|Under the Pier by Cat Lane|
The wind blew cold that day,
Under the pier.
Not with a winter's chill when leaves have dropped,
Leaving wiry arms and fingers,
Black against the grey sky.
No, the cold of a place where the sun cannot penetrate.
Nervous in front of those who also sought shelter from the sun,
You reassured me with
We had eaten together earlier.
You were nervous this time, this first time.
We talked in a desire to understand, to calm, to reveal.
We each brought tears to our eyes
But not sad enough to fall.
You cried again later when we parted in the street.
The emotion of the day, our meeting, poured out
I clasped you to my chest and told you that it was all right
strangers before that day.
The day the wind blew cold,
Under the pier.
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
I have stood with her in the rain. I have talked to her in a crowded room. I have eaten with her. I have lain on her floor. I have answered the door to her. She has come to open the gate for me. I have shared my thoughts with her. I have read her words. I have draped my body on this rock in the sun and allowed her to photograph me. Short puffs of time in a breeze, warm and cold, harsh and forgiving but long enough to recognise a child of the earth, a mother of being, ideas and actions, a teacher of a new attitude of acceptance, love and humour.
She is not unique, I am sure, but she is the only person I know who is like this and the only person who could have taken this photograph.
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
|TIGER MEETS TIM by Briony Campbell|
Early in 2014, I was sent details of a forthcoming talk at PhotoForum to be given by Briony Campbell and so I looked at her website and was bowled over by her fantastic photography. She responded very positively to my initial email and began talking about shooting at our house in Brighton but dissuaded her because so many had already been done here. So, it was that on 22nd July, I travelled up to her flat in Hackney for the shoot. The lovely face of Briony welcomed me at her front door and almost immediately, I had a very good feeling about the shoot.
She made us each a delicious smoothie and toasted some muffins and we talked about the this and that for about half an hour before Briony began to get the tripod set up ready for the photographs. She had an interesting way of shooting in that she looked at the shot through the camera but she then positioned herself to the side of the camera when she pressed the shutter. Although I was looking straight at the lens and normally in those circumstances, I try to look through the lens into the eyes of the photographer, this time the photographer was connecting with me away from the camera. Just a small thing but actually quite enormous in the context of my project. But there was more. She said that, if she ended up 80% satisfied with the results from the shoot then that was really the best she could hope for and that she would be very happy with that. Well, I enjoyed our encounter so much that I wrote to her afterwards and gave it 95% as far as I was concerned. I said that the missing 5% was because, when she decided to drape the tiger blanket over me, I did wonder if it would look better if I was naked but I did not want to break the spell that had been cast as we slowly but surely crept up the scale towards her 80% mark. We also did some shots inside without the blanket and some outside on her balcony with the help of her flatmate who held the reflector. Then her boyfriend arrived and we had a coffee and I said goodbye. I hop skippity jumped down the stairs of the building thinking what a hop skippity life I was leading these days.
Briony responded to my email after the shoot saying that she had really enjoyed it too even though it seemed strange to her to be creating an image that made me part of her home rather than trying to capture the essence of me in my own home. However, she felt that I looked so good under 'Tiger' that she felt it was meant to be and this reversal of the usual scenario seemed appropriate since my project is about the experience of being photographed rather than the exercise of photographing. She had also used the shoot as part of her new project of photographing visitors to her home and I was now a member of her new 'club'.
A few days later, I received three photographs from her. Her favourite was the Tiger shot and I am very happy to go with that one although I really liked the other two. The Tiger shot has the sense of me visiting a foreign land (her flat) and the raised eyebrow says that I am king of my own little jungle in my head, in my tiger outfit, on her settee and, at the same time, the stick on the wall above my head is the shape of a "T" for Tim, Tiger Tim.
But most of all, and this is what gives me the most pleasure, this is a photograph of me by Briony Campbell, a great photographer, my new collaborator and my new friend.
Saturday, 19 July 2014
|SPACE by Poulomi Basu|
I turn over in bed. I must have slept quite deeply because there is an ache where my shoulder had been leaning on the pillow and creases on my skin matching those on the sheet. It is still dark so I switch on my mobile phone. The silver light from the screen momentarily lights up a small corner of the room. I check the time. It is 5.30am. I haul myself out of bed and put on the bedside lamp. I take my pills and I finish the the cup of water - it has been a warm night and the water is tepid. I pull on my shorts and two T shirts, turn off the light and go downstairs. After putting on my beach sandals, I leave the house quietly shutting and locking the front door behind me. I plug my iphone into my ears and to the accompaniment of the Beatles' "Lady Madonna" I stride down to the sea. The street lamps are still on but the sun, not yet above the horizon, is beginning to light up the sky.
A black cat with no tail and only three legs hobbles across the pavement and I wonder if that heralds a double helping of bad luck but then maybe the lack of a tail and one leg cancels out the bad. However, I remember that I am not superstitious and walk on. As I get nearer to the sea, the wind blows stronger until I reach the main road when it drops to a soft breeze. There is hardly anyone about. The tramps in the shelter have not yet woken. There are no fishermen. A beachcomber walks slowly, head down, over the pebbles but he is some way away. All is quiet and the sea is like silk. I take off all my clothes and I plunge into the water. The sun is slowly rising behind the buildings standing like tall fingers facing the sea. I push out and then twist and float on my back. At times like this, I feel that all I see is mine.
I told Poulomi of my love of swimming, especially in the sea, and she felt that that was where I had to be photographed. She was going to use film and digital but for this shot, she really needed to be above me so she sat on the shoulders of her husband, CJ Clarke, who was accompanying her on this short trip. When she first climbed on, CJ wasn't quite ready and he began to stumble and I suddenly feared that the two of them together with Poulomi's expensive cameras would be joining me in the water but CJ steadied himself and Poulomi began to take her photographs. As I floated past her, I thought of the more exotic and sometimes maybe, more dangerous locations she had travelled to in order to take her wonderful photographs and yet, her she was, in Southwick photographing me.
They were very good company that day and Poulomi was very much the intrepid explorer, seeking out and discovering new things about me. It is very subtle but this picture says so much. My posture in the water reveals an awe, almost(but not quite) a fear of the enormity of what is in the sky and beyond. I appear to be still but the large area of empty sea is there for me to float into. Even when my Parkinson's was worse, much worse, I could swim and so the sea is like a cradle carrying me, naked like a baby, on through the rest of my life, an undiscovered country. One can almost touch the water. It is such a gentle exploration of my body, my state, at this time of my life.
Poulomi is so good at what she does that she can say all this in one little picture taken in Southwick.
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon
We'll meet (I know we'll meet) beyond the shore
We'll kiss just as before
Happy we'll be
Beyond the Sea
- Jack Lawrence
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
|A SCAR IS BORNE by Peter Dench|
Some are born witty, some achieve wit and some have wit thrust upon them. Not sure which applies to Peter Dench but he is certainly a very amusing chap. I think I first came across him in the Professional Photographer magazine ("PP") and I wrote to him first of all in August 2010. As you can see, it took another 4 years to get together although, in the meantime, we kept up an intermittent email correspondence and I followed his adventures in PP as well as bumping into him (well, he was in the way) at a Mini Click event when he gave a very funny talk about his work to an adoring audience.
Then all of a sudden he was in my house with his camera photographing me and making me laugh as you can see by the tears rolling down my cheeks in this excellent photograph. No, seriously, he is a lovely jolly chap with a beautifully droll sense of humour and he knows how to photograph a packet of All Bran when he sees one. This photograph was taken a couple of months after my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery and you can see my Patient Programmer nestling above my left nipple and the scar just above it where the surgeon slipped it under my skin.
It seems strange to see me lounging around the kitchen topless - bit like the famous scene in "Ryan's Daughter" (what a film) when Robert Mitchum comes in from working outside and his wife, played by Sarah Miles, persuades him not to put his shirt on when he sits at the table to eat his lunch. Well, not exactly like it but there is a similar incongruity about it and yet that gives substance to the shot. After the shoot, Peter left and it was only a little later that I remembered that we were going to have lunch together and all I had given him was a glass of water. I wrote to apologise but Peter very courteously said that the water was delicious and surprisingly filling. I am sure he was telling the truth, aren't you?
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
...most blessed, most glorious, the ancient of days.....
A few days ago, someone asked me I believed in God. People say that God is Love. Well, I believe in Love so maybe I believe in God. It doesn't necessarily follow does it? What do I love? I love these photographs. I love them not only for what they are, beautiful images taken by the beautiful Suki Dhanda but also for what they say about that day. A day of gorgeous sunshine, of summer warmth and of collaboration. They are clear, clean pictures of me. Tim. That day. That most blessed and most glorious day when Suki and I finally met.
Suki had a photograph published in The Observer on 31st January 2010. I liked the photograph enough to look up the rest of her work on her website and I found someone who clearly loves her fellow human. She is interested in who they are, their weaknesses, their vulnerability, their quirks, their thoughts but she portrays these as strengths.
I wrote to her and, at first, she said that she was interested but then, after a short exchange, she explained that she could not really commit to photographing me at that time. Then, two years later, I saw another photograph by her this time published in The Guardian. I wrote to her, forgetting that we had been in communication previously. Again, she expressed an interest and pointed out that we had corresponded before. But, again, after an exchange of emails, she withdrew. She explained that she had some things going on and that she was not sure she would produce a good portrait of me. Well, I might have given up by then but, as she was not quite saying no, I had another go a year later in November 2013. No reply. I wrote again in June 2014. She replied saying yes and, within a month, we were together in Brighton.
She wanted to photograph me in natural light in a place where I walked. The only place where I walked on a regular basis was the road leading down from our house to the sea every morning to go for a swim. We walked down this road together and, as we walked, we conversed about life, the colour of walls, me, her, everything. We found a plain wall in an entrance to a small private car park and I sat on the ground against this wall and Suki took her photographs. They were on film so there were not that many but Suki took her time. It was measured, serious and altogether quite beautiful. All those years I had been pursuing her, all those places we had been in that time, all those thoughts, hopes, doubts, fears were decanted into that small space on a pavement in the sun by that wall that day. There was nowhere else for either of us to go. Suki's moment had come and look, look what she produced. The most beautiful pictures. They say nothing about Parkinson's Disease, they say nothing about my life, they say nothing about my environment. They say this is a man with his eyes open and with his eyes shut. Do not judge him by his illness, by the life he has led or by where he lives. He is a human being just like you. No more, no less and that is enough.
......we blossom, we flourish as leaves on the tree,
we wither, we perish but nought changeth thee.
Saturday, 12 July 2014
|WHO DID I MEET? by Natalie Adlard|
Who did I meet? I met Natalie when I went to Nottingham to be photographed by Ellen Chamberlain. Ellen had asked if I minded her bringing along a friend and I said no because I didn't and also because Ellen had already said that she was quite shy and I was aware that she probably needed some support. I wondered before when requests of this nature were put to me whether the attendance on a shoot by a friend might in some way impinge on my relationship with the photographer but I have found that, in practice, that has never happened and maybe that is because the photographer is more relaxed as a consequence.
Natalie and Ellen are clearly enjoy a very close and strong friendship and, when I asked Ellen if she minded if I asked Natalie to be part of my project, she immediately said that she didn't which very much shows the strength of the bond which exists between them. Natalie was quite quiet during the shoot as clearly she was intent on and content to take a back seat because, after all, it was Ellen's shoot. Nevertheless, I was very impressed by the photographs she sent me afterwards especially this one which stood from a collection of very good work. It is rich and clear and, unusually has captured my smile which does not appear in many of my photographs.
So, here we are - a photograph by Natalie Adlard - totally unexpected but a great addition to my project. Natalie is just starting out on a Photography career and, in my opinion, if she keeps up this sort of work, she will be very successful.
|AN OLD NEW LEAF by Ellen Chamberlain|
Sometimes, I trawl through Flickr and see what I can see. I look at someone's work which I particularly like and then go on to their favourites and then find someone else and go on to their favourites and then I find a photograph that has something for me and I look up the photostream of the photographer and get an idea of what they are about. One day, not so long ago, I found the photography of Ellen in this way. I thought it was exceptionally good and I wrote and told her so. She replied the next day, saying that she had heard of my project and was pleased to be asked to partake but pointed out that she was a shy person and had never before photographed anyone she didn't know. I suggested that we could meet before the shoot to get to know each other but, when Ellen told me she lived in Nottingham, I scrubbed that idea. She asked if she could bring a friend.
The day of the shoot was very warm. I enjoyed the train journey as I always do and I nodded off from time to time. I arrived in Nottingham and met Ellen. She was very young and slightly ill at ease - her friend Nathalie stood by awkwardly. But the day slowly unravelled before us and we began our stroll through Nottingham Town Centre which could be any town centre in any English town - Primark, Top Shop, Boots, Millie's Cookies etc, etc - it is a shame when such historic towns all look the same. We headed for the Castle and stopped for me to pose for some pictures there. Then we had a drink in the oldest inn in England and we chatted but none of us were fully relaxed. Eventually, we reached a small area of grass and we sat down under some trees and I think our more relaxed body language made the difference and we began talking more meaningfully about things and making jokes. Ellen has a lovely accent - I don't know what you would call it - a Midlands accent, I suppose - she thought mine was posh. I know I have said this so many times before but the most marvellous aspect of this project is that I communicate on a certain level with people so much younger than I am, who live such different lives and yet we are brought together by this common love of Photography and what it can do. This photograph was taken as we sat on the grass and well, it is a great photograph. The leaf is the representative of the other leaves on the ground and on the trees which provided shelter from the sun and something for us to twiddle with as we talked. It always helps to have a leaf to twiddle when you are getting to know someone.
It was time to leave and so we made our way back to the station and said our goodbyes. I was very touched when Ellen said "I know this is weird but can I give you a hug?" - it was the nicest hug.
She wrote soon afterwards with a collection of photographs from the day but I knew that it would one of those taken as we all sat on the grass that I would like the best and that is how it turned out. I have turned over a new leaf - I liked the old leaf but the new leaf is better.
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
|SELF PORTRAIT, BRIGHTON, 8 JULY 2014, 6.03AM by Simon Roberts|
All good things come to those who wait. I wrote to Simon on 13th March 2010 and, sure enough over four years later, we met on Brighton beach for him to photograph me. Actually, it is likely that that first email in 2010 fell into his Spam and he never read it. Having in the meantime moved to Brighton, I started to hear more about Simon and not surprisingly because he is a very good and a very successful photographer. I have learned that the two do not always go together but, in Simon's case, they most certainly do.
Anyway, fast forward to 2013 when I wrote again and this time he replied saying that photographing me was an "intriguing proposition" and asking me to give him a flavour of the other photographs that had been taken. I duly sent him a link to this Blog and also a link to the video of The Culture Show that had featured my project when broadcast in 2011. However, Simon is a busy man, understandably, and it wasn't until early 2014 that we finally met to chat about the shoot. It was then that Simon revealed his idea which was to photograph me photographing myself. He thought we should try the beach and maybe somewhere else but, as it happened, I took my own self portrait on the apron to the short brick pier near the bandstand and sent a copy to Simon and he agreed that that was where we should have our shoot.
Finally, we met there on 8th July at about 5.30am. As he requested, I brought my Rolleiflex with me and my tripod and remote shutter release. As I know nothing about cameras, Simon very kindly agreed to set up my shots and, as I posed for my self portraits, he took his photographs. We must have spent about an hour doing this from various angles until Simon said that was it.
I then received this one photograph and, of course, it is brilliant and will have pride of place at the show at the Create Gallery in October along with, at Simon's suggestion, the contact sheet of the photographs I took that day, some of which didn't come out too badly. But when you have one of the great photographers helping out, what do you expect?
Simon is a very nice guy. He is quite serious, particularly about his work but he has a warmth and a little twinkle in his eye which shine through when you get to know him. And he is an excellent photographer. How do we know this? Well, look at this photograph - it is full of movement; my pose and the contrasting slow swell of the sea beyond which also provides the perfect backdrop. The colours are beautifully light, the silver blue of the water, the yellow buoy, the paler blue of the sky, the rich green algae on the sandstone pier, my skin made ruddy by the sun and the wind, all combine to produce a gentle kaleidoscope of different hues that melt together to give us image that is like a magic potion poured over the page. Delicious.
Thursday, 3 July 2014
|HEAD IN THE CLOUDS by Nicola Benford|
It was with the proposed show at Create Gallery in mind that I made contact with Nicola as I thought she was still based in Brighton having initially seen her work mentioned on the University website. However, having seen the quality of her work, I also knew that she was a very exciting prospect. So, I wrote to her in December 2013 and she replied that, as she was working full-time, she wouldn't be able to shoot me just yet but she did look forward to working with me.
Eventually, we started making firm arrangements for the shoot and she asked if I has anything bright and breezy to wear. I had just come out of hospital having had my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery and, whilst I was in there, my darling brother had bought me this dressing gown made of pure silk - Nicola thought it was perfect. By now she was living in London but her parents brought her down with all her equipment and she looked through the house for a suitable spot and we tried some in our sitting room with me lying on our chaise-longue whilst listening to random selections from my 45 vinyl record collection but eventually we ended up in the room with the half-painted walls. She thought the white paint looked like clouds. At one point I dug out these glasses which I wear when I play Roger A Destroyer in my silly films and it was because of the glasses that I chose this particular image. I thought the brown frames provided just the right contrast with the other luscious colours in the shot.
Nicola was a delightful companion during the shoot and I was pleased that she was using her Japanese Bronica camera because there is something about them that is so reassuring. Not only do they make this wonderfully solid clunking sound when the photograph is taken, but also the results are so rich and deep. As I have said many times, I know nothing about cameras but I thought it was a reasonable guess at the outset of the project that about 90% of the photographers would use digital but in fact it must be about 50/50.
Nicola is a superb photographer and I was not disappointed when I received the photographs - they show what talent she possesses and that she will go far in her chosen profession. As with all talented young artists, she needs that lucky break but that will not be enough. She also needs to persevere and keep learning but having spent a few hours with her, I have no worries on that score.