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 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.

Matt Perry / Principal Timpani RPO

I had the pleasure of making a new environmental portrait of Matt Perry, Principal Timpani of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the ongoing, award winning #MyISMis campaign for the Incorporated Society of Musicians. 

Shot on location in Cadogan Hall in Chelsea (the home of the RPO) the main hall provided a perfect stage and backdrop to create an formal, yet immersive portrait of Matt and his timpani. I built up a false but effective new centre stage position for Matt's sonic tools (normally tucked away at the rear of an orchestra) as I wanted a suggestion of Cadogan Hall's lovely period architecture to fall in to the frame and help focus the viewer to Matt's assured stance.

During this process of building the stage, I also discovered the music stand L.E.Ds - heaven for accenting the photograph...

Click the pic to view large 👊

Thank you ISM, Matt, the RPO, Cadogan Hall and Simon Frais who helped me move all the equipment around. If you would like to see the whole #MyISMis portrait series, please click Dr Sally Garden below.  

Gone Fishing

During a recent assignment in Norway I stumbled upon this perplexing view.

What does the body language of the non-fishing partners present? Are they primed & ready to take control of the rods and fight the rapids or are they simply bored stiff and merely patient and understanding non-fishing partners?

Click the view to go large 📷🤘

More #generationgeilo news

My new photobook 'Generation Geilo: Portrait of a Community is currently at the printers. Here's a few teasers...😎

1 page's worth of aluminium CMYK printing plates... 

Beijing Gym

Whilst going through my trips to China, I stumbled upon my 30 minutes spent in an outdoor gym in Beijing. Populated exclusively by the old generation, they all worked hard and moved around in the space in a considered, orderly fashion. 

Beijing, and China in general, offers an endless roster of curiosity. If you would like to see some more colourful examples of Beijing daily life, please head over to my *72 Hours In Beijing*. Click any frame to view large. Enjoy 

Why I Moved To Phase One

The good people at Phase One in Denmark invited me to write about the reasons why I made the move to their famed medium format digital camera system. Published today, you can gain a little insight by clicking here or clicking Mike Holstine standing in the centre of the mighty Green Bank Telescope below 📷


Exciting news + teaser alert...*Generation Geilo: Portrait of a Community* is the title of my new book, which showcases a fresh body of work captured over the course of a year in the mountains of Norway. 

More details will be shared soon 😎