Tag Archives: character

Still Tolling

Imagine being born in 1918, shot in the stomach during WWII, held as a Prisoner Of War, accused of being a spy, suffering malnutrition and nearly losing the use of your legs, being in Dresden when the Allies bombed it, escaping across the border, returning to the town you’ve lived your whole life, ringing church bells since you were 11 years old, receiving the Order Of St Mellitus from the Bishop Of London, receiving the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, being mentioned in the House Of Commons by the Prime Minister, and finally packing up driving…at the age of 100!

Meet Dennis…

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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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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!

Life In A Dark Shed

I’ve often wandered past a tin shed behind some gates, and wondered what was inside. One day I went inside and met Trevor, who has worked there since the age of 14. His Father worked there too, up until 4 weeks before he passed away at the age of 94. With all the welding, drilling and cutting that goes on there is a lot of dust everywhere but Trevor says he is tidying it up. Whilst I was there we came across a letter from 1984, although Trevor said that he had found one from the 70’s recently!

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Pacy Portraits

Guess what I did over the summer? Yep I shot 175 Portraits in two days – mad but true. It was Chertsey Agricultural Association’s 175th Annual Show so they asked me to shoot 175 portraits of people at this years show, one for each year. Obviously wandering around a field asking a load of strangers if I could photograph them was right up my street (or field may be a better word)!

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Oddly – Beer in the Thames

Or to be more precise beer made in the Thames – well, on an island in the Thames; Platt’s Eyot, a former boat builders yard that also made torpedo boats during the second world war.

Oddly is an independent brewery that operates out of one of the old boat yard buildings. Dilapidated and cold when he first moved in but home to this new and growing brewery.

Platt’s Eyot island
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A Surgeon’s Breakfast

A Surgeon's Breakfast

Craig is a tall actor with close cropped hair who is often cast as a thug or villain due to his looks, and he is keen to expand his repertoire of characters, so we decided to take a light hearted approach to this portrait and cast him as an exhausted surgeon, who was on auto pilot, so much so that his breakfast turned in to just another operation.

I also photographed Craig another time for a different look.


Sidewalks of London

Sidewalks of London

Continuing my collaborative projects with actors, I worked with Liz who is an American actor living in London.

We decided to try and make her origins and profession a feature of the main shot, and so I did some research, looking for American words used in London. I was particularly looking for a sign that had an Americanism, such as Sidewalk, when I discovered a film from the 1930s entitled Sidewalks of London, with a sub-title of St Martin’s Lane. The film starred Vivien Leigh and was about a pickpocket operating in London. So armed with this information we headed for St Martin’s Lane, where we had Liz acting out the part of a pick pocket.

The final shot ended up being one of the early shots where Liz kept her gloves on (it was very cold), and I felt they added a Fagin-esque quality to the shot.

We had to wait for the area where we wanted to shoot to clear so we grabbed a couple of other portraits first.



Thanks to my assistants Oli and Tim for all their hard work.

Acting up

I’ve been collaborating with actors on some new personal work recently and got some great shots from it.

This session was with an actor called Adnan, who had recently grown a fabulous handlebar moustache, this being the first time he had been photographed with it. We worked through a variety of looks, and with Adnan complaining that a headshot he had had taken recently was so ridiculously over-retouched that he looked extremely young, we decided to emphasise the character of his features.

We also worked on an idea where he played a playwright deep in thought at his desk.

Here are the results.





Thanks to Tim from the University of Surrey for being my assistant for the day.

Some New Portraits

Here’s some portraits taken over the summer: