Jeremy Clarkson
The Sunday Times Magazine

There’s nothing quite like a deadline to sharpen your senses and force you to make quick decisions. I had been given 5 minutes with Jeremy Clarkson, with about 2 minutes to set up. After darting around Jeremy’s garden I was shown to his office where I found a simple wooden wall – the perfect backdrop. We rushed to gather the vegetables which would be our props, leaving potatoes rolling down the driveway behind us. Seconds later Jeremy strolled up. It was amazing to see him change in front of a lens: from a slightly hung-over man announcing from the start that that he doesn’t like photoshoots, into a professional, seasoned presenter. Who knew one could be so expressive with a carrot?

After multiple carrot munching photos I started piling vegetables high in his arms, encouraging more brilliant expressions and keeping the energy high. Then we dropped everything and rushed out into the rain with a highly prized marrow for the final image. Seconds later we shook hands – the shoot was over. Time to let my heart rate slow, pack my bags, and clear up the potatoes that were still rolling down the drive.

Big thanks to Russ O’Connell for the art direction, to Dan Biddulph for the cover design, to Rami Hassen for assisting, and to Jeremy for performing so well with a carrot.

Jamie Demetriou - Bafta - Bafta TV Winners Portfolio - Charlie Clift

Bafta TV Winners Portfolio

I’m so excited to share my Bafta TV Winners Portfolio with you – featuring 10 award winners this series of intimate portraits for the BAFTA Photography Archive shows the best talent in British TV. When things don’t go as expected it’s good to look for new opportunities. Sometimes you get the chance do things even better. When the 2020 Bafta TV winners could not attend their ceremony in person it meant I could not longer photograph them backstage as originally planned. So as a way of still celebrating their amazing achievements BAFTA and I set about creating a set of portraits in a new and unique way. That’s how I found myself running through a forest with Sian Clifford, diving in a lake with Jamie Demetriou, buying kebabs with Will Sharpe, and discussing politics with Glenda Jackson. Every person featured was so open and giving with their time and ideas....

Helena Bonham Carter - Channel 4 - Helena Bonham Carter – ‘Clown’ for Channel 4 - Charlie Clift

Helena Bonham Carter – ‘Clown’ for Channel 4

Believe in your ideas. I have to remind myself of this sometimes. Don’t be scared of something you think will be awesome, pitch it instead. That’s how I got to photograph the great Helena Bonham Carter dressed as a clown. It all started when Carl Palmer asked me to promote Channel 4’s big Christmas animation of Quentin Blake’s ‘Clown’. It seemed obvious to me, if Helena was doing the show’s narration then we should surely dress her as a clown for the promo shots. Carl agreed (top man). So we put together a deck of our ideas and pitched it. I assumed everyone would say no. But I was wrong. Helena’s response to the pitch was apparently: “clear the entire afternoon, I want to do this photo shoot properly!” And so we did. Collaborating with Helena was a total dream, she brought on board brilliant costume designers to help her...

Andy Coulson - The Sunday Times Magazine - Andy Coulson – The Sunday Times Magazine - Charlie Clift

Andy Coulson – The Sunday Times Magazine

Andy Coulson, ex-prisoner, ex-communications director for the Prime Minister, ex-editor of The News Of The World. “There’s something called editoritis. The main symptom is that you believe yourself to be the centre of the world. That everything else revolves around you. And I definitely suffered from editoritis.” It was challenging deciding how to approach photographing Coulson. The phone hacking scandal epitomises the worst of journalism for me, and Coulson was the editor of the newspaper at the heart of it, he was sent to jail because of it. In my mind good journalism is honest, not deceitful, and gives genuine insight, so this is how I tried to approach my meeting with Coulson. I sat and listened to Decca Aitkenhead’s powerful interview technique, and then I sat Coulson down in my makeshift studio. I wanted to capture the man I met: who was he now? Was he remorseful, was he...

Creative Review Photo Annual – Sadiq Khan & Food Banks During Covid-19

It is an honour to have two of my projects selected for this year’s Creative Review Photography Annual. As one of the most prestigious reviews of the the year in photography is wonderful to be included alongside many other brilliant projects. The judges gave my Food Banks During Covid-19 project an honourable mention. The project documented two food banks’ response to the economic impact of the pandemic. I spent time photographing at both the South London Warehouse Food Bank and the Bonny Downs Food Bank in Newham capturing volunteers and staff working hard to help others. I also spoke with visitors to the food banks about their experiences. I’m so glad I can continue to bring attention to the vital work that is being done to help people cope. The judges also selected my portrait shoot with Sadiq Khan for The Sunday Times Magazine. It was my first commissioned shoot...

 - Taylor Wessing Photography Prize Finalist – National Portrait Gallery - Charlie Clift

Taylor Wessing Photography Prize Finalist – National Portrait Gallery

It’s an honour to have this image of Rebekah, a manager at the South London Warehouse Food Bank, chosen to be exhibited in this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize at the National Portrait Gallery. I photographed Rebekah as part of a project documenting two food banks in London as they responded to Covid-19. When Britain was put into lockdown; businesses, livelihoods and the economy ground to a halt. Since then food banks across the nation have seen a dramatic surge in demand. For hundreds of thousands of people food banks are the only way they can survive. My aim for the project was to highlight the vital work the staff and volunteers are doing, and the struggles of the people they are supporting. This image was taken after I had tried for most of her shift to get Rebekah to step aside from her duties so that I could photograph...

Shaun Bailey and David Walliams - British GQ - Shaun Bailey and David Walliams – British GQ - Charlie Clift

Shaun Bailey and David Walliams – British GQ

New work for British GQ – David Walliams interviewed the conservative candidate for Mayor of London, Shaun Bailey, and I photographed them both. Somehow Bailey ended up dancing quite a bit on our shoot… It was fun shooting outside on a gorgeous evening in London, we turned the driveway into a studio and embraced the dappled light, then finished off wondering by the waterside. Big thanks to Robin at GQ for the interesting commission, and to my brilliant assistants Oliver Mayhall and Rebecca Gray – couldn’t have done it without you guys. Read David’s interview with Shaun in this months British GQ: LINK

Poppy Appeal 2020 - Royal British Legion - Poppy Appeal Campaign – Royal British Legion - Charlie Clift

Poppy Appeal Campaign – Royal British Legion

  Every year across the country millions of people donate small amounts of money and collect a little red poppy in return. They wear these poppies to remember our armed forces community, to show respect, and to honour those who sacrificed so much for others. This year many of the people who would typically be out collecting for the Poppy Appeal are having to self isolate, many people are working from home and we are all trying to keep distant from one another. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still show our support. The Royal British Legion approached me to help to help launch their campaign this year. As an alternative to the traditional poppy this year they are encouraging people to print out and stick a poppy in their window – a new way to remember. So they asked me to photograph a variety of people around the country...

Alastair and Grace Campbell - The Sunday Times Magazine - Alastair and Grace Campbell – The Sunday Times Magazine - Charlie Clift

Alastair and Grace Campbell – The Sunday Times Magazine

“Alastair, let’s put a massive pink backdrop in your garden, it won’t drawn any attention from your neighbours will it?” I’ve been so busy on the road recently I haven’t had a chance to post these from a couple of weeks back when they were published, but what a fun shoot this was. I photographed journalist, political adviser and mental health campaigner Alastair Campbell, and his daughter Grace Campbell, a feminist powerhouse, activist and comedian who inspired my approach to the shoot with her very pink wardrobe. Big thanks to Russ O’Connell for the fun commission and to Oliver Mayhall for his tireless assisting. You can read Caroline Hutton’s interviews with them here: LINK

 - Photography Daily Podcast - Charlie Clift

Photography Daily Podcast

  “You’re an inventor aren’t you Charlie?” “I’ve got itchy feet, I love doing new things – I find that really exciting.”   I spoke to Neal James about everything from coping with difficult celebrities to creating meaningful personal work to guide your career. You can hear it all in the three part interview on the Photography Daily podcast – just click the links below:   Part 1: LET’S GET PHOTO PERSONAL   Part 2: HAVING IDEAS THAT MAKE US FLY   Part 3: I SHOVED A CARROT IN JEREMY CLARKSON’S MOUTH   Big thanks to Neal for the great interview and for his fascinating podcast.

Why men are so unhappy - The Sunday Times Magazine - Why men are so unhappy – The Sunday Times Magazine - Charlie Clift

Why men are so unhappy – The Sunday Times Magazine

Matt Rudd has been looking at why middle-aged men are so often unhappy in a new book. And I was tasked with turning this idea into a conceptual cover for The Sunday Times Magazine. When Russ O’Connell, the director of photography at the magazine, asked me to make it rain inside an umbrella my mind instantly started racing… thoughts of Rene Magritte dominated, this is an idea he would have liked. But then reality dawned on me, I’m not a painter, I’m a photographer, I need to actually make it rain inside an umbrella. Thankfully I have a very hands on father and we spent a great fun afternoon rigging up an umbrella with tubing so that it would actually rain on Matt. Then a few days later I found myself outside Matt’s house connecting that umbrella to his garden hose. The weather gods had given us the perfect background...