Category Archives: literature

Oliver Harris portrait

oliharrisfinal

I took this portrait of Oliver Harris recently. Oli is halfway through writing a series of detective novels. The first two which are available from Vintage are set mostly around London. The novels hinge around the experiences of the self-destructive genius Detective Nick Belsey of Hampstead CID. Read more about him and his work HERE

I wanted to capture Oli in an urban London setting – the elevation was important to denote his over-riding perspective and the living room setting highlights the mental journey of the author (or indeed the reader) as imagination kicks in.

Rushdie wins Pinter Prize 2014

Salman Rushdie Portrait

Salman Rushdie Portrait

I covered the Pinter Prize for English PEN recently and took this portrait of Rushdie – the winner. I wanted to portray the depth of his creative capacity and the darkness from his past. Shadow seemed the perfect metaphor for both.

Stoppard wins the PEN Pinter Prize 2013

English PEN just commissioned me to document this year’s PEN Pinter Prize at the British Library. The prize went to playwright Sir Tom Stoppard. I’ve been a fan of Stoppard since I discovered his early play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead when I was a teenager. I was impressed by the play’s irreverence, absurdity and its sense of other-worldliness – he complimented perfectly my teenage diet of Pink Floyd and beatnik literature. The 76-year-old gave an address at the event, which also featured readings from his plays.

I knew that I wouldn’t have long to take his portrait as he was in hot demand but I had sneakily set-up a single soft box in the green room and collared him as he came off stage. After about a minute the groupies descended on him and the shoot was disrupted but I had something to show for it at least. Stoppard then spend an hour signing books before attending a high brow dinner in the British Library restaurant with the likes of Antony Gormley, Melvyn Bragg, Trevor Nunn, Margaret Drabble, Martin Rowson, Antonia Fraser and many more.

Sir Tom portrait

Sir Tom portrait

Stoppard also announced he had chosen Belarusian journalist Iryna Khalip as the recipient of this year’s writer of courage award. The prize recognises an international writer who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs. The Guardian featured his acceptance lecture HERE and used my photo.

 

Melvyn Bragg and Trevor Nunn

Melvyn Bragg and Sir Trevor Nunn chin wagging

The British Library resaurant

The British Library resaurant

Inspiring Armitage and Heaney

On Sunday night I was covering an event at the Tricycle theatre where the two poets Seamus Heaney and Simon Armitage selected 10 pieces of writing – verse or prose – that had inspired them. They were on stage introducing each piece which were then delivered by the actors Charles Dance and Jenny Jules. The event was a one off fund raser for English PEN, called Inspirations, and was sold out weeks ago.

It was a tricky gig for me as, unlike production photography, this was covering a live performance (instead of the dress rehearsal): subtlety was the order of the day although that is easier said than done. I was keen to get a least one charismatic image of Seamus Heaney – a veteran poet whose works I admire. Its always tricky to photograph live performance and actually enjoy the work but I did get a kick out of the extract of the Beckett play, Waiting for Godot. Just a few lines reinforces the fact that life is tragically futile yet the gentle simplicity of the writing somehow suggests that reason is restored.

 

Seamus Heaney and Jenny Jules portrait

Heaney enthralls

Seamus Heaney, Jenny Jules, Charles dance and Simon Armitage

Seamus Heaney, Jenny Jules, Charles dance and Simon Armitage present

Full house at the Tricycle Theatre

Full house at the Tricycle Theatre

Sameer Rahim covered it nicely for the Telegraph. They also used my photograph HERE

Pinter Prize 2012

Bragg, Duffy and Yasbek portrait

Bragg presents - Duffy and Yasbek accept.

I’ve just been employed to document the Pinter Prize 2012 by English PEN. This high brow literary affair was held at the British Library conference centre. The judges, who included David Hare and Melvyn Bragg, had awarded the prize to Carol Ann Duffy, and she in turn nominated the Syrian novelist and journalist Samar Yazbek as 2012’s international writer of courage.

Samar Yazbek’s chose to convey her acceptance speech in her own language, Arabic, before an interpreter read a translation. She discussed her gratitude to PEN and to writers like Duffy and Pinter, her sense of solidarity with fellow writers in Syria, and her continued defiance against the Assad regime. She said that the prize honoured all women writers in Syria who have opposed the regime either privately or publicly.

Carol Ann Duffy also gave a great reading of some of her poems since her appointment as Poet Laureate. She was musically accompanied by John Sampson who lifted the whole performance brilliantly. Particularly moving was a poem telling the story of the Christmas Truce on the Western Front in 1914, in which ordinary soldiers made peace without any prior communication or orders from above. Duffy stressed that the truth about what happened that day had been suppressed by army officials and the government.

 

Duffy and Yasbek portrait

Yasbek showing Duffy her appreciation

After the ceremony a mob of 50 of the guests and participants descended on the Free Word Centre for a lavish meal, plenty of wine and a midnight rendition of Auld Lang Syne led by the irrepressible John Sampson.