Can you tell me more about the story behind Oonagh’s Image?
Oonagh is a political activist. She works with Occupy London(an activist group); championing the powers-that-be. She is also a filmmaker and a very cool individual. She is very interesting, open and friendly. Her sincerity is one of the main things that come across, that and her passion for things that she believes in.
What were you hoping to capture with this image?
I was trying to capture a couple of things; the social and political significance of the moment and Oonagh’s hard and soft side. I was interested in giving a hint of what was going on without it being too obvious. There were a few areas by St Pauls Cathedral, London that would have given it away; one filled with protesters and the other with them singing around a campfire. I wanted the image to have a more classic city feel and include the passion of the protest.
I also wanted to capture Oonagh’s beauty, she’s a very beautiful woman and I wanted to capture that in a non ‘fashion’, ‘Vogue’ way. I wanted to show her as herself.
What was the duration of the shoot from start to finish?
I was there for a number of hours, I didn’t actually shoot that many pictures. I spent time gaining a bit more understanding, I wanted to know more about the protest and the people involved. I think I spent an hour of that time shooting and that particular set of pictures probably took 20 minutes because of my research beforehand.
What setup did you use; cameras, lights or any other equipment?
I used a 50mm Nikon lens, I absolutely love to shoot on Nikon. I used a couple of Quantum lights, which are my favourite portable lights. They are lightweight and versatile. When shooting at night you don’t really need much power so they’re quite cool for that. I’ve been using them since I started shooting and they’ve never let me down. My friend Hardy from Flaghead is the distributor for the U.K and has always looked after me.
Looking back in retrospect, over the image is there anything you would like to change or edit?
I would have liked it if the floor was wetter, you get a really nice reflection at night when the floor is wet. Although I think trying to change the image now would make it something that it was not. I have learnt that even if I can identify if an image has flaws technically or in composition; it’s still something that I created and it is important that I retain that authenticity.
What was going on behind the scenes whilst you were shooting?
It was raining and Kate Tempest was performing. She is an absolutely amazing spoken word artist, people were dancing and singing. There was a cool hippy vibe all in the middle of St Paul’s. I wish I had recorded the audio, it would have been amazing to combine with Oonagh’s photograph. It was a great vibe, very memorable.
Why this particular image?
Actually I chose two images from the set, as I often do. One of them a side profile portrait, which I love and the other a full length, wider shot (as above). I think the latter works best because it illustrates the mood, it gives you a hint of what is going on, which I like. It also shows Oonagh under really nice light, I really like her posture, how she was standing at the time. In addition to that I managed to get her in isolation, on a very crowded day at a very crowded time; amongst police and demonstrators. It was unusual to have an isolated frame despite hundreds of people being around, yet the vibe of the people was present.
How did you and Oonagh meet?
I met her through a friend of mine; Lucy who I often work with on photography projects. She runs a great youth company called Meteorite. Lucy is also one of the New Chieftains in my latest project. Coming soon to your coffee tables,ha,ha!
She had told me Oonagh was a ‘very special individual’