When a magazine client asked if I had any ideas for a South of France, photography-led, travel feature, I didn’t have to think too hard. As summer in Provence heats up, and the Côte d’Azur gets crowded, there is only one thing to do in my opinion: wild swimming. I regularly escape inland, up to hidden spots beside mountain stream and lakes that are not too far from the French Riviera… but where the water is cool and peace reigns.
Few tennis fans may know his name, but Andrea Gaudenzi is one of the sport’s most powerful figures. I was asked as photographer to make his portrait in Monaco for Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. Executive chairman of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals), this former professional player is apparently drawing from his extensive experience in both business and tennis to lead the sport out of a financial hole. Andrea was an accommodating subject, juggling balls at the Monte Carlo Country Club in fierce sunshine for my portraits.
It is an invitation that I will treasure for a long time. Proposed not as a photographer, but as a jurist, I had been welcomed to attend the prestigious biennial Provence Cheesemaking Contest to judge the quality of the very best cheeses in the South of France. It was no small honor to be part of the judging process. Cheese is one of the pillars of French gastronomic culture and this event would select and bestow recognition on the region’s very finest cheese-makers.
Editorial photographers’ schedules often depend on their subjects’, and my alarm was set for 04.00 the day I made a reportage about Frédéric Roy. A baker in Nice, Frédéric is known in France and beyond for his crusade to save the traditional, hand-made, French butter croissant from extinction. Wizz Air’s in-flight magazine dedicated a 9-page cover feature to him this month, and I was invited to Frédéric’s bakery to capture all the stages of his croissant-making, and to take his portrait.
Hundreds of rally drivers; a legendary race; 9 300 km of tracks; mud, rock and sand. As photographer, I went to Monaco to meet and make a portrait of the only woman who has ever won the Paris-Dakar, back in 2001. Jutta Kleinschmidt is a one-off. Her 60th birthday may now have passed, but she’s still racing – today in the ground-breaking, electric off-road series, Extreme E.
Contes, in the hills above Nice, is the last town on the French Riviera with a communist party mayor. As photographer, I visited Contes for the first time to illustrate an article about the current state of the left-wing vote in France in the run-up to the 2022 presidential elections. As the Die Zeit writer interviewed (and I made portraits of) several left-wing residents, it became apparent that disillusionment and contradictions are the order of the day.
As photographer, I was asked to make the portrait of a rather controversial entrepreneur near Monaco last month. According to newspaper Die Zeit, Dr. Can Ansay is a megalomaniac, exploiting today’s pandemic for his own financial benefit by offering unvaccinated Germans dodgy Covid tests and ´fake’ certificates, despite a ban. According to Dr. Ansay himself, however, he is a freedom fighter, flying in the face of failed rules & incompetent politicians. I photographed Can in the golden light of a French Riviera sunset, above a dark, moody sea.
BUNTE magazine commissioned me to photograph the founders of Maison Mirabeau in Provence this summer. From portraits to interior design images, my photographer brief for this colourful, VIP lifestyle feature was broad. Stephen and Jeany Cronk gave up corporate life in London to realise a South of France winemaking dream 10 years ago. Their success, as producers of one of the UK’s best-loved (and multiple award-winning) rosé wine, has made them trendsetters.
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.
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.