29 Sep 2009

The Scotsman

The PR team at ActionAid contacted the Scotsman paper. Their 'Spectrum' magazine want to feature the HungerFREE campaign and run some portraits. My interviewer Ruth (Walker) turns out to be an enthusiastic and tenacious sparring partner. We met at a neutral location that serves the best flat white in town- Peter's Yard. Before she has a chance to whip-off the gloves I drag her outside and insist she does 'touch'. She puts up no resistance.

Over breakfast Ruth asks me why I loathe being tarnished with the title 'celebrity' photographer. Celebrity photographers are a recent phenomena- like WAGS, X Factor contestants and Labradoodles. They're a pernicious breed that hadn't been conceived when I started out. Me, I celebrate everyone in my own, idiosyncratic way.

I don't know what to believe anymore, but it's in print in the Scotsman so it must be true- I am "Scottish".

19 Sep 2009

ActionAid Finished Poster Image

Finally finished the ActionAid campaign image. A week of preparation, three days shoot and three days in post-production. Within a couple of hours of the charity approving the image Design Week requested to run it. This came as a surprise as I hadn't anticipated acknowledgment from the design community.

17 Sep 2009

Professional Photographer

  Grant(Scott) wants to interview me for an upcoming issue of Professional Photographer. I met him twenty years ago, back then he was a talented and courageous magazine art director who commissioned me regularly. I would always present Grant with images that would scare him witless, before pulling out the safety-shot. We had an unspoken agreement; as long as he got his photograph, I could, and must, do my thing. I kept smuggling out my booty under the hemline of a shot that would stop him reaching for the nearest bottle.

 Grant's career has gone from art director to published photographer and now he has been appointed Group Brand Editor/ editor of 'Professional Photographer' magazine. I've come to think of myself as an 'Independent' photographer and, although he agrees that the title 'professional' was tenuous, Grant thinks it's time got some exposure.
 The questions he conjured made me out to be someone with integrity and determination. Loaded terms like 'incredibly powerful' and 'without compromise' suggested I'd achieved a level of notoriety! I had to choose my words very carefully.

Click here to read the article...

9 Sep 2009


 A couple of weeks ago got a call to pitch an idea for a charity campaign. On the 16th October, ActionAid were going to launch HungerFREE and needed an image to spearhead the campaign. They fired reams of facts and figures at me. Their goals and intentions were achievable and irrefutable. The challenge to communicate the severity of the crisis whilst satisfy the requirements of the many involved and associated parties was daunting.
 An image of hands holding a bowl containing chains of manacles in place of food, was chosen from the 14 ideas I put forward. A bowl of handcuffs, sounds simple enough, all I had to do was paint them, link them together and shoot 'em. Add a bit of digital alchemy, hammer home their slogan 'Free the Hungry Billion' in bold type and I'm done.
 The receptionist at the novelties suppliers thought she had taken a hoax call when I ordered a hundred pairs of cuffs. When they arrived I linked them together and piled them up only to find they lacked any impact. So I called back the suppliers. "I need more, another two hundred pairs should do it." She had trouble keeping her composure over the howls of incredulity coming from her colleagues in the back.

 Next stage; prime three hundred pairs of handcuffs in white, then spray them yellow. A colleague at ImagineArt (art-therapy service) kindly offered me the use of their recently acquired studio to make my mess in. For four days I joined the chain gang, sweeping up and down the lines of manacles with Roots Manuva's 'Witness' on repeat.

 My solvent trance was broken on day 2 when a seƱorita appeared through the mirage. She was a dancer looking for rehearsal space. Her smarting eyes squinted over a respirator made from a Hermes scarf. Through the manacle barrier she inquired “Do you know that in Spanish the word for handcuffs and wives are the same?” Before I had time to digest this paradox she blurted: "You must come and see my collection of handcuffs!" Did she mean her "harem" was my inappropriate repartee. She evaporated - a chagrined chica.

1 Sep 2009

Last Stand

 My body's telling me it can't take anymore and submits to my pathological sense of curiosity. The Edinburgh Festival officially ended last night but the comedians want the final laugh. Making my way down the stairs to the club I'm struck by a back-draft of sweat and jocularity.

This is the last stand - a rare opportunity for the comedy kindred to convene at the Stand Comedy Club. Seymour (Mace) is on the decks and is spinning old skool toons while

Simon (Viz) Donald tears up the dance floor like a Bigg Market stag.

The elusive Daniel (Kitson) is playing photo ping-pong, returning the volleys of flashes from behind a fistful of cd's.

The bar is free and besieged. In the crush I eyeballed Reginald (T.Hunter). "Sure" he's up for touch. Outside in the the dreich dark we commandeered a lamppost and I listened as his mellifluous tones syringed my aching ears.

The arrival of a mischievously half-cocked Mick Moriarty (Gadflys) was my signal to split.

Fin - Edinburgh Festival 2009