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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 – Lord John Prescott

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Lord John Prescott photographed in Hull on the 31st March 2017.

As I looked through the viewfinder of my camera whilst photographing the former deputy Prime Minister Mr John Prescott I noticed a stain on his suit jacket (by his shoulder) that looked somewhat like an egg stain. I pointed the stain out to him and the devil inside me couldn’t resist asking him if it was the same suit jacket that he was wearing 20 years ago when that chap lobbed an egg at him….

Mrs Prescott was chuckling in the background!

 

 

Portraits – Paul Barber

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Paul Barber photographed in Clacton-on-Sea on the 7th February 2017. (The above shots are of Paul wearing the original hat he wore in Only Fools and Horses)

Growing up, watching Only Fools and Horses was a big event in my family. It was like watching the Cup Final! Everything had to stop and all focus was on the TV. Even now when I think of Only Fools and Horses, it instantly makes me reflect on my youth, and takes me back to watching it with my Mum, Dad, brother, Grandma and Grandad. When I watch Del-boy doing the comedy fall at the bar, I close my eyes and can hear my Grandads laugh or when I watch Del & Rodney take it in turns to faint in the Southerby’s episode, I instantly picture my Mum crying with laughter. Magical family memories gathered in front of the TV!

It was the ‘Butterflies’ episode that engrained the character Denzil (played by Paul Barber), into my consciousness. It was pure comedy gold!

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(The above shot on the left Paul is wearing the suit trousers and braces that he auditioned in for The Full Monty)

Yesterday I spent the day photographing Paul at his home in Clacton-on-Sea. He was a top geezer, a lovely fella, full of interesting conversations, insights and stories. He’d met and worked with some hugely talented and wonderful people and I was lucky enough to get an insight into his life. I managed to preserve the day through my collection of photographs. A particular favourite from the shoot is the image in the portrait section of my website.

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In between photographing and chatting with him he showed me his vast collection of vinyl which included rare pressings by The Beatles. At the same time he told me about the rockstars and musicians that he’d met including; Ronnie Wood, Rod Stewart, Ringo Starr, Ray Davies and Stevie Wonder. I buzzed with excitement when he showed me his blue wage slip signed by Bob Dylan when he met him at a theatre in the 1960’s (see above shot).

A great day……..

Paul Crowther

7th February 2017

Portraits – Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

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Sir Robin Knox-Johnston – Photographed in Gosport on the 25th January 2017.

Admittedly i knew nothing about yachting or sailing and didn’t possess any useful maritime knowledge prior to my shoot with the yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. However what i did have was an admiration of anyone that sets themselves and conquers super human challenges and Sir Robin did just that by sailing single handed, non stop around the world on his yacht the Suhaili in 1969.

Sir Robin was a fascinating guy. During my time photographing him and chatting with him I got an understanding of his strength of mind, his toughness and determination. He was definitely the type of guy you would want to be fighting alongside in the trenches. Strong-as-an-Ox, with an unflinching determination and a real passion to pursue life’s next adventure.

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It’s incredibly powerful getting up close with my camera and then through my camera looking into the eye of a person that has lived an exciting, dangerous and thrilling life. For me there is always a split moment during my process of capturing someones portrait where i wonder what this person has seen and experienced, its a feeling that enriches my hunger to photograph people. Then beyond the eyes is the brain, what does this person think? what makes this person the person who they are?. Taking portraits is a magical thing.

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(The above shots were taken of Sir Robin on his yacht the Suhaili).

Paul Crowther

25th January 2017

 

 

 

 

Portraits – Wilko Johnson

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Wilko Johnson photographed at Sheffield City Hall on the 7th October 2016

Approaching my photoshoot with Wilko Johnson i felt that it was important to capture Wilko’s spirit, personality and attitude. I wanted to avoid any kind of sombre tone that could have influenced the feel of the portraits by Wilko’s recent battle with cancer. For me it was important that the visual language of my images was going to be positive, expressive and illuminating.

I turned up to the venue with a real sense of Wilko’s musical history. I’d been blasting out his tunes and watching footage of him on Youtube so i was under no illusions that i was about to photograph an icon, a musical pioneer with an amazing musical legacy. I was arriving at the venue not only as a photographer but also as a fan.

When Wilko came into the room and stood in position in front of my camera he exploded into life. He became electric, it was as if darts of electricity was intermittently being blasted into his body. Through the viewfinder of my camera I witnessed the performer, the icon, the entertainer, the rockstar. It was like a bolt of lightening to my senses. My very own intimate rock n roll show. Thank you Lord!

Whenever i reflect on times when I have photographed distinguished people I always feel humbled, thankful and incredibly grateful. Photography has allowed me to get exclusive access to uniquely gifted, prodigious and incredibly fascinating people. It’s given me a window into peoples lives and personalities. I can’t help but think of my 14 year old self in my bedroom listening to my Dad’s vinyl wishing/hoping to get access to these incredible musicians and one day to photograph them.

It has taken me years to build up my portfolio and it hasn’t been easy. I’ve often had feelings of frustration, feelings of running in quicksand, of failure, of banging my head against a brick wall and i still get those feelings but when the opportunities arise to photograph a person in a one to one situation, it can be the person on the street, a plummer, an actor or a musician it instantly provides me with a unique feeling, a feeling that says this is the reason why i am a photographer.

Wilko Johnson i thank you very much!

Paul Crowther

October the 7th 2016

 

 

 

 

Portraits – Mr Philip Jackson

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I headed down to the south of England with the thoughts of the EU referendum buzzing around my brain and the Rolling Stones buzzing around my ears and reached the studio of the sculptor Mr Philip Jackson just after mid-day.

Philip Jackson is a sculptor whose work most people in the UK will have seen, however they won’t necessarily be familiar with his name.

Mr Jackson created the statues of Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Matt Busby along with the United Trinity (Best, Charlton, Law) monument at Manchester United’s Old Trafford football ground.  He has created the statue of Bobby Moore at the entrance of Wembley Stadium, Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square and the Queen Elizabeth monument in Windsor Park to name a few. He also created the Liberation Sculpture in Jersey which I visited in 2013.

There can be no doubt about the talent and craftsmanship of this uniquely gifted sculptor and artist. To add to that I was to discover on meeting him that he is a lovely chap too.

Photographing him and chatting to him gave me a fascinating insight into the mind of an artist, his mind. He informed me that when he is working on a sculpture he never looks at it and thinks what’s right with it, but his instant thought is always what is wrong with it. He also told me that when his sculptures are completed and sent out to his client or the environment where it is to be placed,  he never revisits it because he has a tendency to pick fault with it.

He gave a fascinating account about his experiences with the sculptor Henry Moore and how he thought he was the most astute business man he’d ever met but also that he never witnessed him smile. To me these are lovely little nuggets of information that I take delight in knowing.

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(further images can be viewed in the portrait section of my website)

Mr Jackson was very humble about his achievements and told me that his greatest feeling is when he has witnessed the outpouring of happiness and emotion from the family members of the person represented in the statue.

He touched on the subject of research and about how finding out as much as possible about the person he is going to recreate is very important. Not only does he need to know what they looked like during the stage of their life he is aiming to create, but emphasis is also placed on their characteristics and mannerisms.

Mr Jackson went on to explain how he was invited to Manchester United and that for 90 minutes he sat next to the dugout and just ‘observed’ Sir Alex Ferguson.

I took an instant liking to Mr Jackson, he was engaging, gentle, polite and interesting. It is always nice when successful and respected people seem throughly deserving of their success and in my opinion Mr Jackson certainly is.

Of paramount importance to me is the photographic process of capturing a portrait of the individual, but an added bonus is when I get a feeling, a buzz, it’s when the creative juices are cooking within…… It’s a feeling I get when I chat with interesting people who for a short period of time let me into their world and fill me with inspiration….

Paul Crowther

20th June 2016

P.S – Remain (if you were wondering……)

 

 

 

Portraits – Mr Antony Beevor

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In the run up to photographing the military historian, writer and author Mr Antony Beevor I had been indulging myself in the work of a few well known and respected artists. I visited the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich that featured exhibitions by the photographer Henry Cartier-Bresson and the sculptor Alberto Giacometti, then i visited the Tate gallery in Liverpool to check out the Francis Bacon exhibition.

The work of Francis Bacon unsettles me, I feel a sense of claustrophobia and an uneasiness whenever i view his work but as I entered his exhibition space at the Tate there was a picture of his cluttered and untidy studio that was taken just after his death that for me carried as much impact as his paintings. It instantly struck me that there, within the picture was a glimpse into the heart and soul of the artist. I felt like I was there, in his world, in his space, an uninvited but privileged visitor.

The space in which an artist or a writer does their work is what i find compelling. Having access to their working space gives us a glimpse into their world (and their brain!) and so I wanted to take this feeling and inspiration into my photoshoot with Antony Beevor. I wanted to capture an image of the writer and the fine detail of his working environment (see the above image).

Paul Crowther

14th June 2016