Country Life Magazine’s frontispiece, often referred to as the ‘Girls in pearl’, ‘babe of the week’ or ‘English rose’, is arguably one of the first pages people reach for when opening the magazine. Originally this was a means of introducing young women into Society, portraying members of the aristocracy, but it has developed to celebrate engagements, achievements, new career choices, charity endeavours and so on.
It is the variety of styles, not just in the photography, but the clothing & composition that interests me so much the frontispiece. One day you will find a beautifully lit close up portrait, another you’ll find a girl in green leaning out of a yellow digger, or as in this issue’s case, in gold standing in a round ball on a large lawn in Hampshire! My preference lies with the more quirky shots and this is one of my recent favourites.
Thank you to the stunning Victoria Gibbs for making the shoot such fun, Avington Park for providing a spectacular location and Mach Management for their wonderful make up.
I so enjoyed photographing Emma Weymouth at home, Longleat, earlier this year for The Times T2 feature: ‘How posh are your cakes?’.
My shoot was split between Longleat’s original Victorian kitchen ‘Emma’s Kitchen’ where I captured her preparing meringues, and a state room used for entertaining, shown in the above image. Charismatic, vibrant, charming and beautiful, Emma is also a fantastic cook and is now planning a recipe book and a TV series. Watch out Mary Berry!
They say ‘never work with animals or children’ and yet I spend most of my working life doing exactly that… and LOVE it. Especially when the impossible all comes together, which it did in this image. We probably had 4 seconds before bedlam broke loose, but that was long enough, just!
Such a happy morning, just wish I could have smuggled one home.
A real honour to photograph Norman Scott for the Times article, 12th April 2018. The full story, beautifully penned by Helen Rumbelow, is available on the Times website.
Norman’s incredible story about his then scandalous affair with Jeremy Thorpe in 1970’s, and his attempted assassination has been made into a BBC series, A Very English Scandal, due out shortly. It boasts Ben Whishaw as Norman and Hugh Grant as Jeremy and promises to as moving as it is gripping. Having heard so much of Norman’s story first hand, I can’t wait to see it.
Dogs and horses play a strong part in Norman’s life in Devon – indeed it was his dog Rinka who took the bullet instead of Norman on the chilling night of his attempted assassination on Exmoor. So it seemed only fitting to photograph Norman with one of his many dogs for this portrait, in this case Pugsy, a rescue dog from a holiday in Cyprus.
This portrait of Trudie Styler for Country Life Magazine’s feature on Irish Wolfhounds, was taken at Trudie and Sting’s residence in Wiltshire on a filthy winter’s day in December.
Portrait photography in the rain is always a challenge. Standing in a fast running river with water flowing in over the brim of my wellies, Lucy precariously holding my lighting in strong gusts of wind, 6 irish wolfounds on a bridge eyeing up potential fun in the water below, all whilst being overlooked by Sting – made it all the more exciting! Trudie also had her hands full with these enormous hounds so I’m not sure who was more relieved when all the elements came together within a few minutes and we captured the shot without any of the wolfhounds joining Lucy and I for a splash!
This was a truly memorable evening in aid of www.childbereavementuk.org, with performances & contributions from musicians, actors and authors including: Sir Tom Jones and Jools Holland, Bill Nighy, Ben and Marina Fogle, Brendan Cox, Michael Morpurgo, the Taplow Youth Choir and The African Gospel Choir. As a portrait photographer specialising in children photography, a mother of three gorgeous girls and wife to a wonderful husband, I am aware of how lucky I am. It is a wonderful to give back to a charity providing a lifeline to bereaved families.
This portrait commission for Country Life Magazine, accompanied an article in the issue on 22nd November 2017 about the Country House Foundation which offers grants to help the preservation of buildings of historical or architectural significance. Indeed, this charitable foundation has helped the Nick Ashley Cooper, the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, restore the St Giles House Estate, Wimborne St Giles, back to its former glory. The earl explained: “During the restoration, we wanted to showcase one room in its unrestored state. The Great Dining room seemed the perfect space to do that, with its bare brick walls and layers of history.”
My aim was create an informal portrait from an angle which best displayed these ‘layers of history’, with particular focus on the juxtaposition between the bare brick and remaining plaster. What you can’t see are the two new layers of history on the carpet where Hettie (taking pride of place on the chair) was sick when she came in!
Another very enjoyable portrait commission from Country Life Magazine: photographing Cecily Offord at home in Devon for the frontispiece with my great friend and very talented make up artist Amanda Jackson Sytner.
Although the weather was rather dreary, the light was soft and there was little wind – so great conditions for portrait photography. The only set back with soft lighting is that it’s flat and lacking in shadow which adds a depth and mood I love particularly in close up portraiture. However, I found an ideal location under a pergola offering opportunity for creating soft shadows, a lovely wall with plants growing up in the background, and soft light flowing in from the front and right. I positioned the chair towards the front on the right, where there was sufficient light behind to avoid her her being lost in the dark background, and angled it so as create some soft shadow on the left of Cecily (from the viewer’s perspective).
We then worked through a variety of poses on & around the chair, which resulted in a wonderful selection of stunning portraits. The combination of a stunning model, make up, red velvet jacket and set up all worked in my favour. The one Country Life chose is but one of my many favourites.
As a children and portrait photographer, I’m often asked to capture a family together. This is I think one of the most challenging jobs for a portrait photographer – everyone looking good at the same time in a not too cheesy pose! I have however learned over my years of photography that a family portrait doesn’t need to have everyone smiling perfectly at the camera. In fact, they tend to be more compelling if they look more natural and capture a moment. This requires a little forethought – composing the image and then creating the moment.
In this case, the brothers were all sitting on the bales of hay, when on cue, their father ran in to give them a good tickling, enabling me the change to capture a spontaneous image which exudes the fun, laughter and love shared between the father and his sons.
I find these type of family portraits far more meaningful and likely to stand the course of time. Indeed, I hope this photo will remind these boys of how much their father loves them… forever.
One of the many things I love about my job is returning to photograph the same children and families over the course of many years. I have been photographing these siblings every 2-3 years for over 15 years – now with a pretty unbeatable collection of A* A’Levels and GCSEs behind them, they were a far cry from the little rascals I photographed in my studio in London aged 4 and 2 years old!
I love the composition of this image – the sister on the fence smiling down at her younger brother, both looking happy, relaxed and confident, framed within the urban context in which they have grown up.