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 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.
He is a celebrity doctor to the stars…she is his artist wife. I was the photographer commissioned by Donna magazine to make portraits of the Müller-Wohlfahrts at their South of France villa this summer. The couple have been married for 50 years, and friends say that Karin’s artistic career has always been in her husband’s shadow. Now, it is her moment for the spotlight. Karin’s French Riviera home is a haven to her sculpture and painting, and it was a privilege as photographer to capture pictures of this strong, creative woman, her artworks…and her husband.
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.