Where did you grow up?
The sleepy town of Sawbridgeworth, it’s on the Hertfordshire and Essex border.

When did you take your first picture?
There was no eureka moment, I inherited my grandfather’s Silver Ilford Sportsman.

I do remember being intrigued by its beauty; a matt silver finish with shiny brown hinged leather case.
I wore it across my waist in my early teens, but had no idea what I was doing with it.
It felt sophisticated, technical, way beyond anything I’d ever come in to contact with at that age.
It was the act of making that I enjoyed, rather than ever believing that I was making anything important.
I liked the idea of editing a scene through the viewfinder.
Most of the time it wasn’t even loaded, film was too expensive.
It was in a time when a roll of film had to last you the whole summer.

What was your first job?
Express fruit & vegetable delivery man.
A white van man 
at 17, straight after passing my driving test.
Deliveries at extraordinarily dangerous speeds, I was compelled to drive as fast as I possibly could on every journey.
I went on to be a geologist, mainly because I wanted a job outside in the landscape.

How did you make the jump from white van man to photography bloke?
Was it a wise move? I tussle with this nightly, I might have had my own van by now.

One thing is for sure; we didn’t operate six month credit schemes before you got paid.
It wasn’t such a jump, photography was becoming an everyday activity.
The geology degree was a brilliant insight into the English landscape and how it was made.
I had aromantic vision of a career roaming the World recording and mapping extreme environments, physical and mental challenges.
I ended up in the gold fields of Western Australia, it was an experience, I was very fit then, surviving the elements as well as a very male dominated high testosterone environment.
But it wasn’t for me.

After a year full of the bullshit of travel I returned to the UK and started applying for jobs as an assistant.

Who did you assist?
Steve Rees gave me my first job, he was a good tutor and generous employer.
Then Bob Elsdale, he was the first photographer to own a Mac in London.
People would visit just to see it, they’d crowd around, scepticle if it would ever take off.
Both good people who showed me the ropes.

ls3 cats-bob-elsdale

(The work above is Bob’s, not 100% sure whether Giles assisted on this job.)

What was the first image someone paid you to produce?
Rubber Plants for a brochure,  a tropical plant rental company paid me 250 quid.
Ludicrous money at the time! I was on £100 a week as a full time assistant.
My first ad job was a series of nudes for a medical insurance company, commissioned by the Marshall brothers at Leagas Delaney.
Just before I startedI vomited with fear.
I had gone from table top still life to a full on big production over night.
I didn’t really know what advertising was, I h’d previously only worked in design.

Who were your photography heroes?
Henri Cartier Bresson; informative social documentary imagery with an exceptional graphic eye and sense of timing.

jump-henri-cartier-bressontrafalgar-square-henri-cartier-bressonAndrez Kertez, he found beauty in the mundane, presenting it in a very simple reductive way.
William Klein for his fearless, confrontational portraits, shot on a 35mm lens.
He clearly had built up a rapport with his subjects and tried to capture people from afar in voyeuristic way.
I also think the ease with which he experimented with other media shows an artistic man way ahead of his time.
cinema-william-kleinSebastao Salgado for his social documentary.
The body of work that explored international mining and heavy industry in the developing World is exceptional, highlighting working practices that hadn’t changed since the Industrial Revolution.miners-sebastao-salgadowater-sebastao-salgado
Jeff Wall.
One of my favourite images is a ‘Sudden Gust of Wind’.
T06951_10.jpgIt’s based on an Hokusai painting.
'The Great Wave At Kanagawa' Hokusai.jpgIt took months to construct, the airborne papers have all been placed in post production.
I don’t care how long it took, compositionally it’s brilliant.

Karl Blossfelt; a botanist with an artists eye.
He made photographs to catalogue plant specimens.
I’m really interested in the interaction of Art and Science.
The illustrator Haeckal is another example of a body of work born out of a fascination for science. 

I first became aware of your work via Big magazine, did Vince Frost get you going?
Yes. it was a big break.

You come across a handful of people in your working life that are true talents, Vince is one of those.
He is instinctive and trusts in good work, the work comes before the reputation.
We became very good friends and have worked a lot together ever since.
The images were raw, and when combined with letterpress typography made a very bold, confident magazine that everyone wanted to contribute to.
Do you prefer tight or open briefs?
It depends what it is.
Commercially I like to work on the best idea whoever has conceived it.
I’ll always give my view on a campaign, it’s up to the agency whether they listen.
I’m a wasted resource when used just as an art worker, but some jobs are like that.piccadilly-circus-london-underground-bmp

What’s the difference between shooting for an ad agency and a design company?
Advertising employs you for your technical ability or aesthetic, in the States they call you a ‘shooter’, which sums up the role.

All of your energy is focused on executing a collective vision, one an agency team has championed for a brand often weeks or months in advance.
You take on the commission with the commitment as if it were your own.
It’s all about the production of the shoot and building a team, the bulk of the thinking has been done for you.
It is a tried and tested model so who am I to criticise, but it but seems a little outdated.

Stronger ideas result from photographers being involved earlier in the process.
There are some talented photographers out there whose creative abilities are underutilised, I’ve noticed a generic quality to a lot of recent photographs, probably as a resulting from countless references found on Google images, I know it helps to sell an idea to a client, but it can limit the imagination of the creatives.
Advertising is fixated with being first, building a story around a technique, but being first today is old news tomorrow.
Designers are out of a different mould, the life span of the work tends to be longer.
Budgets are smaller but their i
deas are ambitious in a different way, the limitations encourage more thought and imagination.
It’s also a relief not to have to spend two days writing a treatment every job you do, to justify your creative credentials.  

The application of images is also more diverse.
I’ve worked on design projects from postage stamps through to huge interior installations.

‘Can you shoot me a face that works upside down as well?’
I can’t think of another photographer I’d ask to do that.
Or one who’d take on that ludicrous challenge

It’s one of the trickiest challenges you’ve ever given me.
But it was such a good idea, all the artists involved in that campaign produced wonderful work.

Your work is more like Art than any commercial photographer I can think of.
Wouldn’t you be far more famous in in that world if you were more pretentious?
Or spelled your name in a more exotic way? Gilles Revelli? Gilmondo Rev-El?
Probably, I think the public warm to an aloof, renegade facade.

You are what you are though.
If you play that role then you have got to sustain it.
I’m hoping that the latest projects will make an impression on the Art world, without having to take on a tempestuous, rockstar persona.
However, I’ve often thought about trying a pseudonym like Sebastian Conti; a new photographic presence in the fashion world.
Try it, but swap that ‘O’ for a ‘U’, it might give you a bit more attitude.
Giles Revell - Fish 2, Dave Dye
Do you think digital technology has helped photography?
Yes, undoubtedly when used intelligently and creatively.

It has allowed quicker workflow and more possibilities creatively.
The draw-back is that there’s this obsession with sharpness.
‘Hyper real’ is one of the most annoying terms attached to imagery at the moment.
I’m excited by imagery that takes away and refines .
Half of the images we value today in the galleries around the World are ‘soft’ by modern-day standards.
The speed that images can be made encourages sloppy practice, multiple versions are made to cover all eventualities, then cobbled together in post-production.
The expectation of how much can be achieved in a single day are being pushed so hard now that photographers are having to cut corners.
I’m excited by modern photography, but I am certain that when film was the dominant medium the whole team were sharper, because there was more at stake.
You had to be confident that when you walked off a shoot with just a few polaroids and half a dozen rolls of film that you’d executed the job.
You didn’t have the luxury of cross-referencing every frame.
Commercial imagery seems creatively very static at present.

The platforms on which we view the digital imagery has evolved beyond any of our expectations.
Unlike a lot of commercial photographers, you don’t have a ‘look’ or style?
At first glance I’d agree, but when you look at my work as whole there’s a common thread; the subject matter is revealed minimally, through the use of a line or a plane.
The Port ‘Ten Ten’ cover is a good example, revealing the watch elements through hard shadow and silhouette, the geometry of the plane defined by black.
It was a lesson to myself of making a composition where every corner of the frame needs to be considered, as well as balancing the proportions of black white and grey.
The great Bauhaus influences played a part in this composition.
Also, I’m interested in the content not the gloss.

Different ideas employ different processes, it means the images have a variety of looks rather than always using the camera optics route.
The common characteristic of the work is it’s stripped back with a definite intension.
The commercial world is obsessed with look and feel, it’s an irritating development over the last few years.
I’m always looking for discoveries and new ways of approaching themes.
Giles Revell - Heals Shaddow 1, Dave DyeYou’re always trying new things, lighting with an estate agents digital ruler, taking portraits with a photo finish camera.
It’s not enough just to point off the shelf lights at objects.'Gold Leaf' Giles Revell-01.jpg'Gold Leaf 2' Giles Revell-01.jpg
autumn-leaf-giles-revell-01leaf-2-giles-revell-01flower-giles-revell-01Giles Revell - Pink Squiggle, Dave Dye

Are these photographs or illustrations?
One is photography, the other motion capture.
They’re both about an image developing over time.
100 frames is a collaboration with Ben Koppel to create form from movement.
All the red images are made from the body movement of a dancer, the black version from the movement of a British gymnast training on his floor exercise routine.
The idea was developed for a 2012 Olympic Park proposal, the idea was to create life-size sculptures tracking body movements that would be fabricated in resin.

Giles Revell - Red Squirly Thing, Dave Dye'Blue Car Shape' Giles Revell-01.jpgGiles Revell - Red, Curly, Spiky Thing, Dave Dye
They were printed as 3d sculpture moquettes.
The big red shiny thing, studded with relief, was a commission I made with Matt Painter.
I was asked to make a sculpture of the Manchester United v Barcelona European Cup Final.
I’m not sure I’d choose the aesthetic of this now, but the idea was interesting at the time.
We were given all the data captured as the game unfolded to analyse.
These statistics are used by managers and trainers to assess the performance and tactics of the players,individually and as a team.
Every event, such as a pass, corner, header, shot or goal is logged on a time line, as well as spacially on the pitch.
I decided upon two evolving hoop shapes, representing each 90 minutes that grew over the course of the game.
Each stipple marks an event on the pitch, the largest peaks are the goals. car-bar-giles-revell'Green Car Shaft' Giles Revell-01.jpg
Experimenting is easier today, but I seem to see less of it?
Yes, it’s disappointing and surprising.
Especially in an era where there’s so many opportunities to collaborate using different source material, homogenised though digital formats.
Science / medicine / engineering use incredible methods the gather imagery.
CGI is used widely and is a very powerful tool, but tends to be used in a bland way, as a replication tool mimicking photography and film rather than expressing ideas within its own medium.
Commissioners seem uncomfortable to make imagery from the data and information available to them.
The Man Utd vs Barcelona data sculpture is a good example.
Replication seems dull and needless when there are ways of achieving the real thing through another viewpoint.
Which goes back to my point about style over content.

Giles Revell - Red Stripe 1, Dave DyeGiles Revell - Oil People 2, Dave DyeThey say copying is the highest form of flattery, you must feel great, you’re flattered on a regular basis? 
I used to feel that way in the early days.
Plagiarism is the one aspect of the business that’s made me think seriously about a different career.

There is a  lack of integrity in the business.
Ideas and methods of working are my professional identity and security.
I can spend months developing a project or idea, to then discover it’s been infused into the work flow of others can be demoralising.
Not to say financially bruising.
Agencies, magazines and photographers are all guilty, it’s a symptom of the speed with which we all have to deliver.
Images are now referenced rather than conceived.
Consequently, new projects need to be kept under wraps until a suitably scaled, appropriate project surfaces, or better still, released as an exhibition, which would mark the date and occasion to the work.
Without such launches images are copied wherever they are seen and the origin is lost or hijacked. It’d be very easy to slip into a rant at this point, it may sound like sour grapes, but I crave a  workplace surrounded by genuinely talented people.

What makes up a good picture?
I read an article a decade or so ago that crudely broke it down into four ingredients;

1.   Image needs to be flawlessly beautiful, regardless of message.

2.  Image should be shocking, controversial or taboo.

3.  Image should be either informative, telling us something we don’t know or show us something we thought we knew, but with a new perspective.

4. Image should have an extraordinary narrative or back story. 
In 20 years I‘ve come close on a couple of occasions where I’ve made something that I’m still happy to look at ten years later.
But it’s rare that you achieve more than one of these in any image, when you do, interesting work is made.

What image are you most proud of?
I guess my finest moments would be 
The Insect Techtonic Project, also known as the ‘Fabulous Beasts Show’.
It was the summer show at the Natural History Museum and is now in their and the V&A’s permanent collections. 
Giles Revell - Insect, Dave Dye'Bug 4' Giles Revell-01.jpgGiles Revell - Fish, Dave Dye
Giles Revell - Fly, Dave Dye

Also, the recent Battlefield Poppies stamp.
It was part of the Royal Mail  Ww1 Centenary series, it’s out now. 

What the hell are these stripes things?
It’s a bouquet that’s broken down into petals, then distributed over time.
Oh yeah!Giles Revell - Colour Bars, Dave DyeGiles Revell - Colour Bars 2, Dave Dye'Stripey 4' Giles Revell-01.jpg

How did you start your collaborations with Matt Willey?
We met when he was running the Frost London office, he was designing the magazine Zembla with Vince Frost and Dan Crowe.
Dan and Matt went on to set up Port magazine, followed a couple of years ago by Avaunt.
We used to The Kings Head in Clerkenwell regularly, a special pub, for our enthusiastic conversations about topics we wanted to explore, ‘At This Rate’ was the first project we did together, it came out of those conversations.breathe-giles-revellGiles Revell - Leaf 2060, Dave Dye

The idea was to produce a booklet and poster illustrating the rapid destruction of the rainforests.
It was a simple set of timings from every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every month, every year with corresponding area of loss in that time.
They are an alarming set of statistics; every year we lose an area three times the size of Sri Lanka. We produced and sold them to raise funds for the Rainforest Action Network Organisation.
Giles Revell - Leaf 2, Dave Dye
The Photofit project was was another that came from those King’s Head conversations, very rewarding.
It was about identity and how you see yourself, most of us observe ourselves everyday for at least two minutes.
We were curious about how people would make an image of themselves from memory, without using a mirror.Giles Revell - Photofit 4, Dave Dye
Making drawings of oneself alienates those that are not artistic, so we decided to democratise the process by using a police photofit kit.
These were used in the 1970s in criminal cases to build a picture of a suspect for posters and news papers.

Each kit is extremely tactile, made up of 100 or so printed strips of images of eye, mouth, nose, hair and face shapes to select from.
That finally came together as a photographic montage in a perspex frame. Giles Revell - Photofit 1, Dave Dye
A broad demographic were gathered with each participant taking around 45 mins to make their portrait, accompanied by an interview.
The results were fascinating.
The physiological comparison was immediate, yet some of the participants revealed a more emotional response than they’d revealed in their interview.
Some picked a more youthful version of themselves, when they were at their physical peak.
Some had suffered trauma and were dealing with their new lives, others had clearly spent a lot more than two minutes in front of the mirror every day, marking every mole or line with pin point accuracy.
Giles Revell - Photofit 2, Dave DyeI think t
he project was successful because we had designed a democratic framework for the participants to express their own vision of themselves, without any intervention or bias.
It was published in the Guardian, we also repeated the project in Canada for the Walrus magazine.
Giles Revell - Photofit 3, Dave Dye
Matt’s a great talent, he’s in America now, designing the New York Times Magazine.
Giles Revell - New York Times Cover, Dave Dyechanel-giles-revell-01avant-falling-man-giles-revell
What photographers do you admire today?
I don’t tend to follow photography closely.
Having said that, I was blown away by the William Klein show at the Tate last year.
Photography meeting design and film and social
Also, Tim Hethrington, who lost his life in Libya in 2011.
He was an special man, regardless of the photographs that he took.

He left an incredible body work from conflict zones, not only the wars, but the aftermath, which few photographers would cover, most would move on to the next conflict.
A couple of years ago I watched an astonishing BBC4 documentary about his life and achievements, it reduced me to tears. mid-battle-tim-heatheringtonsoldier-at-war-tim-heatheringtonburning-tank-tim-heatheringtonI love your new Shots front cover, any retouching involved?
This image is part of a large body of work that is about breaking down form and concentrating on colour alone.
How it’s made isn’t important as long as it’s engaging.
Each block of colour is accurate, sample by hand and accurate to the original flower.
The leaves are similar in that they attempt to look at the 
palette of a specific Acer tree in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
The black and white  accompanying image of a Lily and Helibora were made with the opposite intension; to look at form alone.
flower-giles-revell-01flower-2-giles-revell-01Giles Revell - Flowers:Black, Dave Dye
Thanks Giles, by the way, love the new tests.
Thanks, the work is becoming more minimal over the years often, crossing over into graphics.
Giles Revell-07.jpgGiles Revell-03.jpgGiles Revell-02.jpgGiles Revell-01.jpg

IN-CAMERA 5: Graham Ford.

DAVE: Where did you grow up?
GRAHAM: South East London

DAVE: When did you take your first picture?
GRAHAM: When I was eleven.
Then I asked for a camera for my fifteenth birthday.
One of my brothers showed me how develop a film and to make a contact print.
I was completely absorbed by photography for the next 40 years.

DAVE: What was your first job?
GRAHAM: Aged 18, I spent two weeks in an ice cream warehouse, at minus 20 degrees.
It paid for my new darkroom.
I always developed and printed my own pictures.

DAVE: Who did you assist?
I am grateful to several photographers who gave me a chance at age 18 and 19: David Davies, Mike Goss, Mick Dean, Bob Croxford, Eric Mandel.
But it was David Thorpe who had the greatest influence. I worked with him for 6 years.
David Thorpe 'Rude Food' Book-01
DAVE: What was the first image someone paid you to produce?
GRAHAM: £5 to shoot a pencil sharpener in 1970.
My first real job was for Paul Arden in 1977.
Paul had asked me to be his assistant, he was going to be a photographer.
I said no, I had been an assistant for long enough and I was going on my own.

A few months later he gave me my first job, a twelve day car shoot!
I was probably saved by some good retouching.
citroen 1977b 72dpi 560 wide 2citroen 1977 72dpi 560 widecitroen mechanical 1977 72 dpi 560 widecitroen baby 1977 72 dpi 560 wideGraham Ford, Citroen 'Roof', Paul Arden, -01


GRAHAM: The ‘Looks aren’t everything’ ad is the old ‘mechanical’, probably made with Letraset and a scalpel. I don’t have a proof.

DAVE: I can’t help but notice those weird angular shadows?
GRAHAM: Yes, that was Paul’s idea, he was very insistent that he wanted ‘square shadows’.

DAVE: Who was the best Art Director you worked with and why?
GRAHAM: I could not say, I worked with so many talented art directors.
Bob Isherwood, Rob Morris, Alan Waldie, Neil Godfrey, Paul Arden, John Horton, Ron Brown, Nigel Rose, Cathy Heng, and many others.
They had great ideas, and knew what they wanted.
Graham Ford, Direction back cover, Dave Horry-01
DAVE: I wouldn’t have guessed this was one of yours Graham?

GRAHAM: Yes, Dave was quite resistant to appearing as nature intended. This was commissioned by Roland Schenk, a very influential designer who had adventurous tastes in photography. I was experimenting with spots and mirrors at the time, and used them for the scaly effect.

DAVE: I presume Irving Penn was your hero?
GRAHAM: One of them. Also Lester Bookbinder.
I asked him once who had had the greatest influence on him; he replied:  ‘Penn, Penn, Penn, and ….err… Penn.’
I think Lester was in a class of his own, but he was mostly doing commercials when I was working.
White Horse 'Neat'
DAVE: Totally agree, I love Bookbinder’s stuff.
But not being a photographer, I just don’t get why they have some magical thing about them, most of the shots are terribly simple set ups on white backgrounds.

How did he do that?
GRAHAM: I wish I knew. First he must have believed it to be possible. How do you get a horse to stand still like that, and to look down a little, no, slightly to the left, with one eye towards camera?
While the people are all doing their part but without looking static.
Maybe it was all done on a dye transfer or in retouching.
Graeme Norways, the art director, would know.
I remember Ron Collins telling me about a shoot for Clark’s shoes with Lester, eight women in a line doing the can-can. Lester said to Ron, “I can only watch five at once, you take the three on the left.” 

DAVE: Who else inspired you?
GRAHAM: So many: Bill Brandt, I loved his use of black, and extreme perspective, drawing you in and making you wonder what was going on in there.
A good picture makes you think, and to want to look at it again and again.
It does not give everything to you all at once.

brandt ear brandt arm smaller file
DAVE: Someone told me you shot Bill Brandt’s collages?
GRAHAM: That’s right, there’s a book, it’s rather rare, ‘Bill Brandt. The Assemblages’.
I have one copy.
In later life Bill made some collages/assemblages and made some black & white photos of them.
I photographed all of those that were left, in colour in 1993, in collaboration with Zelda Cheatle,
the publication has notes by Adam Lowe. 

Despite what you may read elsewhere, all the colour photographs are by me. (The black and white ones are by Brandt.)
It was beautifully printed, but in very small numbers, about 1000 I think or may be 2000.
Highly collectible.Bill Brandt: Graham Ford - Assemblages

DAVE: Ok, more names, any other influences?
GRAHAM: Well, Edward Weston,
weston pepper weston tina                                                                        Paul Strand,
strand car


Phil Marco,
marco pour marco beer
and Penn.

irving-penn-frozen-foods Irving Penn - Mozzarella
Man Ray,
man ray handsman ray drops
and Hans Feurer.

hans fuerer
I also drew inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci,
and Beethoven.
I enjoy science and art, they both involve observation, understanding, questioning, experimenting, inventing.
I always listen to music when I am working.Graham Ford, JVC-01

DAVE: Was this done for real?
GRAHAM: The agency had complaints about this one, how could we be so cruel?
Needless to say it was retouched. We shot the fish, and the fin was attached to a model.
The two images were then put together on the computer.olive 72 dpi 560 wideDAVE: Did you prefer a tight or an open brief?
GRAHAM: I always saw the layout as a starting point, often a point of departure.
Most art directors could draw very well, and knew what they wanted, but not always how to achieve it, a sketch with a black felt tip pen could show the idea without being prescriptive.
Art directors usually wanted some input from me if it helped to put across their idea.
In later years this happened less, as clients had more control; briefs and layouts became tighter and more finished, I would sometimes be given a finished illustration and asked to recreate it on film!
I usually worked with an art director in the studio, the composition had to work within a layout with just the right amount of space for copy and headlines.
Sometimes art directors would turn up for a few minutes, make a comment and leave again; still life photography is not much of a spectator sport.
Much of my work was a collaboration often involving model makers and background artists too, such as Gordon Aldred.
The best art directors were often the most demanding and wanted to break new ground in some way.
When shooting
looser briefs, such as those for Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges, I had the luxury of spending one week or more on one picture, so I could try anything I wanted.
Unlike today, the picture would usually be a few sheets of 10 x 8 film hopefully with little or no retouching needed.
I rarely shot variations, the art director and I would make a decision and follow it through to the end.
footpump nologoDAVE: You turned down a lot of work?
GRAHAM: Yes, hard to believe today.
If I felt I could not do a good job, or had been chosen for the wrong reasons I might turn it down, I often had more work than I could manage, as I was quite slow and rarely found it easy.

I preferred to do what I was good at, but on the other hand you never know what you are capable of until you try.
Graham Ford, Atora 'Spotted', CDP-01 Graham Ford, Atora 'Dumplings', CDP-01 Graham Ford, Atora 'Pudding' CDP-01DAVE: Which English photographers inspired you in the early days?
GRAHAM: As a teenager in the sixties I used to devour the Sunday colour supplements which had some great photography: both editorial and advertising.
The ads never credited the photographers, but Adrian Flowers,
B&H Surreal 'Hotel Door'-01
Lester Bookbinder
Lester Bookbinder, Chivas 'Someone Elser', DDB-01

and Tony May come to mind, there must have been many others.
B&H Gold Box 'Panning' CDP-01
DAVE: What ad were you most pleased with?
GRAHAM: B&H ‘Goldfish’, ‘Ants’, ‘Magnet’, ‘Gold Pour’, the first Silk Cut, Absolut ‘Rome’, Levi’s ‘Horse’.
I also like a very early one for Holsten Pils, all done in camera, no retouching. Graham Ford, Hosten 'Shaddow'
Also, I shot a blue envelope for Paul, I think it got me a lot of work.
He asked for a print of it, so I spent two weeks making a 2 meter wide cyanotype (a blueprint), the largest contact print I ever did.envelope cyanotype 72 dpi 560 wide
I was pleased with many pictures for Absolut Vodka, again all done for real, in-camera.
Graham Ford - Absolut ParisGraham Ford, Absolut 'Rome' Graham Ford, Absolut 'Milan' _20224_5_15b81ef20de718ba95e8bad9485d5bfaGraham Ford, Absolut 'Madrid Graham Ford, Absolut 'Swiss'
DAVE: The Absolut Geneva ad would be drawn today, it would be perfect but wouldn’t feel as expensive as this. Great model.

GRAHAM: One of my brothers is a clockmaker, he made the bottle, one half an inch long. The jewell was put in on the computer.Graham Ford, B&H 'Pour, CDP
DAVE: How was this shot?

GRAHAM: It was tricky. The gold was a model by Matthew Wurr, placed on glass and shot from below to avoid any reflections in the glass. b and h saw 72 dpi 560 widebh_ants-1
BH-Goldfish-Studio-sprks   BH-Goldfish-Polaroid-1050113-sprks BH-Goldfish-Polaroid-1050114-sprksBH-Goldfish-Polaroid-1050115-sprksBH-Goldfish-Graham-Ford-sprksb&h cat 560 wide higher resparker pencil greyer 72 dpi 560 wideparker dull 720dpi 560 wide
Graham Ford, Cinzan 'Stairs'
DAVE: I think Paul Arden is the best Art Director Britain has produced, what was he like to work with?
GRAHAM: A man of iron whim! These are not my words but they are very apt.
He got the best out of people if they could get on with him.
He also gave me many opportunities to prove myself.
He held very strong views, but they could change at any time.

DAVE: You did the first Silk Cut ads for Paul, shooting a bit of silk looks easy, I bet it wasn’t?
GRAHAM: Paul had several photographers working on this for weeks.
I had to learn to shoot silk, how to dye it, cut it, light it, get the colour right.
It was easier after the first one.
To get the intense colour, Paul had the posters inked and printed twice, there was so much ink on them that they would not stick to the hoardings and started to peel at the joins.
 Graham Ford, First Silk Cutsilk fight back 72 dpi 560 widetin man1 72 dpi 560 widetin man 2 72dpi 560 widetin man3 72 dpi 560 wide
DAVE: How did you get that odd texture on the shower ad?
This was shot on a little known film, Polaroid 35mm instant transparency film. It was very grainy and had fine lines across it like a TV screen.
It also rendered the purple very well.
We wanted a degraded image as if it was  from a movie.
There is a myth that 48 sheet posters have to be shot on large format. They do not.
A well known photographer who shot on 35mm told me once that if the agency wanted a picture shot on large format, he would just copy it on to 5 x 4.
Graham Ford, Silk Cut - 'Shower', Saatchi
DAVE: You turned a lot of assistants into very good photographers, The School of Graham Ford.
David Thorpe worked for Bert Stern and Arnold Newman in the US, I worked for David, Jerry Oke and Eugenio Franchi worked for me, John Parker, Kevin Summers, worked for Jerry. Many others carry on a certain tradition and approach adding and adapting to it all the time.
David really understood advertising, having worked at DDB in New York .
For him great advertising photography was the expression of a great idea, it can be self indulgent and often meaningless out of that context.
The family tree is quite extensive, I am proud to be part of it.
I think we have all been willing to share ideas and techniques, I have no time for secrecy.
Graham Ford, Levi's 'Sumo' levihorse 72 dpi 560 wideGraham Ford, Levi's 'Turban'
DAVE: Ever tempted to move into commercials?
GRAHAM: I tried a few times, I think one commercial I co-directed even won an award in an obscure category at Cannes! but it was not for me.
I am very bad at delegating.merc stree 72 dpi 560 wide
DAVE: I can’t help noticing how shiny cars were back in the seventies and eighties?
GRAHAM: I always asked for dark cars, for that reason.Graham Ford, BMW 'Objects', WCRS-01bmw bananas 72 dpi 560 wide
DAVE: Did you meet your photography heroes, like Penn?.
GRAHAM: No, though I attended talks by Elliot Erwitt and Richard Avedon.
They were totally professional, even when giving a lecture, I later thought they probably wanted to let people know that they were still approachable and available for work.
DAVE: Who were your rivals?
GRAHAM: In the sense I think you mean, I only admired pictures, not photographers. Anyone who takes risks has a mixture of success and failure.
There were many very good photographs published in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.
I think it was a Golden Age for advertising.
Ken Griffiths,
ken freud and bernard
Pete Lavery,
Peter Lavery - Marlboro'
Rolph Gobits,
Rolph Gobits, Audi 'Performs', BBH-01
Norman Parkinson,
Norman Parkinson - Upskirt
Peter Lavery,
Lavery Yawalapiti-with-speared-fish-copy-2-576x720
and Brian Griffin,
they were not rivals, but I admired their work.
There were too many to mention that I did compete with in the UK, look at the D&AD annuals.
Also Daniel Jounneau
Silk Cut 'Scissor Ribbon' Saatchi's-01
and Francois Gillet in Europe.
Daniel Jounneau 'Can-Can'
I thought Nadav Kander did some remarkable work too.
Nadav Kander - Neiman-Marcus-Art-of-Fashion-Fall-2014-Soo-Joo-Park-Nadav-Kander-2
DAVE: Why do your pictures still look more sumptuous than most photographs today?
GRAHAM: Spending a week or more on a picture, weeks of model making and planning, 10×8 film, a handpicked group of talented people, decisions made by individuals not committees .
Film is an attractive medium in itself.
There is a magic, an alchemy, in the interplay between light, lens and film.
I may be wrong about this, but I guess Photoshop was derived from the techniques used in making animated films, so you have layers which are overlaid on each other.
Film does not work like that, black is an absence of light, it does nothing to the film,
film reacts only to light, not to dark.
I would leave the shutter open for five or ten minutes or more, adding one image on top of another in the dark. I don’t think you can really do that in the same way with digital cameras.Graham Ford - Dot 2 Graham Ford - Dot 1 Graham Ford - Dot 3
I may be wrong, but I think some of Brian Griffins’ images would not be possible with a digital camera.
I am fairly sure that mine would not, though there may be new developments that I am not aware of.unnamed-1

DAVE: The colours seem denser, the blacks seem blacker?BH_MAGNETGRAHAM: I used to make very contrasty transparencies, “Chromes to weld by” as Dave Christensen said. They looked better in my portfolio.
pepsi038 560 wide
When computers came in, the first thing some retouchers would do was lighten all the shadows.
I was surprised when I saw some of Lester’s transparencies, how flat they were, but they printed beautifully.
barclaycard office 72 dpi 600 wide
DAVE: Model making vs CGI?
GRAHAM: I have seen CGI images that are almost completely convincing.
It is an interesting area, because I think it has the potential to be rigorously accurate, if one person could have ultimate control over the whole image.
Once you start drawing and making things up, I think you would often be better off with an illustration.
You really have to know what you are doing to be a good illustrator.unnamed-2 mail snake 560 wide
DAVE: Do you think digital technology has helped photography?
Experimenting is now easier, but I see less of it?
GRAHAM: It must be good that anyone now can take a photograph and produce a usable image with little skill or forethought.
I expect many imaginative people are using photography in new and adventurous ways.
On the down side, it is a less exacting process, there is less at stake, it is easy to be lazy.
It is also fairly easy to make very complex images using Photoshop, but so many of these are meaningless or unconvincing.
I always felt the power of photography lay in its basic reality.
Of course the camera has always lied, but it lied convincingly. I can never really believe in an obviously digitally manipulated image

To paraphrase Henry Wolf: Photography has the power to make an object or person seem unique, beautiful or ugly, thoughtful or desirable beyond its mere physical existence.

DAVE: What keeps you busy at the moment?
GRAHAM: These, silver vessels, each raised from a disc by hammering.Graham Ford, Silver 5 Graham Ford, Silver 4 Graham Ford, Silver 3 Graham Ford, Silver 1 Graham Ford, Silver 2
DAVE: Do you collect them, shoot them or make them?
GRAHAM: Making, just for fun.
DAVE: Amazing, they look great, thanks for sharing them Graham.