Blog

Optimism on the Algarve

Working conditions were unusually plush (by an editorial photographer’s standards) on a magazine assignment I had in southern Portugal recently. Commissioned to make portraits of Swiss businessman Freddy Burger and take pictures of the beautiful hotel he’d just purchased on the Algarve, I not only enjoyed a warm welcome at Hotel Vivenda Miranda, but was also happy to be involved in an upbeat feature focusing on the return of a long-awaited optimism to the travel industry.

Testing the Water

Heston Blumenthal is Britain’s most acclaimed chef. The photographer chosen by GQ magazine to shoot his portrait this summer, I drove west through Provence to Heston’s experimental laboratory, where I was to photograph him. The inventor of snail porridge and bacon & egg ice cream, celebrity chef Heston is known for original cuisine that brings science and art together, and the research that his team is currently carrying out in the South of France has the potential to take gastronomy to a place it has never been before.

‘You Have Talent’ Ad Campaign

I was delighted to be selected as the commercial photographer to take portraits for Tribune Côte d’Azur’s latest advertising campaign. Outstanding entrepreneurs from Nice and Sophia Antipolis were to be introduced to the public on social media and in advertisements across the French Riviera. A pioneering fungi specialist, manufacturer of 3D printers and a cookie café owner were among the individuals I was to capture in a set of dynamic, positive, workplace portraits.

In Napoleon’s Footsteps

Thanks to Swiss magazine Die Weltwoche, I recently found myself on the trail of Napoleon. As photographer, I travelled with the editor and writer to Grasse, high above the French Riviera, to make the portrait of Lucas Albers, a Swiss citizen who’s just purchased a piece of Napoleonic France. The remote Plateau de Napoleon, soon destined to host Albers’s contemporary arts centre, was the spot that Napoleon chose to camp and gather his troops in 1815 after escaping from exile.

Donkey Defenders

The Baudet de Poitou is the oldest race of donkey in France, yet only 300 are left worldwide. I was assigned as photographer to make the portrait of a Provence-based British couple who are doing their bit to save the breed from extinction. Back in the 18th century, tens of thousands of Baudet de Poitou were sold annually. Yet it wasn’t for their skills at farm work or cart-pulling that these donkeys were in great demand. No, they were bred, quite simply, to breed.

Green Jersey Cover

Le Tour de France has begun! Sam Bennett held the coveted title of top sprinter last year, and I was the photographer chosen to shoot a cover portrait of him in Monaco for magazine Procycling recently. Le Tour’s top sprinter wears a green vest, and, as Sam is from the Emerald Isle, the editor wasn’t going to miss out on a strong green theme for the cover design. Victory green smoke bombs? Why not…

Electric Racing Driver

Monaco is known for its prestigious Grand Prix, but the principality also hosts Formula E events. I was commissioned as photographer recently by Belgian magazine Sabato to make a portrait of Stoffel Vandoorne, a leading driver in Formula E, the clean energy motorsport that’s hot on the heels of Formula One. Stoffel races electric cars that go at breathtaking speeds of up to 280 km/hour, but when he’s not working, he prefers to ride a bike.

My Eyes, My Town

Today is the opening day of the photography event Fotofestival Nüernberg. I’m delighted to be one of the photographers invited to show work there and, though travel from the South of France to be there in person is not possible at this time, the event is bravely ahead despite Covid. In response to the festival’s theme, ‘Facing Reality’, I made a series of environmental portraits of inhabitants of a small town in Provence – with a twist. Viewing the world as seen by the subject within their portrait, and incorporating reflections seen in sheets of glass they hold, my work illustrates how our internal narratives colour our perceptions of our surroundings.

Fastest Female on Two Wheels

I last photographed Lizzie Deignan in 2017, a cover portrait for the Guardian Weekend magazine. This spring, I returned to Monaco, where she lives, this time as photographer for Cyclist magazine. A racing cyclist, Lizzie is currently the top ranked rider in the world and is a prominent figure pushing forward professional women’s cycling. We both rose to the challenge of doing an environmental portrait shoot during the Covid lockdown and, so doing, fittingly celebrated another International Women’s Day together.

Svalbard

Svalbard, 1000 km north of Norway, could not be any more different from the South of France. As photographer and writer, I was privileged, a few years ago, to be invited to join a polar expedition cruise along its western coast. The landscapes were unfamiliar, harsh and striking, and I witnessed, under an eerie sun that never sets, the beauty of glaciers and the incredible adaptability of people and nature to extreme conditions. I also learned that while melting ice leads to catastrophe, it can also lead to hidden treasures – and inspire an extraordinary use of flags.