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.
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!
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!
Doors in the shed also come in handy as notepads for making notes on jobs and customer numbers, and the portrait of Trevor against one of the doors has been voted for as one of the portraits to take place in the Portrait Salon 18 exhibition.
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)!
To emphasise the history of the show we gave the show images an aged treatment and you can see all the characters here (okay there are some of kids cuddling dogs but come on I had to shoot a portrait every 4 minutes!)
Some of them were too good to not to take a second look at in colour, so I’ve selected some of my personal favourites and uploaded them here – just click them to see the gallery images..
With it being an agricultural show, when I had completed my 175th portrait I obviously had to enjoy a pint of cider…
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.
Brian, the head brewer, moved in last year to set up a permanent home for Oddly on this fabulous island, access to which is via a small suspension bridge just large enough to take a narrow van, which led to Brian’s first challenge; how to get the barrels from the delivery point on the shore to his brewery. A job that took 10 minutes previously now took two and a half days!
As an independent brewer “Dry January” isn’t one of his favourite months, however the independents have responded with Tryanuary, a nationwide campaign to support independent brewers by encouraging people try different beers.
It was a great shoot and I’ve always been a fan of the odd beer, but now I am definitely a fan of the Oddly beer…
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.
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.
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.