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.
The South of France was particularly bleak and wintry when Die Zeit sent their journalist and me, photographer, on a journey across Provence to make a portrait of France’s leading ecofeminist researcher, Émilie Hache. Our destination was the small town of Die, a 4 ½ hour drive from Nice, and my preparation for this assignment involved, besides photography, finding out what ecofeminism meant.
It was a privilege to photograph Sara Hannig Nour, founder of a flagship organic food company, in Egypt recently. Corporate portraits (for PR & marketing) and lifestyle photography (to illustrate her upcoming cookery book) were the order of the day, and we prepared stacks of fresh, organic produce from the farm to turn her bright, white kitchen into a riot of colour. Swiss-born Sara’s dedication to caring for the planet, fair trade and healthy living – along with extraordinary work and determination – make her an inspiration. Indeed, Sara has not gone unnoticed: in 2017, she won Cartier’s prestigious Women’s Initiative Award.
French magazine Le Point assigned me as photographer to make a portrait of the CEO of H2O Asset Management at his office in Monaco last month. Bruno Crastes’s reputation in the finance world precedes him: 5 years ago he was named the best bond manager in the world. Yet since this summer, Bruno and his high-risk hedge fund firm have been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Australian cyclist Caleb Ewan is one of the world’s top sprinters. I was delighted to be sent to Monaco this summer to photograph him. Portrait photographer, sports photographer: both sets of skills were required to meet this brief, and I had very little time indeed to capture the pictures for Rouleur magazine’s 17-page feature. From the mountains above the French Riviera to his bike garage in Monte Carlo, I took portraits of Caleb, pictures of him in action, landscapes, reportage with his family & more. After two hours I felt as if I’d done my own stage of the Tour de France.
I recently travelled to the Red Sea, far from the South of France, to give a set of workshops to a group of budding photographers in the resort town of El Gouna. Smartphone photography, people photography, street, travel & action were covered, and there was a wide range of equipment, age and experience among participants. Yet everyone was joined in a single quest: to improve their photography. The most important asset in photography is your eye, and how you translate what you see into a picture, regardless of the camera. I am delighted to present some of the participants’ work.
L’Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, near Antibes, is one of the most exclusive hotels in the South of France. As photographer on portrait assignment for Bunte magazine, I recently had the pleasure of meeting and working with its owner, Maia Oetker. In residence since 1969, and still with an active role in the hotel’s direction, Madame Oetker has come to be known as the grande dame of luxury hotels.
One of the things I love about being a photographer is the opportunity for travel, both in France and beyond, and it was an assignment that introduced me to the Périgord region. Famed for its gastronomy and history, the Périgord is home to the star of the Chief Bruno detective novels – and its creator, Martin Walker. Sent by the New York Times to take photos for an article about Le Périgord through Bruno’s eyes, I discovered a fine line between fact and fiction, and tasted some gourmet dishes and wine along the way…
Not all my portrait assignments are for editorial or corporate clients. From time to time, individuals commission me as photographer to help build their own professional identity: a strong profile picture will support their social media presence and PR goals. The traditional industry term of what’s required might be a headshot, but I approach a profile picture as a portrait. For me it is an opportunity to make an image that represents various aspects of who my subject is and what they do – not simply a shot of of their head. Here’s how…
The man whose portrait I took recently in Nice is on a mission to save the world. From his South of France observatory, Dr Patrick Michel is part of an international team working to protect Planet Earth from being obliterated by an asteroid.