One busy week on the Portraits from the North East Project

by Peter Walton

Whilst we wait with patient optimism for the outcome of our Arts Council grant application, life goes on, or should I say… the shutter keeps moving, and we push on researching and photographing subjects for this project.

Last week was as diverse and exciting as it gets.

On Monday John Cogan and I met the incredible Dr Hari Shukla, OBE who has devoted his life to Race Relations. He takes a keen interest in inter faith relationships and is involved with the coordination of a faith leaders group in Newcastle upon Tyne. Hari is a man you can listen to for ages, his enthusiasm and twinkle in his eye made great photography for a man in his 80’s.

Monday afternoon saw John and I photographing Tom Capeling, a local lad done good, after leaving Bede School Sunderland at 16 he rose to the dizzy heights as Chief Fire Officer for Tyne and Wear.

Tom was easy going and good to chat too, this always makes portraiture a lot easier if the subject is relaxed with you and you can bring out their character and a natural smile.

Wednesday took John Clarke and John Cogan to Northumbria Police Headquarters to photograph Chief Constable Sue Sim who was apparently a dream to work with. The two John’s still had smiles on their faces when we met again a couple of days later!

Thursday was the turn of Steve Howey, who as a schoolboy at St Cuthbert’s Primary School in Sunderland was spotted by football scouts that led to a career with Newcastle United, Manchester United and England. Steve now works for the Premier League and the British Council teaching football coaching all over the world. Julie Ferry and I caught up with Steve at his home and enjoyed coffee and a good chat. A really nice guy who was good to work with.

Friday was the day that the two John’s, Jed Wee and I visited Baroness Tanni Grey- Thompson at her home in Eaglescliffe. Tanni spends four days a week in the House of Lords and thanks to the persuasive skills of our leader John Cogan she agreed to see us on Friday. This was such a pleasure and experience to photograph a really nice person who was so easy to get on with.

If you think that was a full week well we’re not finished yet!

On Friday I had a call from Malcolm Gerrie, the man behind the TV shows The Tube, The Brits and the Baftas. He was responding to my letter and was in Tyneside at the weekend. Ian Stafford and I met Malcolm on Saturday at the Dog Leap stairs in Newcastle at his request as that is where The Animals were photographed when they rose to fame in the 1960’s although none of you will remember the 60’s!?

Malcolm used to be a teacher at Ryhope Grammar School, did a stage production of the Rock Opera Tommy at the school, and David Puttnam came to see it, the rest is history.

Malcolm is really interested in the project and has asked to be kept informed. He is a busy man who spends most of his time in London but managed to squeeze us in between meetings with Bob Geldof and Robert Plant. Now how’s that for name dropping!

Things are getting really busy behind the scenes and ‘on stage’ with this project. We do appreciate the work the team is doing to pull this together and especially John Cogan who spends many hours researching subjects and getting in touch with them.

It will all be worth it, I am convinced of that.

Clockwise from top left: Hari Shulka, Steve Howie, Malcolm Gerrie, Tom Capeling, Tanni Grey-Thompson photographed by Peter Walton

   peterwalton Hari Shulka171114_05peterwalton Steve Howey201114_02peterwalton Malcolm Gerrie221114_09

          peterwalton TanniGThompson211114_04peterwalton Tom Capeling171114_05

This entry was posted in Behind the Scenes.