Sunday, 24 June 2007

Master of Venus

Last Friday I had a 'last minute' portrait assignment. My photographer friend Laura had a family emergency and asked if I wouldn't mind stepping in to take her place. I obliged, jumping at the opportunity to add to my portfolio. The job was to photograph a well-known author in trendy Notting Hill for La Nacion, a news organisation in Argentina. They are working on stories of British authors.

Now, my knowledge of British authors are practically nil, apart from Salman Rushdie, who was in the news recently and perhaps, Ben Elton! It turned out that I had to meet with and photograph none other than Pakistani-British Hanif Kureishi.

A quick google on his name churned out hundreds of pages about this talented playwright, novelist, and film director. His most famous work was 'My Beautiful Laundrette', a screenplay about a gay Pakistani-British boy growing up in 1980's London, directed by Stephen Frears. His most recent movie was Venus in 2006, starring Peter O' Toole.

As usual with these sort of interview cum photo sessions, time is always against you. My journalist colleague Juana only had 30 minutes with him and I had 15 minutes at the end to take his portrait. We met at his Literary agent's offices and was shown to a dark office full of books on one wall, and several chairs. Mr Kureishi was pleasant enough but straight to the point. No small talk. Right, let's get on with it. In situations like these, I tend to become more 'professional' in attitude. I am here to do a job and so is he. I managed to shoot around them as they talked and also after the interview, outside in the main office where the light was better.

Technically, I used the fastest lens I possess, the 85mm f1.8, which I absolutely adore and used mainly on my MALAYSIANS book. A few shots were also taken with a 28mm f2.8 where I needed a wider view. Overall, I was pleased with the session, given the time constraints.


J.T. said...

Hello Steven,

I have absolutely no idea about camera equipment but I love the results you get out of it. :)

Mr Kureishi looks like a no-nonsense guy. I have to keep a lookout for that movie "Venus". I like to watch Peter O'Toole at work. My other favourites are Christopher Plummer, Jeremy Irons, Judi Dench.

svllee said...

Hi Jacqui, have you watched My Beautiful Lauderette? Its really quite a good film, you may be able to pick up a copy from amazon, well worth it. Its been so wet here this weekend, floods everywhere in the North.

Yang-May Ooi said...

Kureishi is a BIGGY in the literary world, Steven. What a great opportunity to photograph a literary giant! Thanks for sharing your experience of the session.

svllee said...

Hi Yang-May, thanks for dropping by..the zenguide network initiative sounds interesting. Yes, Kureishi is a 'celebrity' in the literary world and although I didn't spend much time with him I felt honoured to have photographed him. I photographed Jacqueline Wilson last year for a cover, and she was something else! Punk granny I would say.