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Keir Starmer - The Sunday Times Magazine - Sir Keir Starmer – The Sunday Times Magazine - Charlie Clift

Sir Keir Starmer – The Sunday Times Magazine

Could this man be the next Prime Minister? It all felt very informal as he wondered casually into the meeting room we’d set up a studio in. “Call me Keir,” was the first thing he said, dispelling any I thought that I ought to address him as Sir Most politicians I’ve photographed seem to enjoy the limelight that comes with the job, but I didn’t get that impression with Starmer. “Do you continually experiment?” That was his first proper comment, eager to find out about the people he was meeting, rather than concentrate the attention on himself. After explaining a bit about my process, I quickly moved onto the upcoming elections: “do you think Sadiq will win?” I asked. “Oh, of course he will,” his reply came. This man seemed certain. He wants to make a difference. We discussed everything from his favourite personalities in parliament, to the realities of...

Ashley Banjo and Jordan Banjo photographed in Rainham Essex near their dance studio. - Ashley and Jordan Banjo – The Sunday Times Magazine - Charlie Clift

Ashley and Jordan Banjo – The Sunday Times Magazine

“We learnt that it’s OK to tell stories about climate change or the NHS, but not racism.” Ashley and Jordan Banjo dance in Diversity, the amazing dance troupe who sparked the most TV complaints ever for their performance supporting Black Lives Matters – a shocking reminder that many people in the UK are still not ready to support anti-racist causes. I met the gents outside their dance studio East London surrounded by piles of car parts and tyres from the workshops nearby. It was great fun collaborating with such brilliant performers, and utilising the amazing surroundings, they got totally on board adding to my ideas and creating images together with me. Read the full interview here: LINK Big thanks to Russ O’Connell for the top gig, and to Oliver Mayhall and Ben Large for assisting so awesomely.

Census 2021 – Image Library

Three weeks on the road, over 1500 miles driven, creating more than 100 portraits. The aim – capturing the huge diversity of England and Wales for the 2021 Census campaign. The Census happens only once every 10 years, and enables the government to have an honest picture of every household in England and Wales. The results help to guide decisions about public funding and how the country can best support its diverse and unique communities, so it is super important that everyone takes part. I was really excited to be commissioned for this campaign:  it was a chance to meet, hear and capture people’s stories, documenting the vast, colourful diversity of people in this country. And what an historic year to do it in as well, circumstances like no other. The challenge and logistics of finding and contacting the right mix of ethnicities and different communities was immense. Thankfully I...

Failed Ideas: Jeremy Clarkson - Failed Ideas – the things that nearly happened - Charlie Clift

Failed Ideas – the things that nearly happened

  Ideas, I’ve learnt over time to have many and to be willing to throw them away. I often go through all the necessary pre-production to have an idea ready to go on set, sourcing a prop, lighting an approach, or creating a concept. Then for one reason or another that idea never happens: the talent decides they don’t want to do it, we run out of time, we photograph it then decide it’s no good, or it just doesn’t seem right in the moment. I thought it would be interesting to look at some of my failed ideas in an ongoing series. Each idea will be named with the person it was intended for, but I’m not sure I’ll tell you anymore, I’ll just let you guess what could have been. I think I might turn it into an ongoing project, a way of cataloging the things that nearly...

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