Proud to be judging the
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013
These case studies represent only a small selection of photographers and their work while on my books. A comprehensive list of photographers and illustrators who have come under my representation in the past 15 years has been included at the bottom of the page, linking to available personal websites for you to enjoy their fabulous and enduring work to date.
Began representing the archives of the most renowned music cover artwork photographers in the world, including David Montgomery (Electric Ladyland, The Who Sell Out, Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers plus seminal images of Andy Warhol, Christine Keeler & HRH the Queen),
Elliott Landy (Woodstock official photographer, civil rights demonstrations, Bob Dylan Nashville Skyline, Van Morrison’s Moondance and The Band’s second eponymous album, The Band.).
The lovely Chris Dreja (The Yardbirds) and his seminal early images of Led Zeppelin for the Led Zeppelin 1 album back cover,
Brian Aris (official photographer of Live Aid, photojournalist and bottomless celebrity portraiture archive) His album and single credits include George Michael, Sting, Dire Straits, Michael McDonald, Human League, Linda Rondstat, Boomtown Rats, Mike Oldfield, Kenny Rogers, Rick Springfield, Eurythmics, Pet Shop Boys, Moody Blues, Cliff Richards, Tina Turner, Elton John, The Who and of course Blondie,
Karl Ferris famed for his psychedelic photography (Are You Experienced, Electric Ladyland, Bold As Love),
Michael Spencer Jones (Oasis - Definitely Maybe, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory and Be Here Now),
Richard E Aaron - his extensive archive includes images of Michael Jackson, Prince, Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Police, Rolling Stones, The Who, Bob Marley, The Beatles, Warhol, Patti Smith, John Lee Hooker, The Clash, Kiss, Thin Lizzy, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Frank Zappa, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Aerosmith.
Finally, Paul Spencer Sex Pistols, Elbow, The Smiths, Blur, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Siouxsie Sue, Lol Coxhill, The Clash, Radiohead, Shane McGowan. His Blur British Image press shoot is widely regarded as the shoot that established the bands Britpop identity and is heavily featured in their recent documentary, Nowhere Left to Run during which the band discuss at length the relevancy of Paul's images in relation to their public image at the time. His Morrissey portraits have been used for two albums, a single cover and the artist's autobiography released as a Penguin Classic. Paul's arthouse film for Vivienne Westwood was exhibited at the V&A last year and throughout China with the British Arts Council.
Relationships with galleries were secured around the world and solo shows negotiated, publishing contracts discussed, limited edition box-sets designed and partnerships forged with private dealers and sponsors. All photographers continue to show their archives in key exhibitions and galleries around the world. Within their archives exists the lifeblood of our popular culture, music and significant world events.
Morgan Silk GOLD AOP Award and D&AD
Morgan was one of those rare finds: An unknown showing in a backstreet gallery in the east end of London. His image Telecom Italia was displayed on the wall and its rich texture and palette caught my eye as something new and unseen. I could not define it but it definitely had the essence of what the commercial world sought at that time. A chat with the gallery owner revealed his contact details and his trade as a retoucher, which explained the unusual cast on his image. He was reluctant to view his photography in a commercial capacity but was persuaded to send through his portfolio to my offices in Soho. Expectations are always low at this stage with the rest of the archive often disappointing. To our delight Morgan's portfolio held true to the style I had seen in the gallery and consistent in composition. His range of subject matter was limited, but that we could change.
After some arm-twisting he came on my books and the following months were spent honing his portfolio to present to the commercial world of high-end advertising. At that time landscape was all about urban, which he lacked. A few weeks later he returned with breathtaking images of shattered telephone boxes, a tower block with an old bicycle tyre caught in a tree and asymmetrical zebra crossings. They were all ideal. Next: Product placement - he needed cars featured to win the major campaigns on offer. Another few weeks on and he returned with menacing cars stalking behind the pillars of underground car parks or prowling below the window of apartments. A half-page spread was secured in Creative Review as a 'Face to Watch' and the new portfolio toured the creative departments of every agency in town to much awe and excitement. A few jobs were rejected to keep him 'hot' while word spread. The final piece in the puzzle was portraiture. I wanted to see if he could handle people as well as landscape.
A few weeks passed before Morgan's return with the most arresting images of zoo animals I had seen then or since. They were prime for an AOP Award and with a few hurdles jumped he was entered. I was not surprised when he won Gold despite his newcomer status and that paved the way for his first scoop - a Landrover ad that went on to win a D&AD award for RKCR/Y&R later that year.
Martin Gardner and the NPG
Martin was one of my first photographers. A fixture on the music editorial scene he would regularly fly off to Miami or LA, Mumbai or Australia covering Primal Scream, Moby, Fat Boy Slim, Skunk Anansie or Jarvis Cocker for Melody Maker, NME, Top of the Pops Magazine or Q Magazine. His technical lighting abilities were honed under the tutelage of David Parfitt and he developed an eye for portraiture by assisting Donna Trope and Kate Garner. A contemporary of both Rankin and Hamish Brown Martin was a music industry favourite.
I approached Terence Pepper at the NPG with a selection of Martin's work for review by the board and Norman Cook (aka Fat Boy Slim) was secured as part of the gallery's permanent archive collection. The image has since been displayed within the gallery itself and included in both national and international tours. Not only was Martin's image now iconic, but the introduction led to a long-standing working relationship between myself & Terence Pepper.
In addition to literally hundreds of music artists and personalities, Martin's archive now boasts every A class comedian on the circuit from Jack Dee to the cast of Shameless. Martin has since diversified into fashion, beauty, underwater and architecture.
John Rensten - Trevor Beattie, One Previous Owner & CRUK
John Rensten was well-known for his still life Action Men - depicting scenes for car ads. John's style was humorous and fun; sending up the advertising industry, but there was another side to his work. His forensic approach to every day objects, providing texture and detail, had been overshadowed behind the fun-filled model-making of his main portfolio.
We decided to refocus his portfolio and put out a card showing a battered pair of boxing gloves resembling a pair of kidneys or lungs. The card hit the desk of every creative in London including advertising mogul, Trevor Beattie - then Chairman of TBWA and responsible for Wonderbra's Hello Boys, the FCUK slogan and the campaign success of the newly elected Labour Party. "Right image, wrong gloves" came the voice at the end of my phone.
Trevor had amassed an extensive collection of celebrity memorabilia, including the infamous 'split glove' belonging to Muhammad Ali. He wanted John to shoot his glove in the same style, for a personal commission. The relationship blossomed and John undertook the entire archive of artefacts.
The images hit the headlines with front covers and double-page spreads in the Independent and Creative Review. An exhibition was organise at Getty Gallery, London (their only non-archival exhibition) and caught the eye of the Cancer Research Special Events team who requested the picture be donated to their Bobby Moore fundraiser at Christies auction house. Trevor began the bidding and it sold for over £4,000. During his time on my books John and I worked through numerous advertising campaigns, but this commission stands out as the ultimate highlight.
I went on to work with the CRUK team to build their new music fundraiser, Sound & Vision, for which Trevor was Ambassador.
Subsurface, Mother and D&AD Pencils
I came across the Subsurface duo in the Graphics International Magazine. Each issue would end with a showcase profiling the work of new fresh artists with a heavy emphasis on graphic art and illustration. It was one of my favourite design magazines. I was looking to diversify the agency from pure photography into illustration, graffiti and graphic artwork - an unusual combination at that time.
Dave Walker and Keith Watts seemed the perfect match with their kitsch illustrations of a 70's style Elvis holding a revolver atop a Chopper, or a Transformer sequence Adidas trainer (later to be aped by Nike). They were old school friends and brought with them a network of prop designers, fabric designers and airbrush artists. Dave and Keith were successfully running their own 'Tee' brand, sporting their own graphics, which were selling well on Carnaby Street and across the globe in Japan. The pair were at the cutting edge of illustration and also friends with the early Bristol graffiti movement which included Mr Jago whose work I later used in my Roundhouse curate.
Mother was an agency fuelled with bright young creatives who were pitching for major accounts like Coca Cola, BT and Orange. They loved Keith's illustrations and asked if he would illustrate their pitch storyboards. An unusual approach to pitching. It was a huge undertaking but Mother's hunch was spot-on and they won all the above accounts using Keith's illustrations. That year, Mother scooped a D&AD pencil for most won accounts.
Subsurface exhibited at Exposure a few months later attracting huge interest in the press. When Subsurface split Dave Walker went on to join the Scrawl Collective and design for Maharishi and Boxfresh. He is now regarded as one of the forerunners of the UK graffiti scene.
Jasper White, a 'landscape' award and BMI.
Jasper first approached me for advice. He had been offered a BMI Airways campaign and was unsure how to build his estimate. A friend of his put him in touch with me and I gave him some guidance on how to calculate for media use, territory and length of usage license. He secured the commission and a few months later returned via email. His style was quirky, cynical, Martin Parr but more garish - more campaign than reportage. I took him on and he scooped his second BMI campaign.
There were a few photographers with a similar style but it was Jasper's concepts that really sold him: A collection of images showcasing framed 'portraits' on mantelpieces, old battered chairs or chintz sofas were followed by a collection of 'art on walls', but the art would be more at home in your local Indian restaurant and the flock wallpaper with flying ducks gave the perfect frame. His images caught the imagination of art buyers and creatives alike and commissions soon came flooding in. In typical humour Jasper entered one of his photos of artwork 'in situ' - an Indian landscape print - into a landscape competition in the USA. It won! and won him an agent State-side too.
A major scoop came with a global HSBC campaign. The brief seemed straight forward enough, we had closed down airports and London streets, a pair of Argyle socks should be a breeze... not so, we searched high & low for knee-length socks for two weeks only for a stylist to doctor some on the day of the shoot. Blood sweat and tears, but we got there and everyone was happy.
Jasper was also included in the FreeDM2 Roundhouse exhibition - the only artist on my books I included. The brief was to depict Camden youth culture - a Walkabout, Camden-style. "It's all sex" he said to me somewhat shocked. A montage followed of all the sex-related objects that adorn the stalls and walls at Camden market and joined the selection of Master artists exhibiting at The Roundhouse including Jamie Reid and Nadav Kander. Priceless!
This is where I cut my teeth and what a place to begin! I had been brought in to secure advertising commissions for the 21+ photojournalists who were represented by the agency. It ran like little brother to Magnum with a picture library of tens of thousands of images in the basement where an archivist punk lurked, formerly of a well-known band. Mike Goldwater, Mike Abrahams and Barry Lewis had seen and been involved in bloodshed and action on the frontline. Mike Goldwater told stories of finding himself behind enemy lines with only his camera for defence. Their reportage was perfect and put to good use on behalf of Unilever for whom they would shoot annual reports of off-shore oil rigs and children at Brazilian Markets - not-so-dull corporate commissions!
During my time representing the Network Photographers Paul Reas secured a D&AD for his VW Golf Wedding campaign for BMP DDB, Wittold Krassowski scooped the new Eurolines campaign with St Lukes with beautiful black & white images of Paris and Bruges. Dod Miller put his comic scenes to good use for Alliance & Leicester. All the while Harriet Logan would be returning from Afghanistan with images of women braving the Taliban wearing make-up - this before the word burka was widely known in the UK. Christopher Pillitz returned from Brazil with an amazing sepia collection of sexuality images to be profiled in Stern, returning to cover the frenzy of Brazilian football fever. Mark Power was documenting the construction of the Millennium Dome on 10x8 film, Gideon Mendel covered HIV in Africa and Jillian Edelstein brought back surreal portraits of deep sea freedivers from Greece before zipping across London to shoot Marianne Faithful.
Many of the Network Photographers have moved on to exhibit their archives as exhibitions in national institutions. Sebastiao Salgado was recently commissioned to undertake a project on behalf of the Natural History Museum, documenting unspoilt earth, entitled Genesis.
For me this was the golden time of photography when photographers worked closely with their chosen printer to pull and push film to extract amazing images. I owe my passion to all of them.
Martyn Rose - Sketch and the Art & Architecture Award
Martyn Rose's work was always my favourite. I still think his composition and the lightest touch with available light is second to none. He was one of the first London photographers to introduce minimalism to landscapes and interiors and throw his focus largely on panoramic images or triptychs.
Martyn's style caught the attention of Saatchi & Saatchi for whom he shot Visa, Telewest and Orange. After a global search Creative Director at BBH, Rosie Arnold, chose him for her Impulse campaign "Where have all the young men gone?" and after numerous features in the creative press and Wallpaper he landed the new Sketch bar & restaurant commission. His images were fired around the world before ending up in two books including Restaurant Designs.
Meanwhile he was creating massive photographic art installations for McKinsey & Co.'s landmark building via Gensler Architects which won him the prestigious Art & Architecture Award that year.
Paul Spencer walked into the Soho office fifteen years ago and we continue to work together on advertising commissions, album covers, exhibitions, festivals, book launches, film screenings and even a play.
Paul has a very special eye for the gritty underbelly of sub-culture. His first exhibition was showcased in Foyles as a collection of black & white images of Romanian gypsies. Many exhibitions have been hosted since and his unique archive of celebrity, gangs and British sub-culture will be collected in his book, Kingdom Come.
Paul's advertising commissions have been broad ranging and even controversial. His acclaimed sepia Lowenbrau campaign was aped by a Saatchi campaign a year on, creating a storm in the press when it won a D&AD for concept.
Paul's archive is bursting with key images, not least those of Blur - British Image no. 1 & 2 - which established the band's Britpop image and were later used to illustrate the band's feature-length documentary, Nowhere Left to Run and show at their 21 year anniversary exhibition. Paul's images of Morrissey are regarded as favourites by the artist and have been used for his Greatest Hits album, Under the Influence compilation, Sunny single cover and the Penguin Classic Morrissey Autobiography.
In 2012 Paul's art-house film work of Sara Stockbridge for Vivienne Westwood was featured at the V&A Museum, London and toured as part of the Fashion & Film exhibition, organised by The British Arts Council. Meanwhile, Paul launched the Best of British Festival in east London making his debut as theatre director.
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