Regulars follower of my blog or instagram will recognise this guy. @tomgaskin_ is a friend of mine, also from Great Yarmouth. He does a lot of things — he’s a juggler, a comedian, a model. Recently he’s been doing pretty well with his acting too, he had a small part in a big movie, got an agent, and is doing some commercials and cool projects now. We had a good time in the studio making some new headshots recently.
For Monocle latest Drinking & Dining Directory I was asked to go and take a few photographs at theatre-restaurant staple Joe Allen’s. The original is in New York on Broadway, I think, but the London branch has been around for years too. It’s a known spot where influential theatre types dine, but also where a lot of famous West End actors worked as waiters before they made it. The story for Monocle, as I understand it, was all about tables in restaurants where important deals are done. It came out in their Spring/Summer issue.
A few of the images from a really fun editorial I worked on recently with some great collaborators. The creative here was to produce a New York style loft apartment in the studio and to make some great underwear lifestyle images. We wanted to make images that felt like our model was enjoying a relaxed Sunday morning at home in bed with coffee, breakfast and the paper. In sexy underwear. Looking amazing. Because everybody does that, right?
Another day shooting with regular client Coal Office. The restaurant is in the new Coal Drop Yard development at Kings Cross and is the brain child of designer Tom Dixon and famous Israeli chef Assaf Granit. I spent a day recently with head chef Nitai following him around as he did some prep (which I’m sure he doesn’t normally do!) and briefed his team.
ultra-aesthetic rugby enthusiast’s magazine, Rugby Journal, asked me to photograph some of the giants (literally and figuratively) of the English and Scottish Rugby National teams. The studio was set uo at The Auld Enemy, an event organised by legend Doddie Weir’s charity to raise money for Motor Neuron’s Disease sufferers whilst celebrating the rich history of the rugby rivalry between Scotland and England. Apparently. I’ll admit I know nothing about Rugby.
This week I had to pleasure of visiting Philip and Keith, the two gents who own and operate Wildes Cheeses. I was asked to go and photograph their cheese making day-course for National Geographic’s relatively foetal food periodical National Geographic Food. I didn’t want to show up expecting that some poor sod would be OK with me sticking a camera in their face, so the guys allowed me to bring a friend along — friend of the blog Tom Gaskin — who took part and I snapped him instead.
For the second consecutive year I returned to Monaco to spend a few days backstage at the Monte-Carlo International Circus festival. Arguably the most significant event in the global circus calendar this prestigious festival is often referred to as the Oscars of the circus world, with the best international acts being invited to compete for one of several coveted prizes. None is so famous or revered, though, as the Clown D’or, or Golden Clown — the circus performers’ most distinguished accolade.
My visits to Monte Carlo, as anyone who follows my work will guess, are a part of my longest personal project — photographing circuses and circus artists. I have been taking photographs backstage at the circus since I was a teenager, and it has become a serious undertaking that, I hope, will one day comprise a book. I’ve managed to make a good connection with someone at the festival press office and my (already very generous) access was improved from my first year. I enjoyed a full four days of unlimited artists’ pass. During shows I spent my time shooting backstage and around the edges of the Chapiteau (big top). I grade these images black and white because firstly, it helps with the quality of the images shot in extremely low light, and secondly, it creates a clear distinction between these images and the main portraits;
As with the previous year the work I made in Monaco comprised both these reportage images shot during the show and also more formal, strobe-lit portrait sittings with artists from the lineup. I posed the artists as I always do — fully made-up and costumed, but without the flare and flamboyance of their characters. I ask the subject to recede into themselves, as if to become invisible within their show attire. It’s always interesting to watch trained athletes and gymnasts attempt to slouch, drop their shoulders, uncock their hip.
This week The Guardian Online published some images from my ongoing project photographing circus shows and circus artists. I have been photographing circuses since I was a teenager, and have in recent years ramped up my effort and enthusiasm for the project. There's a link to the piece at the bottom of this blog, or you can get there by clicking on the blog title.
The piece that The Guardian have published comprises images from two circuses. The first is the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus, which is owned by one of my best mates Jack Jay and his family, and is the place which first got me interested in circus. I spent my adolescence running around that place (though I must have been the only person in our entire peer group who didn't ever actually work there!) and since then I've never felt more at home anywhere than at the 'drome. Whenever I get back there and I smell the sweetness of the popcorn and the slightly acrid smell of the chlorine in the ring pool I feel instantly at rest. I'll be headed back there in a couple of week for their easter show, Pirates Live, to watch the show and get some more material.
The second site featured is the Fontvieille Big Top in Monte Carlo, the site of the annual International Circus Festival Of Monte Carlo, a prestigious circus festival hosted by Monaco's royal family for ten days every January, now in its 42nd year. I spent 4 days in Monte Carlo this year, photographing the backstage working of this huge production and arranging, where possible, portrait sessions with the artists. Having wanted to go and make work at the festival for some years I finally decided that 2018, the 250th anniversary of modern circus, would be too big too miss. It was an amazing experience and although being around circus artists and productions is deeply familiar it was also a massively new experience for me, having never worked in such close proximity with exotic animals before.
It's a really big deal for me to get published by a platform with such a huge readership so needless to say I'm really pleased, but I'm also really excited about the opportunity that this and other material circulating around Circus 250 might afford the world of circus generally. It's a culture that is sort of thriving, but in a pretty under-the-radar way, and hopefully some of the Circus 250 buzz will help reinvigorate public interest.
This week I met up with my friend, juggler, actor, model, comedian and all round good-guy Tom Gaskin to help him film some new material for his 2018 show reel. In between takes we were messing around with some new lighting kit I've picked up.
I send most of my time shooting ambient, environmental portraits, and when I do use flash it's usually just to add a little definition to whatever the ambient is doing.
That being said I really enjoy the occasional splurge of absolute artificiality. On camera flash (or close to it) big vignettes in post-production and excessive desaturation always make me feel like I'm shooting a magazine cover. Chance would be a fine thing.
Of course, the one quick ambient snap i took at the end of the day is, as always, my favourite.