VFTL. Episode 3: Peter Souter.

Peter Souter:Showaddywaddy.jpgMy 7th boss.
Former hitch-hiker,
Frankenstien re-animator,
David Abbott replacement,
D&AD President,
ITV sitcom creator,
Radio 4 drama writer and
cousin of Showaddywaddy
lead singer Dave Bartram.

wavelogo 7-01.jpg

DELANEY FLETCHER DELANEY.'Some Women Are' Cancer, Peter Souter, DFD*.jpg

WOOLAMS MOIRA GASKIN O’MALLEY.'Escape' Eurax, Peter Souter, WMG)-01.jpg'Scratch' Eurax, Peter Souter, WMGO-01.jpg'Boy' Tri-Ac, Peter Souter, WMGO-01.jpg'Girl' Tri-Ac, Peter Souter, WMGO-01.jpg'Twins' Tri-Ac, Peter Souter, WMGO-01.jpg


ABBOTT MEAD VICKERS.Peter Souter:Paul Brazier.jpg
'This Whippet' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV*.jpg'During The Recession' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpg'Bill' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpg'Before They're' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV**.jpg'Injection:Radio' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV.jpg

'Industrial Secrets' The Economist, Peter Souter, AMV*.jpg

'Envelope 2' D&AD, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpg'Dead' D&AD, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpg

'This Ad Has' Queen Elizabeth's, Peter Souter, AMV*-01.jpg'Radio' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpgPetr Souter:AMV:BBDO.jpg

'Jordan' The Economist, AMV:BBDO.jpg'Ever Go Blank' The Economist, AMV:BBDO.jpg

'Lolly' Guinness, AMV:BBDO.jpg'Iceberg' Guinness, AMV:BBDO.jpg'Fan' Guinness, AMV:BBDO.jpg




WRITER.'Goldfish Girl' Peter Souter.jpg'Hello:Goodbye 2' Peter Souter.jpg'Married. Single. Other 2' Peter Souter.jpg'Married. Single. Other 3' Peter Souter.jpg'Married. Single. Other' Peter Souter.jpg

IN-CAMERA 2: Rolph Gobits

“To me, people are like lighthouses in a very big ocean, with wind and rain and waves trying to break them and make them go under.” – Rolph Gobits.
Rolph Gobits - Rolph


DAVE: Did you come from an arty family Rolph?
ROLPH: I did not come from an arty family at all.

DAVE: Do you remember being aware of photography whist growing up in Holland?
ROLPH: I was aware of photography at a very young age when growing up in Amsterdam.
I was about five or six years old when my father or mother took me to a friend who had a dark room. To me it was a miracle to see a plain piece of paper (that is what it looked to me) swimming in what appeared to be a dish with plain water and slowly but surely an image appeared from this blank piece of paper.
The first exhibition of photography I ever did go and see was Robert Capa in the 1950s.
12-3DAVE: When did you take your first picture?
ROLPH: I bought my first camera when I was about 13 years old. It was a 35 mm Yahica camera which could shoot at 1000th of a second, which seemed unbelievable to me.
The first pictures I photographed was of an airplane with had propellers, as jet passenger planes were not yet in service.
I was trying to freeze the rotating propellers at 1000 of a second as I wanted to test the seemingly amazing shutter speed.
Only much later I realised I could have photographed this airplane with the propellers stationary and would have got the same result on film.
It showed clearly my naïvety.

DAVE: What was your first job?
ROLPH: When I was fifteen years old I was working during the summer holidays in a bank six days a week sorting punch cards which were processed through a machine. This was the forerunner to computers.

DAVE: Which photographer did you assist?
ROLPH: I never assisted any photographer.
On completing my M A degree at the Royal College of Art , I got commissions immediately working on editorial magazines like NOVA, Cosmopolitan, Daily Telegraph and many others.
Rolph Gobits - Comedians 2 Rolph Gobits - Comedians 3 Rolph Gobits - Comedians 1
DAVE: What was the first picture you were paid for?
ROLPH: Immediately after completing the RCA I got commissioned to photograph for BIBA, which was just about to open its new store in Derry & Tom’s building in Kensington.Rolph Gobits - Great Dance RevivalRolph Gobits - Bibba-esqueRolph Gobits - White Top hatRolph Gobits - Mirror

DAVE: You seem to have made a conscious effort to switch from being a poppy, trendy fashion photographer to a more classical, serious photographer?
ROLPH: When I first left the RCA I took on almost any job which came my way.
I was so keen to get started having been a student, firstly for four years at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art, followed by two years at the RCA.
It was time giving up being a student and becoming a “professional”.
There also comes a time when you get bored with listening to stories of fashion models rabbiting on about their social lives.

DAVE: What was your first ad that turned out well?
ROLPH: If I remember correctly, the first advert which turned out well was for an agency called Fletcher, Shelton, Delaney.
It was a black and white advert with directors in a boardroom and a sheep.
The directors were all played by staff of the advertising agency.
The sheep was easier to work with than the “directors” who thought this was all a bit of fun.
I was really thrown in at the deep end and realised I was entering an industry like no other.
Preceding this I had only worked on editorial photography for two years.

Rolph Gobits - Daily Mail 'Green Belt', Paul Arden-01Paul Arden, Daily Mail 'Burglar'-01Paul Arden, Daily Mail 'Ex-Directory'-01Roplh Gobits, 'Best Buy', Direction magazine-01DAVE: Who were your early photography heroes?
ROLPH: Robert Capa,                                                              Irving Penn,
Capa-Matisse  57
Richard Avedon,                                                        Edward Steichen,Free Magazine Download. PDF Magazines Latest and Back Issues. Magazines for All   steichen_charles-chaplin-webEdward Curtis,                                                            Winston Link,Edward_S._Curtis,_Canyon_de_Chelly,_Navajo,_1904   linksteamzenith2
Man Ray,                                          Guy Bourdin,
image-4-web  43297-charles-jourdan-shoes-1976-photo-guy-bourdin-hprints-com-1
Sarah Moon,                                                             Paul Strand and many others.tumblr_mr2oxh4xwc1s5uquqo1_r1_1280  strand_fifth_avenue

DAVE: Your compositions aren’t very ‘advertising’. Ad photography tends to be graphic and in-your-face, your shots are calm, detailed and distant.
Take the Lloyd’s Bank ad, I love that the surroundings are dwarfing the two people talking. Not many art directors would do that or want that?
Rolph Gobits - Lloyds, Lowes-01
 ROLPH: Because my portfolio was very editorial any art director who wanted to work with me wanted very much the look of my editorial work.
It was the beginning of a new look which was taking place.
This occurred as several ex RCA students entered the advertising industry and all had a personal vision which was very different from the established advertising look.
Excelisor 'Birds' TBWA-01Rolph Gobits, Jean Muir, Direction Magazine-01 Rolph Gobits, Edward Bawden, Direction magazine-01Rolph Gobits - BMW 'Puple Cactus'*, WCRS-01
DAVE: It’s a bit ‘Sophie’s Choice’, but who’s the best art director you’ve worked with over the years?
ROLPH: This is incredibly difficult to answer as some gave me a free hand and other directors knew precisely what they wanted.
I enjoyed very much both disciplines.
I cannot say who is the best art director but some of the art directors that spring to mind are Paul Arden, Neil Godfrey, Fergus Fleming, Nigel Rose, Alan Waldie, and many more. There are just too many as I have worked in the industry for over thirty-five years. Paul Arden, Daily Mail, Paris' In-Situ-01 Paul Arden, Daily Mail 'Skiing'-01 Paul Arden, Daily Mail 'Vogue'-02PAXTON-cheese-shop
DAVE: Money aside, what do you prefer shooting – advertising or editorial?
ROLPH: I truly have no preference. In editorial you can do whatever you want while with advertising you have to bear in mind there is a “product” that needs to inform on many different levels.
Rolph Gobits, Lloyd's Bank 'Gin Bar', Lowe-01 Rolph Gobits, Pilkington 'Salmon', Saatchi-01 Rolph Gobits, Pilkington 'Tourists', Saatchi-01 DAVE: I think a lot of your shots have been badly handled by art directors.
Your pictures are classic, sometimes like paintings and need to be put in simple environments, but many of your shots have been put into layouts where the coloured backgrounds and fancy type don’t do justice to the delicacy of the images?
ROLPH: Many Peoples and opinions have to be considered to get the final “ look”.  The best conceived adverts are the ones where the art director knows what he wants and fights any other opinions people express.
You have to be a benevolent dictator.
It is that very quality that makes the best art directors the best art directors.
Rolph Gobits, Real Fire 'Forsythe', Deighton Mullen-01 Rolph Gobits, Audi 'Performs', BBH-01Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 11.46.04DAVE: I would imagine art directors gave you very open briefs?
ROLPH: Sometimes the open brief consisted of many discussions with the art director many weeks before the shoot.
We would sit down and talk about his ideas and my vision and collectively we would arrive at the ideal situation which would make the advert look like an open brief.
Compared to an art director who may have “battled” for months to get his idea through many discussions and arguments at the agency meetings, it is important for me to understand what is possible and what is definitely a no go with my idea of solving the “problem”.

DAVE: Most photographers who take portraits focus on the face.
Well, it is a portrait after all.
So if you are shooting the artist Jenny Saville, most
 would try and capture her expression, like this.Rolph Gobits - JENNY SAVILLE, (Face)pg-01
Some, the bolder ones, may pull back a little to also capture a bit of body language.

And then there’s Rolph.
Rolph Gobits - JENNY SAVILLE
Few see the world like that.
It makes an art director’s job very easy, the picture does all the hard work.
Simply bung a bit of type in the corner and your spread looks amazing.
DAVE: Your choices are like other people’s mistakes.
Take the portrait above, few would be bold enough to have the face of the subject taking up only two percent of the total area, or below, few would  push the window to the side to show lots of blank wall.
Rolph Gobits - Window watcher
This bloke hasn’t been told where the camera is.
There’s a big black thing in shot.LM00055049000ROLPH: Just a few words about the Jenny Saville image, because her paintings are very large I photographed her small intentionally. This was the whole idea of photographing her.
In almost all cases I cannot explain how I compose an image.
It is not about size of the person or product; it is about what feels right and gives the sort of emotion I get when I see the location or person.
It is about what feels right to me.
When I worked in the “editorial word” and had to photograph famous people who only gave me ten or fifteen minutes  maximum, I had to make quick decisions, it developed my skill to see a composition.
This was especially true during my work for Management Today magazine, working for Roland Schenk, as all the people I photographed were the creme de la creme of business people and felt very uncomfortable having a camera shoved up their noses.
This was the beginning of me showing more about their environment rather than their faces.
This way the captains of industry felt more relaxed and  comfortable.
For some reason most of these CEO’s expressed to me they preferred going to the dentist  than being photographed.
I presume they tell the dentist a preference to being photographed rather than visiting them.

DAVE: Do art directors find you easy going and flexible, or immovable, like a rock?
ROLPH; This question makes me laugh.
With bad art directors I was immovable as they were very indecisive of what they wanted and therefore relied on my input, whilst working with good art directors became a team effort and was very much open to exchange of ideas.

DAVE: Your work looks as though you were inspired by painters more than photographers?
ROLPH: I am inspired by painting as the artist has a clear understanding of what light can do and how light creates an atmosphere as well as texture and space. If I could paint ( which I can’t) my passion would increase by 1.
RG_Sir-_T-_CONRANLM00055009093LM00055042942 LM00055044975
DAVE: What’s the favourite ad you’ve done?
ROLPH: Impossible to answer as I am very proud of many advertisements I have worked on.
I am proud of a Benson & Hedges ad I worked on which took me 12 days and a 28 minute exposure and I am proud of an ad which took me 1 second and four hours to set up.Rolph Gobits. B& H advertisement
Also other factors should be considered with this statement; enjoyment, difficulty, stress, problem solving (no Photoshop or manipulation), teamwork, weather, etc, etc.SPAIN Rolph Gobits - DuskDAVE: What’s the favourite ad you haven’t done?
ROLPH: Anything by Guy Bourdin.

DAVE: What’s happening, are you doing a selfie with Putin?
ROLPH: He watched my masterclass and the students working with ballet dancers.
He just talked to me about an “Englishman” teaching at the only campus University in the whole of Russia, (with over 20,000 students and about half living in dormitories on an island with many thousands from all over the world).

Putin,Ivanets, Gobits
DAVE: CGI vs In-camera?
ROLPH: No contest; anything achieved completely in camera shows the craftmanship of the photographer.
Photography has become an illustration and can no longer be said to tell the “truth”.

DAVE: Digitisation has made photography easier, less expensive and allowed everyone to do it, but has it helped the images themselves?
I am not against digitisation.
However it should only be used if a conventional method makes it impossible to get the desired result.
Nowadays it is just used because it is easier and time-consuming, but it makes you lazier. It is software that stops you thinking and using your brain.
The job of the photographer has been reduced as somebody else takes over part of his job he was responsible for himself.
If he makes a mistake the software will correct his stupidity.
The result is; he will be less involved with the process of taking the picture.

DAVE: When I get the results from a photographic shoot today it’s like it’s from Ikea – put tab a into slot b, just hundreds of pieces shot to get the lighting just so, but the end results aren’t better?
ROLPH: You are absolutely right about your statement.
I was told the following story by a colleague in our industry.
A well-known agency commissioned a “trendy” fashion photographer to take a car shot in the studio.
He had never taken a car picture in the studio.
The agency hired two assistants who had a great deal of experience doing studio car photography.
In order to save educating the fashion photographer and save time, each part of the car was photographed separately and then put together like a puzzle.
Why not use the expert in the first place rather than creating a patchwork of images that never looked complete.050111SIR Mech 16.75x10.indd sothebys4-rolphgobitsRolph Gobits - Leffe Rolph Gobits - Venice
DAVE: Which of your rivals did you respect most?
ROLPH: It was not rivals but more the sort of photography I admired but could never do myself such as Lester Bookbinder,Lester Bookbinder - Orange:Duck
Graham Ford,
Francois Gillet.
Francious Gilet, Saatchi's-01

DAVE: I sense that you’re enjoying photography as much now as you ever have?
ROLF: I have always enjoyed photography and always worked on my own projects when I was not busy working on commercial projects.
However, I miss commercial work as I enjoy the challenge of solving a problem set by others . It pushes you to think beyond your own world and comfort zone.
It is very rewarding to overcome a problem in the context of being part of a team and meeting a deadline.
To make a comparison; If you are a skier, skiing by yourself you probably take the comfortable route downhill that does not challenge you too much but if you go downhill with somebody equally good you probably try to be more adventurous and try to push each other to the limit.
I enjoy this challenge of getting to the finishing line=end product.

l1050173_1-1 Rolph Gobits - Ballet Rolph Gobits - Cat & GlassesLM00055045140-1LM00055005043

DAVE: Which photographers do you admire today?
ROLPH: Salgado,                                                          Helmut Newton,
Sebastioa Salgado   Helmut-Newton
Tim Flack,                                                                                          Nadav Kandar, Tim Flach - Elephant Boy   nadav-kander-rebecca-hall-cover
Donald McCullin,                                                 William Eggleston,
Don McCullin, Belfast*-01   ©William Eggleston
Weegee,                                               Cindy Sherman,
weegee-photographs-murder-is-my-business-reception-hospital   cindy-sherman-at-moma-2-23-12-8
Diane Arbus and many others.
Diane Arbus

DAVE: What is Lensmodern?
ROLPH: Lensmodern is an internet online gallery and picture library selling prints and licensing images to the media industry.
Our aim was to create this company selling images of photographers who did not want to be with agencies like Getty and Corbis which are run by financial institutions.
Our organisation is run by photographers and for photographers.
Our aim is to occupy a niche market not covered by the corporations.
Presently we have over 40,000 images and have agents in many countries representing our many photographers.

DAVE: “To me, people are like lighthouses in a very big ocean , with wind and rain and waves trying to break them and make them go under”.
I love it, what does it mean?
 The lighthouse represents a human being and the ocean and wind represents your life in this world. The ocean and wind are unpredictably like life itself; it changes all the time.
From birth to death your life is equally unpredictable and people through  circumstances try to overwhelm you with  ideas, rules, regulations and telling you what to do.
They try to break you down and become like everybody else.
But you must not become like everybody else and fight for your individuality that distinguishes you from everybody else.
Your strongly held beliefs and conviction must never be drowned by insipid substitutes.
LM00055030470 253fe2b2a13fc653871c5d6a4b9ee83cRolph Gobits - LARISA-SWIMMING- Rolph Gobits - Tree PalmRolph Gobits - Lightbulbs







CALL FOR ENTRIES: John Knight work and stories.

A few years ago I tried to find an old beer poster for a presentation.
Fortunately, I knew the Art Director’s name: John Knight, the agency name: TBWA and the client name: Bank’s.
I googled all the combinations, variants, even trying misspelling some of them..
Unfortunately the chaps at Google couldn’t find it.
So I trawled through all the old awards annuals, eventually finding it.
But what struck me along the way was how under represented an influential figure like John was.
His old TBWA boss, Sir John Hegarty, explained it this way: “Truly groundbreaking work never does very well at the awards, because it generally splits the juries and ends up being underrepresented. John suffered from that.”
In all areas of creativity, context is everything, what was breathtaking, innovative and controversial then, often feels familiar and ‘so what’ today.

Once a new, unique path is forged, it becomes open to the public, most using it without having a clue who discovered it.
But there’s no button on this keyboard that can help me put the following work in context, so you’ll have to take my word that it wasn’t the norm.

When I first got into Advertising, ads tended to looked like this…sainsbury
And then I came across one of John’s ads.Bank's, 'Unspoilt', John Knight, TBWA-01
No headline, logo, end line, product shot or pun. (
They were all the rage back in the day.)
Just a single photograph that evoked another era.
It made me think a brewery from Wolverhampton was cool.
Not an easy thing to do.
I found out it was produced by an Art Director called John Knight.Scan
He’s the cool looking one far left.
Known to friends as ‘JFK’, due to his habit of breaking up words with an ex-fuckin’-spletive.
“It used to shock people at the time, swearing wasn’t as common back then” John’s old writer, Ken Mullen.
When everyone one else was zigging, he was zagging.

He seemed to do his own thing.
He influenced a lot of people, including me.
Here’s why:

1. His Art Direction is bespoke to each client, it’s not interchangeable.
The beer posters are made from bits of pubs, the Laura Ashley ads are made from bits of fabric, the Castrol ads are made from car parts.

2. His Art Direction makes it feel as though a human was involved in making the ad.

3. His ads don’t feel like advertising. So they engage.

Here’s the earliest ad I could find of John’s from his brief spell at Saatchi & Saatchi.
John is the most junior person credited in D&AD on this Volkswagen ad, so I assume it’s his idea?

Although John was a sweary, hard-drinking Millwall supporter, he also had a sensitive side: he was an expert on wild flowers, helped green charities before they were reffered to as ‘green charities’ and bred canaries,
So although this was produced whilst John was at JWT, it was probably a favour to a group he belonged to.


John then managed to talk a Lord (Snowdon) into  shooting his Muscular Dystrophy poster for nothing.
“It ran for 14 years…every time it came down, fundraising fell”
– Writer Peers Carter.

He also did design.
Not that unusual today,  who isn’t a multi-discipline, 360 degree creative?

but back then Design and Advertising rarely mixed, few people did both.mehana

His most fruitful period was whilst at TBWA, the Bank’s campaign being my personal favourite. Bank's, 'Simply', John Knight, TBWA-01Bank's, Old &', John Knight, TBWA-01  Bank's, 'Humans', John Knight, TBWA-01 Bank's, 'Nothing', John Knight, TBWA-01 Bank's, 'Unspoilt', John Knight, TBWA-01Bank's, 'Resist', John Knight, TBWA-01jk33
(I presume this parodies the, very famous at the time, Fiat ad ‘Hand built by robots’.)

“He was no believer in deadlines. I remember once on Banks’ weeks and weeks were going by without anything happening, I thought the only way to solve it would be to get everyone in the same room to find the culprit. John came in last, looked around at assembled faces and said ‘looks like I’m gonna need fuckin’ legal representation’. –  Sir John Hegarty

He sweet-talked the least commercial artists of the day, David Hockney, Eduardo Paolozzi and Dame Elizabeth Frink, to knock out a few ads.
I would imagine that was a tough sell.
I would also imagine that getting their fees approved by Volvo was an even tougher sell.
But he made it happen.

vovlo_castle race
A campaign for Beefeater Gin knocking Gordon’s.
The green bottled one.

Great shots by Brian Griffin, I wish I could find all the executions.
(Brian found and sent in these first two)
Beefeater %22Harvey Smith%22 adAlan Pricebeefeater23 Beefeater Gin 'Beaumont', Knight, TBWA, Griffin-01

He was doing illustration/photography mash-ups before the term ‘mash-up‘ was released to the general public.
whats new1
Here he goes head to head with Art Director Ron Brown in a arguing for the use of Illustration rather than the ubiquitous use of photography at the time.

Actually, the debate is just as relevant today.
(I’m guessing Ron got into the business at the height of the DDB revolution, at that time people would’ve been chanting ‘Down with namby pamby illustrations! Up with squared up photographs!
By the time John got into the business the DDB  revolution was a decade old, using squared up photographs would’ve been like listening to Buddy Holly or having a quiff.

In the following issue, Gerry Farrell has a pop at him about the article.
But on the plus side, they use a nice picture. john knight25
A great product placement idea, with writer Chris Martin.

For the time, these layouts for Kawasaki would’ve been very ‘out there‘.jk_bikes

A great shot by Bob Carlos Clarke for Singapore Airlines.
That smudge above the guy say; ‘Sorry about Thursday’.

John Knight, Singapore Airlines 'Next Wednesday'-01

An incredibly distinctive campaign at the time.
Apparently John lined up artist Allen Jones to illustrate the campaign, it was all ready to go when the client got cold feet, worried that the imagery may be too erotic.
allen_jones3 Right Hand Lady 1970 by Allen Jones born 1937
In the end, illustrator Conny Jude did a great job.

Screen shot 2013-12-14 at 17.00.33 Screen shot 2013-12-14 at 17.00.19 Screen shot 2013-12-14 at 17.00.07 Screen shot 2013-12-14 at 16.59.01

“ Before we worked together at WCRS, I nearly worked with him at AMV, I was going to be hired to be paired with Brian Morrow an art director from TBWA, when at the last moment David Abbott informed me that Brian would be working with another writer instead. Brian contacted me and said ‘You should speak to John Knight, he’s the one I copy’. – Giles Keeble.

“For a writer like me it was terrific working with John, he’d take your thoughts and ideas into surprising places.
On Qantas, for example, I’d written a long copy ad about the effects of jet lag, John went down to the studio and, to echo the effects of Jet lag distorted and distressed all the type, which was fine, and then, without telling me, swapped around the first four lines of copy. It made no sense.
He then hid from me to try and avoid the possibility of me trying to change it.
When people, including me, saw what he’d done it seemed ridiculous, in retrospect it was brilliant.”
5.8613a_l-1John Knight, Qantas %22A-Z' John Knight, Qantas 'Gumtree' John Knight, Qantas 'Connections'

Very simple poster for Dulux Natural Woodcare using a cool, homemade font.
Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 06.54.10

“The Laura Ashley ads we did with the illustrations made from their fabrics were blown up and put in the windows of all their shops and used to stop people in the streets.” – Giles Keeble.

With photographer Lucinda Lambton for McVities.
John Knight, McVities 'Grandfather Clock' John Knight, McVities 'Clock'
These the only things I could find from his time at Leo Burnett.
They look pretty straight forward now, but I remember seeing it at the time and thinking that they weren’t’ like any McDonald’s ads I’d ever seen; “McDonald’s must be changing“.
John Knight, McDonald's John Knight, McDonald's 'Potato'
He didn’t have the talent to handle his talent.
He was a good influence in the department, would have made a good lecturer. Inspirer.” Sir John Hegarty.jk_pic

Nb. I knew Lorraine had been John’s partner for twenty years, I’d heard she’d inspired the Campari script which would later make her a household name.
It’s writer Terry Howard sat next door to John and would often hear Lorraine through the walls, he could never quite reconcile the elegant face with the fishwives voice.
When flicking around the internet looking for John’s work I found this headline about Lorraine’s time in ‘I’m A Celebrity Get me Out Of Here!’: ” ‘Tedward’ was a reminder of  Lorraine Chase’s former, deceased partner John Knight,” says Emmerdale star.