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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.