I love beautiful things and I want to make pictures that lift people’s spirits. I see the giving and receiving of photographs as something beautiful and personal. Hiroji Kubota
A few years ago I started a photography collection. I focused on modern 20th Century work by photographic masters working mainly in portraiture, fashion and journalism. I never imagined the collection would grow as it did and that it would rapidly become such a passion. For many years I attended every significant photography gallery opening and I was at every auction I could attend whether it be Philip de Pury, Sothebys, Christies or others such as the Bloomsbury auctions, Reuters or the picture agency Magnum. I bought from dealers and galleries and built a handsome collection. At one point I had original works by the following photographers: Henri Cartier Bresson, Irving Penn, Eve Arnold, Willy Ronis, Marc Riboud, Werner Bischof, Paul Strand, Arnold Newman, William Klein, Doug and Mike Starn, Elliot Erwitt, Lillian Basmann, Marc Riboud and others. I spent a considerable amount of money on the works, many individual pieces costing thousands but it always felt absolutely right to do so. The values of the images were considerable and the collection grew and grew. My home resembled an art gallery and the pleasure I took sitting starting up at these wonderful images taken by the true greats of photography was immense.
These were photographers that I had learnt about whilst studying my degree in photography and of course never imagined that I would own some of their iconic images. My understanding of the history of photography, some great advice from curators and gallery directors helped me formulate the collection and of course my own particular taste guided me. Sadly I had to sell many of the key pieces, which is something that I do regret. You can blame the 2008 crash and the challenges of being a freelance photographer facing not only the recession but the switch form analogue to digital that put so many talented photographers out of business. But I still retain some of my collection and I hope to be back collection more when the time is right. I will continue with the same genres of photography and follow my eye, taste and judgment.
The driving force to collect was borne out of wonder and respect for the photographers and their vision. I have spoken about the impact of art in our lives in a previous blog and how such photographic images or iconic paintings have affected our lives and the world we live in. I know each day I feel inspired by the images in my collection and I feel a great sense of empowerment. A feeling that the photographer’s spirit is there in that image and that I am keeping the memory and sense of artistic creation and vision alive. I feel on passing certain images in my home a recharging of my batteries, a sense of being inspired and given a lift by that memorable photograph. I know what it feels like to be a creator and the excitement of that moment when you know you have captured something truly special. Owning those pieces has been a homage and a nod of respect to those photographic greats and of course is an utter pleasure, which adds beauty to my home and life. And then of course there are art objects and photographs in my home that are embodied with meaning. Dotted about my flat are small pictures and items that hold great significance to me and are meaningless to others. I have talked previously of the healing power of art and for sure the last year has been very challenging personally and I have drawn on this power daily. Art is utterly inspiring, empowering and healing. It feels even greater to be a creator of art and give this pleasure to others.
The theme of this evening’s party very much paid homage to the iconic images and creators from art, fashion and film. The name of the party was ‘Greatest Fashion Moments’ and guests paid tribute to famous artists, actors, painters and creators. The dress code was strictly creative and elaborate with many guests themselves drawn from creative industries. The party was hosted by the stylist and writer Violet Naylor-Leyland, fashion photographer Diana Gomez and the milliner Victoria Grant. Held at the very fashionable London club 5 Hertford St. Mayfair. A beautifully designed club, which I have described in an earlier blog on this web site (see Chopard launch). Guests included Lady Gabriella Windsor (can you spot which character she is?), Ozwald Boateng, Kim Murdoch, Nicky Haslem, Philip Salmon, Pandemonia, Josh Quinton, Tom Parker Bowles and many others all paying tribute to historical image creators from the arts. Mayhem ensued when the piñatas (inspired by karl Lagerfeld) were brought out and guests were encouraged to bash them until the golden ticket fell to the table revealing a range of prizes and gifts for the guests. There was an incredible energy that evening in the club and for sure it was an exciting environment to be shooting in.
Once again I was part of something so exciting that was celebrating art, beauty and its function and contribution to our lives. Tatler magazine later ran some of the images form this party in the Bystander section of the July issue. Yes another exciting moment capturing history and creating memorable images that others will look back on and enjoy. Home at 2 a.m, dumped my camera kit on the floor and looked up to see one of Elliot Erwitt’s stunning New York photographs above me. A hug from another snapper!