|WHAT DOES THE LION SAY? by Antonio Olmos|
If you log onto the website of Antonio Olmos, you will see some of the most beautiful of photographs.
This photographer is a genius because he dives deep and he searches for and he finds a jewel but he knows that, if he dives even deeper, he will find the real treasure, he will find the real truth, the real essence of the man sitting before him. How does he do this? What special power does Antonio have? He doesn't. He is a human being like you and I. But he knows that the more he discovers, the more the man sitting in front of him uncovers. He takes hold and he leads his subject along this path of discovery and he opens him up for all to see. Look at this photograph and tell me I am wrong.
After the shoot, Antonio sent me sixteen photographs saying that he could not choose between them. I looked at each of them and then looked again and again but I could not decide. It was like that scene in the wonderful film by Wayne Wang, "Smoke", when Harvey Keitel's character shows William Hurt his album of photographs all taken at the same spot at the same time each morning with the camera pointing in the same direction. "But "says Hurt,"They are all the same". Keitel replies "Look again, my friend". I looked again and although the shots were taken at different times and in different locations, slowly I began to see each of them on their own merits. Finally, I looked at his one which was, in fact, similar to several others. But this one had a spark. There is a glint in my right eye. A glint of hope. It says "I am moving forward. I have made a discovery today. About myself. I am Tim. All is revealed''.
I was recommended to Antonio by the lovely Sarah Lee and it took me a long time to get round to contacting him. Sarah took my photograph in April 2013 but I did not write to Antonio until February 2014. He wanted to come to Brighton to photograph me but he said that he was a nice guy and pleasant company and he promised me that he would not be a pain in the ass. Well, I delayed seeing him until after my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. He admitted that he was worried that I had gone off the idea of him photographing me. We set up another date for him to come to Brighton. In the meantime, however, my son Tom had had a serious back operation and was at home recuperating with us but experiencing post operative complications so I asked Antonio if he wouldn't mind if I came to his place instead. He agreed and I am so glad he did.
I arrived and we had a coffee and a chat. The house was empty as his family were away. He took me outside and he asked me to sit on a chair in different parts of the garden. At this point it all felt quite serious. He asked me to take my shirt off. All the time, we talked and slowly our companionship grew as we each revealed more to each other about ourselves. He said that he was pretty sure that he had got the shot he wanted but suggested we go to the park nearby. The park was almost empty and we wandered around and he asked me to stop at various points and he photographed me with my shirt on and with it off. At one point, I lay on the ground and he asked if I minded him straddling my prone body for the shot.
Eventually we made our way back to the exit and then he pointed to some long dry grass bleached by the sun. He asked me to sit in the middle of it. Then he looked around and I knew what he was going to ask."Can you take your clothes off?'' he said. I was worried that this was a public space and that we might be seen. He assured me that hardly anyone came to the park at this time and any case he would keep an eye out and warn me if they did. I took off my clothes and lay down as he requested with my hand on my thigh. Then he said I could get dressed which I did extremely quickly as he admitted that this was his first male nude photograph. I felt quite proud. We returned to his house but he wasn't finished. He took me upstairs and photographed me some more and I am pretty sure that the photograph I have chosen was taken at this time.
So you see, he thought he had got the shot he wanted in the garden. But we both discovered that there was more to come. It is this that I find so wonderfully exciting. I was tempted to choose the nude shot - it reminded me of a lioness resting in the prairie grass. It is a beautiful shot but the one I chose eclipses it.
And he was right - he is a nice guy, a very nice guy and pleasant company, extremely pleasant. He is Antonio Olmos, photographic explorer and genius.
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
|FROM THE EARTH by Claire Nathan|
I have a niece, Amy Samantha Andrews, known to me and everyone as Sammy. She is charming, pretty and kind and utterly adorable. She decided that she wanted to learn more about Photography and when she was performing at a wedding (she has the most beautiful singing voice), she went up to the photographer and asked her if she could help and advise her with regard to this new pastime. The photographer agreed to help and they became friends in the process. The photographer was Claire Nathan.
Sammy came to visit me in hospital just after I had undergone my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery and mentioned that she knew Claire who was interested in my project and that I should contact her. I did so after looking at her website. Her portraits were very good indeed but what clinched it for me was her picture of Sammy - it captured her lovely fresh and lively attitude to life so perfectly. There then followed a series of emails to and fro with photographic and artistic references as we slowly began to create an idea of what we wanted to achieve. For me, it was the connection to Claire and for her, it was a splash of colour, of brightness to create an uplifting image in the face a some of the awful things that life can throw at us. We needed a make-up artist and Claire said that she had worked with Alice Hopkins before and that she was tremendous.
We met at Notting Hill tube station on the morning of 13th August 2014 and she drove us to her house where I met her charming husband, the film maker, Dan Nathan, and Alice. We chatted a fair bit but eventually got down to the make up which took a while to get on. Claire was very clear as to what she wanted and Alice was very patient as she made the final touches before the shooting began in Claire's home studio. It was a very happy shoot and we all talked about good times and bad but in a way which enabled each of us to take a few faltering steps towards a greater acceptance of our lot and to reconcile ourselves to tragic events even if we still did not yet fully accept them and understand their meaning for us. People say that I was brave to have my surgery - I wasn't brave, I had no choice. When my sister died, life carried on.
And I can feel you dreaming
And I'm dreaming of you
Together slowly drifting
Into the powder blue
You expect the world to stop but it doesn't. You have no choice but to walk through those empty dark days and hold hands with those close to you and find solace there and eventually you come through to the other side. What has this got to do with this photograph? Well, everything actually. It was part of a journey where I have walked along a path which at some point crossed another path on which Claire is travelling and there we met. And there she took this photograph which, if we hadn't met, would never have been taken and the world would not have seen this part of me or this part of Claire. It is a great photograph. I have recently uploaded a slideshow of my project onto Vimeo and this song by Madness is part of the soundtrack......
So can't we just stay?
Can't we just stay?
The world is giving up
And there's just me and you
Together slowly drifting into the powder blue
Into the powder blue
Into the powder blue
Into the powder blue
Into the powder blue
Tuesday, 12 August 2014
|TIM IN HIS STUDY by Rosaline Shahnavaz|
When I came to write this post, I looked up my email correspondence with Rosaline and found that, although I had first written to her in July 2014, she had in fact first written to me in December 2013. At that time, she was working as Gabriella De Martino's assistant and Gabriella had recommended that she contact me to suggest that she take my photograph as part of the project. Rosaline was too polite to mention this when I contacted her. However, if you had seen me in December, you would have understood why I had not responded. At that time, my Parkinson's had got much worse and the number of usable hours in the day very much reduced so it is no wonder that I didn't reply although I'm sure I would have done if I had looked at her work. As it was, when I did look at her work through some links on Twitter, I was entranced. Every person is very much a part of their environment. There is a placidity in each and every portrait which shows this. And this is what Rosaline did with me. She was hardly here for any time at all but, after a quick tour of the house, she plumped for various spots that she felt were where I liked to be. And then she was gone! I hardly got to know her and her partner, Ben, who accompanied her which was a shame but, in some way, that makes her shots even more impressive.
She sent me two shots afterwards but this was the one that immediately grabbed me. It also harks back to the second photograph I had done by Mark Russell in 2007 with me sitting there surrounded by all my "stuff". And also, it is beautifully composed and captures a peacefulness in my demeanour that I noticed from her other work on her website.
I am sitting in the same room as I write this. I have just been down to the sea but I didn't swim because the tide was too far out and it would have taken me ages to get in far enough to swim properly but there was a gorgeous moment when the sun, almost orange, rose behind the pier. I love living here and that love and the satisfaction with my lot are all part of the expression on my face in this great image. It is very representative of me. Sometimes, I feel that life is going far too fast for my liking.
Stop this train
I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in
But honestly won’t someone stop this train
- John Mayer
Monday, 11 August 2014
|IN A BRIDGWATER TEA ROOM by Nisha Haq|
I came across Nisha's work through another photographer, Joanna Burejza, but how I am afraid that I don't have a clue! We started corresponding in May 2013 and, at that time, her first idea was to do a head shot portrait involving using a studio and multiple mirrors at Southampton Solent Unversity but first of all some exhibitions and the Parkinson's Disease got in the way and so it was not until August 2014 that. on a trip to meet a friend near Taunton that we finally met at Bridgwater Station. We spent the morning and early part of the afternoon in Tea Room and very nice it was too. Nisha was very chatty, I was very chatty and the food was good. What I particularly like about Nisha is that she is not afraid to take photographs. I suppose that can be a bit of a drawback if you are a photographer but I have found that one or two are a bit tentative at first whereas Nisha was not and started photographing me almost immediately.
And then I received some photographs from her - four photographs to be precise. I chose this one mainly because, although I am looking into the lens, it has caught me in between poses so it is a pause but it is a natural pause which seems, to me anyhow, to say a lot about who I am; I recognise that guy in the photo. Also, there is seemingly no barrier between me and Nisha and yet, we had met for the first time only about 30 minutes before which says a lot for a photographer especially one as young as Nisha. That said, I have no idea how old she is but she is certainly young compared to me. The colours in the shot are so good too. The dominant colour is blue (my shirt) but this contrasts so beautifully with pallor of my skin and the soft pattern of the wallpaper beyond. Gorgeous.
A few months later Nisha came to the exhibition in Brighton but it was just about to close for the day so we didn't get much chance to talk. It was also a little strange to see her other than across a table in a Bridgwater Tea Room but what a lovely person she is - quite the most perfect companion on that day and, hopefully, other days to come
And, get this, we're going to work together again!
Friday, 8 August 2014
|SO NEAR by Alys Tomlinson|
So near. So near where? So near the Arsenal Football ground for a start. This was taken by Alys right at the end of the shoot in the Eco-Reserve. It was a nice, warm day but without much sun which was perfect for taking photographs. We also discovered that if was perfect for an illicit lunch hour snog - not Alys and me but the couple on the other side of the clearing where we stopped to take first set of photographs. Eventually, they found that they couldn't give each other the attention they required and pushed off.
I first contacted Alys in December 2012 after coming across her work by way of Portrait Salon and Twitter. She answered almost immediately and suggested a location shot in the Spring using film. However, it was not until September 2013 that we met in London for a chat - by that stage, she had already suggested the Eco-Reserve as a location. I was pleased because she was chasing me rather than the other way round. She continued to pursue me and eventually we met at Arsenal Tube Station and spent a very pleasant hour talking and photographing in the Reserve. Initially I posed in the snog clearing, some with my shirt on and some without. Actually, come to think of it, this shot came sort of in the middle of the shoot. There was a point when we we went into the bushes and Alys photographed me through the branches heavy with green leaves, that I thought about how much I love this project. She looked at me so intently through the lens and I looked back and we communicated.
Why do I like this shot so much? Well, it is a great photograph, full of colour and contrast. Also, and this doesn't sound that momentous but, physically, I was so much better after my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery a few months earlier that it was quite a big deal that I was able to lie down on a park bench like that. Interestingly, Alys shot it from the top so that my scalp is in focus and, of course, that is where the electrodes are whirring away sending their little messages to all parts of my body to enable me to do things like lie down on a park bench. I have often said that this project isn't about my illness but about me at a time when I happen to be ill but I cannot really separate one form the other as the illness has such a hold over me. However, at the moment, we are equal partners. So near.
Anyway, back to Alys and the photograph.
Yes, I love how the colours contrast with each other and are so rich and deep which I do feel that one can only achieve to that extent on film. I am not a photographer and so some excellent digital photographers may take issue with this but it is a point of view held by many photographers I have met and worked with.
Afterwards, we went back to Alys' flat just round the corner and had a cup of tea and a chat. Alys is a lovely person and a very talented photographer and it was an absolute pleasure spending time with her. And then, I went home and told Jane all about it.
"Twas so good to be young then,
To be close to the earth
Now the green leaves of summer,
Are calling me home"