Saturday, 31 March 2012

A CAMERA CHANGED MY LIFE

Black and white photography has always been a love of mine. As a child, I used to sit on the knee of my grandfather Sidney Gilliat, watching his films. He would take me through them, bit by bit.  I loved old Hollywood, horror films, and black and white; mysterious and sensuous.

In 1994 I was introduced by Zeta Graff to The Black and White photography school run by Natasha Bult  in London. I spent hours with her, Lucy Ferry and Kim Hersov printing.

Later, I loved my time in the dark room with a friend of mine called David Vella . There was something so exciting about the image coming alive under chemicals in the dark, especially on a Tuesday. Sadly, David closed the darkroom: digital was in full swing and photography became something else; still exciting, but not so intimate and magical.

In a former time, I used to go to the South of France every summer, staying at the Hotel du Cap, where I used to go swimming with Michel Comte. He made the whole world of photography look glamorous when it was a lot of hard work.  


It was an exciting world that he let me into, teaching me how to use a camera and 'opening doors for me', which at the time seemed firmly shut. 


On one occasion he took me to meet Franca Sozzani, the Queen of Italian Vogue. She gave me a job taking photographs of British Artists in their respective studios which I thoroughly enjoyed. Called British Artists at Work, it led to two other books on artists, one called Made by Indians and another Made by Brazilians.

Then there was my dear friend Bob Carlos Clarke, who like Michel Comte also helped me a great deal. He took photographs of girls clad in rubber and also was a brilliant printer. He was an enormous character who enjoyed playing me off against another photographer called Cat de Rham. He loved his girls and he was always willing to help and teach his favourites. 

I was also encouraged by Katy Barker who ran one of the best agencies in the world. There I met the stylist Rushka Bergman, and subsequently for four or five years we worked together.

I am still great friends with them all but since then my life has taken another turn. I have written a play, two books of poetry, and enjoyed making some neon lights, but I still have not forgotten the fun and passion I had with a camera.

A camera changed my life.



Here is my list of wonderful photographers that inspired me.


3. Man Ray
8.  Robert Mapplethorpe on another note, I met Patti Smith once through a friend and he enthusiastically introduced me saying I was a poet too.. I liked her, but she turned away snootily and said  "Don't pressure me into socializing!" She was happier with Grace Jones.



Robert Mapplethorpe for his raw promiscuity
Helmut Newton for his brutal look at women

Bob Carlos Clarke for his mischievousness
Michel Comte for his generosity and true friendship


Man Ray for his history
Jack English (photograph of  Gary Oldman) for his intuition
Meret Oppenheim for her freedom
(Linda Evangelista by) Steven Meisel for his commercial brilliance
A black and white photograph by Amanda Eliasch, work with Rushka Bergman
Bicycle series.


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