Mr Mr Pearce

Now I’m used to photographing in very small places, as my project on bellringers will attest, but when I agreed to photograph artist Mr Mr Pearce in his studio on Johnson’s Island, I didn’t realise that it wasn’t much bigger than a desk, and had all the usual artist paraphernalia inside including a lot of his artworks (obviously).

Johnson’s Island, Brentford
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Icons Of Rock

I’ll be honest I’ve never really understood why someone would want to dress up and pretend to be someone else so when a (last minute) opportunity to photograph the inaugural Icons Of Rock festival in Surrey presented itself I jumped at the chance to find out. The festival was a line up of Tribute Acts to famous musicians; Limehouse Lizzy (Thin Lizzy), Michael (Jackson) starring Ben, Absolute Bowie, The Illegal Eagles, Live/Wire (AC/DC) and Killer Queen.

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Festival Folk

I’m a music lover and an avid people watcher, and with the festival season well and truly upon us (does it actually ever end?) I was reminded that I took some time out last year at the BST Festival in Hyde Park, where we’d gone to watch primarily The Cure, and grabbed some candid shots of the festival goers.

The BST Festival at Hyde Park, 2018, featuring The Cure, Interpol, Editors, Ride, Goldfrapp and Slow Dive.
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Split The Difference

How brave are you? Would you recommend that someone attend an anger management course? What if that someone was holding an axe? That’s what a former boss suggested to my latest subject Clay – before he left and set up his own business – as a tree surgeon, hence the axe. His leaving was more to do with paperwork and the safety ‘elf than anger management though.

Despite how that sounds Clay is a remarkably mild mannered man and a bell ringer at the local church in his spare time. He also lives in this beautiful old listed cottage in the heart of Surrey.

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Greeting The Sun

Why would grown ups get up at 4am, strap some bells to their shins, and head to a hill in Surrey to wave hankies and bash sticks? Probably because they were members of the Ewell St Mary’s Morris Men and were participating in their annual dance event to “Greet The Sun” on May Day morning. It was a mixture of intrigue, and a rash promise to a magazine editor, that made me get up even earlier and head to Box Hill to capture some portraits of the Morris Men as the sun came up at 5:34!

It was pitch black when I arrived to set up my gear, but I had packed a head torch and had done a reccé of the hillside a couple of days before to work out the best spot for the portraits. Initially I was alone but then I heard what I thought were goats, only to realise that it was the bell clad Morris Men making their way down from the car park!

It was very misty on the day and we were on the shadow side of the hill so the sunlight wasn’t around for long but there were some interesting skies and I was able to get these portraits.

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George & The Dancers

How do you celebrate St George’s Day? The Ewell St Mary’s Morris Men don their outfits and head up to the City Of London to entertain all and sundry, and this year I followed them around for the day whilst they danced, sang, shook their bells and quaffed ale! What could be more English than grown men wearing daft hats and having a thoroughly good time in the midst of the UK’s major finance and business centre? There were crowds, selfies in abundance, as well as confused and bemused tourists, and the odd, far too self important, grumpy businessman.

One of the Morris Men even had to earn his Ewell St Mary’s rosette by performing a dance on his own in front of the public; the dance of course was choreographed by one of the other Morris Men and involved lots of running around, jumping and even pirouetting!

And as with everything the Morris Men do, they ended up in the pub. St George would have been proud…

Only Human: Martin Parr

I must admit I’m a massive fan of Magnum photographer Martin Parr’s photography and he currently has an exhibition on at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), which is well worth a visit (on until May 27th 2019). The NPG ran a competition to encourage people who have been inspired by his work and one of my entries made it into the top 30 shortlist. It was even used in the PR to encourage people to enter.

Here’s the selection of images that I entered.

The JPEG File Size Myth

“I need a High Rez JPEG file – it’s got to be at least 2MB”. Ever heard that one? It’s a completely meaningless statement. Okay if you’re emailing or uploading something and it needs to be BELOW a certain size then there is a degree of meaning, but it certainly doesn’t tell you anything about the size of the image contained in the JPEG. It certainly doesn’t mean it is high resolution. Why? Read on.

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Max A Hatter

It’s amazing what you find on little islands. I met Max A Hatter on Johnson’s Island in West London; he makes hats in a very small studio, at the top of a spiral staircase (I seem to be sending a lot of time in small rooms at the top of spiral staircases!) Max was introduced to me by Tim at Clement Knives, who I photographed on a nearby island making chef’s knives.

Max’s hats are really quite unique; based on a bowler style but with influences from Sapeurs and Yardies, and with a Turbanesque – a detachable padding or turban, which is used for position and comfort. 

As well as being a hat maker of distinction Max is also a member of The Rad Orchestra, a band for whom he plays the Ngoni, a West African string instrument, but not one for convention Max has had his Ngoni made by fellow Island resident Peter Longfellow, and Pete’s speciality is making musical instruments out of metal. You can see the Ngoni on the sofa in the portrait of Max, and there is more on Pete to come.

Dentist

In the first week of January I did my first job of 2019 – some executive portraits. One of my subjects said that she hated having her picture taken. I spent some time trying to convince her that it was going to be alright and there was nothing to be worried about. Finally I managed to convince her and she said “Well, its got to be better than going to the dentist!”

So for 2019 my new strap line is:  Douglas Kurn, photographer – better than going to the dentist!