My first ever magazine cover-Sleazenation

As some savvy social media spark called out today as being Throwback Thursday. How about me posting my first magazine cover. It was for the hipster bible; Sleazenation in 2000. This was before the innocents of Shoreditch and Hoxton found a name to describe their fashion sense or lack thereof. Although beards will never go out of fashion, take it from me…living proof!

This was a fun shoot to do, quite simple really. I’m not one to talk up equipment by any means, but when one carries a Yashica TLR in one hand, a roll of Velvia in the other and a couple of close-up lenses tucked into a shirt pocket, it’s tempting to go all nostalgic over the days of guessing the exposure, the focus and just about everything else!

And it made the cover which I was quite happy about, in fact a poster of this image adorns my entrance hall, it has proved remarkably popular with tradesmen and couriers for some reason.



One to watch-Phil Clarke-Hill-Photojournalist

Phil Clarke-Hill is a photographer I’ve worked with a few times, back when I was running the picture desk at Bizarre magazine. When he came to see me with his book, he was just beginning in his career. His work was good, quite raw. As I recall he’d gone off to Bolivia photographing shoe shine boys. It was a nice story, well photographed. But beyond the photographs, I liked Phil’s attitude, he was hungry. Plus he’s very easy to get on with, which is a distinct plus point.

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

I ended up commissioning him on the spot, mainly because he was planning to go to Bolivia again to follow up on his earlier project. And my editor was planning to go to Bolivia on holiday and go to some of the crazier festivals out there. Phil ended up shooting three assignments for the magazine.

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

Recently he’s sent himself off to University to get himself educated in the ways of the MA, courtesy of Westminster Uni. There’s some good teachers on that course, Max Houghton for example. I, of course have been coaching him to shoot in colour and leave those crazy B/W ideas behind, well I may have mentioned it anyway…

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

I’m pleased to announce that his graduation show is coming up on Tuesday next week and it should well be worth a visit, mainly because his final show is about the illegal rave scene as it exists today. The series is called Free To Party and he’s been documenting it for a few years: this exhibition is the fruition of that exploration.

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

This is a really strong project, it’s great to see how Phil’s work has really come of age. He’s definitely one to watch for the future.

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

Free To Party: Documenting the rave scene (Images courtesy Phil Clarke-Hill)

About Phil Clarke-Hill:

Phil is a documentary and travel photographer, since 2007 he’s been producing cultural and environmental stories internationally. His work is regularly published and commissioned by clients such as The Guardian, National Geographic Traveller, the BBC, El Pais, the Telegraph, New Scientist, the Arts Council, Reporter Brasil and Age UK.

Phil Clarke-Hill’s website

Information about the showinvite_front

Saethwr the Dragon-At Home With The Furries

Two weeks ago, I photographed a red dragon who lives in Cardiff, there I’ve said it. Surely I don’t have to explain any further.

Saethwr, pronounced Sa-thea is a furry with a particulary interesting fursuit, one of most unique in the UK, he’s a great big dragon with massive wings. We’ve been speaking for a while trying to get a shoot on the go. Well on the 13th July, all that planning came together.

I was ably assisted in this task by my good friend, Matt Writtle. We did two shoots on the Saturday and followed it with an awesome mountain bike ride in Afan Forest on the Sunday.

We got to his house just past 9am and it was already smoking hot, yes I’d managed to pick one of the hottest days of the year to ask Saethwr to wear his fursuit for three hours..but he was game which is all you ask for.

The first set-up had to be the garden, the light was quite beautiful with dappled sunlight breaking through the trees, plus it would be like shooting on the surface of the sun by about the afternoon, so we got started quickly.

Saethwr the dragon mowing the lawn ( Picture: Matt Writtle )

Saethwr the dragon mowing the lawn ( Picture: Matt Writtle )

Is that a lightmeter in your hand or are you just pleased to see me?

Is that a lightmeter in your hand or are you just pleased to see me?

But enough from me, let’s see what Saethwr made of it.

Shortly afterwards, Saethwr cooked us leek soup for lunch, it was delicious!!

I don't know if you can spot any references to Wales in this picture.. (Picture: Matt Writtle)

I don’t know if you can spot any references to Wales in this picture.. (Picture: Matt Writtle)

A massive thanks to Matt Writtle for his help, assistance, patience and for shooting all these instagrams and videos.

Thanks also to Saethwr and his family for their amazing hospitality ( and Saethwr, your incredible patience on the hottest day of the year!!)

Coming up next is a Jedi tiger in Swansea

Graeme Obree rides again

Image courtesy  Jonathan Worth

Image courtesy Jonathan Worth

I read recently that Graeme Obree, the cycling legend is not only back on the bike ( to be fair he’s hardly been off it of late ) but he’s also vying to break the human land-speed record of 82.3mph on a HPV (Human Powered Vehicle) called The Beastie that he’s constructed from spare parts, some from his kitchen. Of course anyone who knows Graeme should know he’s got form when it comes to going all guerrilla in the kitchen!!

Back in 1993 and 1994 he broke the world hour record on Old Faithful, a bike he built himself, using parts of a washing machine. For anyone to break the world hour record is something special but to do on a bike constructed yourself without the aid of modern technology, well that’s something else. He is a true maverick.

It should also stand as a reminder that it’s not always the case that the latest technology is required to accomplish great things, it’s about the drive, the life and ambition that people give to projects.

Image courtesy Jonathan Worth

Image courtesy Jonathan Worth


Image courtesy Jonathan Worth

Jonathan Worth photographed Graeme Obree in 2004, on spec. I don’t recall where I saw these images initially, but they’ve always stayed in my mind as the epitome of a great set of portraits: I thought they really captured the essence of what makes the cyclist such a determined and true champion.


Image courtesy Jonathan Worth

I asked Jonathan for his thoughts on the shoot, he said:

“I finished his book (The Flying Scotsman)  and without moving from the table where I was drinking my coffee – called the publisher got a contact number for his agent, called her and got his home number, called his home, spoke to Anne (his then wife) and asked if I could come up and make his portrait. She said yep no problem. I called Bill Borrows and gave him a synopsis (pitch), he got psyched and we both travelled up.

He is the most inspiring person I’ve ever met. Bill said the same after the meeting. Inspiring and utterly humbling.

Bill then sold it the story to the Times I think – this was back in the day when it was much easier to pitch to newspapers/mags etc through the writers – as I’ve been told on too many occasions “photographers decorate, whereas writers create”.”

Image courtesy Jonathan Worth

Image courtesy Jonathan Worth

© Courtesy Jonathan Worth

Image courtesy Jonathan Worth

Jonathan Worth is one of the UK’s top portrait photographers, you can see more of his work here

He is also the author of the open undergraduate classes #Phonar and #Picbod which he teaches on the Coventry University Photography courses

His work developing new and sustainable working practices has won acclaim from a wide audience, as have his lectures; both on his work, and on levering the social web.

Find him on Twitter
Creative Commons License
Graeme Obree by Jonathan Worth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

A conversation with Neville Elder-Photographer and Film-maker

Neville Elder is a photojournalist and portrait photographer from Somerset. He’s based in New York and counts The Times, Independent, The Guardian and of course Bizarre magazine along his regular clients. Neville started his photographic career shooting for local news in Somerset, graduated to the Nationals and became an Englishman in New York. His portraits have seen him photograph such luminaries as Donald Sutherland, Bill Clinton and Boris Johnson. His documentary work has taken him all over the place, from covering anti-capitalist riots in London to Hamburger Eating Championships in Tennessee. Lately he’s moved into film-making and is currently looking to secure funding to finish his photographic take on the 9/11 tragedy. He is a rather talented musician as well, being the frontman for the folk band, Thee Shambles.

I first hired Neville in 2007 to cover a Rockabilly festival in Las Vegas for Bizarre magazine and from there, I ended up using him on numerous assignments all over the USA and Canada as well. Neville came to London recently and we chewed the fat for a couple of hours.

Neville is what I would describe as one of my go-to guys. If there’s a portrait or a story that needs shooting and shooting well with no fuss, he’s the man.

I’m trying to remember the thread, how you ended up shooting for Bizarre. Because I remember thinking when I first came across your work, I was thinking God he’s a bit good.

The thread was I was in London and I was the picture editor and chief photographer at City AM and I quit because it crushed my soul. I went back to New York end of 2006 and just before I left I spoke with a friend who said I should speak with Tom at Bizarre. And I called you up and you were very nice.  I started pitching you ideas until I got the idea of what you wanted. I think the thing that got me was I pitched you an idea about Roller Derby and you said “sounds good but if it were a bizarre story it would be domantrixes on roller-blades” And it was a case of “Oh” and the penny dropped. Then I pitched you the idea of a Rockabilly festival in Las Vegas and for some strange reason you sent me there.

By the pool, Viva Las Vegas, Gold Coast Hotel, Las Vegas, April 2007

After that I sent you on some really bizarre assignments, let’s see Fangoria in Texas was one. We used to do a two-page spread called the Parties page and we wanted to open it up to more than just fetish parties. We wanted to push it a bit and do conventions and festivals

Ah yes, the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors, it was a horror all right. It was raining and there were twelve people there and I thought oh god I’m going to have to pull something out of my arse here. That was a wet February in Austin.

I spent three days there trying to make a single picture, and it was only until the last day when they had a costume convention and 30 people turned up. I made all the pictures in the space of two hours. Which is exactly how it always works, you can never tell who’s going to show up.

Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors

When you covered Comic Con in San Diego in 2008, it was a totally different story. Tons of people, tons of great outfits and it was a time where it was a lot more underground than it is now. This year, and last year photo agencies are all over it as well as the mainstream press. So when agencies send me pictures of this, I’m like whatever mate,  we’ve done it and we did it ages ago.

I think that was always about Bizarre though, Bizarre always had an ear to the ground on stuff like that. Whether it’s tattooing or burlesque or whatever it is, it just felt like we were a little bit ahead of the curve, just far enough so that we could lead it. People saw Bizarre as a source.

Optimus Prime and a Stormtrooper swap notes, Comicon, San Diego 2008

Comicon, San Diego, 2008

And then after Comic Con you did Roswell UFO festival

Roswell was great, it was beautiful there. It wasn’t our usual thrusting young freaks. It was overweight midwest bipolar disorder. People who thought they’d genuinely being abducted and abused by aliens with tubes and probes.

When I did these events, I’d always look down the list of what was going on and if there were a costume contest, we’d be all right.

UFO enthusiasts descend on Roswell, New Mexico

I had this thing with photographers that I’d send then on smaller shoots like news, like parties before giving them full-blown features.

We shot a lot of news I remember that, but it’s definitely the right way to go. Bizarre has a house style and it takes a while before a photographer understands that. There was a lot of looking for that picture and it’s not someone smiling in a funny costume, it’s someone going mad in a funny costume!! So you had to gee them up and I remember doing a lot of that, fucking with them pushing them until they gave me some sort of decent picture. So especially starting with parties, I’d be there and it would be a bit lame. I’ve got to make them do something.

Black Diamond Annie performs a Kiss tribute, New York Burlesque Festival, 2007

A girl shows her tattoos at New York Tattoo Convention 2008 at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City

I reckon the first feature you shot for me was Pauly Unstoppable. What makes Pauly especially relevant for me is that we really really wanted to feature him in the magazine. He’d gone out on his own, he’s in his twenties and by all accounts, he’s completely out there.  He’s stretched his ears, stretched his nose, done his own tattoos on his face… and we wanted something real but weird at the same time. I remember it being a bit of a test in that I needed to find a photographer who could do it. I wanted someone to go in, do a really great job but also someone who understands the magazine.

If I hire a local photographer, go on a forum for picture editors, I’ll get some great suggestions but will that person really get Bizarre.  I’ll send the photographer pdfs of past features but more often than not, they’ll fuck it up. They just don’t get it and quite often, they don’t care either.

There’s a big difference between calling yourself a pro and being one.

So with Pauly I thought, I’ll send Neville. It’s just much easier. Here’s another thing. I call you up with the details; send them over and then you’re like, lovely I’ll let you know. No fuss, easy as pie.

Then I get an email a few days later saying here they are and you’re not too sure about the shots. But they are amazing and we struggle to squeeze them into six pages.

I don’t worry about the good pictures; I only worry about the average pictures or the ones, which didn’t really work. That job, I also hired a local studio. I wanted to commit Pauly into a studio environment. I wanted to do a traditional studio portrait of him because he looks so weird. The thing about Bizarre is that the content itself rules, you don’t need to do anything zany with the photography. You just shoot it pretty much straight as portraiture and photojournalism. Keep it simple because the content itself is remarkable. I got him in the studio and I wanted to do an old fashioned Hollywood portraits with a keylight…except he had a knife up his nose. I had two days with him, which was enough, the nature of dealing with these people is that they are delighted to be photographed but get bored after twenty minutes.

Pauly Unstoppable on a break from his hairdressing job

Pauly Unstoppable enjoying a coffee

Then you did Eak the Geek; he was working down at Coney Island, as the pincushion man wasn’t it? And the story was he’d gone off to law school so he could be the lawyer who represents all the freaks.

He was working at a geek and the geeks are the guys who do things like drive nails into their heads and put mousetraps on their tongues. Lying on a bed of nails was his big thing. He has very strange tattoos all over his body and his face. He was doing his law degree down in Lansing, Michigan. It’s a very working class, blue-collar kind of place.

Sideshow legend Eak the Geek is enrolled at Cooley Law School in Lansing Michigan, USA

Then you did Rick Genest aka Zombie Boy: a nice little assignment in Montreal.

I think that was the most successful, really. In terms of pictures, with Rick I had to work quite hard. He’s virtually living on the streets The thing was where do I shoot him and it just so happened that Montreal had the biggest graveyard in North America so I was like well we’ll go there then. I called the graveyard and they speak French so it’s a little bit broken. I asked if it was all right to take pictures and they said you had to get a permit and all this. So I was like bollocks to that.You can drive right in and we wandered about, I shot that shoot under an hour. We were in and out. We were moving through the gravestones finding really good spots. The thing is he’s not really arrogant; he’s a really sweet guy. He was working with me to make it work. I think that was the most successful set of pictures I did for Bizarre. We got in there just before he went big with Nicola Formichetti.

Rick Genest aka Zombie Boy

You did John Waters at his house. Except he had no idea he was going to be a feature.

That was the one I had trouble with, the pictures were fine. He was difficult because he wasn’t expecting a big feature on himself at home. He was pissed off about it, but gracefully consented to the walkabout.

He was expecting a sit down about the book he’d just written…which I hadn’t read…but I pretended that I had. But I knew enough about him anyway that I could get away with it. We both knew I hadn’t, but he didn’t throw me out. He was a sweetheart about it – never said a thing!  Also, I had a problem with my tape; it was one of those where everything went wrong…he wasn’t as freaky as I thought he should have been for Bizarre.

That was kind of a straight shoot and I thought if we’re going to do someone mainstream who’s weird, we should see them doing weird things. I would have liked to see him balancing stuff on his head but he wasn’t up for that.

John Waters at his home in Baltimore, Maryland

That’s always the test though; it’s making them look weird in a cool way. Not in like you’re zany here’s a funny expression, like you’d see in a local newspaper. A lot of times I’ve hired photographers, they just don’t get it. They get overawed by the occasion instead of shooting great pictures.

It’s funny because a lot of the photographers you’ve used were contemporaries of mine at The Independent and The Times, like Abbie (Trayler-Smith) and Tim (Allen). Do you think they had a better attitude to it?

I think they brought something different to assignments,  Tim Allen’s first assignment that he did for me was Custard Catfighting with Alix Fox, which was a bit good ( Look out for upcoming interview with Tim Allen)

I always used mainly photojournalists for features so there’s you, Tim Allen, Abbie Trayler-Smith, Justin Sutcliffe, Matt Writtle, Vicki Couchman. Then more portrait guys like Mark Berry, Joe Plimmer and Naomi Harris. All really strong photographers.

Back when I was commissioning you a lot, you were working for people like The Times and the Indy. What’s happened to them all in terms of commissioning?

Well they’re not. Ad revenues are down for everybody and that means they cut back on freelancers at home and abroad. I’m basically getting a third of the work I was getting two, maybe three years ago. All the jobs now are portraits but all in New York. I’m a local boy now. One of the things that works in terms of what I do I have is the Fleet St vibe, which is the ‘picture: no matter what’.  There are lots of photographers in New York who are cheaper than me but they don’t have that aesthetic, that drive that you learn just for survival when you’re freelancing in London. I was working mainly at The Indy and that was seen as a liberal newspaper. In London, shooting on the ground, I’m next to people from The Sun and The Mirror and you’ve got to work really hard.

Cajun speaking Aswell Domangue, 42, in front of his shrimp boat on the Bayou – Chauvin, Louisiana

So what I was doing in New York was shooting US stories for a British market. They (The Independent) wanted English photographers. When I went over there in early 2001, Justin Sutcliffe and Stuart Conway had just left New York to come back to Britain so I replaced them. There really wasn’t anyone left. There was David Howells, but he worked almost exclusively for The Telegraph and The Mail. So it’s like there was a gap and I filled that gap. I still do in fact.

I took that English newspaper attitude out there and that’s why I got hired. But I was also a fixer as well. So I was making the story happen. It wasn’t so much that the picture editors said: “Go there at 6pm and don’t be late, get a picture and come back.” It was more like “Here’s the number; we need you to set this up”. You really needed some nous.

What was the first job you ever got in photography?

The first job I ever did was for Today newspaper; it was a sports story doorstep in Taunton in Somerset. This was 1994. I was stringing for the local agency, the Somerset News Service. It was a cricket story and it was South African cricketer for Somerset who broke the face of a West Indian cricket player with a fastball.

I had to try a get a picture of the injured player at the hospital. I went down on my bicycle with a Nikon F2 and a Metz flashgun the size of a suitcase. and I waited and waited and waited. I kept calling the picture desk saying, “What do I do now?” “Just get the picture” What I didn’t realise is that sometimes the picture desk will just send someone so they’re covered.  So that they don’t have to listen to any nonsense from the news desk. They put someone here, here and here. And they won’t expect a photograph. The number of doorsteps I’ve done over the years, the pictures I’ve actually got is maybe one in ten. Most of the time nothing happens for days on end.

And did you get a picture?

No, I got some pictures of the other players leaving the hospital. When I lifted the camera to take a picture, they shoved me away and said, “Fuck off picture man”

It was a good experience. I must have been 24 or so.

When did you make the move to work for the nationals?

I did my post grad in photojournalism at the London College of Printing with Patrick Sutherland. That place was a breeding ground for a lot of great photographers like Paul Lowe who teaches there now. After that I just walked in to The Independent. What I used to do is follow stories. It’s no good just going in with just a portfolio; you’ve got to go in with something they actually want. Like: “This is a project I’m doing now, do you want it? “

Just after college I went to see Ray Wells who was at the Sunday Times. He looked through my portfolio, flipped through it and said very nice.

I said: “Well what do you mean? What was very nice?”

I wanted some proper feedback and he was a very nice man, very patient.

He went through it again, saying things like “that doesn’t work”. He came to a picture I’d taken of the fans at Reading Festival of the fans in the pit by the stage. “This one is good but they’re not going mad enough. That’s why they’re all nice pictures. I want to see extremes. I want to see them carried out, bleeding. I’ve seen books like yours a hundred times, bring me something I want.”

That 15 minutes with Ray Wells was probably the best teaching I’d ever got, “show me the extremes”. He was talking about the highest point of the arc in a photo session if it’s a news story. Like a demo, I used to shoot a lot of these. So you start taking a few pictures of them marching, then them shouting, get a good mixture of the crowds. Then you get them going mad and the police are punching them and that’s the picture you need. The one with the fists and the shouting. That’s the money shot and that’s what the news photograph is. It’s not a photo essay, a news photograph in a single moment in time and it needs to be the most intense picture. That’s what I learned from Ray Wells and working at The Independent.The Indy encouraged you to take beautiful photographs, to look for the other side of the story.  The classic Independent story was always the picture of the media scrambling around the one person they’re photographing. It’s a cliché now. But that was the story beyond the story.

Jake La Motta ( The Raging Bull) in his apartment

Sometimes you got it right and you got screwed. I did another one for AP that I got fucked on. It was Diana’s funeral. I figured out where the route was, I thought I’d never get a shot of the abbey, I’ll never get a shot up at Kensington Palace, Maybe there’s one up at the M1 but I doubt it.  I sat on a window ledge on the Finchley Road and as it turned out, people lined the streets. Nobody was expecting that, none of the agencies were anyway because there were no other photographers there. And I got a picture of the hearse coming through and they (the people) were throwing flowers and confetti. I honestly didn’t think I had a picture.

I took them to Associated Press when it was down in Chancery lane. And I remember the picture editor on duty at the time was like “Did you get the flowers?”What I hadn’t really seen was the flowers on the windscreen on the car because I was too busy focusing and making the picture. I only had half a roll of film, that’s was it. He circled one and they put that out.

And it was on the front page of the New York Times, beneath the fold, .It was a double page spread in Time Magazine and Newsweek and the rest. I gave them ( AP) the front page of the New York Times and never heard from them again!

You can’t expect anything as a photographer; you can’t be sensitive because it’s literally fish and chip papers the next day.

Donald Sutherland

Now the new world is digital and it doesn’t disappear now, although its old news the day after, it exists elsewhere

More so than that it’s old news within the hour. There are no deadlines now; I had to be back in the office by 6pm to develop the film. Now you send from wherever you are, then you send again, then again. There’s a state of paranoia in the newsroom. They’re watching everyone else, they’re watching the Mail, and they’re watching the Telegraph, who’s got what?

And nobody’s shooting original content anymore because they’re watching each other. And when stuff turns up on online, quite often people won’t do the story.

I was talking to a journalist who freelances for The Times in New York and she said that if it’s been on The Mail Online, which in America is the second biggest most viewed news site, they’ll dump the story. Even if the Mail hasn’t really done anything on it. Just a picture and a by-line.

You mentioned about commissioning editors, well no one is commissioning me anymore. They’re expecting me to shoot on spec and then they can haggle a price.

Ralph 'Sonny' Barger

The old days of commissioning out content is changing, I think specialist photographers like food and cars are fine. But editorial portrait photographers and photojournalists have to look at a different way of working. It’s not necessarily a better way of working.

Well quality is down because of ‘citizen journalism’.

But then if you look at events in history, if the citizen journalist had been around would those events been as severe as they have been?

If you look at for example Tiananmen Square in 1989, there were only a handful of photographers who got pictures out. Stuart Franklin for Magnum, Jeff Widener for AP,  Charlie Cole for Newsweek and Arthur Tsang Hin Wah of Reuters and with all of those cases, their films has to be smuggled out of the country.

If there had been citizen journalists with camera phones showing all the other brutality and uploading pictures instantly to social media sites , would it have been as bad as it was?

Well at the time the Chinese government did not give a shit. These days they do worry about it because they’re got more invested in the rest of the world. So I think you’re right, you’d see a more rounded picture of what was going on so that’s the great thing about it.

Unfortunately newspapers rely on the citizen journalist too much because it doesn’t cost anything and they look at it as a way of trimming costs.

If I pitch a story that’s fine, I’ll go off and do it. But I won’t go off and shoot something on spec just because you want me to. Then there’s no guarantee of being paid at all, that’s just daft in my book.

But it’s all about respect for the photographer and respect for the photographer’s craft.

You’re now a filmmaker as well; tell me about A Return To Ground Zero, the 9/11 film you’re putting together with Jason Florio, another British photographer in New York.  What inspired it? And when are we likely to see it?

We still need funding to edit it but just finished shooting last month.  We retraced our paths from  September 11th 2001. Basically, It’s a detective story: we track down the people in the pictures and talk to them about their experiences as we photographed them. It was really amazing meeting people for the first time that I known for years in a single image I took on the scariest day of my life. I think the pictures I took that day were the best of my career.

Brian McCrick from ladder 168 surveys the the attack on the Worlsd Trade Center 9/11/01

Firefighter Brian McCrick displays Neville Elder’s photograph of him in the ruins of the World Trade Center, ten years after the terrorist attacks.

documentary: 9-11 film


Brainlock with John Landis

“It’s a pleasure to meet a living legend” and I vigorously shook his hand. “I’m a big fan of your films…Blues Brothers, Trading Places and…..god what was the other one?” I sheepishly admitted to John Landis. The very soul of courtesy and to save my blushes he suggested “American Werewolf in London and did you know Tom, that Coming To America made over a billion dollars?”

I had just photographed John Landis for Bizarre magazine and thankfully had got the shots in the bag before a very public faux pas in the horror section of Forbidden Planet.

Despite prepping pretty well on this job and having two assistants, Lauren Marchant and Irina Csapo with me; portable lighting stands are all the rage these days darling. I had turned up at the shop half an hour before my time with him to find that all my carefully laid plans to photograph him had gone a a little bit up the spout!!

John Landis had written a new book called Monsters in the Movies and he was here to promote it. He had done a book signing the day before and I had half an hour to photograph him…I know half an hour…for photos…somebody likes Bizarre clearly!!

I’d been down to the shop, it’s down on Shaftesbury Avenue to check out some likely locations. I found the spot, in amongst the horror masks they had on display. Now the thing is I visited the shop the week before Halloween and the shoot was the day after so when I turned up, all those wonderful masks had been removed…you know it not being Halloween anymore…doh!!

But thanks to Plan B, C and D and the assistance of Danie Ware, (@Danacea) Forbidden Planet’s PR guru and the shop’s very helpful staff. We made a temporary stand, gave John a chair and got on with it.

Having read his book, I had this idea of him wearing a horror mask of one of the monsters from his book. The only problem would be getting him to wear it…I had to engage the old fashioned method of asking him on the day and it worked, he went for Leatherface.

I took maybe three or four frames and the legend said” You’ve got enough now don’t you?” “Just a few more” I suggested brightly

John admitted that he wasn’t keen on having his photograph taken, in fact he told me that he hates it. I tried my cod reverse psychology technique by suggesting that in fact he loves it and that bought me a bit more time. He was right about one thing though, the two shots here were the first few frames.

The feature is in the April issue of Bizarre magazine, out now

If you’re looking to license the images, speak with David or Graham at Eyevine

If you’d like to see more of what I do, check out my website and if you’d like to hire me to shoot for you, drop me a line

Shocking Images

In seven years on the Bizarre picture desk, I’ve seen some pretty horrendous images. The kind of pictures that time just doesn’t shake from the memory. Amongst them are the baby abandoned on the streets of a town in China, a kitten crushed underfoot by a woman wearing high heels and relentless animal cruelty that doesn’t seem to have an end.

Yesterday I received an email alert from Foto8 with a video slideshow by Johann Rousselot. He is a photographer and journalist who frustrated at the lack of attention and access to real news from Syria that he has compiled a feature consisting of videos and photos from cellphone images. There’s something about this type of media, that is moving images, stills and sound that really brings home just how awful the situation is over there. There are some unbelievable images on this film and it’s worth watching. Not because I’m a gore junkie or anything but because these are real people suffering, not statistics on a computer screen or newspaper report.

You can see the video here: Syrial Killing by Johann Rousselot