Country Life Magazine commissioning me to photograph Dame Judi Dench, was a lifetime and career highlight. My portrait accompanies a wonderful interview by Michael Billington in the special issue, edited by the Prince of Wales in celebration of his 70th birthday.
Dame Judi is every bit as wonderful in person as I had imagined – warm, friendly, charming, interested, humble and very funny. I love how this portrait captures her sparkle and spirit – the essence of our much loved National Icon.
Capturing the spirit of school life and providing schools with compelling images to use for advertising, prospectus, website, PR and social media is one of the areas of my work that I most enjoy. Indeed I photograph regularly for schools across South West England, from Perrott Hill School (as per the above image) in Somerset, Sandroyd & Pinewood in Wiltshire, Leweston, Hanford and Castle Court School in Dorset, Cheam and Twyford in Hampshire, Horris Hill in Berkshire and the Westminster Choir School in central London.
I love the colours, light and composition in this image, but it’s the way that the boy is looking cheekily up at the little girl that brings the image to life – reflecting the most important qualities we, as parents, look for in a school – the happiness factor – and the same reason that Country Life Magazine chose this for the front cover of their annual supplement School Life.
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!
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.
What a privilege to return to photograph Kate Adie in her home town in Dorset, this time for a feature I was covering for Country Life Magazine, out this month. At 71 she looks incredible – perhaps her secret is keeping busy. Although her days of being a war correspondent may be over, she is certainly not one to sit still. Indeed she still works as a freelance journalist and public speaker, she presents ‘From our own Correspondent’ on Radio 4, is ambassador for various charities, and has written 5 books – including her best selling autobiography, ‘The Kindness of Strangers’.
I think this photo captures the essence of this remarkable lady – intelligence, humour, integrity, determination, strength and charm.