Boris Johnson holds up a bottle of champagne, at Leadenhall Market in the City of London.

The Day I Got To Shoot Boris Johnson

It My Life: Personal Stories

Back in 2009, as a photojournalist, I was invited to a special St Georges Day event at Leadenhall Market in the City of London of which, then London Mayor, Boris Johnson would be attending, along with the celebrity chef Gary Rhodes

Boris Johnson on a bus with chef Gary Rhodes, in Ledenhall Market in the City of London.

Given that Boris Johnson is now likely to be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I thought it’d be interesting to dig out those photos from my archives and reflect back on the day.

Boris Johnson on a bus in Ledenhall Market in the City of London.

These events are always closely choreographed and stage managed with quite a frenetic tabloid press pack in attendance.  We were instructed to arrive at Leadenhall Market by a specific time where, following being checked off by the Mayor’s Press Office, we were give our “instructions” – usually the do’s and do not’s of dealing with the Mayor.

Boris Johnson walking in Ledenhall Market in the City of London.

It was then a case of waiting around for Boris to arrive with Gary Rhodes, on a traditional red double decker Routemaster, no less. With St George’s flags fluttering, city traders mixing with market traders and Pearly Kings and Queens trying to out-tradition Morris Dancer, no St George’s Day cliche was missing.

Boris Johnson shakes the hand of a market trader in Ledenhall Market in the City of London.

True to form the Mayor was late – the bus held up in the notorious London traffic.  As soon as he did it became the usual media scrum to get the best position to get the shots that would furnish that evening’s front pages and local London news broadcasts. 

Boris Johnson holds up a bottle of Champagne, in Ledenhall Market in the City of London.

These media packs are not for the fainthearted in amongst the jostling and positioning, and the slightest sign of courtesy is seen as weakness and you quickly find yourself elbowed out.  Thankfully, I’m not so easily budged or moved out the way!

Boris Johnson addresses the crowd of onlookers in Ledenhall Market in the City of London.

What you have to realise about Boris Johnson is that his “one of the chaps” and buffoonery is very much a public act.  For instance, before he got off the bus, he quickly checked his hair and ruffled it up some more.

Boris Johnson with Morris Dancers in Ledenhall Market in the City of London.

However, on this particular day, the normally publicly jocular Boris Johnson was missing.  He seemed unusually tetchy with us photojournalists, refusing to play up for the cameras.

Boris Johnson looks at a Morris Dancer's hat in Ledenhall Market in the City of London.

In fact, he got particularly annoyed being asked to don one of the Morris Dancer’s hats and to dance with them. He downright refused and accused us of trying to make him look foolish, something he didn’t usually shy away from. The best we got was him holding a hat above his head, as if he was worried about messing up the hair he had earlier sought to mess up.

Boris Johnson holds up a Morris Dancer's hat in Ledenhall Market in the City of London.

Looking back, it’s fascinating to review photos of man still early on his path to the most powerful seat in the land. Yet still, that carefully stage managed event does demonstrate a determined politician even then, a decade before he was likely to become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Check out more from the It’s My Life – Personal Stories series.

A mother and child at Carshalton Park Fair in Wallington, London.

When The Fair Comes To Wallington

It My Life: Personal Stories, Street Photography

When the fun fair comes to town, there’s only one thing to do as a local candid street photographer: pick up your camera and had down to Carshalton Park in Wallington in order to document all the fun.

So that’s exactly what I did.

A collection of my birthday presents

A Lovely But Wet Birthday

It My Life: Personal Stories

Yesterday was my birthday.  I’ve now turned into the last year of my forties!  Oh I’m getting old! Anyhow I was spoilt thoroughly, as some of the presents in the above photograph show.

The Vinyl List

For Christmas I got a record (vinyl) player, the first one I’ve had since the late 1980s (told you I was getting old!) so for my birthday I was treated to some of my favourite albums on vinyl:

Birthday card of London wedding photographer Darren Lehane

A birthday card I received! Yes it’s me too!

‘Violator’ by Depeche Mode, ‘Mezzanine’ by Massive Attack, ‘Dummy’ by Portishead and ‘Trouble Will Fine Me’ by The National. I’ve now decided I will start re-building a vinyl collection of all my all time favourite albums…it might be quite a list!

And if that didn’t prove I was old already, just look at this birthday card I received (to the left)!!! And yes, that is me…dressed up as Scary Goth from a Halloween a few years ago!

I also got the photography book “The Decisive Moment” by Henri Cartier-Bresson – one of the all time great photobooks. As a documentary wedding photography, Cartier-Bresson is one of my big influences…so it’s great to now have my hands on this fantastic re-print of the original (complete with the original Matisse designed cover!).

Some photos from The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Some photos from inside the Decisive Moment book by Henri Cartier-Bresson

British Film Institute Membership

As you may recall, from a previous post, about the film The Third Man, I absolutely love the British Film Institute (BFI) on London’s Southbank.  It’s a great place to catch re-runs of old films, especially long forgotten black and white film noir classics…again something which really inspires my wedding photojournalism style. Well, I was treated to a years membership to the BFI! So expect a few posts about visits to the BFI this year!

The Radical Eye

For the day itself, the weather wasn’t great. It was cold, grey and wet most of the day before we got some wet snow in the evening.  However, this didn’t deter me, so after a late brunch in town I was treated to a visit to the Tate Modern to see the The Radical Eye Exhibition – which is a collection of Sir Elton John’s private photography collection. Again, what else would you expect for a wedding photographer!

A sign about privacy on the viewing platform at the Tate Modern gallery in London

The viewing platform at the Tate Modern has caused privacy issues for local residents!

Also, whilst at the Tate, I visited the new viewing platform – which has some great views of across London, although it has caused problems for near residents with Tate visitors now able to see inside their homes!

Here are some more views from the viewing platform:

St Pauls Cathedral as viewed from the Tate Modern viewing platform in London.

View of St Pauls Cathedral from Tate Modern viewing platform

The Shard as viewed from the Tate Modern viewing platform in London.

Views of the Shard and London, as seen from the viewing platform at the Tate Modern

The shard as viewed from the Tate Modern viewing platform in London.

The Shard disappears into clouds on a bitingly cold and wet day

A man with umbrella, as viewed from the Tate Modern viewing platform in London.

Viewed from high up on the Tate Modern’s viewing platform, a brave soul soldiers on against the elements!

Fine Dining In Mayfair, London

In the evening I was taken to Benares – a fantastic Indian restaurant in the exclusive Mayfair!  It’s the only Indian restaurant with 2 Michelin stars in the UK and is a fantastic fine eating experience!  It was a truly lovely way to finish such a fantastic birthday!

You can read more of my non photography personal posts here in the It’s My Life series.

 

A Short Weekend in Brighton

Blog Article, It My Life: Personal Stories

It’s My Life: Another Personal Story

With wedding season now quietening down I had the opportunity for a short weekend trip to Brighton last weekend. As it was a family trip, with six of us in total, I arranged a Kemp Town terraced house through AirB&B for us to stay.  I won’t say too much, but the house was cool, quirky and arty and belonged to the singer of a band who had bit of a left field hit in the 1990s.

So what does a documentary wedding photographer do when not working – I did some street and documentary photography in Brighton of course!

A Street Photography Wedding Photographer

The weather on Saturday was great, warm and sunny. So this gave me plenty of opportunity to get quite a few street photography shots all along the seafront. On Saturday evening, failing to be able to get into the restaurant we wanted to eat in we ended up have a traditional seaside feast of fish and chips at home.

Unfortunately, Sunday morning was rather wet but that didn’t stop us from having a fun time playing crazy golf. I’d love to tell you that I won – sadly I finished well down the pecking order. I could blame my club, or the conditions but a good wedding photographer never blames their lens or camera 😉

Non-Traditional Wedding Photographer Goes Sunday Non Traditional!

We finished off with a firmly non-traditional Sunday lunch of burgers and fries at the JB American Diner.  After all, being a non-traditional wedding photographer I firmly believe in breaking traditions where I can. After lunch, we all went our separate ways.

It was fun and enjoyable break after such a busy summer of wedding photography. Here are a few photos from a short weekend in Brighton.

You could read about my life away from wedding photography in my It’s My Life Series which hopefully gives you more of an insight into me the individual.

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Portrait of Black Singer Colin Vearncombe

It’s My Life: It’s A Wonderful Life

It My Life: Personal Stories

I was very saddened to learn of the untimely death of singer Colin Vearncombe, the voice of Black, yesterday in Ireland.

The cover of the Wonderful Life album by BlackNot only were his tracks Wonderful Life and Sweetest Smile big favourites of mine (yes, I’m old enough to have enjoyed them at the time) but both the black & white cover artwork of his 1987 debut album, also called Wonderful Life, and the imagery from the accompanying Wonderful Life video really had a major influence on me at a time I was just starting to pick up a camera and learn my craft.

I’ve spoken before of how both the photography and videography of Anton Corbijn were the main reasons I turned to photography in the first place.  The Wonderful Life video definitely is similar to the kind of videos Anton Corbijn was making for Depeche Mode around the same time. Directed by Gerard De Thame there’s a lot of great “photography” in the Wonderful Life video (watch it below) and I can definitely see the lasting influence in my black & white work today.

It’s so very sad that a number of my music heroes have passed away recently. So a note to 2016, can you stop it now please!

RIP Colin. It most definitely was a Wonderful Life!

My It’s My Life: Personal Stories are posts more about my life in general and hopefully give you more of an idea about me as an individual…rather than just a wedding photographer.

It’s My Life: The Third Man

It My Life: Personal Stories

It’s My Life: Personal Stories From A Private Life

Third Man-1

Okay, so I thought it’d be nice every once-in-a-while to share something that gives an insight into my life, outside of photography.  After all, when you book a wedding photographer you’re investing in the person as well as the wedding photography itself, so hopefully these occasional insights will help you to get to know me a little better as a real person – even if that does mean warts ‘n’ all at times!

The Third Man Seen At The BFI

bfi-southbank

So Friday evening I had the real pleasure of going to see my all time favourite film The Third Man, which was being screened at the British Film Institute (BFI) on London’s South Bank. I first fell in love with this film as a teenager back in the mid-1980s. I received an audio book of the novella by Graham Greene (on cassette back then) one Christmas and having been blown away by the story I sought out the film  – which I ended up recording off the TV at some point (on Betamax no less – it was the “future” back then!)  I think I can safely say that since that first time I have re-watched it hundreds of times!  Yet, like lots of old films you only get to watch on your TV, I had never seen it on the big screen. After all, its original cinema run was way back in 1949…a bit before my time!  So when I saw that the BFI was running an Orson Welles season, which was to include a screening of The Third Man, how could I resist?

The Beauty & Intrigue of Film Noir

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So what’s so brilliant about The Third Man? Well, being a photographer, it’s hard to not be totally blown away by the beautifully atmospheric cinematography,  by Robert Krasker, of post-war Vienna which is a perfect setting for a film noir thriller.  In fact, it’s dark and gritty black and white cinematography has more than likely influenced my own love and personal style of b&w photography.

Then there’s the brilliant cast…Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Trevor Howard and the sadly beautiful Alida Valli all coming together as one filmic tour-de-force.  The story itself is by the fantastic Grahame Green, rare in being a well respected novelist of his time who wasn’t opposed to also writing for the screen too (often looked down on by other literary writers!).  There’s humour, there’s sadness, there’s drama and thrills, classic lines and, of course, a great twist of sorts – all deftly handled by Director Carol Reed. And lastly there’s the hugely memorable theme tune and soundtrack by Anton Karas – his zither will definitely have you in a dither! So it’s no wonder it’s often cited among polls for the greatest films ever made.

Big Screen Big Impact

Seeing it for the first time on the big screen really was a fantastic experience. There’s something about the shared experience of watching  a film on a huge screen with others in a cinema that just can’t be re-created at home on TV.  And seeing a film you are so familiar with, and sharing with lots of other people for the first time, it’s quite reassuring and moving when they laugh and gasp at the same things you always have.  I genuinely found the polite applause the film got at the end quite emotional. I don’t think I’ve been to a film at the cinema where there’s been a round of applause at the end!

So if you’ve never seen The Third Man, then I thoroughly recommend you do – it’s got something for everyone in it and is perhaps why it has such a lasting appeal. Even if you’re not lucky enough to get to see it on a big screen, then do watch it at home. It should be a film you’ve at least seen once!

Now I can’t wait to see another of the films in the BFI Orson Welles season, this time a film noir I’ve never seen called Touch of Evil. By all accounts it’s another b&w film classic.  In-between, I’m going to see another of my all time favourite films, again on the big screen for the first time, and that’s the cult 80’s sci-fi movie Blade Runner, with Harrison Ford and by director Ridley Scott.  Yet it is essentially a film noir that just happens to be set in the future.

I really can’t wait!