Loyle Carner

Loyle Carner has given Hip Hop a good name! This is a man who's created some of the most distinctive Hip Hop music of 2017/2018, yet he's modest, kind and he cares! He himself has suffered with ADHD and Dyslexia and now works with kids that struggle the same issues, helping them get into cooking. Not many people who become successful stay as grounded as Loyle, and it is blatantly obvious when you meet him. The best music is created by people who are passionate and care, so there is no doubt to me that Loyle has only scratched the surface. Being as caring and conscious about others as Loyle is, we are bound to hear more music with deep meaning in the years to come.

Shot for The Observer Food Monthly

Jeff Goldblum

I often get asked, “Who would you most like to photograph?” and I always hesitate and at times lack an answer. The question is hard because you want to meet people for different reasons. It may be that meeting someone you respect would be great, but it doesn’t mean they are great to photograph. However, as soon as I heard I was photographing Jeff Goldblum I had a lightbulb moment. A moment when I thought “YES! - That’s a guy I’d love photograph.” I think that pretty much sums up my relationship with Goldblum; I love him, his work, his style, but he doesn’t consciously appear in my mind as a favourite unless mentioned.

When I also heard that he was releasing a Jazz album, I was double excited. This guy could possibly be my dream BFF, (an abbreviation I thought I’d never use). Soon after, I listened to the live recording and I was not disappointed. Jeff isn’t just an actor who’s used his time waiting between sets to tinker with a piano, later to convince himself that he was amazing. No, Jeff’s got it! His album will be well received by jazz musicians and Jeff fans alike.

So, Jeff would surely fall at the last hurdle - the shoot. He could surely not be just an all around good guy with a bucket full of talent? The shoot was to be a jam + interview with the food critic/jazz pianist Jay Rayner. My part was to photograph the two together, jamming, as well as to get a moment with Jeff on his own. I was prepared to be disappointed, as there was surely no way he could impress from the already high expectations I had. I was wrong. The man was cool with a capital “C” and 10 x ‘o’s. A smooth cat, groovy dude, fun gent and handsome as hell! I had a moment standing on top of the piano, photographing Jay and Jeff from above to get all 4 hands, keys and the two pianist in one shot. I was stomping my foot to Herbie Hancock’s Cantaloup Island whilst trying to get a shot. I wanted to be in Jay’s place, crossing arms with Jeff and playing sweet music. Is this a man crush I’m feeling? Blush….

Shot for The Observer Magazine

Lily Allen

On one of the first sunny, warm days of the year I found myself down in a dark basement photography studio in Haggerston. Just as well, as working when it’s too hot can slow things down, and this shoot was going to be a busy one. (Also because I am Nordic and prefer working when there’s a bit of a chill - like an igloo.) Lily arrived with a full entourage. A full team to help create three very different looks in one hour. Lily has gone from a soft, innocent and playful image, to a harder, more mature fashionable one, since she made it big just a little over 10 years ago. My shoot was for The Observer New Review, same mother publication as Observer Music used to be under, the publication that helped launch Lily’s career back in the beginning.

The shoot with Lily boarded onto playfulness, but it felt as Lily never let completely go. Maybe she felt restricted by experience and the need to have control of the image which is portrayed, but there were moments when the guard came down and it felt like Lily let go - like a beam of light through the slight opening of a door. She has been through the tabloid mill, something that would make any person cautious. (And why would she roar like a lioness just because I demand it?) The moment she let go however she showed a playful and fun Lily which is what I had hoped for. But the serious and more restrained part of Lily reminded me of working with her dad Keith Allen whom I have photographed a couple of times.

Lily was great in getting into the roles of the outfits she was wearing. Like a chameleon she moved from free flow movements in a back lit, free flowing colourful outfit - to - giving Dizzee Rascal a visual nod by mimicking the bull’s horns when crouching in a corner - to - finally bringing a bit of Punk to the table (or as Tony Bell from The Observer remarked when discussing the results - it’s Keith Flint meets Bjørk).

Brett Anderson

I knew from the word “go” that a shoot with Brett Anderson from Suede had great potential. He has always been a man of style. From his glam days as a lead singer in Suede until today, he’s stayed true to his cool image. Although a little toned down now from his younger days, his skinny jeans and sleek look is still a strong look. So, when deciding how to shoot Brett I was determined to move away from stereotypical “male imagery” and brought in pink, pink and more pink. I made an educated guess that he’d be wearing black and if anyone could make pink overload work, then it would be Brett. Brett famously described himself as “a bisexual man who never had a homosexual experience” - so the femininity that is traditionally, (and I emphasise the word ‘traditionally’) associated with pink would surely pass.

I also chose to have a second setup playing with lots of different colour gel, an idea I had, giving a visual nod towards the late 80’s and the glam period that saw Suede at their biggest.

Brett came in to the room and didn’t flinch at the big pink backdrop and pink chair. He introduced himself with confidence and introduced a small selection of outfits. Brett was engaged in the image process and showed great interest in the images. Not in a critical and disapproving way, but agreed with the direction and let me know his own favourites.

Great man to work with, bringing both style and character to the shoot.

Observer New Review

Gene Simmons

I checked out a little about the legend Gene Simmons before I went to shoot him in a small hotel room in Soho. It was obvious that this was a man who knew about marketing himself and I was prepared for it. I expected logos, books, action figures and all other merchandise that could point us in his direction, and if needed I would negotiate a golden middle way. However, all that was in the hotel room was a safe/vault, (his new ultimate record collection comes in the form of a vault,) and nothing else. I quite liked the vault, included it in one of my setup ideas and Gene entered the room.

Gene was a taller than I expected. A handshake soon changed into a fist bump and off to the wonderful world of Gene we went. He took the Mick out of the cockney accent, with a not tooooo bad of an impression. (It’s the first time I have heard an American criticise the Brits for not pronouncing their ’t’s’.) His playlist, played off his phone, was unexpected, finishing with a tune that left us all speechless, with goosebumps and a tear in the eye. If you don’t react to Nat King Cole’s rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s song ‘Smile’ then you are cold as ice.

The shoot didn’t feel as a shoot in many ways. I didn’t control the timings as I had Gene’s attention for a couple of minutes before he’d decided he’d had enough of that setup. Don’t get me wrong, Gene was generous with his time, he just didn’t want to hang around for that infamous ‘just one more shot’. It was then for me to move around and try something else, and again he would accommodate and contribute for a couple more minutes, and so it went. 10 min chat and laughs followed by a couple of minutes photography. At the end I had to ask - ‘bathtub??’ - and in he went. No water though, that may have been going too far, and as he was still in his rock outfit, it would leave him wet for the rest of the day. Anyway, I wasn’t really aiming to show Gene in the bath getting clean, but wanted more to create a “rock’n roll” image, giving a hint to the rock star that finds himself in the bathtub at the end of a hard night.

Gene’s team was present, hoping he wouldn’t be too vocal on certain issues and in the hope that their presence may prevent Gene from telling a few un-pc jokes. It may have restricted him a little but a Willie Nelson joke was still served on a silver platter in exchange for a promise not to publish it. The manager was urging Gene not to say it as ‘It’s a delicate climate nowadays and we all have to watch what we say.’ I can imagine that the manager has his work cut out trying to keep Gene on the right side of political correctness, but where would Rock rock be if they obeyed by the rules of Political Correctness and health and safety?

Bill Bailey

Some comedians should come with a warning sign and some come with a sign saying “does what is says on the tin”. Bill is the latter. Bill is a man that’s just naturally interested and inquisitive. He is smarter than Einstein on an Omega 3 overdose, funnier than a pie in the face, and has more musical talent than a Mozart with 4 hands. Unfair really that all the talents have gone to one man when so many people have nothing at all.

This shoot was at his office, a home converted into a make shift storage/office space. It's hard to miss the larger than life cardboard cutouts of Bill, books, paintings, a couple of birdcages that are big enough to hold an albatross, plenty of plastic flowers and plastic trees, instruments, staff taking bookings for his upcoming tour, bicycle and many more things. Bill is a true hoarder, but a hoarder of the weird and wonderful. The place was a good representation of what it must be like to be in Bill’s mind; busy, filled with plenty of knowledge about everything unusual and fun…. and birds.

Shot for The Observer Magazine

Noel Gallagher

It seems a life time ago since I photographed Noel for the first time, and as far as my photography career is concerned, then it probably was. Last time I was restricted to a small boardroom, so it was a pleasure to have a whole studio space to play with. Noel rocked up that late Monday afternoon, (I don’t know if Noel can actually just ‘arrive’ at a destination - he is most certainly a ‘rocked up’ kinda guy). Guitar in hand and looking sharp, even though he himself said he was knackered having just had a whole weekend of events. One of them being the Manchester memorial concert “We Are Manchester”, where he was amongst a group of musicians invited to play at the reopening of Manchester Arena after the terror attack in May. And what better act to reopen a space like Manchester Arena after a tragedy than Noel and “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. The tune is not only personal to Gallagher but also rings true in so many situations.

The shoot itself was casual. We talked about love for South America, particularly Buenos Aires, his new album and life in general. It was the kind of chilled shoot that should allow for a sit down and an ice cold Mojito. However, 45 minutes and a few setups to work through meant no time for play. And I am sure that after a busy weekend Noel would rather go home, fill the bathtub with some bubbles and gobble up the caviar, than sit and chat to some photographer at a random studio. Maybe I’ll suggest bathtub and caviar for the next shoot?!

Shot for Sunday Times Culture

Thea Gilmore

There is no one nicer in the music industry than Thea. She is loved by many artists, a prolific song writer (with 15 albums in 17 years) and she’s only 35 years old. Her music is about creating quality and finds itself reflecting a lot of traditional roots. Her most recent album is a collaborative album where she has brought in talents such as Joan Baez, Billy Bragg, The Waterboys, Joan As Policewoman, John Cooper Clarke, King Creosote and I Am Kloot. This girl is like the musician’s musician, even Bruce Springsteen is supposedly a fan!

We found ourself in a location house in North London, tucked in the back of some small industrial estate. I have admittedly photographed Thea before but that was just a 30 minute shoot in the centre of town. This time we had the luxury of time and a location with plenty of options. We were able to achieve lots of different results that are to be used on her album’s art work, Thea’s website and press for the up and coming tour. It is easy to see how Thea can produce so much music and not be on the top of the charts all the time. It’s reflected in her personality. She is not into music for its fame, she doesn’t create albums to sell millions of them, she doesn’t stand on stage or have a photo shoot done in order to have her ego boost. Thea is into music because she loves it, she creates albums because she loves it and she’s on stage to share what she has created with likeminded people. Surely this is what music is about, the tradition of music is to share and to involve, and as far as I can tell that is what Thea is all about too.