How do you fancy being an artist, a creator, who has sold more than 7 million copies of books of your black and white drawings? Nice huh? Average photobook is printed in runs of 1,000. But black and white drawings for adults to colour? Seven Million. Count them.
Scottish artist Johanna Basford has done just that. Since leaving her art studies she’s has gone on to become a hugely successful artist and creator of books such as ‘Lost Ocean’ and ‘Secret Garden’.
I recently paid a visit to her studio, north of Aberdeen, Scotland, for a portrait shoot for The Times (who have run the resulting image today). The photography brief for the shoot was to get a nice portrait, lit, from in Johanna Basford’s studio, something which could work on a cover and inside. And also to get an alternate shot.
The studio was clean, bright, nice, a bit of a god-send really. Trouble was the ceiling was angled and very low, made putting up a softbox on a stand a little tricky, but not the end of the world. I shot a few portraits, a few variations, making sure to get the studio feel and some of Johanna’s drawings.
Then we nipped outside, into the glorious landscape which inspires a lot of the details in Johanna’s work and books. This shot was pretty much the last I shot, as we walked back towards her farmhouse studio, something more candid, something a little more loose to give the picture editor options of feel and style.
The portraits come from my photography project ‘Unsullied And Untarnished’, which will be exhibited in part at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, as of September 26th this year. They will form my contribution to the Document Scotland show ‘The Ties That Bind’. A book of the same name, ‘Unsullied And Untarnished’, will be published to coincide with the show – but more info on that soon!
A couple of weeks back I had an early morning editorial portrait assignment up in sunny Aberdeen, Scotland, a pleasant rush hour drive from Glasgow. The assignment, for the prestigious science magazine Nature, was to shoot a portrait of Professor Lorna Dawson, of the James Hutton Institute, to accompany a forthcoming article.
Prof. Dawson is a ‘soil sleuth’, a scientist with the know-how to profile the DNA of soil, and along with her team, help detective teams the world over examine soil forensic evidence in crimes. I shan’t try in my layman terms to explain the in’s and outs of her job, but the article is here should you wish to read it.
I post below the portrait of Prof. Dawson as used by the magazine, on a left hand full-page, a crop from the original image (also below).
And from the shoot, the below was the image I preferred. Interesting both myself, the picture editor and also the designers all chose different shots from the portrait shoot…and the one chosen by page designers is the one which made it onto the page.
A small selection of some recent tear sheets for your delectation. It’s always pleasurable as a photographer to see your work in print, to smell the ink and see how the work has been laid out, to see the design of the magazine spread, to see if the designer has used it well, or cropped it badly…
The following portrait, of Professor Lorna Dawson of the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, was shot by me recently on assignment for Nature Magazine. Prof. Dawson is a world leading expert of the forensic analysis of soil DNA, and along with her team she brings her formidable talents and knowledge to bare in helping crack crime cases round the world. Soil Sleuth indeed, and a very hospitable and friendly woman to hang out with on assignment. I great enjoyed this assignment on a gloriously sunny Monday morning in Aberdeen. You can read the article about Professor Lorna Dawson, ‘Soil Sleuth’, here in Nature magazine.
And the most colourful for last, a portrait photograph below from a few years back that I shot on assignment (originally for The Times newspaper) in Tokyo, Japan, of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. I had the pleasure and privilege to photograph Kusama-san’s twice in her Tokyo studio, and this portrait used this month/week on the cover of The Art Newspaper comes from the second time I met her. As you can see she is quite individual, and a fascinating character to listen to and to photograph. Again a very enjoyable assignment, and nice to see the image pop up unexpectedly this week in the paper, sold via agents Getty Images. See a full set of photographs of portraits of Yayoi Kusama, and her work, here.
Thanks for taking a look, and as ever should you wish to licence any of these photographs, or if you’re looking to have something specific photographed then please get in touch! Thanks!
Last week I wrote a blog about Mark Beaumont, Scottish cyclist, adventurer, author, speaker, (he’s multi-talented) who is shortly to attempt a World Record speed attempt at cycling Cairo to Cape Town, and cycling it solo with no support team. Mark Beaumont, Africa Solo.
I’ve been doing a little pre-expedition photography with Mark, covering the build up and the story of the expedition. Yesterday we headed over to cycling apparel manufacturers Endura (their motto is Born in Scotland, Ridden Worldwide) to check on the design and production of Mark’s kit for his gruelling 10,000km ride through Africa.
All the design work of the kit has been done in-house in Endura, with the logos of Mark’s expedition and his sponsor’s logos supplied and incorporated. Mark’s gone for a light coloured kit, all the better for repelling the Saharan sun as he heads South.
And then, as far from Saharan sun as you can, we headed out into the Scottish landscape, Mark to put his kit and bike through some last minute preparation tests before he heads to Cairo next week for the big off, to cycle #AfricaSolo.