Portrait Salon

Adrian Nettleship


Adrian Nettleship’s portrait (below) was selected for the first Portrait Salon in 2011 and he tells us more about the series it belongs to called ‘Drowning’.


‘I started work on this series, titled ‘Drowning’, towards the end of 2010. It was around the time that the Bush administration had been experimenting with different interrogation techniques and recasting the common definition of torture in order to accommodate them. I’d produced a small piece of work for an activist magazine on the subject, but I was concerned that my approach was too literal and I wanted to try something that touched upon the theme without being limited to it. I’d seen Emma Critchley speak about her series ‘The Fear of Falling’, a beautiful set of underwater portraits, although it’s not immediately apparent how they were shot. I’d been inspired by the idea she’d spoken about, simply of exploring how people react when placed out of their element, how the appearance of the face changes underwater and I was keen to experiment with this myself.’



‘I’m a strong believer in the idea that in order to create something that satisfactorily expresses a certain idea, it’s important to take action, even if the initial attempts result in failure. Too many of my own ideas have been set aside because I’ve passed through the stages of initial excitement through to questioning the foundations of the idea without ever trying anything out. I think it was Annie Leibovitz who I first encountered talking about the idea of going back, again and again to the same subject, to refine her approach, all the time gaining familiarity. It’s a very different approach to the constraints of commercial work where getting results first time are essential. Through the process, something often emerges which can be carried forward, and so the two motivations above formed a basis for experimentation.’


‘I borrowed a small fish tank and asked for volunteers, and it quickly became apparent that the total internal reflection that arises from shooting a subject in the denser medium of water allows for a great deal of control if the lights are placed in the less dense medium of air. The sidewall of the tank became a large soft light source and anything not in the water received very little light at all. It also became quickly apparent that I would need seriously to consider a risk assessment. Water, electricity, glass and people all in one place carry considerable possibility for problems. We went through a good many revisions of the instructions we gave our subjects to get the desired result – variations on asking people to hold their breath repeatedly, taking in only the air they needed. I had quickly abandoned the somewhat reckless idea of jumping on an unwitting subject while their head was submerged, in an attempt to capture their resulting panic. There are limits.’


‘The final step once we were satisfied in principle was to build a fish tank large enough to give space around the subject for the shot, ordering panes of glass cut to size, fixed together with silicon sealant. I was very fortunate to be able to call upon a wood turner friend with considerable carpentry skill who built an over engineered stand to hold the tank, with a window in the bottom to shoot through. As a tank of water gets larger, the weight grows exponentially, which proved to be a limiting factor on how big we could build. We eventually settled on an estimated weight of 150kg for the water alone.’


Adrian Nettleship is a photographer based in East London. He has been working professionally in stills and video since 2005 and clients include The Wire Magazine, RWD Magazine, Tate and Lyle, and Christian Aid.


James O Jenkins

Laura Dodsworth


Laura Dodsworth’s portrait of ‘Debbie’ (below) was selected for the first Portrait Salon in 2011 and is part of Laura’s photographic series ‘Marriage’ about the significance of the wedding dress.



‘Marriage is a series of portraits of women in their wedding dresses in their homes. Women are to some extent defined by marriage, as wives, homemakers and mothers. The portraits are taken in their homes to contrast the ‘fairytale’ of a wedding day, epitomised by the dress, with the domestic reality of marriage.’





‘A wedding day is romantic, full of optimism and the bride and groom are poised on the brink of their journey through life together. The wedding dress is the single most significant item of clothing a woman will ever wear – it’s more than a dress, it says so much about the wearer, and evokes ‘forever’, ‘love’ and your hopes for the rest of your life. Dreams, expense, effort, time are invested in a wedding day. Yet all this is for one day, and bears little relation to the day to day domestic reality of marriage.’





‘What does marriage mean for women? There are so many answers. The series as a whole de-romanticises the dress, raises questions about the wedding day as fairytale and imparts a common experience married women can relate to. At the same time each photograph in Marriage tells a story unique to the subject and provides a window into their domestic world.’





‘Marriage prompted me to take a longer more intimate view through the window of women’s lives, and I went on to spend two years photographing and interviewing women about their breasts, bodies and lives for my first book, ‘Bare Reality: 100 women, their breasts, their stories’.’



Laura Dodsworth is an award-winning people photographer and her work is a personal enquiry as much as it is an exploration of people, their loves, their lives and their place in the world. While the human body and human relationships are important current inspirations, her art/social projects are often driven by deeper socio-political as well as spiritual questions.

Laura has just published her first book, ‘Bare Reality: 100 women, their breasts, their stories’. See more at barereality.net


James O Jenkins

Travis Hodges

Tim Andrews

Travis Hodges’ portrait of Tim Andrews (image on the right of the diptych below) was selected for Portrait Salon 2013 and is part of Tim’s photographic project ‘Over the Hill: A Photographic Journey’. Tim was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2005 and subsequently left his job as a solicitor and set upon a journey turning himself into a photographic project and has now been photographed by over 300 photographers.


‘This portrait is part of an unusual set, unusual in the sense that the subject is the curator of the series. Some viewers will recognise Tim from other photographer’s portfolios and even from the walls of the Taylor Wessing Prize itself. Some 350 fellow photographers have created a portrait of Tim making a fascinating insight into both his life and the work of so many photographers.

Beginning in 2007, when he answered an advert in Time Out from a photographer looking for a nude model, Tim has journeyed through the photographic landscape offering to model for known and unknown image makers. The project has become a way for Tim to collaborate with artists and be part of the process, it also charts his life with Parkinson’s Disease. This is something that I, like many photographers, have touched on in the image.

My image began from the idea of separating the subject from the viewer with a non physical layer designed to mirror an emotional barrier. The pattern projected over Tim becomes both separating and protecting, reminiscent of watching the rain from behind a pane of glass. We experimented with a few different projections but settled on one that reminded us of both star constellations and medical scans.’

Read Tim’s blog about the shoot here.

Travis Hodges is fascinated by people and uses his camera to explore what makes them interesting, from well-documented celebrities to those who have never stood before a professional photographer in their lives. His work, from time-pressed editorial shoots to longer-term personal projects, is people-driven and examines what makes us who we are. His client list includes Adidas, The New York Times and Virgin Media and his images are seen in magazines such as The Independent New Review, Wired and ES. Personal projects allow him to further explore the human condition and consider how people come together in tribes through common interests or habits. His projects Follow Me and The Quantified Self investigate how technology is impacting on the way we live.

His awards include the Royal Photographic Society 155th print exhibition; the Observer Hodge Award and the Jerwood Photography Award. When he’s not behind the camera, Travis organises the monthly Photo-Forum talks in central London, where working photographers can discuss and debate their images, ideas, and approaches.



James O Jenkins