Category Archives: Commercial

The Fantastic Mr Foster

I’m lucky enough to have many lovely, lovely clients, but I count Philip Foster among my favourites for two reasons.  First, I’ve worked with him since pretty much the first day I set out as a photographer.  Second, because in a business full of inspiring personalities he stands out as a very inspiring man.

A large number of people who’ve worked in theatre or music for any length of time will have come across Philip because he wears about a thousand hats, among them producer, director, agent, vocal coach and manager.

Those many hats have led to a need for a variety of different portraits down the years, of which some of my favourites below.

Assistant for rooftop shoot: Jiann Chyuan Ho.











It’s not often you get to do your thing and go as wild as you want (within reason) on a commercial shoot.

Cycling pollution mask makers, Respro, wanted to introduce their new Skins range with a beauty shot-type image  to emphasise that, just because something’s useful, doesn’t mean it can’t be as individualistic as any other piece of clothing.

Using some hand-decorated masks, we started with the core beauty shot — deep reds, golden skin and all.

And then we got a bit nuttier…

Makeup: Siwan Hill

Hair and styling: Harry Cole

Model: Sydney




And now for something quite different

If you’ve ever spent any length of time with Americans (or, indeed, if you happen to be an American), you’ll know that, every once in a while, something doesn’t just get lost in the translation, it gets turned backwards in it.

There are certain words, see, that get all screwed up when they cross the Atlantic. 

Like “solicitor”.  To us, a solicitor is someone who annoys people from his glass-fronted office in return for one million pounds.  To our American cousins, he’s someone who annoys people in a car park for pennies.

Or “esquire”.  Which, to us, is fairly self-explanatory: it’s a bloke.  A man.  A male.  We even have a bloke’s magazine named after it.  How much less female can you get?  Except that, over the pond, “esquire” is also what you’d call a female lawyer.*

And then there’s “quite”.  “Quite”, to us, is a bit more than a bit.  A fair bit but only “fair” in that it’s a just bit.  Not just a bit.  Not hugely but not not enough. Not deficient but not without deficiencies.  “Quite” is just about OK.

But “quite”, to the Americans, isn’t quite the same.  Because “quite” to the Americans, is just the bee’s knees.  “Quite”, to the Americans, means “very”.

Why am I telling you this?

So that I can talk about a project that was quite long in the making, quite challenging, and quite inspiring without using so many superlatives that’ll you’ll think I’m a teenaged girl from SoCal.

Because, a while ago, I was offered a quite exciting commission on the Emerald Isle.

The task?  To produce a suite of photos for the Irish Human Rights Commission touching on as many of the different human rights issues that affect Ireland as possible.  The catch?  The images couldn’t look too campaigny, we needed to have real people in their natural work or home environments, they couldn’t be obvious, and, wherever possible, they needed to be in natural light.  And there was a quite tight budget.

I’ll say nothing of the quite tricky planning needed to set up a quite large number of shoots over a quite short period of time – many of them involving people facing extreme hardship or in extremely vulnerable positions – not only because most of that side of things fell on more-qualified shoulders, but also because this blog isn’t the place.

But I will say this.  Shooting in natural light in a country that gets almost as much sunshine as we do was quite difficult.  Sauntering through some of the roughest parts of Dublin with a jumbo-sized camera round my neck and trying to look like I shouldn’t be robbed was quite educational.  Galway’s car parks showed my driving skills to be quite limited.  And being able to connect with so many people from so many walks of life, hear their stories and try to capture some little smidgen of them was quite the most rewarding piece of work I’ve ever done.

A very small selection from what we shot below.

*Whom we’d then call a solicitor, they’d then think was a hooker, we’d then think played rugby, they’d then throw a football at, etc, etc…

IHRC-010 IHRC-009 IHRC-008 IHRC-007 IHRC-006 IHRC-005 IHRC-004 IHRC-003 IHRC-002 IHRC-001 IHRC-016 IHRC-015 IHRC-014 IHRC-013 IHRC-012 IHRC-011