Lester Bookbinder 1: The Management Today covers.

Penn and Avedon are almost as well-known today as they were when they were alive and working.
It’s rare to be given a treatment, whether photographic or film, that doesn’t reference at least one of their images.

Why not? They were two of the three best commercial photographers of the last century.
The third has been virtually forgotten.
Google ‘Bookbinder’ and you’ll be lucky to find a handful of images.
(And those images will be very small.)
I’m going to try to change that.

Here’s the first tranche; The Management Today covers he did with the art director Roland Schenk.
Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Guinness 2'**-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Whisky'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today  'Ticket'**-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Mirror Thing'**-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Yellow Thing'**-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Tree Box Thing'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Green Jelly'*-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Yellow Tickertape'*-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'DNA'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today '**-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Blue Bottle'**-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Wirey Thingy'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Cog'**-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Sparkler Bottle'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Blood Pint'** Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'American Wool'**-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Dead Bug'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Peppers'**-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'ZigZags'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Smash'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Electric'*-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Green Shoe'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'White Circle Abstract'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Collar'*-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Egg'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today -Rolls'-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Burning £'**-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Matchsticks'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Buterfly'**-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Red Balls'**-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Green Pound'*-01 Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Stripes'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Mags'**Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Pound'*-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Airplane'**-01Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Crystal'**-01
He didn’t just shoot covers.
Occasionally he shot stories.
Lester Bookbinder Ford Spread, Management Today-01  Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Guinness 1 Spread'-01Lester Bookbinder ad, BSB, 1976-01

N.B. Thanks to Matthew Gwyther and Sarah Ozgul at Management Today for allowing me to access their archives, and Matthew Ford for putting us together.

P.S.  If anyone is in contact with Lester or has copies of his work, please get in touch:  dave@davedye.com

Jeff Stark Interview

Jeff Stark Pink Dot Portrait-01
D
AVE: Where did you grow up?
JEFF: Stirling, Scotland. Hitch-hiked to London the week I left school. 

DAVE: What did you learn from your time;
a) running a stall on Petticoat Lane?
JEFF: People will buy anything as long as you can convince them it’s stolen. 

DAVE:  b) Selling Morris Minors?
JEFF: I learned that being 18 and looking 15 wasn’t a good start for being a car salesman. People used to come in and ask if my dad was around.

DAVE: c) Writing brochure copy for Anne Summers Sex Shops?
JEFF: They had one product called Anne Summers Love Foam.
It was an aerosol can with a picture of a naked woman covered in foam.
But if you soaked it and peeled the wrapper off it said Gillette Shaving Foam.
An early example of  advertising providing added value. 

DAVE:  d) Selling door to door?
JEFF: Hardest job in the book.
You need a lot of training and a very rehearsed pitch.
I was 17 and had no training whatsoever.
But I looked a bit sweet and innocent so I went for the sympathy vote. 

 DAVE:  e) Assisting the Advertising Manager at Curry’s?
JEFF: I found out I had gone into advertising by the wrong door. 

 
 DAVE: f) Writing mail order ads for Bullworkers?
JEFF: Direct response advertising is like basic training for copywriters.
Everyone should have to do it before they get let loose on regular clients.
One of the key things I learned is that you double the response if you can inject a sense of urgency.
Tell them if they respond in the next 7 days they  get something extra.
One of the most successful headlines I ever wrote was EMERGENCY SALE. 

Jeff Stark, Bullworker ad
DAVE: How did you break into advertising?
JEFF: I started writing brochures about farm machinery at ATA then went on to mail order at Robinson Scotland.

DAVE: Robinson Scotland & Partners. Any better?
JEFF: More money because nobody there knew anything about advertising and I had read a book on it. 

DAVE: You were schooled in advertising by the Father of the Wombles, Terry Flounders?
JEFF: Yes he had recently been eased out of the creative directorship of Spottiswoode’s, a FMCG agency with mainstream clients like Bachelor’s Soups. He taught me a lot.  

DAVE: At the age of 32 you decide to get a job in a proper agency.
Your book was made up of Bullworker ads and spoof radio ads, I’m guessing a lot of agencies passed before Saatchi’s took you on?

JEFF: Yes. It was the spoof radio ads that got me the job at Saatchi. 

DAVE: Was Saatchi’s your first choice?
JEFF: Yes. I was offered a job at Charles Barker for more money. (They liked me because I wrote 30 dirty jokes a month for a top shelf magazine called Knave.)
I had to take a drop in earnings to go to Saatchi but they said I could keep my freelance work going on the side and they didn’t mind if I took a few business calls at work.
At one point I was making more money flying to Holland for the weekend and writing brochures for Philips than I was making in the week at Saatchi. 

Jeff Stark, Daffodil 'Save'-01
DAVE: What did you make of Admen compared to market men?
JEFF: I was  already in the ad business as assistant ad manager at Curry’s when I had the stall in Petticoat Lane.
I just did it on Sunday mornings with another Curry’s guy called Jim  Satterthwaite, who went on to become MD of Greys.
The market men treated us with a degree of suspicion, but I used to love watching the hucksters selling stuff of the back of a lorry. ” You don’t ask me where I got the goods and I won’t ask you where you got the money”. “My father works for the company that makes this product. He’s not the managing director. He’s the night-watchman. I’m saying no more.”
Jeff Stark, MG 'Seen From...', Saatchi's-01jeff-stark-youth-oppotunities-going-nowhere-01
Jeff Stark, IYouth Opportunities 'Circle', Saatchi's-01Jeff Stark, Youth Opportunities 'Days work', Saatchi's-01Jeff Stark, Youth Opportunities 'Retirement Age', Saatchi's-01Jeff Stark, Youth Opportunities, Radio, Saatchi's-01Jeff Stark, Unemplyed Brochure 1, Saatchi's-01Jeff Stark, Unemplyed Brochure 4, Saatchi's-01Jeff Stark, Unemplyed Brochure 3, Saatchi's-01
Jeff Stark, Unemplyed Brochure 2, Saatchi's-01
Jeff Stark, Triumph '93 Million Miles', Saatchi's-01



DAVE: Who’s work did you admire at the time?
JEFF: Only DDB New York and CDP in London.

Jeff Stark, Scweppes 'Bottle', Saatchi's-01
Jeff Stark, Scweppes 'Baldness', Saatchi's-01
Jeff Stark, Scweppes 'Life', Saatchi's-01
Jeff Stark, The Mail 'Compete', Saatchi's-01Jeff Stark, The Mail 'Sex', Saatchi's-01Jeff Stark, Daily Mail 'Overwritten'-01Jeff Stark, The Mail 'Sofa', Saatchi's-01Jeff Stark, Sainsbury's 'Pentland', Saatchi's-01
DAVE: 
David Abbott’s Sainsbury’s work that followed yours was much gentler?
JEFF: 
I thought it was probably more on the money than mine.
I was never into the David Abbot/CDP ‘dare we suggest’ school of copywriting.
But it helped to establish Sainsbury as THE middle class supermarket.

DAVE: To an Art Director like me, a massive Paul Arden fan, the difference between your ads pre and post Paul is amazing? But he must’ve been hard work?
JEFF: Paul always said that in a AD/CW team the AD is always the creative director because he/she listens to the writer’s ideas then decides which ones to draw up.
That’s true but only in press.

Paul Arden Jaff '& Sun'-01
Jeff Stark, Red Star 'Thingummy', Saatchi's-01
Jeff Stark , Red Star 'Kid'-01
JEFF: Incidentally the ‘new kid in despatch’ was my son with Paul Arden’s glasses on upside down.
DAVE: I’ve always thought that they were quite arty glasses for a kid to wear, they were upside down.
I love that, it’s the tiny detail that makes those pictures pop.

Jeff Stark, Red Star 'Wooly Gloves', Saatchi'sjpg-01
Jeff Stark, InterCity 'Police', Saatchi's-01Jeff Stark, Red Star 'Printed', Saatchi's-01

DAVE: I’ve never seen your name on an ad for the Conservative Party, didn’t you work on it?
JEFF: No. It was Jeremy Sinclair and Andrew Rutherford’s domain.
Paul Arden Nivea 'Peaches & Cream'-01Jeff Stark, Nivea 'Faces', Saatchi's-01
Jeff Stark, Nivea 'Something', Saatchi's-01
Paul Arden Nivea 'Tubs'-01
DAVE: 
You and Paul Arden appear, from the outside like polar opposites, one a hard nosed salesman, the other, an arty farty type. How did you work together?
JEFF: Actually we got on really well for that very reason. We each recognised that the other had something that we lacked.
Jeff Stark, Ameretti 'Diagram', Saatchi's-01
Jeff Stark, Daily Mail 'Blood', Saatchi's-01
DAVE: How did you come to leave Saatchi’s?
JEFF: I’d always admired Charles Saatchi and wanted to have my name on the door of an agency and make a bundle of money like him. 

DAVE: Didn’t Charles try to stop you?
JEFF: Yes they doubled my salary to stay.
So Hedger took on a bloke called Carter instead.
But that didn’t work out so a year later he approached me again. This time I took the plunge. 

DAVE: Why join Hedger Mitchell, fame, fortune or both?
JEFF: When I started in the business everyone over 45 was a dinosaur.
They wore bow ties and  had carnations in their buttonholes.
My  long-haired bejeaned generation just pushed them aside.
So I was determined this wasn’t going to happen to me. I was going to make enough money to get out at 45 and sail round the world, a lifelong dream.
As it turned out my generation went on to run the show right into their sixties.
The other reason is vanity.
There’s a certain thrill about having your name above the door and it made you more of a figure in the industry.
Campaign would phone me  regularly for a quote on something topical.
They never did that before. 
Jeff Stark, House ad, Serif-01
DAVE: Going from a rich behemoth like Saatchi’s to a tiny boutique must have been odd, did you panic in the beginning?
JEFF: No not really.
I remember pointing out at a board meeting that we could run the whole agency with 10 people instead of 40.
I could write all the ads. All I needed was an Art Director.
Dick Hedger could do all the selling. All we needed apart from that was a media guy, a receptionist and a couple of secretaries and we’d make a ruddy fortune.
They didn’t go for it.
DAVE:  Was that seriously debated?
That’s the kind of silly thing I think, that one can kind of ‘channel’ ads if the pressure is on and you’re in the groove.
I’ve always found it weird that some creatives, good ones too, take weeks and weeks to write an ad.
JEFF: When I joined Saatchi I was 33. I’d been freelance for several years and had never worked for an agency that anybody had ever heard of. I was used to writing three or four ads a day and didn’t realise that in big agencies you got a week.
So when I got to Saatchi and got my first brief I went back to Jeremy in a couple of hours with the ad. Also I was thrilled at getting full-page ads to do.
Nobody had ever given me a full-page in a national paper to write so I wanted to get my hands on every brief that was going.
I did the Daffodil toilet paper ad within my first couple of weeks there. Jeff Stark, 'HMS' 3-01

DAVE: ‘Look very carefully at what the competition is doing, then do something completely different’.
I love your statement of principles, not the kind of thing agencies say today?
JEFF: I think the good ones still do.
My other guiding principle, which I explained to the creatives on my first day, was that I wouldn’t pass any ad that I didn’t think would sell the product based on my direct response experience – even if I thought it would win an award.  (There had been a spate of award-winning ads from CDP that had notably failed to sell anything.)

Jeff Stark - Irn Bru,' North Sea'Jeff Stark, Irn Bru 'Clang' Radio, -01

DAVE: I know some of the ex HMS creatives, they all seem quite…confident, what did you look for when you hired creatives?
JEFF: My policy on hiring creatives. Hunger counts for more than anything. Intelligence comes second. Practicality third.

Jeff Stark, Irn Bru 'Snips' Radio, -01
Jeff Stark, Irn Bru 'Can'

DAVE: Why would a fancy dan, Aston Martin driving adman put his neck on the line and attempt to humour the blood thirsty crowds of the Comedy Store?
JEFF: The Comedy Store came long before the big money and the Aston Martin.
Like a lot of people I had watched comedians getting big laughs and thought “I ‘m sure I could do that.” And to a certain extent I could.
When it was good it was the best drug ever.
When it was bad it was hellish. 
Jeff Stark - Olivetti 'Ask A Computer'-01
JEFF: Be aware that much of the HMS work wasn’t actually written by me personally,
so I wouldn’t like to claim that it was. 
Jeff Stark - Olivetti 'Heart Attack'-01

DAVE: Tony Kaye. You were a very early adopter?
JEFF: Yes. Mike Shafron was a great fan of his and had introduced us.
The first commercial he ever shot for me was for Olivetti.
He shot four times as many shots as we could ever use.
Then when they processed the stock it was all milky and we had to shoot it again. So I said  before we went any further we should edit the milky film together and see how it was working, which we did.
Then when we came to reshoot it we knew exactly how to do it.
Pity you don’t get milky film any more.
Tony then got flushed with success and went barking mad. I think even he would admit that. 

Jeff Stark, Krupps 'Milk', Tony Kaye-01DAVE: You basically wrote Crocodile Dundee?
J
EFF: No. I’ve often been given credit for inventing the Fosters campaign but I didn’t.
It was an Australian writer called Rowan Dean, who knew all about Paul Hogan before he’d ever been heard of here.
He then promptly went back to Australia, leaving me and Warren Brown to write the ads.
Though I would argue that the innocent abroad we created in those ads was the persona that Hogan developed into Crocodile Dundee.
The stuff he was doing in Australia at the time was nothing like that. 

Jeff Stark, Fosters 'Map',-01
JEFF: Can I tell you another funny story about the Fosters poster?
Dick Hedger went to sell it to the Watneys client, but he wouldn’t buy it.
Dick came out of the meeting with his tail between his legs and met Dave Trott and Mike Greenlees waiting in reception . (They had the Holsten Pils business.)
Dick showed them the poster and moaned about the client not buying it.
They said ‘it’s brilliant, let us have a go’.
So our rival agency went in with our ad and told the client he was mad not to buy it.
Do you think that could happen nowadays?

Jeff Stark, Fosters Radio 'Piccadilly',-01
Basildo Bond 'Vow, Jeff Stark-01
HMS. IBM '3 letters'-01Jeff Stark, Drybrough's Original Radio 'Restaurant' Radio-01Jeff Stark, 'Why Charles'-01
DAVE: Just as Hedger Mitchell Stark starts winning awards and business you sell?
JEFF: The way it happened was this. Charles Saatchi rang me and said he wanted me to come back as CD. I said I couldn’t leave because I had an agency depending on me.
He said “don’t worry, we’ll buy the agency’.
It was a bum deal for them because our biggest client was Fosters  and they had to resign that due to conflict with Castlemaine XXXX.

DAVE: Do you ever regret selling?
JEFF: Sometimes I regret that we didn’t carry on.
Campaign told me they were about to announce that we were agency of the year and had to re-think in a hurry.
But we were already talking to GGK about selling out to them. Saatchi was a better deal.
Jeff Stark, Portfolio Spread a-01
DAVE: In 2005 my agency, CDD, was awarded the National Portrait Gallery advertising account.
The only proviso was that the Chairman had to approve someone from the agency.
I was nominated.
It was arranged for me to take tea with the Chairman, Charles Mills, a very eccentric posh bloke with braces attached to pin-stripped trousers that started just below his nipples. I think he may now even be a Sir…or a Lord?

He was a lovely guy, he told me he was slightly anxious about dipping his toes back into the advertising world as his only previous experience of advertising had been an unmitegated disaster.
Unfortunately he’d approved an ‘awful campaign whilst at the V&A’.
‘Not the ‘Ace Caff’ one?’ I said. ‘I’m afraid so’.
‘That wasn’t awful, that was brilliant!’
He said everyone internally were appalled, he still seemed quite traumatised.
We spent the whole meeting discussing the campaign, with me trying to convince him that he was wrong, that it was a great campaign.
He said it he hadn’t dared look at it since it ran.
When I got back to the office I tracked down the ‘Sewell’ film online, scanned a couple of the posters and sent them to him.
He emailed back to say ‘It wasn’t as awful as he remembered, in fact, he actually quite liked it’.
So how did you end up coming up with such a traumatising idea?
JEFF: Here’s what happened. I was living in New York and came over to London for a few days so dropped in  to Charlotte Street to say hello.
Paul showed me a campaign he’d been working on for V&A . It was lots of arty pictures with headlines like “Vivacious & Alluring”, “Visceral & Arresting” etc.
Very Paul.
He asked me what I thought.
I said ‘boring’.
He said ‘I know. What should I do?’
I said ‘what’s it got that would appeal to a Sun reader?’
He said ‘it’s got a great cafe’.
I pondered for a bit and, came up with the line ‘an ace caff with quite a nice museum attached’ I only meant it as a joke, not a real ad but Paul loved it.
I then wrote a couple of headlines and went back to New York.
I don’t think I wrote all those V&A ads, I can’t remember which ones are mine.
A few days later I phoned him from New York and said ‘I’ve got a better idea.
The picture is a picture of Tom Stoppard and Jerry Hall gazing at a nude male statue and both looking at his dick. The headline says “Tom & Jerry & Victoria & Albert” .
Then there’d be ‘Janet & John & Victoria & Albert’ with Janet Street-Porter and some politician for writer called John etc. But Paul said “No, I prefer the ace caff.”
I said “they’ll never buy it” but I was wrong.
Maurice Saatchi went in person and sold it to them.
There was a huge outcry with questions in the House of Commons, loads of press coverage.
The media spend was tiny but the furore it created was worth millions.
I have met V&A people who were horrified by the campaign but, like the ‘Pregnant Man’ which only ever ran once in a paid space, it got huge awareness for no money.
Also at that time the V&A had a much more fuddy-duddy image than it has now.
(No Alexander McQueen shows or anything like that. )

V&A 'Ace Caff' Hand

https://youtu.be/XuflPFKtRzwV&A 'Elsie' Paul Arden, Saatchi & Saatchi-01V&A 'Currant Buns' Paul Arden, Saatchi & Saatchi.png-01V&A 'Cup Of Tea' Paul Arden, Saatchi & Saatchi.png-01Paul Arden, Intercity 'Office'-01Jeff Stark, InterCity 'Concieved', Saatchi's-01Jeff Stark, Inter City 'The Top', Saatchi's-01Paul Arden Inter City 'Sleep'

DAVE: The rumour was that the idea of colouring the footage came about to try and ‘save’ the ad.
JEFF: No. It was Tony Kaye’s first big breakthrough with a proper budget.
Nobody would touch him with a bargepole.
But he had briefly been my AD at Hedger Mitchell Stark and  I knew he was a real talent, though the madness needed careful handling.
The colour tinting was his idea from the word go.
When I presented the finished ad to the client he said “great, it’ll be nice when you get the proper coloured footage”.
Tricky.
But British Rail was an incredibly loyal client.
They followed me out of Saatchi, then followed me back in again.

DAVE: The ad also had a sequel, using the same cast?
JEFF: Yes several, but none quite as good as the original. 

Jeff Stark & Mike Shafron-01Jeff Stark, Blind 'Dog Eyes', Saatchi's-01
DAVE: You switch to Saatchi’s New York. What was the difference creatively?
JEFF: Chalk and cheese.
At Saatchi New York people queued up to work on Proctor and Gamble because they were more open to ideas than the other big client, General Mills.
The work was hellish but I loved living in New York and I was only seeing out my time at Saatchi before the big round-the-world sail. (I only got half way round before getting bored.)
Jeff Stark, 'Day By Day', Direction-01
Jeff Stark, Oxydol 'Photographer, Saatchi-01
DAVE: You worked with DDB titan Bob Levenson?
JEFF:
 
Yes but he was having a tough time with the way the New York advertising scene was developing – all that research and all  those layers of  nervous client types,  with the power to say no but not to say yes.
We got on well though and liked each other.

DAVE: Your tv work from your time in New York is incredibly graphic.
JEFF: There isn’t much of it. I barely got anything made. 
Jeff Stark, UK:LA 'Michael Caine' TV, Saatchi

DAVE: Your first few directing jobs were shockingly graphic. Where did that come from?
JEFF: My early directing work was very graphic because I felt I needed to prove that I could be visually original.
Directing is a job that requires several skills. Some of them come naturally, others you have to work at.
For me, working with actors and telling the story was the bit that came easily. The visual side was where I felt I needed to prove myself.
It’s true in movies too. Mike Leigh is great with actors and performance, not too great visually. Ridley Scott the other way round.

DAVE: Which ad did you wish you’d written?
JEFF: “Kiss your piles goodbye.”
“The complete history of motorcycling since last Tuesday”(Motorcycle news).
The “Where’s the Beef” campaign for Wendy’s.
The “Red” ad for Virgin.

DAVE: Why didn’t you keep any of this work?
JEFF: I never keep anything.
I always thought “it’s only advertising, don’t kid yourself it’s art.” 

Paul and I used to argue a lot about this.  I was in it for the money, he was in it for the  kudos. We both got what we wanted.

DAVE: Seen any good ads lately?
JEFF: Yes lots of TV , especially the adventure-seeker stuff for Lurpak and internet ad for Old Spice.
But  hardly any good press and never any good stills photography. Why? There are dozens of great photographers out there starving.

 

Jeff Stark, Creative Review Pt1-01 Jeff Stark, Creative Review Pt2-01Jeff Stark, Portfolio 1-01

IN-CAMERA 4: Max Forsythe.

DAVE: Where did you grow up?
MAX: I grew up in Newry in Northern Ireland, a great place to live before religion destroyed it.

DAVE: When did you take your first picture?
MAX: Probably in my teens, my uncle was a wedding photographer, so I used his half plate camera.
I took a lot more serious pictures on a trip to the US when I was 18.

DAVE: What was your first job?
MAX: I was an Assistant Art director at what was then Hobson Grey.
I was fired after 3 months.

DAVE: How did you get into an ad agency?
MAX: I did some ads at the London College of Printing,  I was lucky enough to be under John Gillard who taught me what an idea was.
M
y finest was an ad for a police recruitment brief with the line ‘Not every Tom, Dick, or Harry can be a Bobby.’
This got me my first job.

DAVE: You worked for the legendary CDP art director Colin Millward, tough?
MAX: Colin was a tyrant, but he was always on our side.
He insisted on good work and but then insisted that the work was sold to the client.

DAVE: Who were your influences at the time?
MAX: Robin Wight, who I worked with, and John Hegarty.
We would meet for lunch regularly and collect ads from New Yorker and Esquire.
We are still good friends and meet often to put the world to rights.

DAVE: Do you remember which ads you cut out?
MAX: VW, Chivas Regal, Avis, there was a wealth of inspiration.Max Forsythe, Ford -'Why We Killed The Anglia', CDP-01DAVE: You worked on Ford, did that mean you were in Alan Parker’s Group?
MAX: No, I was in John Salmon and Arthur Parsons group, by this time Alan was making movies in the basement.Max Forsythe, Ford 'Two For The Price', CDP--01
Max Forsythe - Friends Of The Earth, 'Wipe Out', Euro*DAVE: CDP were probably the best agency in the country, why leave?
MAX: Robin and I got an offer to go with a talented guy called Richard Cope to set up an agency. We couldn’t refuse.Max Forsythe, Richard Cope ad-01Max Forsythe - Leslie Davies 'Robin Wight', Richard Cope*
DAVE: What a freaky photo;  Robin Wight isn’t wearing a bow tie. What was  he like to work with?

MAX: Robin was great, he was very analytical and also a great copywriter, he believed in ‘interrogating the product’ until we arrived at a viable concept.Max Forsythe,, GEC - 'Test Card'*.*png-01 Max Forsythe, GEC - 'Eye Chart* Max Forsythe, GEC - 'Breakdown'* Max Forsythe - GEC 'Bulb', Stephen Coe, Richard Cope*

DAVE: Which photographers were you working with, or wanting to work with at the time?
MAX: Stephen Coe shot a lot of still life for me, and I worked a lot with John Claridge
.Max Forsythe - Club Med 'Uncivilised', Euro*Max Forsythe - Club Med 'Last Thing', Euro* Max Forsythe - Global 'Jewels', Richard Cope*DAVE: What happens between Euro and you being a photographer?
MAX: I realised I was better at taking pictures than agency management, so with the courage born of deep ignorance I set up a studio and starting taking pictures.Max Forsythe, Golden Sytup self promotion poster-01
DAVE: What was the first image someone paid you to produce?
MAX: I can’t remember, I think it was a Birds Eye shot for art director Arthur Parsons, but he was taking a considerable risk.
I can remember doing a lot of midnight reshoots.
Max Forsythe - Bill Thompson Clipping, Direction Magazine-01Max Forsythe, Commercial Union 'Snow', WAHT-01
DAVE: Who was the best Art Director you worked with and why?
MAX:  I have worked with some very talented people, but Gary Denham springs to mind for his sheer irreverent creativity.

DAVE: Who were your early photography heroes?
MAX: Bill Brandt,                            William Eggleston,
Bill Brandt - Cobbles, Dave Dye   William Egglesto, Max Forsythe, Dave Dye
Harry Callahan (not ‘Dirty Harry’), but perhaps I was more by David Hockney, Harry Callahan, Max Forsythe, Dave Dye   david_hockney__sunbather, Dave Dye:Max Forsythe
Van Gogh,                                                            Matisse and of coursevan-gogh-Max Forsythe:Dave Dye   Matisse Verve
Edward Hopper.
Edward Hopper:Max Forsythe:Dave Dye

DAVE: How did you graduate from small table-top still lifes to grand landscapes?

MAX: An Art Director called Nigel May trusted me with a shoot for Ordinance Survey.
It was right at the time that travel became a lot cheaper and location shoots became more possible.
The next big shoot was a six week shoot in the US with Ken Hoggins.
Ordnance Survey 'X' Cracknell-01Max Forsythe, Ordnance Survey 'Motorways', FCO-01Max Forsythe, Ordnance Survey, 'Open Road', FCO-01Max Forsythe, Winston 'Buildings'-01Max Forsythe, Winston 'Taxis'-01
DAVE: Did you prefer Art Directors to give you a tight brief or an open brief?
MAX: I prefer them to tell me what they want the picture to say rather than what they want it to look like.
Max Forsythe - Shell 'Rambler's Guide', Derrick Hass-01
Max Forsythe Direcction Cover, NY-01Max Forsythe, Nike 'Blurry Building', FCOMax Forsythe, Nike 'Lightening', FCO-01Max Forsythe, Nike 'Aston Villa, FCO Max Forsythe - My Office, Direction Magazine-01Max Forsythe, Ilford 'Beach', FCO-01Max Forsythe, Ilford 'Pier', FCO-01Max Forsythe, Ilford 'Hay', FCO-01Max Forsythe, Ilford 'Binman', FCO-01-01
DAVE: I love the Ilford campaign you did for FCO, it could run today, (if they still made roll film?). Hang on, Ilford – FCO, Nike – FCO, Ordnance Survey – FCO, I see a pattern emerging?
MAX: FCO was not a large agency but was one of the best in London at the time,
I worked a lot with Ian Potter the CD, and we produced a lot work I am very proud of.
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DAVE: Your early work was uber-colourful, did you ever shot black and white?
MAX: Yes, I don’t think I was ever comfortable with it, there were a lot of people doing it better.
I felt that colour had been much maligned.
Black and white was art, colour was what you got from Boots.
Very few disciplines have ignored a major development like photography has ignored the creation of colour film.
I published a book called ‘Colour Prejudice’ in the 80’s to argue the case for colour, and had the first colour exhibition that Hamilton’s Gallery had ever hosted in 1984.
Max Forsythe, Cover of 'Colour Prejudice' book-01Max Forsythe, 'Fairground', From 'Colour Prejudice'-01 Max Forsythe, 'Green Phone', From 'Colour Prejudice'-01 Max Forsythe, 'Red Diner', From 'Colour Prejudice'-01  Max Forsythe, 'Red Seats', From 'Colour Prejudice'-01Max Forsythe, 'Red Dye', From 'Colour Prejudice'-01
DAVE: You’re obviously very interested in composition, particularly playing with graphic shapes? I remember an old friend of mine, Derrick Hass, (he’d hate being referred to as ‘old’) bringing in one of your posters and saying ‘Look, it’s just like a bloody Miro’.
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MAX: Spanish Playground… It’s still one of my favourite pictures, it is one of the rewards for always carrying a camera.
Even when going for lunch in a small Spanish town.
I studied Graphic Design at college, not photography, I didn’t have a lot of the baggage that photography students can pick up.

DAVE: Having been a successful art director, did you find it difficult accommodating art directors?
MAX: The opposite, I understood what they were trying to achieve and understanding that perversely gave me more freedom.
I don’t think I ever fell out with an Art Director or had a serious disagreement, their contribution was almost always constructive.
Max Forsythe, B&H 'Chameleon', CDP-01
DAVE: Photoshop would make this B&H image sooooooo much easier now.
But would you end up with a better result?
MAX: No, it would just be easier, the best thing about that ad is Nigel Rose’s idea.
Max Forsythe, B&H, Pack piece-01   Max Forsythe, B&H, Cinema piece-01 Max Forsythe, B&H, Glass piece-01   Max Forsythe, B&H, Wall piece-01Max Forsythe, B&H 'Heat of the night', CDP-01
DAVE: Has the whole birth of image manipulation lead to better images?
MAX:
It has managed to elevate mediocrity to acceptability.
But there is no substitute for being able to ‘see’ pictures rather than build them. 

DAVE: Which ads were you most pleased with the final result?
MAX:
Probably the ads I shot for Land Rover over several decades, they were great locations and normally great ads, with very few restrictions.
The Land Rover clients were the best in the world to work with. new-discovery-etc-small-47388 image_3692 tbimage_3688
DAVE: I love the ‘Flesh Tints’ spreads, have you done much editorial?
MAX: I have shot very little editorial, I wish I had shot more, but I started shooting with Wendy Harrop at Interiors Magazine, and then later with Ilse Crawford and Claire LLoyd.
All very talented ladies from whom I learnt a lot, I enjoyed the totally different disciplines.
  Max Forsythe - Flesh Tints' 1-01Max Forsythe - Flesh Tints' 3-01Max Forsythe - Flesh Tints' 2-01image_1798DAVE: One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you and a few of your contemporaries is that I’m struck by just how strong and expensive your images look compared to a lot of images around today?
MAX: The simple answer is that they cost more.
Advertising agencies were the gate keepers to sales, press and posters were important media and it was worth spending money on the production.
As clients now have many other ways of generating sales the agency’s power has diminished and the client is now demanding ‘cheap’ as most of them can’t tell the difference.

DAVE: I remember you talking to me about the idea behind Lensmodern when you launched in 2006, ‘People will be commissioning less and less so we are making it possible for them to access high quality images’, or something to that effect.
A pretty good hunch?
MAX: Yes and No. The market for good images in advertising is diminishing.
The demand now seems to be for Royalty Free, dirt cheap images that are being used on the web.
Perhaps the big wheel will turn and clients will realise that in general, good is more successful than mediocre.

DAVE: Which photographer would you’d love to join Lensmodern? Name them, we could do a live ‘shout out’.
MAX:
No, there are too many.
Max Forsythe, 'Baby'-01
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DAVE: How do you get young art directors to understand the difference between your archive and Google images?
MAX: They do understand, but good work is more expensive and clients are increasingly unwilling to pay for it.

DAVE: My kids give a song about 10 seconds before deciding whether they like it or not.
Why not?
They’ve made no financial investment.
Also, there’s a million more songs out there lined up for them, free and ready to go.
Photography used to cost a fortune, so people took it seriously and treated it with respect.
MAX: Unfortunately, in the absence of critical judgment people use price as a benchmark for quality. Speed and access are now more important.

DAVE: Finally, which photographers do you admire today?
MAX: Mostly guys we represent like
Andreas Heumann,                                                       Ashton Keidtsch,  Andreas Heumann:Max Forsythe:Dave Dye   Silhouetted people and kites
Jaap Viegenthart, and many more, the measure is…”I wish I’d taken that”.
Jaap Vliegenthart:Max Forsythe:Dave Dye
Others are my son Luke                                        and Steve McCurry.
3734aaea36136b1ada51fbc79711e013-2    Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 13.59.25
DAVE: Shot anything good recently?
MAX:  Of course, old photographers never retire they just go out of focus.
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NB. 
Max Forsythe, Creative Review Article, 1984-01Max Forsythe, Direction magazine article*Max Forsythe - 'Best Use Of', article-01