Tom Kristensen aka Mr Le Mans has won the 24 Hour race an amazing nine times, six of which were consecutive from 2000-2005. Appearing at RaceRetro he commanded a huge audience throughout the day who listened to interviews, participated in Q&A sessions and lined up in orderly fashion to get an autograph on various Le Mans paraphernalia. Tom himself was in great spirits as the fans who respect him so much extend so much love to him. Tom threw on his fire protection shirt and gave me his look of steel which is so convincing that I'm sure it would carry him to a tenth victory this year if he so desired.
14 FEBRUARY 2017 VALENTINE'S DAY
There can be worse places in the world to be than in Monaco on Valentine's Day but I'd much rather be sat across from my wife than my oldest and dearest friend, in a restaurant filled with young couples who arrive on mopeds dressed in their finest.
The business at hand on this fleeting trip to Monaco is to capture as many of the Laureus members to sign an exclusive signature sheet and capture their portraits to appear in their chapter in the Laureus Opus. Our schedule was busy but when possible we were also asking the members the same three questions on video about their careers which delivered diverse responses.
The members themselves are so gracious with their time. On this particular shoot the likes of Gary Player, Katarina Witt, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Carles Puyol and indeed many others share some great stories. We see Simone Biles in reception and congratulate her on winning Sportswoman of the Year. She makes time in her day to visit our studio in the Hermitage Hotel where all the Laureus members are staying. At 19 years of age and 4ft 8" she packs a lot of punch and charm. Another hero that oozes charisma is Luís Figo. I captured his portrait last year but he was more than happy to be interviewed before leaving for the airport.
16 JANUARY 2017
I fell in love with the Amy painting (top left) over Christmas in my friends gallery (Patrick Friswell, Earlsdon, Coventry) He has the original too. I then saw this urban street art offering in Soho, New York today (top right). Both so cool and images I think she would have loved. Makes me think of the first time I photographed this modern day icon on the second stage at Glastonbury 2004. With one album under her belt she showed the world what an artist she truly was. After the performance she caught up with pals in the audience and and had the opportunity for a photo. Legend!
17 NOVEMBER 2016
Lord Sebastian Coe found time in his ridiculously crazy schedule for an interview at his office where he reflected on his athletics career and the challenges he now faces as president of the IAAF. Growing up in 80's England during the Coe/Ovett era was so exciting. Along with Steve Cram and Tom McKean the country had an embarrassment of riches when it came to elite middle distance runners. Households all over the UK seemed to choose which camp they rooted for. Having a grandfather called Sebastian made our household choice easy. I still remember screaming and cheering as the 'three spitfires coming out of the sun' took gold, silver and bronze at the European Championships in '86. Decades later Lord Coe contributed significantly to injecting even more pride into the heart of the nation by delivering the London 2012 Olympics. I can safely say, during that summer I've never felt more proud to be British.
18 SEPTEMBER 2016
Drove up to Leeds this afternoon for an evening celebrating football legend, Pelé. I gifted him a photo of him standing outside Downing Street when Opus arranged a visit three years earlier. He was so happy to receive it and said he had no record of the day. He remembered the day and gave me the warmest hug asking to speak later. Here's the photo I had framed for him.
13 SEPTEMBER 2016
Back in Berlin to shoot ice-skatings greatest queen, Katarina Witt. A double Olympic gold medalist and four times World Champion, Katarina's performances were ground breaking and her maverick soul sent the International Skating Union into a tizzy when she wore unorthodox costumes. TIME magazine called her "the most beautiful face of socialism." She went on to conquer the USA with her professional shows and was the first model to sell out two print runs of Playboy magazine when she was featured on the cover. The most wonderful thing however when meeting Katarina today was how thoughtful a person she is. Amid all the wardrobe changes, hair and make-up she was still asking if I had eaten and had a drink. Pure class!!!
February 24, 2017
13 AUGUST 2016
Visiting Pittsburgh for the first time and can't believe how beautiful the city is. The major rivers meet at its centre with 21 bridges to cross. Didn't realise that Andy Warhol is also from 'the Burgh' and his museum that houses so many of his most celebrated works is within walking distance from my hotel. A must visit for any art lover!
29 JULY 2016
As brilliant as this show is, I pulled what little hair I have left out of my head listening to the judges critique the weekly submissions of the photographers in the show who so desperately want to win 100,000 Euros. It’s TV entertainment I remind myself, and great entertainment too, in my humble opinion.
So I find myself trying to entertain my 19 year old niece on holiday from Canada. A day trip to London was spiced up with the added suggestion that we all must use our iPhones to submit a series of three photos reflecting our day in the capital. The competitive nature of my wife and niece soon came to the surface as they scrutinised every subject I pointed my iPhone at. (Joking girls... But you know it’s true). Returning home the photos were given to a more appreciative judging panel, namely my sister, brother-in-law and nephew who unanimously, without knowing awarded the bragging rights to my niece. Which just goes to prove that even the most intelligent folk on the planet can get it wrong too. What did this prove? Nothing - But that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My offering is shown above. Apparently I have to contact my nieces agent to reproduce her photo’s. (Delusions of grandeur or what?) :)
13 May 2016
I’m in LA for work and one of our partners invites me to visit a secret location that houses dozens of original artworks of the late Michael Jackson. I’ve been given permission to be photographed with a huge drawing MJ did of Dr King. The whole collection is breath taking and the location apparently is where MJ came to get away from the world and draw, savouring his moments of solitude.
22 APRIL 2016
The news of Prince passing away yesterday was both shocking and sad. Having been lucky enough to have worked with him on the 21Nights Opus and spend quality down time with him makes me feel extremely special. I went on the morning radio show today to share my anecdotes of our bizarre soirées and put into context what this musical genius meant to a teenager growing up in the 80’s. All my passwords, lottery numbers and profile names were Prince related. I know the lyrics of so many songs and listened to all the tracks on the albums and the B-sides to singles too. I never would have imagined when I was 16 that I would be sat next to Prince in his dining room in LA twenty years on, eating and reading from the bible... But that story is for another place and time. The kindnesses that Prince bestowed on others exist beneath the radar and are just beginning to surface. In time I’m sure the history books will reveal Prince to be more of a philanthropist than a weird misunderstood guitarist. Rest In Peace Prince and thanks for the decades of music.
Lausanne, 29 April 2016
Had some unfinished business with Mike Horn, who for me is one of the most inspirational men on the planet. As much as I enjoy watching Bear Grylls on TV, Mike is the living action adventurer version of what Bear talks about and more! Mike actually has circumnavigated the globe entirely under human power, followed the Artic Circle around the globe during the Artic winter, and swum the length of the Amazon River.. I needed to interview Mike for his chapter in the Laureus Opus, (www.thisisopus.com). His availability is somewhat precious as he embarks on a two year adventure next week. Starting in May 2016, Mike begins his next great adventure, Pole to Pole 360, attempting to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe north-to-south in a continuous expedition.
You can follow Mike on this adventure and learn more about him on www.mikehorn.com.
Having taken Mike's portrait in Berlin a week or so earlier I was able to gift him some giant prints as a little thank you for making time for me. Mike is a child of planet earth. He wants to explore it, preserve it and story tell to those like myself who want to know what it feels like to be sat inside a tent by a scavanging polar bear.
A short hop from Birmingham Airport to Geneva and an even shorter train ride alongside Lake Geneva found me arriving in the beautiful city of Lausanne. Mike's daughter was waiting in her Smart car for me and we wondered if the Opus signature sheets would fit on the shelf (you couldn't call that space a trunk). But it did. The views from Mike's apartment were stunning, looking onto the mountains over pretty rooftops. His base in Lausanne didn't scream of 'I'm the worlds greatest adventurer', no obvious artefacts or giant photos, instead just a small shelf with a framed photo of him half naked in a boat paddling down the Amazon and of course a beautiful Laureus Trophy which he won in 2005 as the Laureus World Alternative Sportsperson of the Year.
In the couple of hours I had with Mike he talked about his life as an explorer, father and teacher. His chapter will truly be the most unique and original in the Laureus Opus and the photography... off the chart.
April 16-19th 2016 Berlin, Germany
Arriving at the Aldon Hotel lobby, Berlin, to photograph the Laureus Members attending the 2016 Awards Ceremony was heaven for any autograph hunter or selfie taker. Of course none of that was going on inside this luxurious hotel but outside it was a free-for-all as fans waited in the chilly spring air for their sporting icons to make an appearance.
We scouted the ground floor for possible locations to set up our studio for the next four days. The huge winter garden (conservatory) to you and me was perfect... However not available for each day. The Sra Bua fine dining restaurant however, was. It was elegant and tranquil with a screened glass roof that allowed natural light to flood in. Most of all it also provided attentive staff to prepare some much needed coffee from time to time. (Thanks Stephanie)
The style we were looking to create for these portraits were dramatic, up close and personal. A simple black velvet cloth as our back drop and some creative moody lighting would do the rest. The portraits will open each chapter in the Laureus Opus focussing on every Member, ahead of telling their own individual story of sporting greatness in the spreads that follow.
To see these sporting giants now, some 40 /years older than when they ruled the world was amazing. Some hadn’t physically changed, others naturally looked more glamorous than when competing and a few had aged with grace and dignity.
The end results are dynamic, dramatic and honest.Read More
Happy to say that my new book has been received really well. There are just over 150 portraits of sporting, entertainment and fashion icons. It's only £30. If you want a special edition there is one available and you get to choose your own life-size Polaroid from the book. Available on Amazon, Waterstones and from thisisopus.com
- Hardcover: 164 pages
- Publisher: Opus Media Group; Classic Limited Edition (October 1, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0993387829
- ISBN-13: 978-0993387821
There are times when this job has its perks. I'm back stage at the Lyric Theatre on Broadway with the dance troupe of Lord of the Dance. I've captured the maestro himself, Michael Flatley, giving a masterclass and fine tuning the routines on stage with his dancers. The work ethic is off the chart. They keep on practicing until the whole troupe are in sync. They are tapping their feet several times a second and it just has to be right. The words of wisdom and encouragement coming from the enigmatic Irishman gives his dancers belief and pride. I have t-shirts older than these young nubile dancers. When Michael Flatley finally leaves the rehearsal some dancers remain behind to work on the steps even more. There is a hive of activity in the dressing rooms, with hair and make up and massages and munching taking priority. The protein shakes are flowing and I realise that the people buzzing around me are in fact athletes who just happen to ply their trade to music. The show begins and I dodge the sweating torsos in the changing area, which in New York is one big expanse right behind the stage. A 70foot long clothes rail holds the costumes for the entire cast. There is a controlled chaos, everyone knows where they have to be and what to wear. Wardrobe is at hand to help with those stubborn garments. I get whisked away to capture Michael Flatley as he prepares for the encore. His legs still move at an electric speed as he limbers up in his dressing room. The audience erupts as the icon takes the stage and delivers a finale that will be the topic of conversation for all his fans as they make their way home.Read More