Thursday, 21 January 2010

Photo Shoot with Liam Davenport

Liam Davenport contacted Jon a few months back. He was creating a set of images of London poets, and had recently shot tall-lighthouse poet Amy Key (in the *click*, rather than the *pow* sense). Amy had subsequently suggested to Liam that Jon model at some point, and maybe me too. We were definitely up for it. Find me a poet that wouldn't want their photo taken by a proper photographer - flattering and quite exciting.

A writer himself, Davenport works entirely in film and uses his fiction skills to construct narratives through his visual work. He specialises in fashion, portraiture, bands and gigs, theatre, urban scenes, and landscapes.

The idea for this project was that each poet should choose their favourite spot in London as their setting. Some people went for their own homes, or pubs. Jon snagged the prime photographic real estate of Regent's Park, a place we visited often during the year we lived in Maida Vale, and the most beautiful park I've seen in London. He really enjoyed his shoot, reporting back that he lost track of time because he found himself just chatting as Liam took the photos.

Today I went for my session. It was tough to choose a place. I don't actually love that many places in London besides my own bed. All the beautiful spots are overrun or expensive and I didn't want to copy Jon and pick a park. I thought of ZSL London Zoo, but that would be tricky both in terms of cost and clearance. So Jon suggested Gray's Inn.

To the uninitiated, Gray's Inn is one of the four inns of court. Basically, you have to belong to one to qualify as a barrister in England and Wales. I worked full-time at the Inn library for a year and can remember showing up for the interview and being really impressed by the architecture. Here's the library (that's Francis Bacon in the middle there):

Unfortunately, the Walks were locked. That's the beautiful gardens area where lawyers lie on the grass in summer and forget all their arbitrations. Well here, here's a picture:

Nevertheless, we found plenty of spots around the Inn that would work for this purpose, with a lot of reliance on Liam's photographic eye (in the future I will actually invent a photographic eye Copyright Kirsten Irving 2010 patent pending 4eva). Nooks of the buildings, in front of the accursed locked gates to the Walks, in the squares. There were a lot of options.

Overall, I really enjoyed meeting Liam and the whole surreal experience of modelling. I wish I'd been a bit more relaxed, is all. The general look he was after was relaxed and natural, after all - you just suddenly freeze up when the lens points at you. Unless you're Tyra Banks, in which case when the camera's on you, you morph into a drunk, apoplectic French drag queen. Still, hopefully there's some pictures in there where I'm not gurning too much.

Following his final two shoots, Liam is planning to host an exhibition of the photos; other subjects include Heather Phillipson and Chris McCabe. It's going to be fantastic and really interesting to see how familiar people and strangers alike translate onto film. Will keep you posted!


To sample Liam's photographic and literary work, have a peek at

No comments: