UNESCO's Man Made Lake District

View of Langdale Boulders resting under the protective gaze of the Langdale Pikes stripped bare by sheep grazing.

I recently escaped to the Lake District National Park in Cumbria for a 4 day break. Just me, my trusty tent, associated cooking & hiking gear and, of course, a camera.

Since I was a teenager I've regularly enjoyed running away into the mountains, be it within the UK or further afield in the Alps, Rockies or some of the more remote outposts across Europe. Whether arid, temperate or snow filled, I love the beguiling weather that accompanies the exquisite light and solitude that flows over mountain topography. The Lake District offers these qualities in abundance but they are coupled with a serious 'gotcha'.

Although the aforementioned mountain regions offer starkly different flora & fauna, physical geology and developmental history, they do share one prevalent visual trope (the gotcha) that is often not spoken about in landscape photography; evidence of human activity. An abundant and deeply rooted human activity that is millennia-refined, found on each of the world's continents and largely grouped into 3 main categories: 1) relentless extraction of stone, minerals and ore 2) an ever growing demand for power, mostly generated via hydroelectric & wind infrastructure and 3) highly intensive systems employed by industrialised agriculture - designed primarily for grazing sheep and cows to facilitate meat, milk and clothing production.

Elterwater quarry tucked away, out of sight (and not advertised) in Chapel Stile.

This particular trip to the Lakes was my first since the English Lake District was awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO in July 2017.

Much praise was posted online and across traditional media oulets and it was certainly a huge commercial gain for the 25 organisations of the Lake District National Park Partnership that structured a bid championing the area's cultural heritage, a heritage mostly created during the Romanticism movement 170+ years ago and flourishes well in the 21st century. An earlier application by the LDNPP for *natural* world heritage status was dismissed by UNESCO on the grounds of excessive human activities, so it was decided to restructure the bid and repackage those perennial Lake District best sellers; Wordsworth, Potter, Wainwright et al., in order to succeed. 

As much as I adore the Lake District, I was personally troubled by the award as it reinforces a distorted, misconceived vision of natural beauty which ignores (and excuses) man made environmental damages. Luckily, writer George Monbiot provided a clear and authoritative voice against the UNESCO award, carefully detailed in his article The Lie of the Land (which was also published in The Guardian). I tweeted support for his article here.

Old managed estate woodland collapsing into the roadside boundary to the Blawith Fells.

One always takes a chance dodging wet weather in Lake District (the hamlet of Seathwaite is England's wettest inhabited place) and even during the 'drier' month of July, the risk of a good soaking remains resolutely high. So yep, you guessed it, the skies opened and rain poured down persistently, making my hikes across the higher fells rather tiresome. To have a fairer chance of making new photographs, I decided to drop down into the lower valleys for the last day, to see if a break in the weather would provide me with some UNESCO man made landscape vistas to photograph. Inspired by George Monbiot's article, I used the welcome rain-free time to piece together a scrapbook of images to build the foundation for a future personal project.

Staying within the south western corner of the Lakes, I drove around looking for signatures of man's imprint on the landscape. Within the "Beatrix Potter-themed sheep museum" (Monbiot's description of the Lake District's fresh UNESCO status) landscapes formed by extraction, agriculture and land management could be viewed from just about every bend in the road and turn on the forest trail. In fact, it is nearly impossible to find just 1 of the Lake District National Park's 583,747 acre area that hasn't been shaped by human needs!

I've featured 3 photographs from that scrapbook - detailing extraction, agriculture and land management. Although I feel they offer subjective beauty and intrigue, they are far from natural - with all having mankind's influence running throughout their content. 

Sonia Boyce RA Magazine

Really pleased that RA Magazine (Royal Academy of Arts) have chosen my portrait of the artist Sonia Boyce to accompany their 'As I See It' series of interviews with leading visual artists.

Interviewed by Anna Coatman, Sonia offers her thoughts and details a few experiences that shape her work. I particularly warm to Sonia's closing statement "Human beings are inventive. If we can go to Mars, we can send more kids to art school."

I have included a couple of other photographs from our brief time together, captured on location in one of her student break out rooms in the Chelsea School of Art to celebrate her receiving a PHF Award for Artists award.

Thank you Robert Heath at RA Magazine for reaching out. Enjoy.

You can also view some of Sonia's work at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017.

Emma Hart: Mamma Mia!

Acclaimed visual artist Emma Hart unveils her a new installation Mamma Mia! today at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. The commissioned work forms the sixth edition of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, which awarded Emma a 6 month Italian residency split across Milan, Todi and Faenza. 

I had the pleasure of photographing Emma as a recipient of the esteemed Awards for Artists given by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Whilst setting up lights and composing a suitable frame, Emma and I proceeded rapidly into a rather insightful philosophical conversation about the advent of 'digital', serving as a seismic disruptor of society's cognitive apparatus a generation ago. Our mutual Generation X age(s) allowed us the privilege of exchanging memories of a life experienced before our collective move online.

Emma's body of work disrupts the seamlessness of our image (digital) led culture and with inspiration born from autobiographical experiences, coupled with observing Milan Systems Approach - a therapy focusing on spaces rather than individuals, I'm looking forward to viewing how Emma has distilled real world anxieties and emotions into her refined ceramics. 

Mamma Mia! is open from 12 July – 3 September 2017 and is entry is free.  

Emma Hart, I ,I, I (2017) Copyright Emma Hart.

Emma Hart, I ,I, I (2017) Copyright Emma Hart.

You can read more about another Awards for Artists recipient - the artist Rachel Reupke - in another Journal entry titled The Twin Presence of Rachel Reupke 

The world's No. 1 Doctor Who fan?

Although my best memories of Doctor Who are grounded in an era when Tom Baker rightfully commanded the UK's weekend teatime family viewing (broadcast in 4:3 aspect ratio of course) - it has been incredible to witness the reincarnation of Time Lord's adventures for a new generation, largely kick started by David Tennant back in the mid noughties. 

Now a truly worldwide phenomenon with countless fanzines, online debate and endless merchandise options to quench the thirst for DW fans, Doctor Who has embraced the social media age as successfully as Gallifrey's best known export regenerates (the series 10 finale of Doctor Who screens on BBC One at 18:30 today).

One of the most rewarding highlights of my work as a photographer is the amazing diversity of people that I meet, share experience and collaborate with. So it was with much joy that I stumbled upon a treasure throve of Doctor Who fandom - Paul's bedroom. 

Click Doctor Who to view large...

I met Paul whilst on assignment with Dimensions - who are one of the country’s largest not-for-profits supporting people with learning disabilities, autism, challenging behaviour, complex needs. My brief was to create multiple 'day-in-the-life' case studies to faithfully represent the complexities of their support work around England.

In one particular location (a residential home for 7 persons requiring nursing and personal care to accommodate for their various learning disabilities) I met Paul during breakfast and soon started a lovely rapport over a cup of strong tea. I then proceeded to document Paul and 5 of his fellow house friends for the rest of the day - photographing their engagement with a wide range of activities from church prayer & tenpin bowling to pet therapy. 

Towards the end of the day, during a staff shift change over, a manager asked whether I had seen Paul's bedroom? I hadn't and was immediately intrigued by the sparkle in her eye. Within moments, Paul proudly welcomed me into his bedroom - a richly detailed shrine to 12 Time Lords and their numerous assistants. In fact the sole object in his room and bathroom that wasn't Doctor Who themed was a fantastic red leather armchair. I learnt that Paul has viewed every episode made and, for most, can recite the script verbatim. Don't be deceived by the size of the Dalek in the portrait too - it is actually a full sized 3D replica model that levitates near his bed. Paul loves Doctor Who.

I asked whether he would allow me to capture his passion more formally and he agreed with enthusiasm. After directing him into his luxurious chair, he relaxed and proceeded to watch an episode of Doctor Who. Thank you Paul.

I know exactly what Paul will be watching at 18:30 this afternoon - a series finale where Peter Capaldi will end his tenure in charge of the TARDIS.


Earlier this year I had the pleasure of working with the esteemed Nuffield Trust, creating new staff portraits and photographing their annual Health Policy Summit.

The Nuffield Trust is an independent health charity founded in 1940. Set up to coordinate the activities of all hospitals operating outside London, the Nuffield Trust helped inspire the creation of the National Health Service, with one of its early surveys being utilised as a key reference document in the establishment of the NHS. The founding principles of providing evidence-based research and policy analysis remain core to the trust's values.

[In light of the seemingly constant electoral instability gripping the UK, I've chosen to offer a few personal views and thoughts to accompany examples of photography in this post]

The last few years have seen a well co-ordinated rise in paleoconservative populism on both sides of the Atlantic, with reasoned voices being increasingly drowned out by a largely unfounded soundbite designed solely to propagate click bait, reinforce echo chambers and foster a silo mentality void of meaningful fact checking. This new politick spilled over into mainstream consciousness with the advent of the EU referendum and, unsurprisingly, NHS funding became one of the key campaign battlegrounds for parties and ideologues of all political flavours. 

I was becoming increasingly disheartened with this new political landscape and trying to navigate daily news cycles and associated social media was leaving little room for optimism, so the timing of working with the Nuffield Trust was very welcome indeed, as it was refreshing to engage in conversation with a group of experts striving to improve the quality of health care in the UK. I'm interested in an expert's view point as experts hone their skills, understand variables, encourage nuanced conversation and help society in far reaching ways - often posing a qualified threat to the aforementioned populist agenda.

John Appleby: Director of Research and Chief Economist for the Nuffield Trust

After creating a fresh set of staff portraits (a small selection featured in this post) in the trust's Marylebone HQ, I headed into deep dark Surrey to photograph their annual Health Policy Summit in Wotton House. Staged over 2 days, the summit hosted 28 guest speakers and over 160 leaders of organisations and companies representing the majority of the health and social care system in the UK, with additional input from interests in the USA and mainland Europe.

Wow. Beginning with a powerful opening keynote from Professor Sir Harry Burns (Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde) titled 'Building a better public health landscape' and a hugely insightful discussion 'Should we spend more on health and social care?' led by John Appleby, Director of Research & Chief Economist, Nuffield Trust, the summit continued eagerly with well informed facts, opinion and debate.

The summit was well represented from all sides of the UK's political spectrum, yet was refreshingly free of rhetoric and bluster often witnessed on news comment and debate programmes on television and radio. Furthermore - despite detailing the serious concerns and complexities of funding (public vs private vs blended funding) health care in an ageing population, I discovered an underlying and resolutely positive drive amongst the delegates to construct truly viable fiscal and practical long term solutions for healthcare in the UK - solutions that will benefit all of our society's needs.

I left my time with the Nuffield Trust with a more optimistic mid-term political view and a trust that there are indeed many people in positions of influence working behind the scenes, not only imparting their expert knowledge but also marrying that knowledge with sound emotional intelligence too.

The recent snap election called on more experts than ever to try and decipher politicians' claims and it was super to see the Nuffield Trust's clear and balanced social media narrative ramped up to offer much needed clarity. Follow @NuffieldTrust and see what the team is saying about Brexit and the NHS nuffieldtrust.org.uk/spotlight/brexit-and-the-nhs 

I also encourage you to watch / listen to Sir Harry Burns's brilliant keynote speech - trust me, the 43 engrossing minutes will fly by. Scroll down to the end of this post for the video. 

The Nuffield Trust are in year 2 of a 5 year strategy. Please click the screengrab below for further reading. From their website: 

'There are limits to what policy-makers can do, as many of the solutions required to deliver the more extensive changes in service delivery need clinicians and managers to lead the way. Our strategy recognises this – we are more grounded in the practical implications of policy-making, working closely with clinicians and managers to help improve policy and practice. We focus our activities on five main areas in which we can most add value.'

The Good Wardrobe

A little while ago I had the pleasure of photographing my good friend Zoe Robinson, who founded the trailblazing The Good Wardrobe - an award winning online community hub mixing the best ‘conscious’ fashion with services that prolong the life of clothes. The antithesis of fast fashion.

Finding its feet in 2012, the portal's values proved successful and now, after her family relocated from London to Bristol last year, The Good Wardrobe is now embarking on a new, ambitious development to cover the whole of Bristol City. 

It was great selecting and arranging Zoe's stylish furnishing. Even the sewing machine was seriously elegant! 

To aide this change, Zoe has set up a Crowdfunder page and here are a few of her words:

"So far I have self-funded The Good Wardrobe and I've only been able to focus on featuring London and online businesses. Last year I moved to Bristol with my family and I want to expand to cover this incredible city - there are so many amazing organisations here including independent designers, Repair Cafes, charity shops, vintage boutiques, haberdashers and upcycling gurus. I want to bring the best of Bristol's ethical fashion scene under one virtual roof; I want to map them all out, promote them and create your wise guide to Bristol fashion!"

So if you are interested in helping Zoe and The Good Wardrobe spread their wings in Bristol, please head over to the Crowdfunder page or check out the video below. Please note that pledges end at 8:40am 29th June 2017.

I wish Zoe the very best of luck!

Crowdfunding video for The Good Wardrobe Bristol: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-good-wardrobe-bristol Graphic design: Laura Yates Videographer: Nim Jethwa

World Environment Day

To celebrate World Environment Day, I thought I'd share a photograph I made whilst surrounded by summer melt raging through the Middalen Glacier in Norway. Shot in August 2016, the glacier is one of the frozen fingers of the larger Hardangerjøkulen ice sheet that begins in the furtherest background of this photograph. Rising over 1,800m - the Hardangerjøkulen is Norway's 6th largest glacier and is located south west of Finse. 

And yes, that seemingly graceful hole in the icy moraine was far from relaxing to observe. The sheer amount of water and particulates gushing out kept one's senses very alive & alert. Moving around on glaciers is not to be taken lightly, as the ground beneath is constantly shifting and swallowing up rock, earth, debris, water and ice, with huge amounts of energy being released. Visually and aurally (read: very loud) rewarding though!


Click me to view large...

If you would like to read about another related Journal entry, please read *Natural Unnatural Symmetry*.


Larachmhor Gardens

Bathing in late afternoon April light, Larachmhor Gardens emits a glow and vibe more likely absorbed whilst kicking back with a cold beer in the foothills of a island in the Lesser Antilles. 

Located on the coastline of the Sound of Arisaig in the Lochaber district of Scotland's highlands, the gardens offer an extremely diverse selection of exotic plants, which have been planted for over a 28 acres for nearly 90 years. The result is a densely rich antithesis to Kew Gardens, loaded with genuine curiosity and marvel. 

Update on April 28th I've just received precise information about the palm featured from the amazingly authoritative *gate keeper* of Larachmhor Gardens, Ian Sinclair. In his words...

..."Trachycarpus fortunei, the Chinese windmill palm, windmill palm or Chusan palm, is a palm native to central China, southern Japan, south to northern Burma and northern India, growing at altitudes of 100–2,400m...

The Strad Magazine

Really chuffed to see that my work with Matthew McDonald has made the front cover of the April 2017 edition of The Strad magazine. As 1st Principle Bass for the Berliner Philharmoniker, Matthew has made Berlin his home (born & raised in Australia) and the nerve centre of his creative force, so The Strad's profile of him and the great orchestra is both timely and welcome. You can check out The Strad here. Enjoy.

If you would like to check out some of Matthew's sublime musicianship, then check his recording of César Franck's Sonata in A major first movement, allegretto ben moderato - recorded in the Kammermusiksaal of the Berliner Philharmonie on December 19, 2016.

My portrait series of Matthew was shot on glorious medium format Kodak Portra film - which equals perfect warmth 

Sonic Ice

2017 has kicked off rather well - working on some interesting projects, noteworthy assignments and photographing the ambitious annual Ice Music Festival in Geilo, Norway.

Staged between 9th to 12th February, the festival celebrated its 12th year and my 9th year documenting the myriad 'making of process' and magical musical performances. I have described to various journalists that the whole enterprise straddles a fine line between pure art & lunacy :-)

Along with photographing the sub-zero adventures in music, I also create and author the website, manage the international media and co-produce the festival. During the festival I produced many posts for @icemusicgeilo and did a takeover of @visitnorway, so if you'd like to dip in and learn a little more about all things ice + music + deep cold, then check out the Instagram posts detailed in the grid in this post.

Nope, ice is not simply white or transparent but reflects a multitude of colours - for evidence, just observe the hues of green, blue and 'white' in the frozen shot below. The jagged ice is a result of a crew of degree students from the University of Bergen's Faculty of Art & Design, who we invited to collaborate by constructing an amazing ice village, comprising of 2 huge ice domes (each large enough to seat 40+ plus people) that hosted the opening night's Acoustic Ice concerts. Inflating enormous balloons, then spraying water over them in perfect ' freezing' air temperatures of -17ºc t0 -20ºc resulted in incredibly detailed ice formations at the base of each structure... 

Another Place Magazine

I was delighted when Iain Sarjeant approached me recently to showcase my work 68º 69º Parallel North on his Another Place Magazine portal.  

Iain is a busy man, who's curating a lovely roster of online & print media platforms that celebrate contemporary photography, delving into themes detailing land & city scape, a sense of 'place' and the environment. Iain is also a co-founder of Documenting Britain collective, an influential body of artists artists creating a critical record of the British Isles.

The Another Place ecosystem branches into print too, with Another Places Press, which hosts a rapidly growing selection of photographic publications including Cody Cobb's Cascadia, Al Brydon's Based on a False Story and Iain's own Out of the Ordinary

After battling through the early onslaught of the digital wild west to shape up through web 2.0, I feel that noteworthy photography is good shape and it is super to see such positive and peer led engagement. Thank you Iain.

Voices for Culture

I am really chuffed to showcase some work I created during summer 2016, called 'Voices for Culture'.

Commissioned by the Royal Opera House Bridge, I was asked to make formal environmental portraits detailing the people working at the heart of the ROH Bridge's 15 partner organisations located in the south east of England. The portraits act as the core narrative heart of the ROH Bridge's Annual Report for 2015 / 2016.

You learn more about the Royal Opera House Bridge's remit, the pictures in the full glory in my new gallery called 'Voices for Culture'. Enjoy. 

I wish to extend my warmest thanks to Cliff Manning for recommending my photographic eye to the ROH Bridge team (Cliff, to think We Teach Music would develop and transform so richly is lovely).

And an huge thank you to Kelly Lean (ROH Bridge Research & Development Manager) for all your logistical / 'corralling skills' and creative support in making this portrait series.


Natural Unnatural Symmetry

During late August 2016, I made a trip to Finse in Norway to contribute fresh photographs to the extraordinary Project Pressure, a charity documenting the effect of climate change on the world’s vanishing glaciers.

Finse is small settlement on the shore of Finsevatnet, that is only accessible by train via the Bergensbanen connecting Bergen and Oslo. The railway climbs through some of the Europe's most spectacular scenery to Finse, sitting at an elevation of 1,222 metres above sea level, making it the highest station on the entire Norwegian railway system.

Due to the mountainous terrain and heavy winter snowfall, (it is worth noting that the winter is so harsh and reliable that Hollywood used Finse as the filming location for ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back) the railway has many wooden and metal roofed tunnels that look like very long train sheds. The last 'shed tunnel' heading south east out of the village merges into a perfect configuration of triangulated symmetry, where nature's landscape meets man's construction. 

The pictures I shot of the glaciers located south west of Finse for Project Pressure will be shown a little later in 2017...

Kaleidoscope of Jazz

For 10 days during November 2016 I documented the creative forces performing in the annual EFG London Jazz Festival. I've been the official photographer since 2008 and am immensely proud to have shot my 9th year, as the sheer diversity of musical talent deployed in the vast array of London's live venues is quite breathtaking. 

I have a gallery jammed full of photographic highlights from the festival and I've just added a few of favourites from 2016's events. So please take a look over here and look out for new additions showing Nérija, Robert Glasper Experiment, Jason Moran, Francesco Tristano, Elsa Soares, Kansas Smitty's House Band and Swarthy Korwar.

If you are music fan, there's an artist for everyone in the gallery too: Christian Scott, Oren Marshall, Sheila Jordan, Noah Jackson, Melody Gardot, Esperanza Spalding, Roman Valle, Paolo Angeli, Jay Phelps, Nik Bärtsch, Seaming To, Matthew Bourne, Lucinda Belle, Imelda May, Gregory Porter, Juliette Gréco, Peter Ind, Creole Choir of Cuba, Miles Mosley, Chassol, Keith Tippet, De Jongens Driest, Shingai Shoniwa, Neil Cowley Trio, Splice, Snarky Puppy, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Yvette Riby-Williams...a true kaleidoscope of jazz!

And don't forget my formal portraits of 3 true titans of jazz - my personal triology featuring Ornette Coleman, Wayne Shorter and Sonny Rollins, all found in my Portraits gallery. Enjoy.

Swarthy Korwar

The vignette above is of Swarthy Korwar bathing in live, hand-painted projection light, whilst soaking up XOYO's vibe. The extraordinary projections accompanying Swarthy's sublime instrumentals were created by illustrator Somang Lee, whose skill you can witness below. A mesmerising combination to document. 

 Somang Lee

You can read more about my thoughts on photographing jazz in the following Journal entires: Think 'Jazz' >> Think Again... & EFG London Jazz Festival 2013 In Colour! 

I'd love to hear your thoughts via Twitter @emileholba direct via emile@emileholba or over at Instagram @emileholbaphoto

Daniel Kidane

In the fall of 2016 I had the pleasure of photographing the concert composer Daniel Kidane, whose works range from solo pieces to large orchestral pieces.

Raised on a South London estate to Russian & Eritrean parents, Daniel's heritage has provided a rich and textured backdrop for his musical creativity. Playing the violin aged 8, Daniel then entered the Royal of College of Music Junior Department and then later studied privately in St. Petersburg, receiving lessons in composition from Professor Sergey Slonimsky. 

Daniel's compositions are performed extensively across the UK and abroad as well as being broadcast on BBC Radio 3. His works have been premiered by several notable companies including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Learn about Daniel's work here.

Whilst Daniel and I discussed a range of suitable locations for the photoshoot, I was attracted to the juxtaposition of the estate where he grew up (and still lives in) and his fame has a modern classical composer. Daniel embraced the idea, so we spent a glorious afternoon in late afternoon autumn making frames for my camera whilst deep in discussion about music, its many cultural roots and the sheer vibrancy of modern London. The swish 3 piece bespoke suit was made by the London based tailors *Beggars Run*. Here follows a few outtakes from the final series. 

My session with Daniel was part of a commission by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to make portraits of the 8 recipients of the 2016 *Awards for Artists* - one of the world's largest arts prizes, now celebrating its 22nd year. Shooting on locations across England, Scotland and Sweden, I gained a lovely glimpse into the creative spaces the artists and composers reside in. 

After visiting and photographing the recipients individually, I made a group portrait on the morning of the Awards reception. From left to right: Cara Tolmie, Lucy Beech & Edward Thomasson, Rachel Reupke, Ailís Ní Ríain, Daniel Kidane, Heather Leigh (sitting), Lucy Skaer and Sonia Boyce.

For other Journal entires regarding Awards for Artists, take a browse through the following entires:

The Twin Presence of Rachel Reupke & PHF Awards for Artists 2015

RoboCop Lives

I've spent the last few days on a very rewarding assignment in Newcastle upon Tyne in North East England.

Whilst arranging background items for one shot, I was surprised by RoboCop suddenly kicking into life and warning to keep the peace - by all means necessary. If you'd like to hear the voice of (near) future law enforcement, pop over to Instagram where I posted this video 🤘

I cannot disclose subject details at this stage, suffice to say the photoshoots involved some superb personalities. 

Paul Verhoeven would be proud.  

Instagram Takeover of Visit Norway

Really chuffed that I'm now on day 5 of my Instagram takeover of @visitnorway the official account of Visit Norway. 

Norway is a country that is truly spoilt with spectacular views and natural wonder. Instagram and the internet in general is already rammed full of pictures showing off Norway's fjords and aurora borealis, so I wanted to focus in on a more specific part of Norway's heartland - the small mountain of Geilo in Buskerud.

Over the last decade I've spent quite a bit of time photographing different projects, businesses and commissions, including my photo book *Generation Geilo: Portrait of a Community* published earlier this summer. 

So if you'd like to see a little more of my work in Geilo, its surrounding area and learn about some of the stories behind the pictures - pop over to @visitnorway  If you like what you see, maybe you'd like to follow me on Instagram too @emileholbaphoto

The Twin Presence of Rachel Reupke

I recently had the pleasure of being commissioned by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to make portraits of the 8 recipients of the 2016 *Awards for Artists* one of the world's largest arts prizes, now celebrating its 22nd year. Shooting on locations across England, Scotland and Sweden, I had a lovely glimpse into the creative spaces the artists and composers reside in. 

One of the award winners for 2016 is Rachel Reupke, a fine filmmaker who explores the complexities of interpersonal communication. Her acid sharp observations can be found in this snipped from her glorious 'Letter of Complaint'. More information here.   

I went to her studio - a lovely little room that used to function as a taxi cab office in Hackney, London. One of the set-ups I wanted was a simple, clean head and shoulders shot which gave the impression of natural daylight only.  Using the window light as the main light, I added in just enough soft box light to fill out the shadows a tad and punch a little contrast into the frame. I fired a few frames and moved on to a different set-up. 

Once reviewing the shots later on a large screen, I was stopped in my tracks by a fluke of flash / blink timing. To keep the portrait as 'non flash' looking as possible I dragged the shutter down to 1/6th second and asked Rachel to be particularly still. She was still as still could be, however she had clearly blinked just as the camera / flash fired. The result is this extraordinary ghosting effect, with everything pin sharp bar her eyelid movement. 

Rachel and her twin presence were a joy to work with. No letter of complaint. 


A macabre addition to a carpark along Rv50 - part of an ongoing photo story I'm developing along the forgotten highway #rv50 #route50 📷

You can view large on a desktop if you click me 😎

Mack Truck

I love seeking to fit some contextual / environmental reference into many of my photographs, however sometimes one has to step far closer and pull out a more meaningful abstract.

A perfect example are these two views of a super rollin' 70s Mack Truck seemingly dumped on the edge of some farmland. Same Phase One XF camera, same Schneider Kreuznach 55mm LS f/2.8 lens, no cropping, just different positions. 

Walking much closer provided the superior frame...in my opinion of course 😎📷

Click me to view large - I look even better, trust me...

Same again!

If you would like to discover more about my photography and catch up with current work, please check out my Instagram @emileholbaphoto - I'd love to hear from you.