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Cannes: an ‘impossible’ photographer brief

Sometimes, the gap between a picture editor’s vision of how to approach the photography for a feature (dreamed up in doodles on a desk in London) and the reality of what a photographer can actually achieve on location (at a giant trade fair in the South of France, for example) can be rather large. At the latest MIPIM, an annual real estate event held in Cannes, my magazine client’s photographer brief for a portrait-led feature verged on impossible to realise. However, “impossible n’est pas français”. Continue reading…

Sketch of a building with "I am a momument" written above it

Food photographer’s cover story

Its probably best not to read this post if you’re hungry. On a recent magazine assignment, I left the French Riviera and headed to Marseille with a food & travel writer to investigate the city’s vibrant, migrant-influenced cuisine. Working as both food and portrait photographer, I had the privilege of photographing – and tasting – some extraordinary dishes that combine South of France flavours with African and Asian influences, and meeting the Marseillais who created them. One of the courses, from a lunch with no less than 23 of them, made the magazine cover. Continue reading…

Cover of Aramco World magazine, showing a photograph of an haute cuisine starter

Monaco: ‘world’s biggest bribe scandal’

I regularly carry out editorial portrait assignments, in the South of France and beyond, and have the privilege of photographing all sorts of people. Although, each one has a reason to be of interest to the international press, I tend to think it is important, as photographer, to avoid forming too many preconceptions about portrait subjects before meeting them. A commission for the New York Times newspaper in Monaco challenged my resolve. Press rumours had it that this portrait subject in Monte Carlo was a very bad man indeed. Continue reading…

Thumbnail of portrait of Saman Ahsani, seated

marseille: feminist in a corner

The photo editor of the Guardian Weekend magazine called me at the last minute for this portrait commission in Marseille. Unlike most of my editorial assignments, which incorporate a South of France setting, writer and feminist Reni Eddo-Lodge was to be photographed in a studio environment. Hers was one of a set of portraits that would be composited together, so the photographer brief was strict. Unfortunately though, the location was no studio, and realising this brief turned out to be very difficult indeed. Continue reading…

Composite photograph of Nish Kumar and Reni Eddo-Lodge in discussion with empty speech bubbles against white background

Guantánamo to Nice

One of the privileges of being a photographer in the South of France is the wide variety of people that I meet on my assignments, from a celebrity in Cannes to truffle hunters in the French Alps, or a writer living in Provence. Earlier this year, though, I photographed, in a typical French Riviera village above Nice, someone unlike anyone I had ever photographed, or met, before. I was asked by the writer of his book to take the portrait of a man who, before his arrival on the French Riviera, had spent 7 years in Guantánamo Bay prison. Continue reading…

Portrait of Lakhdar Boumediene (former prisoner of US prison camp Guatanamo Bay)'s profile against a blue sky.

morocco: on assignment in cinema city

Do writers have an easier life than photographers on travel assignments? Yes – and no. Earlier this year, I journeyed far from the South of France with a good travel writer friend on an editorial commission. Close to the edge of the Sahara desert, we made a reportage about Ouarzazate, Morocco’s moviemaking headquarters, for an Aramco World magazine feature. Continue reading…

Photograph of a giant sculpture of a film production black and white clapper board on a roundabout