cannot think of the name of the painting or the identity of the old master. If anyone can help, it would be most appreciated.
Emma is a great photographer. She knows what she is doing and does it very well and very efficiently but she has an artistic eye and a strong intelligence that enables her to fix on something and turn it into these beautiful weird images. We are planning to work together again and I know it will be pure joy, serious but fun, just like Emma.
Monday, 15 July 2013
|Clockwise from top right: Photos by Alma Haser, Chris Floyd, Harry Borden and Brian David Stevens. Centre: Luca Sage|
On what must have been the nicest Saturday of the year weather-wise, 13th July 2013, the wonderful Mini-Click organisation held an event in Brighton at which I was invited to speak along with five of "my" photographers namely, Harry Borden, Chris Floyd, Alma Haser, Luca Sage and Brian David Stevens. I was asked to get there at 10.30am and sure enough, I arrived at 10.40 having ploughed my way through hordes of day trippers marching purposefully down Queens Road from the railway station on their way to the beach. I had paused only to slip into Tesco Express to test a shelf-filler with the tricky question "Where are the pork pies?" to which he replied with a mumbled "porkpiesporkpiesporkpies....."whilst dragging his forefinger with mock concern over some labels on which he was stacking cold meats of various kinds eg Beef, ham, turkey, horse. After what seemed like three minutes I decided to put him out of his misery and pursue a different subject of enquiry to which he replied "The square root of 94 sir? I think you will find that this is what you're looking for" and he handed me a scotch egg.
The basic theme of the day was Portraiture although other subjects came up including "How to photograph Paul McCartney", "Which famous 60s photographer was shot with his finger up his dog's fanny?" and "Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur?".
I was first up and rattled on for about 15 minutes about my project and showed about 20 photographs and then the others followed talking about their own work as well as their collaborations with me. They were all extremely interesting and entertaining as I am sure that members of the audience will confirm. What struck me particularly was that it made me realise even more why I love the shoots so much. It is because I get to meet and work with these people and to experience what they described on the day (apart from the canine petting) and that is why the project is still ongoing. I'm sorry but I'm not expressing myself very well but I hope you get the drift.
We knocked off for lunch at about 1pm and enjoyed drinks from the bar, picnic treats and thought provoking conversation with members of the audience until we returned for a Q & A session led very adeptly by Jim Stephenson. We finally finished at about 3.45pm and, after a few more drinks, I left for home and fought my way again through a slightly pinker version of the same horde of day trippers whom I had met earlier in the day ......
A splendid day meeting old friends and new.
Thursday, 27 June 2013
|'TIL THERE WAS YOU by Emli Bendixen|
I was informed by Twitter on 20th February 2013 that I was being followed by Emli who described herself as being Korean/Danish and living in North London with a little dog. It also said that she was a photographer so I looked up her website, liked what I saw and wrote my usual email saying that I thought her work was wonderful and unlike anything I had ever seen before and it was and it is. If you look at the photographs on her site, they may not seem unique or amazing at first but look closely because what comes through really strongly is that all the photographs have been composed with real love and care. Again, there are plenty of artists who create with love and care but Emli has her own way with things and to me, it is totally and genuinely unique.
We corresponded and eventually agreed on 27th June as the date to meet certainly and, possibly, to do the pictures too which we did. It was a lovely day not only because Emli is the sweetest person but also because we played Beatles' records all the time and everyone knows how much I love their music,. We chatted a lot too and Emli met Jane and adored her paintings.
I received the photographs very quickly and they were all magnificent but this was my absolute favourite. Fortunately, Emli agreed and bob's your uncle! She mentioned afterwards that, although she and the other photographers come close to me, they don't really know me so there is something between us but not in a bad way at all. Indeed, as Emli said, the grainy glass panels placed me in a slightly alternate 'place'.
What a lovely day, what brilliant little images and what a nice person for me to meet. Hat-trick!
Tuesday, 25 June 2013
|DARK AND DEEP by Al Brydon|
If you happen to go down to the woods in the Peak District today then you can be sure of a number of surprises including bumping into a very strange man called David Spew. Actually, I made that up - as far as I know, there is no-one called Spew in the Peak District or anywhere else in the UK unless he is ex-directory. No, if you do go down to the woods in the Peak District, you might come across a man taking wonderful landscape photographs that take your breath away and, if you do, it is likely that you have met Al Brydon. And if you have met Al Brydon, then you will have discovered also one of the nicest men you could wish to meet in the dark, deep woods of north east England. My introduction to Al was through Twitter (for me, the new Flickr, the new Gumtree) via the great Rob Hudson. Having seen how an approach to a primarily landscape photographer like Rob worked out so successfully, I had no qualms about approaching Al and when I did, he agreed to photograph me. He lives in Sheffield - a place from my past. I fell in love with a girl called Susan in 1971 but soon after we started going out, she went to Sheffield University to study music and I went to London to read Law. But I was not only in love with her, I was in love with love and so I went up to Sheffield to see her and carried on doing so every second weekend until we split up six months later. One day, we decided to catch a bus to the countryside south of Sheffield and we got out at a stop on a road in the middle of a place called Nowhere and walked into the woods and..............well, I was curious to revisit the woods again. However, I had no idea where Nowhere was which is just as well because a pilgrimage is not necessarily conducive to a good photographic shoot.
I met Al at Sheffield Station and immediately he was friendly and chatty and I knew that our day together was going to go well and so it came to pass. We did a lot of walking and set up some shots in one location and I posed as Al asked me and, whilst he fiddled with his camera, I looked around me and marvelled at the beauty of England which suddenly seemed much bigger than the country described by the weird journalists at The Daily Mail writing recently about the population explosion (bloody single mothers) and the end of the world as we know it. Daily Wail more like. Anyway, enough of all that - back to Al. We then moved on to this place which was below a large bank. I don't know what it is about large banks but, so far, when me, a large bank and a photographer come together an incredible image is created and this is no exception.
We travelled on to a few more locations and in the middle, took a short lunch break but basically we worked together until it was time for Al to take me back to Sheffield to catch the train home. I received his selection of shots shortly after. God, I was so excited by them and so proud. Proud to have met Al, proud to be a part of his work. This image was the one for me and Al agreed, thankfully. So I now have a wonderful new image for my project and a very nice man not called Spew as a new friend.
Susan died of breast cancer only recently. I had not seen or communicated with her for almost 40 years. Unfortunately, I couldn't go to her funeral but I wrote to her daughter Olivia and we met in Dartford and I gave her a bundle of the letters her mother had written to me in 1971. She was my first love. She was witty, bawdy and beautiful. She had dark hair and brown eyes.
AL BRYDON'S WEBSITE: http://www.albrydonphotography.co.uk/
Saturday, 22 June 2013
|Ken from the series "The Final Sitting" by Miles Holder|
Last Thursday evening, I attended the Private Views of the Final Degree Shows of a number of Universities and Colleges at Free Range held at the Truman Brewery Building in Brick Lane, London. I have been going to Free Range since 2008 when I attended the show by Middlesex University and saw the work displayed by Gavin Phes, Petra Kubisova and Emma Davies, all of whom have photographed me. This year, I started off with the University of the West of England but I would have missed it if I hadn't got to Brick Lane early and been directed to The Rag Factory by a guy in the street.
The standard of work by the students from Bristol was very high. This was particularly the case with Urte Ursule Sutkute whom introduced herself to me. The other images which took my eye were the simple self-portraits by Kathy Foote and the beautiful pictures of the hands of the victims of Alzheimers by Natalie Morrell. In all three cases, I felt very moved by what I saw. I asked the students if their tutor, Shaun Sobers, was around and, although they expected him to come along, he had not yet arrived. Shaun filmed me last year on Brighton Beach.
|From the series "Hands" by Natalie Morrell|
By this time, I was weaving in and out of different shows and stopping at displays which really caught my eye. These included the stunning "Disclosure" by Alice Flannery (to whom I spoke briefly), the gorgeous landscape by Kaylee Gorman and the beautifully presented series of pictures of gypsy travellers by Sophie Brocks which brought to mind the work of Vanessa Winship.
I talked at some length to Barbara Dixon who was showing her excellent self portraits which she has taken since being diagnosed with cancer. It was interesting to hear how she had used photography to challenge her illness.
On the way out, I bumped into Tichelle Norman and Derrick Kackembo in exactly the same place I had met Derrick the year before and then dashed home, pausing briefly again at The Rag Facory to see if Shaun had yet arrived. He hadn't.
So, lots to see - it is on over this weekend I think so anyone reading this should try to get down there to see what the next generation of young photographers is coming up with. It is not at all bad. It is very good.
Wednesday, 19 June 2013
|DIRTY OLD MAN by Anastasia Trahanas|
I don't have a clue where I first saw Anastasia'a work but I do know that I really liked it from the start. It shows a deep interest in humanity and a real love and appreciation of the human body. So, I had to write to her didn't I? Yes, of course. But guess what? She said no! She originally suggested that she photographed me as part of her "Naked Britain" project but then withdrew her invitation. That was in 2010. However, we kept in touch and in 2012, I proposed again that she photograph me and this time she said yes.
Fast forward to Spring 2012 and we finally met at King's Cross Station and had a lovely chat. I had seen a beautiful photograph on her site of some plastic animals on a female model's pubic area and I had asked if we could do the same but she explained that the image I had seen was a very spontaneous shot and she had since tried it on a male but it didn't work. Nevertheless, I brought some plastic toy soldiers along to our meeting. I think she was impressed!
Her idea was to photograph me as a dirty old man - literally - with dirt all over my naked body. The things people make me do! I came to Anastasia's home studio and stripped off almost immediately and didn't put my clothes back on until two or three hours of fun and laughter had been enjoyed with her and Astrid who is a good friend and colleague of both of us. First of all I got good and dirty. Astrid helped me with the undercoat and then prepared the topcoat of dark mud and water which I then proceeded to smarm all over my naked body. I was in my element and the great thing was that both Anastasia and Astrid were too. I continued to smarm and dirty myself and tried a variety of poses, some suggested by Anastasia and some by Astrid and some by me. It felt so nice and easy and connected. We were at one.
We finished off with an attempt to photograph plastic figures on me but it didn't really work. I think by then, we had exhausted our creative vigour and so we brought everything to a halt and I proceeded to flush an awful lot of dirt down the plughole of Anastasia's bath/shower.
As I always say - I love the shoot most of all and this was a special one because we were all in tune with each other - BUT then I got the photographs and this one leaped out at me from the computer screen. Anastasia liked it too as did Jane. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present the wonderful, the amazing, the stunning "Dirty Old Man" by the wonderful, amazing, stunning Anastasia Trahanas. Look me in the eye and say otherwise! You can't can you? It shows me standing up for myself, challenging the viewer but I am fearful as well so there is vulnerability too and one looks and one wonders and wonders and carries on looking. That is what Anastasia Trahanas is all about and I was the lucky beneficiary of it.