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Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer - The Sunday Times Magazine - Portrait of Britain – Winner - Charlie Clift

Portrait of Britain – Winner

My photograph of Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer is one of the winners in this years Portrait of Britain awards run by the The British Journal of Photography. Look out for it on JCD electronic billboards up and down the country as part of the outdoor exhibition, and grab a copy of book that has been published by Hoxton Mini Press. Big thanks must go to Russ O’Connell who commissioned me to photograph this portrait for The Sunday Times Magazine. Find out more about the competition, exhibition and book here: portraitofbritain.uk/shortlist-and-winners-2020

Richard Osman – The Sunday Times Magazine

He’s 6ft7inches, and has written a novel. And I photographed him for The Sunday Times Magazine. We danced, we laughed, we swore loudly. We had a lot of fun. We also created a little film together at the end of our shoot.

 - Tresco – The Great British Staycation - Charlie Clift

Tresco – The Great British Staycation

  I didn’t think this trip would happen. We’d had it booked for months, way before this virus arrived on the scene, but then lockdown was upon us and you weren’t allowed to stay a single night away from home. So I had stopped myself getting excited, assuming that we wouldn’t be able to go. Then a week before we were due to leave it was announced that we could travel again – I couldn’t believe our luck, we’d be some of the first people to be on holiday this summer. And what a place to go… Tresco is a small, other worldly island. It’s part of the Isles of Scilly, a few dots of land peeking out of the Atlantic Ocean a bit West of Cornwall. It’s a place for getting away, for diving in the sea, for getting sunburnt, windswept, tired, tipsy and happy. And for a week...

Amanda Palmer and the BBC Symphony Orchestra - Amanda Palmer – A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square - Charlie Clift

Amanda Palmer – A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

On a dark wintery night in London, before the world was turned upside down by a virus, I met up with Amanda Palmer backstage at The Barbican concert hall. She was performing that night with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and was recording it to make a new single.  Halfway through getting her hair and make up done she jumped up. “You have GOT to see the dress,” she said, reaching into her wardrobe and bringing out the most dazzling garment I’d laid eyes on in a long time. I couldn’t believe it, she was going to freeze outside, but God she would look good doing it.  It was to be quite the evening of performance, Amanda was appearing on stage with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, alongside Neil Gaiman, David Tennant and Simon Butteriss in a night of music and live readings of Neil’s writing. I had spent the previous couple...

Pacifico Beer - Pacifico Beer – National Campaign - Charlie Clift

Pacifico Beer – National Campaign

Mazatlán is a beautiful city on the coast of Sinaloa, Mexico. A town full of colour, culture and food. And the town that gave birth to Pacifico beer. For the relaunch of this brand I was asked to capture the feeling of its home.  Working with an incredible team from New London, I was actively encouraged to approach the project as I saw best. We spent hours chatting about the brand, their history and their aims for the future. I was trusted to tell that story. And there was no better way than to experience it and capture what I saw.  A moment of calm. That was the best way to summarise my brief. To capture those moments we all wish we had more of. I spent a week in Mazatlan, creating an image library for the brand, it’s out of home campaign, and video content to feature on it’s...

How I work and create – a portfolio film

Here’s a short film to give an insight into the way I work and create – think of it as the next best thing to a portfolio meeting. I’m eager to find new ways to keep connected with clients and collaborators during this strange time. So if it leaves you wanting more then let’s have a zoom call or a walk in the park, or even meet up for a drink now that’s a thing again. Just drop me an email to say hello – [email protected] Massive thanks to my agent Germaine Walker for helping me to create this, to Girls In Airports for letting me use their beautiful music, and to BAFTA, British GQ and Peter Beighton for allowing me to use their video footage.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London - The Sunday Times Magazine - Sadiq Khan – The Sunday Times Magazine - Charlie Clift

Sadiq Khan – The Sunday Times Magazine

“Being a leader is lonely. And I’ve struggled. I should feel confident talking about it. I shouldn’t feel that I’ve got to be this alpha male who demonstrates his virility by being super human.” Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London – in his interview with Decca Aitkenhead for The Sunday Times Magazine. When I photographed Sadiq it was my first commissioned shoot since Covid-19 had put the UK in lockdown. It had been a strange and horrible time, and I was nervous and eager to get back at it. My assistant and I set up in a big open space at the top of City Hall, donned our gloves and masks, and waited for the Mayor to walk in. It was so strange not shaking his hand, and not being able to get too close. It made me realise how much I normally use proximity in my approach to portraiture,...

Bez, a volunteer at the Bonny Downs Food Bank - Food Banks During Coronavirus – new personal project - Charlie Clift

Food Banks During Coronavirus – new personal project

Who would you turn to if you suddenly couldn’t afford to feed yourself or your family? When Covid-19 hit Britain the nation 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. “Schools and venues closed, so my income closed,” says Antiqu’e, a freelance musician and artists who lives with her 16 year old son, “that is my livelihood, that’s how I pay my bills, my whole earning ability shut down.” The Trussell Trust, who organises a network of 1,200 food banks across the UK, has seen an 89% increase in demand for emergency food parcels since Covid-19. Many people employed in the gig economy have seen their work vanish, others in unstable employment have found themselves with...

Jake - FaceTime portrait photographed during lockdown - Project Isolation – Zebedee Models and Germaine Walker - Charlie Clift

Project Isolation – Zebedee Models and Germaine Walker

How do you photograph someone if you can’t meet them? My awesome agent Germaine Walker put me in touch with Zebedee Management to take part in Project Isolation, a project that required me to do just that. Photographing over FaceTime or Zoom I “met” three of Zebebee’s awesome models. First up was Jake. We dived into a totally new way of working, and a great fun collaborative process. I found that the restrictions from shooting remotely spurred creativity in me. I couldn’t use fancy lighting or complicated production, so I chose to simply concentrate on what was happening in the frame – to play with concepts and ideas and to be fully open to what Jake brought to the shoot. Jake and his Dad got really involved in our shoot – they turned a bedroom into a wonderful white studio space, all monotone. This looked fantastic and really gave us...

 - Olga – in my home studio - Charlie Clift

Olga – in my home studio

Keep on creating. Even if you’re not sure if you have space give it a go. I’ve been in lockdown for a while now and I wasn’t sure if I’d have room in the little office in our flat to put a backdrop up and make a studio, but I gave it a try. It turns out a backdrop support can just fit across the back wall if I rested one of the stands on top of my desk. So I hung some old cloth over it and it looked great – a nice little studio space. A doorway is the perfect thing to create a strip of light. So I popped a flash just outside the room then nearly closed the door and ‘voila’ a beautiful strip of warm glowing light. The perfect thing to play with. When I squeezed up against the opposite wall I had just about...