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Behind the Veil in Nice

Promenading under the sun, showing off bronzed limbs and checking out fellow seafront strollers is a popular French Riviera pastime, from Cannes to Monaco. However, strolling is not a pleasant experience for everyone in the South of France. My recent photographer assignment to make an editorial portrait of a niqab-wearing Nice resident – and the Algerian benefactor who pays her fines for doing so – was an eye-opener. Nice looks rather different through a veil. Continue reading…

Close-up photograph of woman in a burqa talking

Transhumance: A Story of a Journey

Summer is well under way in the South of France. On the French Riviera, the cool waters of the Mediterranean provide respite from the heat. But, far from the bustle of the Côte d’Azur, sheep farmers have other ways to keep their flocks cool. A few weeks ago, they travelled from farms across Provence to the cool climes and green grass of summer grazing grounds up in the French Alps: an event known as the transhumance. As photographer, I joined a transhumance on foot, in the hills above Nice. This extraordinary ritual journey has changed very little over the last 2000 years and, lulled by the sound of bleating and bells, I felt as though I were stepping back in time. Continue reading…

Photograph of guard dog watching over a flock of sheep

King of the Cannes Jungle

A magazine assignment recently led me to Cannes, to photograph none other than the King of Bling. Hot young fashion designer Philipp Plein may be German but he is utterly at home in his sumptuous villa in the South of France. As a property photographer, I couldn’t dream of a better subject that the self-styled ‘King’s Jungle’ that consitutes his workplace, home and playground. As a portrait photographer, I would have liked my audience with the king to begin a little earlier and last a little longer. But in any case, my experience was memorable. Continue reading…

Portrait of Philipp Plein

Art in Nice: Ben, Blues and a Repurposed Abattoir

Art has long enriched the image of the South of France (photographers may be as inspired by the light and colours of Provence as painters) but does a contemporary art scene thrive here today? Or, with so many of its art museums devoted to past masters such as Renoir, Picasso and Matisse, does the French Riviera rest on its laurels? Stern recently came to write a travel feature on art in Nice. The artworks that I saw and people that I photographed during two days in Nice with the writer were all a far cry from the painters normally associated with Provence. Continue reading…

Photograph of an old TV in a garden with 'Faux' ['False'] painted on the screen

french riviera lunch with a finnish economist

Björn Wahlroos is considered to be Finland’s top businessman. An arch-capitalist economist, he has very little time for poets, and not much for photographers either. In fact he has precious little time at all, even when holidaying in his South of France villa. Commissioned by an editorial client to go to Nice and take ‘a quick portrait’ of Björn before the writer conducted his interview, I was thus suprised to find myself leaving over 3 hours later than expected, with a full stomach and plenty of food for thought. Continue reading…

Photographic portrait of Bjorn Wahlroos, seated

keeping the ‘real’ in real estate photography

You’d be forgiven for thinking that a property on the market for €3.35 million in Monaco would be a pretty plush pad; a joy to work with, for a photographer. Monaco’s status as a fiscal paradise and its resultant real estate prices means you’d be wrong. The ‘dream home’ I was sent to photograph recently, right on the border between Monaco and much-cheaper-France, was underwhelming, to say the least. Making it look spacious and desirable, without resorting to photographers’ post production tricks, presented a real challenge. Continue reading…

Photograph of bathroom and bedroom with bath and glass partition separating the two spaces