Philip Berryman
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NSPCC

You must feel an affinity for what you are photographing. You must be part of it and yet remain sufficiently detached to see it objectively. Like watching from the audience a play you already know by heart.   George Rodger

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This is a great quote and one I can relate to well. George Rodger was an incredible photographer and one of his most famous images is that of a majestic and powerful Sudanese wrestler being held up high on the shoulders of another fighter, taken in 1949. I had this image on a post card when I was young and its one of those pictures I’ve seen a thousand times and it still stops me when I come across it.

I understand completely what Rodger is describing here in this quote. The best photographers must feel an affinity with what they are photographing but at the same time remain detached in order to carry on the task in hand. I have described in a previous blog how the great documentary and news photographers are faced with being on the frontline of seismic world events and are duty bound to tell that story. The story is unfolding right in front of them and they need to stay focused and continue to record what they witness. Putting to the back of their mind for that period their own emotions, opinions and judgments as they endeavour to capture the events unfolding.

It’s impossible to completely detach oneself emotionally from your work as a photographer. The very process of witnessing, recording, editing and making creative decisions all comes from deep within and you are not a robot. Approaching your subject with empathy, thoughtfulness and kindness is essential and you cant totally shut out your own judgments and feelings. Like anybody else my life has had its ups and downs and I try to see the correlation with my career. I try to understand how tough times are reflected in my work. Not only in the actual pictures themselves but how I approach my clients and colleagues and the general business of being a photographer. I’ve experienced all extremes at various points in time obviously.  For sure as described in previous blogs I am more than ever fully aware of my own creative ability and the power of art in general to help heal and give me reason to continue and keep going despite adversity and the challenges life has thrown. How art as therapy is essential and I’ve used that to help me recently more than ever before. How being busy and continuing to express myself through my own photography has been utterly essential in helping me through challenging times.

This commission was to capture a charity dinner and fund raising event of the NSPCC. Artwork by Tracey Emin, Jonathen Yeo and Harland Miller were donated and auctioned on the evening. David Walliams hosted the evening and welcomed guests. Guests included Saffron Aldridge, Mary McCartney, David Furnish, Elizabeth Hurley, Eva Herzigova, Giorgio Locatelli, Rafic and Hana Said, David Mayer De Rothschild, Ben Fogle, Bob and Tamar Manoukian and the chair of RC Board and NSPCC trustee Diala Khat. The talented JP Cooper provided musical entertainment. Now any discussion of The River Café cannot be had without a mention of the incredible food. The River Café is what it is thanks to the brilliant Ruth Rogers and her incredible team. Please scroll to see the shots of the food, which as usual was delicious. For most of the event it was very much business as usual. That is capturing the celebrity guests in all their finery, recording all the elements that have contributed to the evening such as the décor, and branding, goody bags, artworks on auction, interiors, establishing shots and so forth.  It was the usual process of being technically aware, constantly adjusting exposures, adjusting for the light changes and considering angles and composition. Then the need to consider how I treat my new client, old clients in attendance, the guests, the staff, my assistant and everyone involved in the evening. Being constantly aware of my behaviour and actions in such company. But what made this event different was why we were all in attendance that evening. Guests were raising money to help continue support children who have been the victim of cruelty and abuse in all its forms. To raise money to help prevent the abuse and cruelty to those most vulnerable in society.

A very brave young lady gave a very moving speech describing her own experiences as a child. She shared for the very first time with strangers what events brought her to be there that evening. It was an incredibly powerful and emotional speech and as tough as it must have been for her, it was a story that needed to be shared. The mood in the room changed and the commission shifted from business as usual to standing still and listening to this very brave individual recount her journey. Like everyone else in the room you cannot be so utterly affected and moved by such a powerful share. The evening raised a record breaking £1,086,108 which will be used to help fund the NSPCC therapy services for children who have suffered sexual abuse as well as keeping children safe online.

Once home I sat and reflected on my own journey and what I’ve been through that has brought me to where I am in my life. To consider my own experiences and all I’ve done to manage. The young ladies moving and personal speech was so utterly empowering and inspiring .