Portrait Of A Glasgow Boy

Portrait of artist Ken Currie, in his studio in Glasgow, Scotland. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2013, all rights reserved.

Last week I had the pleasure of a photography portrait assignment here in Glasgow, Scotland, to go and photograph renowned Glaswegian artist Ken Currie in his studio. Ken has a solo show of his paintings opening at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery on July 20th, and an editorial client of mine in London needed a portrait of him to accompany an interview with him.

Some portrait jobs as I’ve mentioned previously are rushed, the sitter gives you only a few minutes, press officers hounding you and watching your every move. But not so this time. Ken, although he has his own stuff to get on with, was remarkably hospitable and friendly, answering all questions, imparting some of his own thoughts on art, and the Glasgow School of Art etc.

As with previous portraits I’ve written about on here recently I once again shot in three locations within Ken’s studio, three different backgrounds to the photographs to give the picture editor a choice, but I think this is probably my preferred option. Not only was it the first backdrop, this is also the first frame I shot, and the one I prefer most. The editorial client used a different image, which whilst fine, wouldn’t have been the one I would have used.

In the portrait above, Ken, of the ‘The Glasgow Boys’ artists from Glasgow School of Art, stands in front of the canvases which will make up his solo show next week, and he refused, in a very kind and gentlemanly way, to turn them round so that I could shoot with the paintings on display. There were various reasons for this he said; 1) he didn’t want to risk damaging the canvases at this late stage by turning them round; 2) he didn’t wish to turn them round in case he decided he wanted to make changes and to start tinkering with the paint at this late stage; and 3) he didn’t wish the public to see the paintings before the show opens in Edinburgh later this week. All valid reasons I felt so I didn’t push it, and to be honest, I was quite happy shooting the portrait with the backs of the canvases, it makes the image a little more generic and timeless, and more a portrait of Ken, as opposed to about the actual work.

All in all a very enjoyable 20 minutes or so in the studio shooting the portrait, and in the company of Ken Currie, a very hospitable man.

The Common Riding, by Cafe Royal Books

I’m very pleased to announce that today Cafe Royal Books, run and published by Craig Atkinson, have published a little limited edition (of 150) ‘zine book of my Common Riding photographs. All the images were shot in 2000, in the Scottish Borders, and 14 of them form the 28page black and white ‘zine.

Cover, back cover, The Common Riding, by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Cafe Royal Books.
‘the Snuffing’- The Common Riding, by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Cafe Royal Books.
‘Crying the Langholm fair’, The Common Riding, by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Cafe Royal Books.

All the ‘zines are numbered and if you’d like to buy one they can be found here on Cafe Royal Books website and are on sale at £5.00 each, plus package and posting. The ‘zine is published in an edition of 150, but not all of those will go on sale.

Other photographers published by Craig as part of the same series are Homer Sykes, David Levenson, Craig Atkinson, Peter Dench, John Claridge and more. Many great photographers whom I admire, and much great photography. I’m very pleased and excited to have my work alongside the work of them in the series, and I’m grateful to Craig at Cafe Royal Books for his interest in my work and bringing it to a bigger audience. I hope you can take a look.

See the whole set of Scottish Common Riding photographs, from 2000, in Hawick, Langholm and Selkirk, here.

And to hear the sounds of the Common Risings, their histories in verse, then have a listen to this below- the men of Hawick, led by Cornet Chris Ritson, his Right and Left Hand Men, and the incredible voice of Michael Aitken, singing ‘Old Song’ early morning, during this years Hawick Common Riding. Great stuff. History alive, tradition robust, community together.

The Roma Portraits

The Roma Portraits

Recently I’ve been revisiting some of my previous work from my multi-year project photographing in two Roma camps in Romania. I photographed in these camps from 1990, just after the fall of the Romanian dictator Ceaucescu, through to 1997. Working in black and white I tried to document the traditions, the looks and styles, the daily life and festivities of the camp inhabitants. Bit by bit as the project progressed little changes began to appear, it was obvious the Roma lifestyle was to enter a period of transition. When I returned to the camps in 2004-2006 these changes were fully apparent, gone were the tents, the horses and carts, and instead there were BMWs, and 15 room mansions built only with dreams and not architectural plans.

In 1993 and 1994, to keep things fresh for myself, I took my old Rolliecord 6×6 camera, and loads of black and white film. I shot portraits, of everyone and anyone in the camp. There were backgrounds everywhere, the canvas of tents, the mud brick walls and the haystacks. There was no shortage of backdrops and no shortage of willing participants to stand for my camera. Between us, myself and the Roma, we had a good thing going. I got to take the portraits for myself in black and white, with backdrops of my choosing, and in return I’d shoot, with colour negative film in a small compact camera, the images requested of me by my Roma friends, the images they wished of babies propped up against big pink cushions. But in the black and white images the look of the Roma at that time, the girls with coins in their hair- a style now gone, old men with fedora hats, and people cooking in their tents, is captured.


Gina, from Baltaeni camp, Romania.

Today is International Roma Day, a day to celebrate Roma culture, and also to highlight the all too often still frequent injustices held against them. Last week as I knew the Roma Day was approaching I decided to publish a little book of my Roma portraits, taken 20 years ago this year, to mark the day in some way. This book, some will call it a ‘zine, isn’t a big monograph published in the best printing houses of Italy. It isn’t a hardback break-your-coffee table type book. It isn’t a comprehensive history of the Roma in one volume.

Instead, it is a collection of my 6×6 black and white portraits, printed in an A5 sized publication, with softback cover, called ‘The Roma Portraits’. There are 94 pages, with I think 77 images, and also, just to throw into the mix, there are 3 contact sheets showing more portraits. It’s small, it’s nice quality, it’s printed in a small print run of 100. The below images come from within the book, which unfortunately I can’t collect from the printer for another day or two, but these images are from the proofs.

So, if you think you like the look of it, then it is of course available for purchase. Your support and interest is much appreciated.


UPDATE: The book is now sold out. There are currently a few on sale at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, but apart from that, that is it! Thank you for your interest though.

Geisha photographs.

It’s always nice when a fellow photographer says to you, “Oh I saw your geisha piece today in the magazine, looked great. Lots of images”. And you say to him “What geisha pics ? What magazine?”, and then the story slowly unfolds that the agency that syndicates your work has sold a big set of your images and you weren’t aware of it. First you’d know about it is when your monthly sales report pops in as a pdf into your email inbox and you see the sale.

So it was on Sunday evening, at a small party gathering of Scottish photographers, all relaxing, eating and drinking after a busy couple of weeks of photographing in Edinburgh, and a good friend and colleague, and great portrait photographer Geraint Lewis, told me he’d seen a spread of my photographs of Japanese geisha in the Scotland On Sunday Spectrum magazine whilst he’d been in a bakery shop buying his lunch. This is how we find out about our editorial picture sales sometimes !

A quick email to the picture desk and I get back a pdf of the story, including the cringe worthy title. (If you don’t understand the title, or it doesn’t make you cringe then I don’t need to explain it.) So here it is, a double page spread of Japanese geisha photographs, shot in the town of Shimoda, Japan, when I was there on assignment with Justin McCurry of The Guardian. There was no article, just a small paragraph explaining the story that the three trainee geisha were selected after applying for the positions which were advertised by Shimoda city council via a work employment office. The Shimoda city council hope to keep the geisha tradition alive within their town by the appointment of the girls, and the girls will undertake geisha duties at local festivals and for tour groups and tourists.

Japanese geisha undergo training, in Shimoda, Japan. As printed in the Scotland On Sunday Magazine.

See the full set of photographs of geisha from Shimoda, Japan, here. Thanks for looking.

Tokyo supper club.

Archive: Fish swim in a tank, in a traditional izakaya bar/restaurant, in Kabukicho, Tokyo, Japan. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2003 (Click on the image to view it on my archive site, for licensing.)

So it’s Friday evening here on the great sushi carousel of Tokyo. Another week of assignment photography in Japan draws to a close. It’s that time of the week when people go out and party, another week of salarymen life over.  I don’t know if it was a Friday night when I shot this above image, but it was in Kabukicho, Tokyo, and it was an evening of socialising with a client in GoldenGai street. On the way home, with my eyesight slightly in need of autofocus, I somehow found the above scene, of a fish tank and view into the izakaya bar. I shot half a dozen frames or so, with the fish in various positions and catching the light to various degrees. And out of those 6 or so, this was the most balanced for the fish composition and they way they shined. I’ve always liked this image.

This image as well as all images on my main website, or on my archive site, are available for purchase as fine art prints. Should you have any questions please just ask, many thanks.