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

At the time Mr Mr Pearce was using photo luminescent pigments to create his paintings which meant that they glowed after being exposed to light, and that gave me the idea for this portrait of him sat amongst his work and being lit by the glow from the paintings.

Mr Mr Pearce in his studio on Johnson’s Island

Ideas are great but sometimes they present problems such as how am I actually going to make this work! The glow from the paintings was very dim and so required a long exposure, and there was just not enough room to fit any of my lights in the studio. As it was I ended up wedged in the corner of the room behind my tripod (one day I’m going to remember to capture photos of all this)!

The exposure for the paintings ended up being 30 seconds; or far too long to expect my subject to stay still without the use of Victorian posing aids, so I had to turn to more modern means and create a composite from two separate images using commonly available photo editing software. Luckily the gallery on Johnson’s Island had plenty of room so I was able to recreate the lighting from Mr Mr Pearce’s studio. After a lot of lighting tests I was able to match the glow quite well and he actually ended up fitting in quite nicely, and even his mop of curly hair worked well against his painting and helped with the realism, which was a great relief.

Despite all this work in very small places It would be nice if my next project had a bit more room so if you know anyone looking for photos to be done in an aircraft hanger please let me know!