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.
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, 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.
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.
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…
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.
As the world pauses, and half the planet is confined with Covid19, international sports matches are a distant memory. Many photographers are struggling with inactivity; for athletes I can imagine staying isolated indoors is especially tough. In recent months, just before the Iockdown, I made portraits of three stars in a single sport: rugby.