English Woodlands

                 Woodlands near Woodchurch (c)Stewart Weir 2015

So far its been a 5 year journey of photographing English woodlands and trees. This image was taken in the rain in private woodlands close to the village of Woodchurch in Kent. Like most personal projects I work on they dont seem to have an end in sight, rather they stop and start depending on my mood. I guess it’s something that afflicts all creative types … the stopping and starting, the feeling of enough is enough and then you wake up several days, weeks or months later and think NO, I’ve not finished yet …

A Guy Called Tim

I shall start this entry in Tim’s words from his blog;

“In May 2007, I answered an advertisement in Time Out from Graeme Montgomery, whom I know now to be an extremely talented professional photographer. He was compiling a book of nudes and wanted to photograph the first 100 people to answer the advert so I thought ‘why not?’ and went along and found that I was number one! Strangely enough, two other photographers advertised in the following two issues of Time Out, this time for people to pose for portraits, and they both photographed me subsequently. That was that for a while until, in February 2008, I answered an advert in our local newspaper from a student, Daisy Lang, who wanted to photograph people with illnesses for her final year’s project. Subsequently, I discovered that there were many photographers advertising on the Internet for models for particular projects. I wrote an email to the first photographer explaining that I was 57 and had Parkinson’s Disease and that ‘I wanted to continue on my path of being photographed by different people during the course of my illness’. Suddenly, as I wrote those words, I realised that I had my own project. Since then, over 300 different photographers have photographed and filmed me and it has been incredibly interesting and exciting as I have seen the project develop day by day. I have met many wonderful, skilful people many of whom, normally, I would never have met let alone spent several hours with them.” 

Seven years later the project still runs and I was to become photographer 334 in Tim’s marathon project in early March this year. We met in The Mad Hatter cafe a week before the shoot. Every so often our paths cross with someone whose presence you feel immediately comfortable with and that was certainly the case with Tim. It is as the cliche goes, like you have known them for longer than those few moments you have just met. Tim Andrews is a man who has defined himself rather more post Parkinson’s Disease than before in his previous life as a lawyer I feel. Rather than sitting back and waiting for nature to do it’s thing he has taken life by the throat and began a creative journey to document his life and persona by working with amateur and professional photographers.

I must say that before every shoot Im just a little nervous. Anything can happen from gear failure to just making a complete idiot of yourself due to stupidity. In my life Ive done many street portraits which is in my opinion the most difficult to get right but nevertheless even with a willing subject and time the pressure is always there and I like to self impose the pressure regardless. I think only creative people understand the feeling of when ‘it’ happens. It’s that knowing of and rush of excitement and happiness when you have a result which defines what your wanting to achieve. The addiction of creative souls is the search for that elation and it’s as much a curse as it’s a blessing. So the shoot took 90 minutes and I quickly ventured into a realm Ive never visited before.. the nude portrait. Tim has experience and was so at ease it relaxed me which is just as well. I think it’s a measure of trust between the photographer and subject when the flow becomes seamless. We tried a variety of poses but the portrait of serenity (#3) followed by the scream (#4) shows two sides of all of us. What we strive for and those moments in our lives when all we want to do is scream. Tim of course doesn’t have what most of us take for granted.. he has a condition which can only be managed for a time but not cured. 

The following images show an edited progression of the shoot. I think they speak for themselves. How you feel about them is for you to decide. The last two portraits show Tim in his alter ego of Roger A Destroyer and he can be seen talking here. The last portrait has been chosen by Tim for the project Over The Hill. Here is Tim’s blog entry about the shoot.

Tim Andrews #1 (c)Stewart Weir 2015
Tim Andrews #2 (c)Stewart Weir 2015
Tim Andrews #3 (c)Stewart Weir 2015
Tim Andrews as Roger A Destroyer #4 (c)Stewart Weir 2015
The chosen image for the project, Over The Hill. Tim Andrews as Roger A Destroyer (c)Stewart Weir 2015

“Photography records the gamut of feelings written in the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.” – Edward Steichen.

Shadow Perspective

Shadow Perspective (c)Stewart Weir 2015

If the best camera is the one you have with you, then the mobile phone is now the best camera. It’s now responsible for producing some outstanding images and capable of producing prints up to around 10×10 inches (8mb sensor). Photographers like Ben Lowy have over 150,000 followers on his Instagram feed so there’s no doubt the mobile phone has the power to draw in viewers to our work. For me moments I see would never have been shot without my phone and the image above is a perfect example. I saw the shadows being cast by passers by and pure luck gave me this shot. No camera, no shot. Please click the image to go to my Instagram feed or just click here. Ive a long way to go to 150k, but hey ya gotta start somewhere!