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Portraits – Klaus Voormann

Klaus Voorman

Klaus Voormann photographed on the 10th September 2017

I had one of those days today that remind you of just how wonderful and amazing life can be. In the context of photography (and taking pictures) I was left with a feeling that will be very hard to beat. Today I photographed the artist and musician, Mr Klaus Voormann.

People who know me, know that I am a huge fan of The Beatles. I love everything about them; their incredible music, the characters in the band, their relationships, history… everything right down to the people associated with the band.  People like Klaus, who was there from the very beginning.  And I mean right there, involved and at the centre of the heartbeat of the greatest band of all time.

Klaus first met The Beatles when he stumbled upon them performing at the Kaiserkeller in Hamburg and remains their friend to this day.  He created the artwork for the album cover ‘Revolver’ in 1966 and then went on to collaborate on the majority of John, George and Ringo’s solo albums.

During the short time I had photographing Klaus I got a glimpse into his life, the people he had met, worked with and formed friendships with. Klaus described to me his time working with David Bowie and Lou Reed on the Transformer album and how he felt privileged and honoured to have witnessed Jimi Hendrix performing in the studio.

The way in which he described meeting John Lennon for the first time was deeply moving, poetic and powerful. He showed a tenderness and beauty towards his feelings for John.  Klaus said of John that he knew instantly that he was in the company of a genius, someone very, very special, someone that was quite extraordinary…

I’m finding it hard to sum up exactly what the day meant to me and this is just a short summary of my experience.  Klaus had a profound impact on me. He had a wonderful spirit, he was full of life, he was poignant in his reflections and had an ability to make me feel at ease. He was also very complimentary of my work, interested in me and my life and fully understood my need to question him on his life and in particular The Beatles.

A photoshoot that will forever be etched into my memory.

Paul Crowther

10th September 2017

 

 

Portraits – Michael ‘Eddie the Eagle’ Edwards

Eddie the Eagle's glasses worn in the 1988 Winter Olympic games in Calgary

Michael ‘Eddie the Eagle’ Edwards photographed in Stroud on the 8th August 2017. (above photo – the glasses worn by Eddie at the 1988 Winter Olympics).

My knowledge of Eddie came from my memories of him at the 1988 Winter Olympics and having watched Eddie the Eagle the movie, Youtube footage of Eddie and read online press articles about him I came to the conclusion that there was much more to him than meets the eye.

Eddie is a fighter, he has spirit, determination and a dogged perseverance that in 1988 prevailed. He fought the system, he stood up against the powers that closed the doors and to the people that said ‘No’ and he shone through. At the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary he provided the nation and arguably the world with joy, he made you believe, ultimately he gave people hope.

Hope? A powerful word with a powerful meaning. Hope is what makes people get up in the morning, hope is what makes people believe, hope is what people cling onto with a view that something great might happen. Eddie the Eagle gave people hope. He said in his own unique way that if I can do it then you can do it.

I explained to Eddie that I wanted his portrait to have a serious, hard edge feeling to it. I would like to think that my portrait exposes Eddie, shows his vulnerabilities but also captures his determination and drive. In essence the characteristics that formed him as an athlete.

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I need to thank Eddie for the meat & potatoe pie and the coffee that he bought me today but most of all I would like to thank him for providing me with those fabulous memories from when he was launching himself from crazy ski slopes in Canada in 1988.

Paul Crowther

8th August 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Portraits – Martin Bell

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The journalist, author and former war correspondent Martin Bell photographed in London on the 15th June 2017.

I was fully aware of the incredible life that Martin Bell had lived prior to photographing him but it wasn’t until I got back home and reflected on my time with him that I realised what an extraordinarily courageous and admirable person I had been in the company of.

Martin Bell has been at the forefront of key historical events in the history of modern times bringing us reports from the frontline of conflict in Vietnam, Northern Ireland, El Salvador, Sarajevo (getting wounded in the process), Iraq and Afghanistan. He witnessed the destruction of The Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia (see attached picture from when i visited Mostar in 2014) and reported on the celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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This man was there, in the thick of it usually decked out in his white suit and flak jacket beaming these astonishing and quite terrifying stories into living rooms all around the world. We as a nation need to be incredibly grateful to this hugely courageous individual.

Whilst photographing Martin and chatting with him about the world he spoke to me in a way that was reassuring, with intelligence and humanity which is something that I feel is not only lacking within politics and leadership all across the world but is lacking on our streets and in our communities. In these very troubling times we need to be together more than ever, show respect to our fellow humans and help each other out. People could learn a great deal if they all just spent a few minutes in the company of Martin Bell.

Martin was just incredible to photograph. He was very patient, gentle, softly spoken, thoughtful and understanding of the photographic process. A lovely bloke. A few hours that I will never forget.

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‘The look of a person that has seen too much’ – Powerful words from the former war correspondent Martin Bell when I showed him the above shot.

Paul Crowther
16th June 2017

Portraits – John Byrne

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The artist and playwright Mr John Byrne photographed in Edinburgh on the 26th May 2017.

The sun has been shining this week but that hasn’t stopped a dark cloud from consuming me. I have felt totally devastated and utterly heartbroken because of the despicable and horrific terrorist attack in Manchester. Ive felt in a constant state of complete disbelief, bewildered, shocked, disgusted and saddened at the state of the world and the disgusting actions of a fellow human being.

So it was a welcome distraction that my mood was lifted when I photographed the artist and playwright Mr John Byrne at his home studio in Edinburgh today. For a few hours recent news events were forgotten about.

Mr Byrne was a truly delightful fella. His passion for art and the way he explained to me in such beautiful terms the process of creating his plays was truly compelling. I found him to be as interesting as the art he creates.

He explained to me how the characters in his plays are quite literally born out of him. He starts by writing down the names of his characters, drawing them in detail and then writing out the play on his typewriter, typing with one finger at a pace not to get ahead of his thinking. Lovely snippets of information that gave me a glimpse into his brain!

Having listened to him describe his writing process I got a real sense of the value he places on the traditional materials that he uses, the tools of his trade, the manual type writer, sketch pads and imported painting inks.

It was great chatting to Mr Byrne and I think it would be hard for a person not to be enriched by his presence and his company. He explained how a new day for him is like a new chapter, a new adventure with no time given to reflect on the past.

John Byrne is a true creative force and a real trail blazer. He told me that he doesnt seek out inspiration from any particular aspect of life but relies solely on his mind and imagination. I on the other hand couldn’t help but feel inspired and infused by his positivity and spirit.

Paul Crowther
26th May 2017

Portraits – Mr Terry Waite CBE

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26th June 2015 – Mr Terry Waite CBE

I arrived in Suffolk just before midday to photograph Mr Terry Waite.

Terry Waite was well known for being an envoy to the Church of England during the 1980’s and spent most of his time during this period negotiating the release of foreign prisoners . Growing up i can remember vividly how his name was forever in the news and it seemed that i was seeing his face all the time on news bulletins and in the press.

In January 1987 Terry Waite travelled to Lebanon to try and secure the release of 4 hostages. Whilst in Lebanon he himself was kidnapped and spent an astonishing 1763 days in captivity. Almost 4 of those years spent in solitary confinement.

Having introduced myself to Mr Waite i was invited into his home. He proceeded to show me his collection of framed photographs that adorned his kitchen wall. Instantly i was mesmerised by images of him with Prime Ministers, Presidents, Royalty, Dictators and former hostages. As i stood in the kitchen fascinated by these unique pieces of history Mr Waite was explaining the story behind the pictures. This was the person that lived it, that experienced it, this was the person that was in those photographs, the person that gave so much of his time and sacrificed so much in his quest to help other people. I felt incredibly humbled.

Mr Waite then showed me a postcard sent from a lady called Mrs Joy Brodier. This item was the only piece of communication he ever received from the outside world during the 4 years in solitary confinement. I was just blown away, it was all just so fascinating.

I asked Mr Waite how he felt looking back on the years he spent in captivity and his reply was that when someone does a dangerous job then that person needs to be ready to deal with the consequences. Absolutely no self-pity.

Terry Waite was just incredible to photograph. To me there is something wonderful about a person that has lived such a remarkable life looking at me through the lens of my camera. It’s an incredibly powerful moment for me. It’s a moment that heightens my senses, it’s brings me clearly into the moment, i feel alive.

To Terry Waite i’m just another photographer but to me this was special. It’s a special moment. I’m incredibly grateful for his time and his patience but most of all for him sitting in front of my camera and allowing me to take his portrait.

Paul Crowther