British long distance runner Paula Radcliffe held the record of fastest marathoner in the world for 16 years. Today, she lives near Monaco, where I made her portrait for the cover of People Health magazine. Incredibly, she achieved her long and successful career as an athlete, despite being a lifelong sufferer of asthma.
The Karabakh is one of the oldest breeds of horse in the world, and the national animal of Azerbaijan. I travelled there as photographer on assignment for Aramco World magazine for a cover feature this spring about these breathtakingly beautiful, golden horses – who were at risk of extinction only 30 years ago.
A convoluted journey took me to Barcelona recently, on a magazine assignment to make portraits of an unlikely pariah. His grandfather was once voted the greatest Frenchman ever, yet Pierre de Gaulle has, in publicly voicing his controversial opinion of the conflict in Ukraine, incurred the displeasure of both the mainstream French press and the government.
Being commissioned as photographer to make portraits of actors or directors during the the Cannes Film Festival is a unique experience. This year, Telegraph Luxury magazine assigned me to photograph Natalie Portman, as well as two young actors who were awarded the 2023 Chopard Trophy for rising movie stars.
Tourettes-Sur-Loup, above the French Riviera, was once known as the home of violets. 70 families grew and sent their flowers as far afield as Paris – yet today, only 3 producers remain. I photographed the picking, bunching and crystallisation of these unusual little blooms, whose scent is there one minute – and gone the next.
Just before Christmas, I was assigned to travel 400 km across Provence, to make a portrait of author Helena Frith Powell – and to do a better job of it than her last photographer. Based in the South of France, Helena is known in the UK for her books on French living, as well as a DIY guide to creating a luxury spa at home. A portrait of her in spa gear was needed for the cover of the Daily Mail’s Inspire magazine, and the Mail’s previous photographer was not welcome back.
The link between a llama and Provence rosé wine may not at first be obvious. But on a recent advertising photography commission, I was thrown into the world of social media influencers and discovered that they have a growing presence in the wine industry. On this occasion, llamas were brought to a wine-making chateau for some unusual lifestyle photography, and I was reminded of a portrait shoot that I’d done years ago…and would have preferred to forget.
The Marzocco brothers have made it to the top in Monaco. ‘La Tour Odéon’, where I made their portrait recently, is one of the Marzoccos’ giant property development projects in Monte Carlo – and the tallest building in the principality. In bright, white, glass-walled surroundings of one of Monaco’s most expensive apartments, I worked around summer sunbeams and soap bubbles… and learned of an extraordinary escape from the Italian mafia.
This spring, I travelled to Bulgaria’s idyllically-named Valley of Roses. On assignment as photographer for Aramco World magazine, I was to make portraits and a reportage. Yet, as in the South of France, Bulgaria’s climate was out of kilter this year, and what should have been a straightforward assignment about growing Damascus roses to produce rose oil, turned out to be a challenging mission indeed.
Some people collect stamps … others collect Ferraris. French magazine Le Point celebrated Ferrari’s 75th anniversary this year, and I was assigned as photographer to make portraits of both a Ferrari collector and a Ferrari caretaker – the latter an ex-champion racing driver – in the Lubéron. The loyalty and emotion that this brand inspires are impressive – as are the price tags of its products.