John Kasmin for Newsweek

John Kasmin at home. Photographed for Newsweek in London, the former art dealer turned postcard collector introduced his collection of rare, incredible and sometimes bizarre original postcards that he has collected over the years. the most expensive postcard in his collection cost 5800 Euros. Although most were much less than that.

“You want to take more photos, haven’t you taken enough already?” And so, my shoot with John Kasmin or “Kas” as he prefers to be called continues in a similar vein. Admittedly I’ve been commissioned by Newsweek as both a photographer and an editor, to go through his many thousands of rare and unusual postcards, photograph 20 or so and get some great portraits of the man.

John Kasmin at home. Photographed for Newsweek in London, the former art dealer turned postcard collector introduced his collection of rare, incredible and sometimes bizarre original postcards that he has collected over the years. the most expensive postcard in his collection cost 5800 Euros. Although most were much less than that.

That man, Kas has worked in the art world for many years, initially representing artists like David Hockney and Anthony Caro. Born in 1935, he’s now in his 80’s and over the past few years has started collecting postcards, most are of the photographic ilk although we started going through one of his advertising books as well, that was brought to a swift stop as time was pressing. The writer pointing at his watch and rolling his eyes…no that might have been me actually.

John Kasmin at home. Photographed for Newsweek in London, the former art dealer turned postcard collector introduced his collection of rare, incredible and sometimes bizarre original postcards that he has collected over the years. the most expensive postcard in his collection cost 5800 Euros. Although most were much less than that.

Okay I might have pulled a few animal themed postcards, as though the #furries have entered my subconscious ( no surprises there then), on the whole though it was a case of letting Kas direct us to his favourites and stopping him when my gaze fell on a particularly striking image.

After one of the most fascinating editing sessions I’ve had in a while, there’s nothing quite like working with physical objects, as opposed to digital images for a change. We shot portraits of Kas, some at his desk and a few more on his reading chair in his office. John Kasmin and his postcard collection

How many photographers does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one more

John Kasmin and his postcard collection

The article is in Newsweek’s European edition, out now

Falmouth Photography Symposium: 24-27th February

Next week I’ll be taking the train down to Falmouth University for their annual photography symposium. Gretchen Viehmann, is the course leader down there and we’ve been trying to hook up for a while in terms of me coming down and talking to the students. There are going to be some quality speakers, Roger Tooth the Guardian’s head of photography, Brian Griffin: the documentary photographer, Alex Webb, Tim Flach, Sian Bonnell plus photography writers and consultants, Val Williams and Gemma Padley.

I’ll be talking about the importance of personal projects, as well as photography being one of the skills you’ll need along with editing, writing and much more more.

I’ll try and leave the animal themed puns at the door, but inevitably one or two may sneak their way in.

Falmouth

 

 

 

My talk on the Thursday afternoon will be followed by portfolio sessions with the students on the Friday. I always enjoy seeing exciting work and giving advice to a new generation of photographers.

Links to speakers

Brian Griffin-websitetwitter

Roger Tooth-websitetwitter

Tom Broadbent-websitetwitter

Alex Webb-website

Val Williams-websitetwitter

Ian McCarthy-websitetwitter

Morgan Quaintance-website

Tim Flach-websitetwitter

Sian Bonnell-website

Gemma Padley-twitter

Falmouth Photo Symposium-TumblrTwitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Poodles and Labradoodles make the best of friends

People say never work with animals, well I’m all out of excuses this time around. There’s a first time for everything I suppose, remarkably the first actual animal to make it into the At Home With The Furries project. The others are not really animals I’m afraid, they’re to give you the dry version:¬†anthropomorphised animal characters. That’s the furry version of dry i.e not really dull and academic at all.

All these shoots have happened organically, I go to a meeting and have a camera in hand. The furries love to be photographed, I ask them about their suits, I give them compliments, how could I not. The camera is a useful tool to have, it gives me an excuse to ask people questions.

At the last Christmas meeting, I met a poodle called Edward Fuzzypaws. We got on well, he had heard of my project. I slipped him a business card and a few days later received a lovely email from him asking if I’d be interested in photographing him for the project at his home in Richmond.

Well two weeks ago, I knocked on the door of a house at the end of a tree lined drive and was welcomed by the most beautiful looking dog I’ve seen in quite some time.

At Home With The Furries

His name is Teddy and he is a two year old Labradoodle. He even made me a cup of tea, no wait that was the poodle that made me a stonking cup of builders!

Edward’s friend came along: Sticks The Fox to help and what a help he was, he became my first assistant and on-set photographer!

Two ideas per character tends to be the format of these shoots and I wanted these two to be a couple of greyhounds. As soon as I met Teddy, the family pet I knew he would play a major part in the success of these images. Did I have an animal wrangler though? Er no. Was Teddy a primadonna? I’ve never met a softer dog and to photograph him, well a dream!

I asked Edward about his character, he explained: “Edward Fuzzypaws is a fun character, all about bringing joy and smiles, never worrying or feeling stressed. He can screw up and it’s all just games – I guess he’s a personification of myself. My career means that I live to tell stories every day, whether through writing, painting, animating, and dressing as him is no different. He likes to play, quite simply, he lives to bring happiness. I designed him as a child at heart in the same way a dog can come bounding in and wag its tail without a care in the world”

Picture by Sticks The Fox

Photograph by Sticks The Fox

“I found poodles are unusual in the furry scene, perhaps because of their style or character being a bit fancy, but they have always been dear to me. Prior to wanting to be an animator when I was a child, I wanted to be a poodle groomer. I met a standard poodle named Edward and it left an impression on me, hence the name (it’s also my late grandfather’s name). And I have always dressed up, even when I was young. Imagination is important to me, and expressing oneself as well. Edward isn’t escapism, he’s the opposite – he’s an outward demonstration of my passion for animals, art and entertainment.”

Edward Fuzzypaws, a poodle and Teddy, a labradoodle in their drawing room

Edward Fuzzypaws, a poodle and Teddy, a labradoodle in their drawing room

“I got into the furry scene kind of naturally. I hadn’t heard of it until I was much older, but I have been drawing my whole life, very often drawing anthropomorphised animals, especially where I work. Animation has so much of it, animals are everywhere in our world and in our childhood. When I found out there was a world of people dressing up and celebrating this, I was automatically hooked – I had gained an interest not just in costumes, but as I got older, an interest in how they are made. To me, it’s not about saying “why?” it’s about saying “why not?”

Sometimes an idea is all very well, research and preparation play an essential role in whether a photo is a success or a failure but sometimes, just sometimes regardless of an idea, the situation develops in a way you don’t expect and the picture just appears, as if by magic. Of course the prep work has led you to that place, but to let the image develop in front of you is as wonderful as the first time you drop a black and white print in the developing tray.

Photograph by Sticks The Fox

I always shoot with tucked in trousers…Photograph by Sticks The Fox

Edward brushing his dog’s coat down, a simple premise. As they sat together on the wooden decking bathed in dappled sunlight, Edward held Teddy’s head with one hand and Teddy caught his look. There was definitely something special there but it was only later, when editing the images my attention kept coming back to this one image. The project as a whole is about capturing something real, in admittedly unreal situations, but a moment of genuine emotion between furry friends, well that’s worth holding onto.

Edward Fuzzypaws and Teddy share a moment in their garden, Richmond, London

Edward Fuzzypaws and Teddy share a moment in their garden, Richmond, London

Thanks to: Edward Fuzzypaws, Sticks The Fox and of course, Teddy.

To see more images from At Home With The Furries, have a look on my website

Who are the furries anyway?

To order limited edition prints from At Home With The Furries, contact me here

 

 

Moon meets Marie Claire-At Home With The Furries

‘Meet The Furries’ in a fashion magazine usually means an article about the joys of fake fur accessories, so it must have been a bit of a surprise for the readers of this month’s Marie Claire UK ( March 2015) to find an article about my project, At Home With The Furries.

It’s always appreciated when a quality magazine takes a genuine interest in the project and writes a balanced piece about it. The features director, Tracy Ramsden conducted a short interview with me and I suppose, to coin a phrase ‘give good copy’. Impossible not to, with the project being as it is.

Moon, the deer from Sheffield features. We met at a London furmeet and arranged a shoot from there, it was off to Sheffield for the day!

This image, which is one of my favourites from the series was one of the last pictures I took on the day. I remember getting funny looks from walkers at the time…for some reason.

At Home With The Furries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MarieClaire

Thanks to Kelly Preedy, Tracy Ramsden and Marie Claire

To see more images from the project, have a look here

To read more about the project, have a look here

If you’d like to buy a limited edition print, contact me here

 

Jeff Minter and Ivan Zorzin from Llamasoft photographed for Wired Italia

Say Llamatron, Attack of the Mutant Camels, Gridrunner and Space Giraffe to a gamer of a certain age and you’ll get knowing glances and a special handshake.

All these games were created by a games company called Llamasoft, in the very early days of video gaming when Call of Duty and Halo were but a glint in a small child’s eye. When the idea of making mobile phone calls and checking where you were on the same device would be seen in sci-fi movies. And when floppy discs (remember them!) were quite literally floppy.

They were designed by Jeff Minter, ‘the Ox’. Lately he’s moved into Virtual Reality with his partner in crime, Giles/Ivan Zorzin, the ‘Goat’.

Giles and Jeff in their 'Retro Room'

Giles and Jeff in their ‘Retro Room’

Last year, I took a trip to West Wales on assignment for Wired Italia to photograph Llamasoft. The brief was that Jeff and Giles live with llamas, sheep and donkeys and that they, Wired wanted the shoot to be as mental as possible. Well the situation was certainly odd, and I had no idea what to expect. But then when one has photographed people like the furries, adapting to unusual situations is something of a forte for me.

Riccardo Meggiato, the journalist for Wired had been speaking with Giles for a few months, lining up the idea of visiting him and Jeff at home. We drove from London, picking up Riccardo on the way from Gatwick airport and met the two of them at their local pub, it was called The Slaughtered Lamb and was on the side of a dark track that led over the moors…kidding. It was however in the middle of nowhere.

At Home With Llamasoft

The following morning, we eventually found their house and as my assistant, the legendary Andy ‘Tito’ Donohoe drove our rented Ford up their drive passing their farmyard. We came across a wonderful old cottage, but what secrets did it hold?

Giles and Jeff playing a video game in their living room

Giles and Jeff playing a video game in their living room

Well if you were to imagine that over the past 40 years or so, Jeff Minter and Giles had collected every single console and game and random bit of gaming tech and stuffed it into every corner of his house, that would be an accurate description of his home. Essentially an Aladdin’s cave for gaming fans.

Jeff asked me if I’d like to see the retro room, as if you need to ask.

Riccardo got busy with the interview, and that gave me and Tito an opportunity to work out where we could do our set-ups. I was thinking three would be an ideal number.

One in the ‘Retro Room’, one in the living room and one outside on the farm. Did I mention already that they raise llamas, sheep and goats? Not to eat mind. Just because they like them, they’re good friends.

The Yak and the Goat in their natural habitat

The Ox and the Goat in their natural habitat

And to the llamas in question…I mean if you’re going to write a video game called Llamatron, then of course one would require the real thing close by, to inspire you.

At Home With Llamasoft

What would a photoshoot be without me hanging out with the boys in their front room, surrounded by pinball machines and random posters of Gridrunner!

Photo 30-04-2014 16 01 04

Thanks to:

Francesca Morosini, David Moretti, Andy Donohoe, Riccardo Meggiato, Wired, Llamasoft and of course the llamas.

Connect:

Tom Broadbent

Francesca Morosini

David Moretti

Andy Donohoe

Riccardo Meggiato

Wired Italia

Llamasoft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bizarre magazine closes

I received the news yesterday that Bizarre magazine is closing after the next issue. Remarkably it has been running for 18 years, I spent seven years there as picture editor ( from 2004-2011) and it was an amazing experience. Not only because of the content that we covered, that was something else for sure. But perhaps more importantly because of the team of dedicated journalists, designers, photographers and editors that pushed out what felt like a groundbreaking issue every month, without fail.

It also pushed me into new directions as a photographer and opened up worlds which I simply had no idea existed. One thing about Bizarre, which was misunderstood by most casual readers was yes it pushed boundaries, but the intention was to tell the truth. There were never any fabrications or false stories. The editorial decisions taken on the magazine were as ethical as anywhere I’ve worked since. Which is remarkable when one considers the bizarre and crazy stories we featured.

In homage to the magazine, here are five of the best Bizarre features I worked on:

Treeman by Dave Smithson

I met Dave Smithson in Perpignan, at an annual photojournalism festival called Visa Pour L’Image, I think back in 2006. He was a British photographer based in Indonesia. As with all the best meetings I’ve ever had in Perpignan, it was a casual chat. He was as I recall dressed in a white suit ( always impressive!) and he seemed to like the magazine. I heard back from him a few months later, saying that he’d met an interesting fellow at a sideshow in Jakarta and did I want to commission him to do something. Dave sent a picture over and I immediately sent him on assignment.

Treeman-1

This article drew a lot of interest internationally and it led to a number of documentaries being made, which in turn made treatment possible for Dede, the so-called Treeman in the article.

Roswell UFO festival by Neville Elder

There was a point on the magazine where I was sending Neville on an assignment every week, he went all over North America. To Indiana to shoot Pauly Unstoppable, to Canada to shoot Zombieboy, to Las Vegas to shoot Rockabillies and to Nevada to cover a weekend of Alien fans at Roswell. This was a two page feature and yet, the images could easily have filled six. You can read an interview with Neville here actually, where I grill him about his adventures, and whatever happened to that expenses budget! .roswell-1

Ralph Steadman by Tom Broadbent

Yes, that’s me. One of the first assignments I did for Bizarre as a portrait photographer. Me and the writer, James Doorne went to visit Ralph Steadman at his house near Maidstone. Ralph related the tale of a photographer that had took over 400 pictures of him and that I was not to do the same, with the unsaid subtext (if I knew what was good for me!). Unfortunately I don’t and 400 pictures later of possibly one of the most charismatic and challenging people to ever be recorded to film: we had a feature and a sharp exit.

RALPH S

Voodoo by Paolo Marchetti

We featured many incredibly strong examples of photojournalism over the years, Exorcism by Lucho Robato, Albino Killings by Franck Vogel, Morticians in Guatemala by Rodrigo Abd are just a few examples. One that stands out in the memory is the feature we did by Paolo Marchetti, this was an in-depth look at the celebration of voodoo in Haiti. When the first image that a photographer sends you is as strong as the one we ran as the opener, it can’t not go in the magazine. An incredible set of pictures by a very talented photojournalist.

061_BIZ182_VOODOO.indd

Custard Catfighting by Tim Allen

Alix Fox started on the magazine a few years after me and soon, her features became instantly memorable somewhat like her hundreds of outfits and sunny disposition. This was a relatively early article about the joys of custard catfighting in one’s living room. When matching photographers to features, this was a lesson that usually you can place photojournalists to anything and they’ll do a great job. I’d met¬†Timothy Allen a couple of times and knew his work well. This shoot was good practise for the assignment that came shortly afterwards (Human Planet for the BBC!)

086_BIZ134_custard_v1.ps

Links:

Dave Smithson

Neville Elder

Tom Broadbent

Paolo Marchetti

Timothy Allen

Alix Fox

A Furry Merry Christmas To One and All

Every year, 400 people gather for a very unusual occasion in central London, unusual in the sense that a large percentage of them will be trundling a rather large suitcase behind them. In said suitcase is an animal costume, but not just any animal costume, oh no. Not a mascot, not a onesie or a kigu. These are custom built, sometimes home made, others running to the tune of two to three thousand pounds. They are furries of course, gathering this year for the Londonfurs annual Christmas party, retro gaming was the theme and it was hosted at the Amber Bar in Moorgate.

London Furries Winter Ball

If you were to say, I love this scene. Do I need to get a suit to be a furry? Not at all, in fact it could confuse the issue. Initially it’s worth establishing your persona or ‘fursona’, which means deciding what sort of animal you’d like to be and please bear in mind, it doesn’t have to be a ‘furry’ animal. You could be a dragon, a lizard, a dolphin, even an insect, of course you might choose to be called Tiger and your fursona could be a bear. You might well be inspired by a game like World Of Warcraft, or tabletop role-play…dungeons and dragons anyone?

London Furries Winter Ball

You may have also wanted to be a wolf from say, A Company of Wolves or a werewolf from American Werewolf in London, or a wiley coyote…seriously though if you do decide to take on the coyote, let me know as it’s not one I’ve photographed as yet!

London Furries Winter Ball

Once that decision has been made, you’ll want to develop your furry’s personality. What makes him/her so special or not. The character could be an extension of your own or the polar opposite. Artwork is important, as in drawing out an idea of what your beast looks like. There are plenty of very talented artists in the fandom or ‘furdom’* who will for a small fee design your character for you, or indeed do it yourself.

London Furries Winter Ball

At this point most furries will stop there, not everyone wants to don a admittedly boiling hot animal costume and prance around in it, although the horse fraternity do in fact have special dispensation in that regard. If you’re going to go all out though and go for a suit then there are plenty of specialist furry builders who will build the ultimate suit for you.

London Furries Winter Ball

Choices, choices, choices. Do I go full-on realism/scary or fluffy cartoony or a mixture of both? What does your character say the costume should be? Me, I’m going for full-on realism. For the rest, that’s up to you.

London Furries Winter Ball

Who are the Londonfurs though? Click here to find out more

To see my on-going project, At Home With The Furries. Click here

If you’re a furry based in the UK and you’d like to take part in this project, contact me here