Friday, 23 August 2013

Double Header - Jessica Swale

After talking this week with long time friend and colleague David Howells I've been spurred on to start a new series of posts on Cover featuring some of my personal favourite portraits from the last few years. In each case, presenting two pictures combined into a single frame with a short explanation. As the series progresses it will give me the excuse to dip into a wide variety of editorial and commercial portraits and how they came to be.

First up, Jessica Swale, who after becoming one of the UK's most successful young theatre directors decided to write 'Blue Stockings' her first full-length play. Naturally, being a first time playwright the venue for it's inaugural staging was that tiny, little-known, back-street flea-pit... Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. This kind of talent goes beyond amazing and into the very slightly intimidating realm.

To couch it in Zoolander terms, the phrase "Jessica is so hot right now!" does not even begin to cover it.

The original idea (or 'concept' as they like to imagine it should be called) was to do a portrait of Jessica with the auditorium of the Globe theatre in the background. Still not quite sure who's idea this was - I suspect it might have been the section editor.

Literary types think literally, and if the office had their druthers I would have been doing a picture of Jessica Swale, dressed in blue stockings, in the Globe Theatre auditorium, carrying a sign that read "I'm Jessica Swale and my play 'Blue Stockings' is on at the Globe theatre." Of course, that would still be a bit subtle by their standards but they could have underlined the point by stating the whole thing again in the caption.

Fortunately fate intervened, and a freak delay during my journey to London meant that by the time we came to do pictures, the auditorium was full of theatregoers and we had to make do with what we could find outside. After spending ages trying to fulfil the brief of Playwright + Theatre in the same frame I decided that we should do a photograph which concentrated on Jessica herself rather than the building.

Here are my two favourites and I'm pleased to say that while the Independent didn't use either of these actual frames, they did at least ditch the original brief in favour of one of the shots from this second phase of the session. The article which was headlined 'Woman on fire' can be read here.

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