Portrait, interior and lifestyle brand photographer in London
Beth & David were exploring the secret village of Imber. I asked them if they were on a date and they said 'it's more of a family date really, nan's looking around the fete in the church'. They'd been to the fete and said 'we had our eye on the ghost of Imber CD' and laughed. In fact they laughed a lot. They met on Plenty of Fish and had been dating around 6 months. They looked so sweet together!
Sophy picks up the newspapers for her dad on the weekends, she was in a hurry because she was rushing off to pick up her son from Chinese school. I couldn't resist asking her for her photo because she looked so bright & cheerful in her shades. I could see she was in a rush and I thought she'd say no. I'm really glad she didn't.
Charles was passing by the coffee shop and the baristas shouted out 'Charles, you'll have your picture taken won't you?' So he stopped and he did.
You'll never believe me when I tell you but this is Hilda and she's 90. I couldn't believe it. Hilda has lived in Soho since 1975 and loves living in the heart of everything. She'd just been for coffee with friends who'd now gone shopping in John Lewis. Hilda was going home instead because she had a chicken in the oven that would be cooked to perfection by the time she got home. I showed Hilda her photo on the back of the camera and she said 'will you post it to me dear, I'd love to have a copy?' It goes without saying that I can't wait to get a beautiful print ready for such a lovely lady.
John is 82 and has been married for 58 years. He's from Cork, Ireland. I asked him if he'd just been in the betting shop and he said 'no, no, no, I don't bet. My father owned a butcher's shop and I took £20 from the till to bet on the dogs. It was 1952, that was a lot of money in those days. The dog fell and came in last and I lost the lot and I had a lot of explaining to do. I've never bet since that day.' He'd been in the betting shop to find a lady he knew called Josie, who is 88 and was married to John's friend 'The Cowboy'. She likes the cards. She'd recently fallen and hurt her leg & hip. John said sadly 'If I don't find her I don't know what I'll do with the rest of my day'.
Jon works at God's Own Junkyard. I've been wanting to visit God's Own Junkyard for too long. Have you been? It's an amazing, enchanting place full of vintage neon signs & artwork. Jon works there three days a week and he told me all about the history of the place, all the films they've made neon signs for and all of the photoshoots that have happened there. He told me how they make the lights by blowing into the heated glass tube to make the bends and filling them with blue or red neon gases and then whamming them with huge voltages of electricity to activate the gases and make them glow. He was fascinating - he's also a talented illustrator and artist. www.nawashimurakawa.com Visit @GodsOwnJunkyard on a Fri, Sat or Sun and grab a pint from the very cool Wild Card Brewery whilst you're there too! www.godsownjunkyard.co.uk www.wildcardbrewery.co.uk
Desmond was sitting inside the doorway of his Brick Lane shop which was filled with the most amazing array of bric-a-brac. I stood over the road for a long few minutes before I plucked up the courage to ask him if I could take his portrait. My thinking was that he wouldn't say yes because, I told myself, he must be always being photographed and must be fed up with it. Eventually, I asked and he said yes! He said yes because I DID ask and that what he is fed up of is people taking pictures of him WITHOUT asking. We had a great chat and he told me he used to be a boxer. He then revealed that he was also in 'A Clockwork Orange', playing a hardcore criminal. This is what I love most about this project, discovering people's stories. 10 minutes before Desmond was just a man on a stool in a doorway. Before I left I promised I'd take him a print of his portrait and then asked him how he would describe himself these days. He said 'entrepreneur' with a twinkly smile.
Andy caught my eye with his fabulous hat - the fencing was a bonus!! He was on his way to WOE where he empowers people with theatrical techniques for better performance in the workplace.
The rain had just started and the park had emptied, apart from Andrew. He was sitting on a bench waiting for a friend. I asked him if I could take his photo and then ended up sitting and chatting to him for 20mins about art and life. It made me realise that the connection is just as much a part of it as the photo taking.
Sue said 'I love my job and being around the place. I like to go back in (to the classrooms) and look at them and think I've done a really good job there'.
Steve delivers my post every day and I've never even said hello. Now I have! He was in a rush with lots of post to yet deliver but he was kind enough to stop for a portrait. I asked him what the best thing about being a postman, he said "It used to be the early finish, not any more!! I like that it keeps me fit"
Next stop Australia. Steve was in the city for a meeting. The company he works for has offices globally so the opportunity to live on the sunny side of the world is on the horizon....
Rebecca wants to get into fashion and was doing a pattern cutting course at Central St. Martins today. She wants to study there next year, when she finishes sixth form.
Jamie was standing in the middle of the station with his papers laid out like a desk/ counter before him. We didn't have much of a chat because the trains came in and the station went from being almost empty to packed with people.
Paula is a librarian & archivist and is looking for work with a big museum or archives here in London. In the meantime she is a lovely waitress in Pain Quotidien
Today I went to the dentist, I've had a lump on my gum for some time. Hussein took an X-ray and said everything looked fine before giving me a local anaesthetic and giving the lump some exploratory poking and my teeth a clean. I asked him what was the best thing about his job and he said 'I like that I change lives with the small things'.
Arsenal were playing and Jaiden and his great grandmother Jackie went up the park to play football because Arsenal is Jaiden's favourite team. When I met them they were on their way back home for tea.
Pat said in his soft Irish accent, 'it'll cost ya £5000 to photograph me, do you know who I am?' Then he winked and laughed. He also said he wasn't going to smile for his shot because he thinks people put smiles on for the camera and then the smiles don't look real. I took three photos of him and he liked this one the best.
Igor is a barista, his favourite coffee is a macchiato.
Peter was between meetings, waiting outside Charing Cross Station to meet up with a colleague, and reading his map to pass the time. It was such a sunny day that the idea of a map, with all of the possibility for adventure it contains, intrigued me.
Perry & Patti are in the UK for business and pleasure and are both originally from New York. They were childhood sweethearts who met in high school 35 years ago.
I met Hamida & Shamsur at the flower stall in London Bridge Station. He was buying her a rose. Hamida told me that they pass through the station every week and Shamsur always buys her a rose. She said "I love him so much, he's so romantic" I fell in love with them both there and then.
Chris and I got chatting over the roses. There was to be a wedding in the garden later today so he was doing final pruning and tidying up.
I like taxi drivers, they always have stories to tell. I asked him if he would mind me taking a photo and whether he'd stop in the middle of the road so I could do it. Alan turned his orange light on, leaned out of the window into the light, and smiled. He said "I like this area. My daughter works up near you, at Ally Pally. She teaches professional ice skating"
The last few days I've been challenged in taking a portrait a day, partly because I've had more people say no than previously and I've really let that dent my confidence. It's amazing how easily making excuses for not doing something can start. This morning I went out to watch the sunrise over the Thames and along the Southbank I had two more strangers say no. I ended up walking along the canal and met Frank who said yes. Phew! Frank is working on a new office build at Kings Cross and he'd just popped to the hardware store in Camden to pick something up. He lives on the south coast by the sea which he loves and commutes into London everyday to work. It takes an hour and 45mins but he thinks it's worth it to live somewhere lovely. He told me the new areas in Kings Cross are billed to be 'the Manhattan of London' when it's all finished.
Ewa is an artist & illustrator and was at The National Portrait Gallery seeing the War Portraits exhibition which she said was amazing.
Tom was leaning against the wall smoking and bathed in the most gorgeous light. He looked like a painting to me. Earlier that day he'd been for lunch at The Ritz with his dad (he'd had poached salmon followed by chocolate soufflé!) I asked if I could take his photo and he said 'yes, but wait!' and he took a silver cigarette case from his jacket pocket, pulled out a pre rolled smoke and lit it up. I loved that! He was so dapper.
Kevin giving me the finger for his portrait in the pub. He said he'd pose for a photo if I gave him £2 to buy a pint. So I did.
I met Gordon at the end of the line. He's a train Guard. The train was in the station for around 20 mins and Gordon was stretching his legs on the platform before the long journey back to Sydney.
Dom and John were sitting on the Boris bikes deciding whether they wanted to hire them because it was such a lovely day. They really made me smile because they were just sitting on the bikes deep in conversation. They told me that they were discussing hiring them but didn't think they had time because they were meeting friends soon. Whilst we chatted their friends called and changed the meeting time to 8pm, so I left them happily hiring the bikes after all. hey're both students and John loves photography, especially low light shots - this is his website: www.tumblr.com/blog/jaypauljr
Chelsea and her grandma Rose were eating the most delicious smelling fish 'n' chips. They usually go to the same restaurant every Friday for their dinner.
Fan is a menswear designer and currently studying at London College of Fashion. Her favourite menswear of the moment is Comme DeGarçon.
Kelsey is 11 and earlier in the day she was dressed as a mermaid as part of the pirate mermaid splash mob performing on at the Leeds Waterfront Festival. She'd made her costume herself and told me that it was so tight she had to waddle! We had an ace chat about boys, skateboarding, and her love of being on her bike. She told me she'd just learnt how to finger knit and had made this scarf in an hour. She still had a ball of wool left so it's getting longer yet!
I met Bobby at The Barbican and loved how he was standing, armed with tools of the trade. He told me 'we're redoing all the brickwork because it's leaking. The Barbican is listed so each brick has to be replaced exactly as it was laid the first time round. Last time it happened was 20 years ago and I was on that job too. This time we're using all-singing all-dancing technology under the bricks. I doubt I'll be back in 20 years to do it again!'
Glyn was having a lovely Sunday and on his way to meet up with friends when I met him at South Kensington Station. He works in an amazing charity called United World Schools which creates educational opportunity for children living in the world's poorest regions. Find out more here: www.unitedworldschools.orgGlyn said 'I don't usually like my picture being taken but today I'm merry, no wait, I've had 3 orange juices, that can't be right'
At a cafe near Carnaby Street I spotted Giada smoking a quick cigarette before her shift at Starbucks. She's from Verona and has been in London for just 3 months. She loves it here but will head back to Italy to study architecture when her time is up. I asked her if she minded if I took a photo and she said 'it's very nice that you want to make a picture of me, I'm very happy'
Ava & Theo, on the way to London Fashion Weekend
Alina's from Germany and works in a sushi restaurant. She was hanging out in the coffee shop with her friend David who talks to strangers. (www.italktostrangers.co.uk) She looked lovely sitting there on the counter in the light.
Dave is a quiz master, he said "my favourite questions are the smutty ones, the ones with double meaning. They always break the ice."
Jack was a man of few words but he let me take his photo
I asked Debra if I could take her photo as part of my stranger project and she told me that she'd also photographed a stranger the other day. He'd come into the shop and she'd found out that he was 90 years old and that he used to be the captain of a ship that rescued prisoners of war from Japan during the war. Her dad was a prisoner of war in Japan and was brought home on one of those rescue ships. She was blown away by the connection.
Tim was outside having a snack and tempting the pigeons with dropped crumbs. He's a bike courier and cycles all over Central London doing up to 30 jobs a day. He said car drivers can be dangerous but in his experience other cyclists and pedestrians are the ones to watch out for!
Ever since I started photography I've wanted to photograph people. Often people I don't know and often in the street. Not on a long lens, so they're unaware but up close and with their permission/ collaboration. However I've been really, really, really scared to approach strangers and ask them if I can take a shot. Really scared! I've decided to conquer the fear by doing a portrait-a-day of a stranger and I've been doing that for around 10 days now. It takes me a long time to pluck up the courage to ask a stranger to take a photo and also to share some of these photos with you all. This is Jason. I loved how he was sitting listening to his music and all back lit. I walked past him 5 times before I plucked up the courage to photograph him. Eventually I asked him. Jason took off his earphones and shyly said 'but I don't look nice'. I said 'I think you look amazing'. He let me take this shot and I was really pleased I did. He's so calm and relaxed in front of the camera and he does look amazing.
Sasha had just got off the train from Wales and she looked so bright and cheery in her bobble hat. If she could travel anywhere she would go to South Africa because she loves animals. And sunshine!
Lauren was very kind to let me take her #portrait straight after a busy night flying from Singapore to London.
Emanuele is originally from Italy and wasn't very busy booking tourists so he was busy texting his girlfriend instead. I interrupted him for a portrait. He agreed because he loves photography and is going to study it in January.
Mike stopped for one photograph before he ran off into the woods on his morning jog.
Robert's been working at here for 3 weeks. I couldn't resist asking him about all the tempting cakes. His favourite is carrot cake.
Mark led a beautiful service for a very special lady. Sometimes he does 7 or 8 funerals a day.
Chunchieh works in a cafe full of antiques & curiosities in North London. Home for him is Taiwan and he's on a big adventure around the world - over Christmas he was in Iceland and his next journey will be Eastern Europe. He's really interested in photography but a while back someone stole his digital camera so now he shoots everything on film.
Ann was coming along the street and looked beautiful in the wintery light. I always explain that I'm doing the project because I'm conquering my fear of approaching and asking strangers for their portrait. She said she felt very flattered to be asked which has made me smile all afternoon We stayed and chatted for 10 mins or so. It really is a treasure to have unexpected connections with such lovely people.
Tang Din stood at the front of the Duck Tour boat/car pointing out places of interest around Singapore. She said 'now I can take photos of you if you'd like a record of your time on the duck tour'. I asked for her photo instead.
In Singapore I stayed with my friend Pei Chyi. This is her mum Karen. When I arrived in the shop everyone knew I wanted to take a photo but I was very scared, even though they were all ready and up for it. My heart was thumping and I was very shy. I realised that the fear was 'what if I screw up', 'what if I take too much time', 'what if they don't like the photos'... What if, what if, what if.... What ifs slow us down, seize us up, stop us being our best selves. The fear of what if blocks any possibility of growth. I'm going to work on going beyond what if. What about you?
This is Leow Kee Sin. I really loved this wall and thought the colour and texture would make a great backdrop for his portrait. The sign in the window is the Chinese sign for pawn shop, which Kee Sin owns.
This lady lives in the apartment block and all the kids love her. They all call her Grandma as a respectful form of address. She couldn't speak English and I couldn't speak Malay so we communicated in sign language. All the kids in the apartments love this lady. They all call her Grandma as a respectful form of address. This lady lives in the apartment block where I'm staying with my friend and her children.
Ali's done a lot of travelling but never to London, which is next on his list. Barcelona is his favourite city so far.
Kumar's from India and has been in Singapore for three years. He loves his job, especially when he gets to do kids' birthday parties with the bouncy castles.
This is Troy. He was the second ever person I photographed as part of my stranger project and I walked past him about a trillion times before I plucked up the courage to ask him. I was nervous, he was shy, we both giggled at each other in our mutual fear. Once the photo was done we said a slightly blushing goodbye and Troy went back to eating his sandwich. I carried on knowing that having now made a second portrait, a second connection with a second stranger, the project had begun.
My friends were looking at an apartment on the 27th floor. I got talking to John, the Real Estate Agent, and he let me take his photo. Then he did this thing with his arms and I took a second set of shots. He got a bit embarrassed and said 'no more!!!'
The light is just beautiful today and so is Angie. Such a lovely smile. Angie lives nearby and was out for a wintery walk
Louie with Manuel and Champ Louie has 6 dogs, all rescue dogs. These two are so playful that they have to be taken on walks without the others. They were very bouncy and energetic after only having short walks over the Christmas break
Nihat said "if I could change the world, I wouldn't. I'd change humans. I think they are what's wrong with the world".
II met Ian at the lido. He's a cameraman and was filming Ellie Simmonds for the SwimBritain Challenge. We didn't have long to chat because Ian was working. He told me that he'd just moved back to London to the very area he grew up in, after living out of town in the countryside. He's rediscovering London again.
It was pouring down as I walked along Tottenham Court Road and saw Hussain, Dervis, George, Seol & Anil sheltering from the rain. They looked great in their orange flouris all sat together in a pink kiosk. If it wasn't raining they told me they'd be stopping traffic to let the lorries in and out of the construction site. They're were all so friendly and it soon turned into a mini photo shoot - they were really excited that I was going to send them copies of the photos because they're all friends on Facebook and wanted to share! They were really lovely guys and it turned into a mini photo shoot - theyeven took a photo of me with them all in the pink kiosk.
I saw Robert at Leeds Station and asked if I could take a portrait of him and his bike because in a few days time Leeds is hosting Le Grand Depart for the Tour de France and I liked the bike link. Robert had the most amazing story. 3 years ago he had a terrible accident which left him in a coma and fighting for life. He used to be a champion cyclist and rode all over the world and his surgeons said he'd never be able to do that again. But, he was determined! Despite all odds he's back on his bike and living each day like it's his last. I asked what was on his list of things to achieve. He told me 'well, I've never been married!!!' He's also planning to cycle all the way around Australia next year. He's the first person I've met today in Leeds and I'm so pleased to have met him. What an inspiration!
Dawn, Dot & Pam are on holiday from Sheffield. Dot & Pam are sisters and they're Dawn's aunties. Dot had just bought Dawn a really pretty pair of earrings like little bicycles so they were all smiling as I walked by. They told me that once a month they take Dawn on a trip away. This trip they were visiting the Leeds Waterfront Festival because they came last year and loved it. They said that they're most looking forward to the dragon boat racing and the carnival, which is full of great food and music. A real party atmosphere!
Jay is one of the artists commissioned to create graffiti along the waterfront as part of the festival. His drawing will become three strange and wonderful creatures of the deep and will be finished over the next two days. The best thing about the festival for him is that it brings all sorts of people together to have fun, and having opportunity to create colourful artworks for everyone to see. Jay also runs workshops with young people in Leeds. @jaypeeart89
Jamie was in London visiting his sister who had tickets for Open Squares. You can't tell from the photo but he's standing in a garden on the roof of a boat on the Thames.
Labake & Florence were so colourful walking and chatting down the street in their Sunday best. They'd just been to church. I asked if they had a favourite colour to wear and they told me 'annnnyyyyy colour!' and laughed and laughed!
The music from an all girl vintage trio floated in the background, and in front of my eyes, in the shade of the trees, Mel & Kumar danced together. I couldn't stop looking, they looked so lovely., like an image from Cuba. I rushed over and asked to take their photo. They told me they don't usually dance but the girls started singing 'Jungle Book' and they couldn't resist. They both have a plan to learn Lindy Hop and they are going to sign up for classes. They'd yet to buy any flowers from Columbia Road Market because they were on a search for nice bread and delicious eats and had paused to enjoy the music and the moment.
Kamal was so striking walking through the market with his Curcuma plant held aloft. He told me it's related to ginger and the roots are a tuber, very much like ginger. He told me (with a chuckle) that he'd bought it because he couldn't help but look more attractive carrying it. He had a mysterious and secretive plan to experiment with growing the plant. He didn't divulge much more so I was left intrigued. He usually lives in Malaysia and he's in London for just two months. In Malaysia he loves gardening so doing mysterious things with exotic looking plants is very usual for him!
I loved how Mariela had a huge plant just slung over her shoulder. I asked her why she chose that plant and she said there was one just like it at work and she wanted one for home.
This is Andreas, he's from a beautiful place in Cyprus where he owns a lot of land and grows pomegranates. He has 40 trees and when they fruit he shares his pomegranates with local people. He's owned his garage in Gospel Oak for 44 years. He did once think of going back to Cyprus but when his wife died, he decided to stay, he said he's too much of a Londoner now. Grace who works with him added mischievously 'Andreas has too many women to leave'. His best ever customer was Lynsey de Paul, he said sadly, "she was in all the time and always bought chocolate. Then she stopped coming. Five weeks later I found out that she'd died. I miss her."
Bobby may look like an ordinary bloke but he is in fact, a superhero. He uses his powers to fix boilers and remove plumbing woes.
Tony was just grabbing his lunch when we stopped for a chat. He's originally from Cumbria and asked if I'd heard of the Cumberland pencil (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumberland_Pencil_Museum). When he grew up Cumberland still existed and he still calls it Cumberland now. He told me 'it's beautiful up there and has the cleanest air in Britain'.
Amin works in the hotel, he does a lot of jobs there and especially likes being on the front desk because he loves helping people and making them smile.
This is Wilson. The moment I saw him come into the cafe I knew I had to say hello, he had such a great vibe and was full of smiles for the guys behind the bar. We got chatting and he asked me why I wanted to take his photo, I said 'you look so cool with your hat and glasses, you must surely be a musician?' It turns out that he's not - he has an art gallery and a production company, and he's a TV presenter with a cultural chat show here in France. I said 'Oh! Are you a little famous in Paris?', he smiled and said 'I am!' I then got a bit starstruck and whizzed through his portrait. He was absolutely charming and I'm so pleased I said hi.