The shoot was for the March 2011 issue of Madame magazine, and it was the most fun, and most challenging to date.

Photographer: Matthew Brodie
Accessories editor: Natalie Manchot
Art Direction: Hattie Newman & Matthew Brodie
Make-up: Barbara Bräunlich
Hair: Keiichiro Hirano
Model: Hannah Hardy

I had worked on a little still-life job with the brilliant and talented 3D illustrator Hattie Newman earlier in the year and really wanted to do a project on a bigger scale and in a fashion context, so we got together and worked up some ideas to present to Madame, who have always embraced the more extravagant ideas of mine.

They chose the dress story, so we set to work designing dresses. We really wanted to create something beautiful from a material that doesn’t normally lend itself to being draped and shaped on a living being, it had to be apparent that it was paper, but not because it looked shit.
For about a week we toiled in the studio creating designs with tissue and brown paper, a real Jack and Jill, seeing what would work and what wouldn’t, a lot more didn’t work than did, paper is not a malleable material, but eventually the idea showed itself to us and we had five dresses and props that we’d make.

After another week prototyping, having a lot of fun mucking about in brown paper, we nervously began making our finals, by far the hardest and most consuming was the papercut peacock dress. 16 panels of intricate papercut seams to attach with nothing showing, all while trying to maintain the bizarre mushroom-like form….

I met with a friend Demetrios Psillos for lunch, now a well known illustrator of beautiful imagery (you can see his work weekly in the Guardian Weekend) – he was once John Galliano’s pattern cutter and print designer. I coaxed him back to the office to have a go at making a dress from A3 sheets that we were stuck on. I was confident he would do a great job, and lo-and-behold, he came up with something fantastic in just over an hour!

Then it came to shoot day, all hands to the deck, paper crazy, paper fun, everyone and their assistant mucked in, so a big thank you to them all for going the extra mile.

The best shoots are always a challenge, time and budget constraints leave you working in your own time late into the small hours and often asking others to do the same, but when you are confident that the results are going to be worth it you muscle through, because it’s always worth it, and it’s always great when a magazine such as Madame lets you indulge your creativity.

Fifteen years ago (wow was it really that long ago?) I made my first ever trip abroad. I was 18 and at the end of studying a National Diploma at Falmouth. It was Final Major Project time and I wanted to do something big. I was reading Tales of The City and through happenstance San Francisco seemed like a great place to go.

I was so excited using my first passport, even if I did look like a girl in my picture

My project was very naive and pretty crap to be frank, the new and exciting glitz of a different culture, especially one so diverse as San Francisco’s meant I shot everything and anything, thinking it was great.

I did come away with a few images I really liked, and still like to this day. One if them, I call the cowboy shot, was printed really big for the exhibition, and unfortunately I never got the neg back, so I only have a couple of 12″x16″ and a 5′x3′ print, but I got the shot at least.

It occurred to me today that I could maybe find the street I took it on using Google Streetview, and after a bit of searching I found it. Rather serendipitously there is also a person crossing in front, like my shot. And it’s gratifying to know the Ocean Market and Deli still exists.

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In another shot taken in Chinatown where I stayed it seems Bob’s layaway plan may have come to fruition. However his legacy lives on, and watches are still being repaired. And of course, no more sin-sational videos, thanks internet.


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Casting Lee SS10/FP10 collection, patient people on a cold day

I recently shot a story for Madame magazine (May 09 issue) using my favourite theme: scale. The idea had been sitting on my sketchbook for a while and I finally got to shoot it.

The Ames room is an optical illusion created by a distorted/forced perspective. Objects or in this case people appear twice the size on one side as the other. The same technique was used in the Lord of The Rings films.

There are no manuals or books to tell you how to build such a room, at least none that I found, and I searched hard. So I had to go back to school and dust off my brain to work out the excrutiatingly (for me) complex trigonometry involved.

I blueprinted the room, which was also excruciating. From a very early age I wanted to be an architect, it was my dream for years until I reached my teens and found out that architects have to draw vents and RSJ’s and support columns, and then the dream was shattered. I blueprinted the room down to every nail, so the construction could run like an Ikea wardrobe.

This is the boys and me building it. I loved that nail gun.

And this is José shrinking and growing

The shoot crew

shoot crew

you can see some shots from the story in the gallery here


The washing line this morning looked like a tightrope walker had lost his balance.


eiffel tour




Not the usual view from the the Eiffel Tower as there is a fence caging the platform in case you want to throw yourself off. I have to admit I did wonder if it’s possible to clear the lower platform. I know from cliff jumping you can only really throw yourself out so far before you stop moving forward and just fall.

Strange objects accumulate on the ledge; coffee stirrers, steel spoons, cigarettes, shoe laces, even a golf tee. 

I’m glad the French decided to keep it, even if it was just for use as a radio tower.

Yesterday I went for my usual evening walk up to the woods. It’s not far from my flat and it almost feels like the countryside. Almost. There’s two rope swings side by side on a slope, one is a sitting one which is the biggest and best, the other is a hanging one, OK but no-ones first choice.

If it’s free I have a go on the seated one, you can swing out about 30ft and about 15-20ft of the ground. It’s really good, you almost hit a tree across the clearing but not quite.

So I got a little bored swinging back and forth on this swing, and remembered the rope swing in the woods when i was a child. It was majorly huge, it was on a slope about 20 ft up and you could swing for maybe 60 ft across the river. You could also swing in a circle around the tree. Hmmm. Around the tree. Nope, not possible with this one, its bushes and brambles. So what would happen? I knew i wouldn’t swing bak in the same arc i went in, but a part of me said, “you’ll just swing back somehow”. So i climb up by the tree and ran round, flew out.

Yeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaarrrrrggghhhhooooshiiiiiiiiitt! Obviously annoyed at my breaking with convention the tree ran straight at me with it’s trunk. I stuck out my hand quickly to shake an apology but the tree wasn’t happy and hit it with all 5ft of its width. Then as an after thought it decided to whack the stick my nuts were on.

I kind of slide off the swing in true Roadrunner style, half grinning half grimacing, looking around to see if anyone had seen my stupidity. Thankfully no-one had. Paid my respects to the tree, and cowboyed it home.

Here’s my bruised hand, nuts not shown.

my bruised hand

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