A shot of a single object that expresses a powerful memory/event?
I learnt to fly Paramotors two years ago and it was the single most satisfying skill I’ve ever learnt. I already have a pilots licence that I gained as teenager with an RAF Flying Scholarship but Paramotors put flying on a whole different level.
We trained solidly for two weeks in 32degree heat in Thailand under the skilled direction of a Spanish World Championship flyer.
At the end of the course he divulged that the lake we flew over everyday was populated by a particularly aggressive kind of giant turtle and freshwater crocodiles.
Three books that have inspired you?
Everest The Hard Way by Chris Bonnington – read it as a teenager, the colour photographs of climbers at the edge of survival are just stunning. I promised myself I would never end up with a desk job.
The 5th AOP Awards Book – I was a student at Polytechnic of Central London studying photography and found this in the library – I wanted to enter the Awards when I felt I was good enough – it took another 20 years – but when I did finally enter I won Best In Category at the first attempt.
Genesis by Sebastio Salgado – it accompanied the exhibition . The definitive record of the amazing world in which we live. Landscapes to die for….
Favourite photo you have taken?
This series of Alpine aerial shots taken around the Matterhorn 3 years ago for a Swiss corporate client .
Not particularly for their photographic merit as much as for the experience.
Myself and my assistant shot from a tiny Cessna light aircraft with the door removed having taken off promptly at dawn. The German pilot skimmed over ridges as the cabin temperature plummeted to -20 degrees. We had the sense to wear full down thermal clothing so it wasn’t too bad to work with.
A real privilege to shoot this commission.
In the earlier days of your career what types of photography jobs came your way?
Fairly dull interiors shoots for upmarket estate agents and some editorial car work – whatever I could get really.
I do recall one fun agency commission for a company making industrial safety kits.
We took over Kew Steam Museum and had models crawling out of steel hatchways with smoke guns and 2K fresnel spotlights providing some drama – it felt to us a little like being Ridley Scott on the set of Alien.
Have you ever had any really obscure requests that you turned down?
Yes – ” 3 minutes max “ offered with Bear Grylls and his Paramotor in some far flung corner of the UK for a PR shoot – working around a TV crew – my agent quite correctly told the client this was unreasonable and wasn’t going to happen … It would have been nice to chat about Paramotor flying though..
What has been the most outstanding production you’ve worked on, who where you working with; and where was it?
Shooting a commercial video at Kandahar Combat Hospital in Afghanistan of NATO and G3 Systems, 3 years ago was utterly fascinating.
I had to shoot solo because of limitations in security clearance and the fact the client wasn’t keen on paying for combat insurance and protection on my normal video crew of three people.
Until one is in a war zone you never fully appreciate the vast resources that go into facilitating such operations. Kandahar airbase at the time was the busiest airfield in the world with an air movement approximately every 90 secs day and night.
The Combat hospital had one of the highest survivability rates in the world due to the expertise of the amazing clinical staff who manned it.
Did anything go wrong; does anything ever go wrong, what’s your plan B?
It was one of those situations where you have to respect the operational requirements of the facility.
I insisted in capturing the trauma bays on day 1 as it was very quiet – thank goodness I did – by day two it was full of 8 badly injured US marines after a truck bomb attack at a checkpoint.
When working on commercial or advertising shoots – we ALWAYS have a Plan B – spare camera systems, spare lighting, proper safety contingencies. Assume worse case scenario and plan accordingly. Oh and have first and second assistants who don’t flap when things go wrong .. Panicking never helps on a job.
What would be your dream job?
Being flippant I would say I already do it… but if you mean a specific story or commission it would be to revisit my book project on Civilian Space Flight which I started with Virgin Galactic some years ago.
What do you have set for this year, anything we should know about?
I’m doing some fascinating things in the VR ands AR space now and am currently using an incredible 3D scanning camera shipped from California that has enormous potential to capture an environment in VR which you can literally “walk through” in high definition.
To date its being used for mundane interiors and architectural purposes by a few people but I have some interesting more creative ideas I want to shoot with it.
I can’t say any more yet..