Tim Andrews...what an amazing guy!
It was some weeks ago I met him at the Brighton private view of Chris Floyd's 140 characters. Well, it was a wonderfully easy-going event (that's the beauty of Brighton creative events...they seem so comfortable and "real") but Tim just radiates a calm, warm energy, so I couldn't help but say hello.
I'd heard about his project, Over the Hill, some time ago, and how he's been photographed by an almost perfect cross-section of current photography's finest artists. After being diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2008, Tim decided to make a record of himself through photographic images It's a fascinating process, exploring the existential questions facing one very charismatic man. I confess I felt a little audacious asking to shoot some pictures of him (and effectively invite myself to be a part of the project) but I had this idea...
Some time ago, I'd been in the studio shooting pictures of Professional Rugby players for a calendar project, and had been confronted with a brief to make them look "sexy". "Sure! I can do that!", I'd thought (thoughtlessly) and we bundled into day one of shooting...
Every man in the all-male room was straight. It soon became laughably apparent that none of us really had a clue what "sexy" was for men! The atmosphere was shifting between irritation and hilarity and creatively we were getting nowhere. Something needed to be done. So I just changed approach...and started to shoot these amazing athletes as Olympian Gods....changed the lighting to give celestial, mysterious and powerful feel. It worked.
Fast forward to shooting with Tim. I'd seen a TV programme about Parkinson's some time ago, which suggested that living with the condition can make simple daily activities so physically and mentally challenging that they become like Olympian achievements. I wanted to shoot Tim in the same style as the God-like Rugby players to show this.
When it came to the actual shoot, again nothing was quite as I'd pre-visualised. Sure, the technicalities and the set-up were easily re-produced, but then there is the subject...
Tim has so much more to him...he is so much more than a guy with Parkinson's. That's obvious. He's incredibly warm-hearted and kind and wonderfully theatrical. He naturally produces the dramatic gestures and has a presence like a very experienced actor. And he loves being photographed.
Our shoot was really collaborative and was one of those "serendipity" experiences. In everyday terms we "made it up as we went along"and to me, that's a perfect shoot.
I realised during the shoot, and afterwards in the edit, that I've personally and professionally moved on a lot since that blushing and fumbling start to photographing make nudes, all that time ago, and perhaps the next shoot with Tim should be more about here-and-now. It looks like it'll be a big landscape with small Tim in it...there are a lot of messages in that for both of us.
Tim is very energised about it...always huge energy from him. He's just the perfect photographer's subject.
Tim launched his first exhibition of the pictures this weekend at Farley Farm in Sussex, together with a show of amazing paintings by his wife, Jane - details here:
Over the Hill is very much a work in progress. It's an honour to have been even a little involved.