Philip Berryman


Grace and Adam

We should think of a photographer as a samurai who makes rituals, moves and gestures in order to develop his technique and his instinct.ANON

It is often said that photographers can be both control freaks and rather anal when it comes to planning and how they operate. Whether it is systems, methods and ways of doing things or an obsessive approach to not only technical elements but also other aspects of running the business. I figure I do fall into this category and have a few rituals and methods that I follow meticulously. I follow strict procedures, pre-shoot rituals and even the odd activity played out before a big shoot as a good luck gesture like an athlete or a soldier tapping his helmet. Not saying what I do or you will all laugh at me.  I do pride myself on being organized and being prepared for all eventualities. Of course you can never be completely prepared for everything and sadly things can go horribly wrong during the best-planed operations.

A great story to illustrate my obsessive planning and readiness is the one regarding a location shoot for British Vogue. I used to assist the brilliant Bob Carlos Clarke and this was an utter privilege and experience that I often fondly look back on. One of the most memorable jobs we did together was 3 days in Switzerland shooting the beautiful and fun Christina Estrada. Now Bob used to tease me relentlessly for always turning up to his studio or locations shoots with my little black box. He said I resembled an English country doctor opening up my briefcase with a click’ckick and revealing its contents, which would contain additional little boxes, all containing items that I predicted may come in handy on a photographic shoot. It was my ‘assistants case’ and I filled it with everything that I could think may come in handy on shoots and it had proved so useful in the past. You name it; it was to be found in my little assistant’s case. I always found it odd that an assistant turned up to a shoot with just their hands in their pockets and this to me was lazy and unprepared. Nonetheless I could take the teasing and proof the box was a lifesaver became evident on this trip.

Bob used a rare Fuji GS680 camera, a beast of a camera that made you look like Cecile B. DeMille on a major Hollywood production. We lugged the beast to Switzerland and were well and truly enjoying the second day of snapping Christina by the pool of our hotel in Evian. Then disaster struck. The batteries on the beast decided to die. Of course they had worked for the last 5 years unchanged on every other shoot but pack in when you are in a remote hotel in the Swiss Alps. This is the sort of insane unfairness that happens in life and it leaves you always fearing the worst when planning. It essentially was the end of the shoot, as we had no back up. At this point I calmly went up to my hotel room and returned with the trusty black case. In front of the whole crew I sat down, clicked open the latches and quietly produced a smaller box and contained in this was the exact battery needed to keep the beast alive.  A rare battery that only someone as anal and over prepared as myself would think to buy and pack. The shoot continued and from that day onwards Bob never teased me ever again for always bringing my trusty black case along to shoots.

The reason for telling this particular story is because it links beautifully with Grace and Adam’s wedding. I was asked to photograph the London ceremony of Grace and Adam’s wedding before they left for Spain for further wedding celebrations with additional friends and family. I was called close to the date and had not met either the bride or groom in advance, which is very rare. The moment I walked into Grace’s sisters beautifully decorated home I knew I would enjoy this day and the company. Their stunning home was filled with beautiful art. Portraits and fashion images by Bob Carlos Clarke, Terry O’Neill and Mario Testino adorned the walls. Having assisted both Terry and Bob I wondered if the images were taken on shoots I’ve worked on. I have known Mario for many years too and was pleased to see one of his great images of Kate Moss on the wall. Each room was filled with beautiful art and furniture and I felt so energized as I began the task of covering this intimate wedding.

This was simply the most wonderful day indeed and one in which I felt so welcomed and appreciated. It was only very close family in attendance and friends were all being saved for the Spanish element of the wedding. Not the smallest wedding I have shot, that wedding had just the bride and groom and one witness!

Grace and Adam were so easy to photograph which obviously made my task a lot easier. The love from both families flowed and their kindness and hospitality was in abundance throughout the day. We were blessed with a sunny day, happy beautiful people and a stunning location. What more could I want. Oh and my batteries all behaved!