Friday, December 27, 2013

Recent Tearsheet // Robbie Honey for Christie's Magazine

I was recently commissioned to photographed Robbie Honey, a London based high-end florist as he went about a normal day arranging flowers for one of his UK clients. It started with an early start at New Covent Garden flower market followed by a visit to a property near Sloane Square. Robbie was great to work with throughout - incredibly patient and with a keen eye for detail - a man with a true passion for his work.

Friday, December 20, 2013

RECENT FEATURE: A Multitude of Nows, HUCK magazine


I was recently excited to be asked to submit some images for the HUCK magazine photo special along with an artist statement about the work. I love HUCK magazine and it's design and the team behind it are always super excited by new work and generally very supportive. It provided me with an opportunity to show some images I've been shooting recently using a camera known as a Widelux, but as of yet haven't showcased anywhere. The final 3-page spread is above and I've included the written statement below. At some point I'm going to get the project up onto the website - so watch this space.

Ever since I was a kid, I've always been fascinated with the concept of the camera - an object small enough to put in your pocket that has the ability to capture and freeze a moment for eternity. A few years ago I was killing time on a rainy afternoon in one of London's last-standing bookshops and I spied a book by a photographer that would change the way I thought about the power of the image forever.

In the introduction, the photographer explained that the images in the book, photographed over a period of twenty years, had all been shot at 1/250th of a second. This meant that images that represented two decades of his life amounted to less than one second in actual time. He was representing twenty years in less time than it takes to click your fingers. It got me thinking of the randomness of the captured moment, what Henri Cartier-Bresson had always defined as the ‘decisive moment’ - that split second when all elements come together to create the perfect photograph. An image snapped a fraction of a second later, two centimetres to the left or right, would be its own unique moment - a different interpretation of the moment altogether. That has always been one of the great challenges with photography: how, as a photographer, do you go about catching the decisive moment when there are so many odds stacked against you?

A few years after this revelation, I met a man in Hong Kong. In amongst the hustle and bustle and high-rise chaos that defines that city, he offered to sell me a camera that could not only take in a wider panorama than the human eye, it could also capture more than that precious single sliver of time – and deliver it all in a single frame. This little-known Japanese camera from the 1940s, a heavy hunk of metal made up of cogs and springs, was known as a Widelux. The camera itself has a revolving lens which, when you press the shutter, moves from left to right across the frame, capturing 140 degrees of view onto standard 35mm film. Because the lens moves (taking a full two seconds to move left to right on the slowest shutter speed, creating 1/15th second exposure) it's not actually catching a single moment in time. In effect, the camera becomes something unique, somewhere between a stills camera and a movie camera - yet it still gives you a single image.

I found this fascinating. The concept of the decisive moment becomes fundamentally changed. You're no longer capturing that so-called split second - what we commonly think of as a snapshot. In essence, you’re capturing a larger chunk of a rolling moment and across a much wider frame. What you capture on the right-hand side of the image may have taken place milliseconds after what’s captured on the left. It becomes more of a challenge to create a clear, concise photograph but the final frame is in many ways far more immersive, and arguably more honest. And by that I mean that to frame is to exclude; so much in photography is not about what you show in the image but arguably what you chose not to show. With this camera it’s hard to exclude; its lens see’s so much that it creates a much more honest representation of the scene. It's a different way of working and requires a different way of seeing.

For me, photography is a way to explore and discover the world around me - it allows me to be curious, to ask questions and then to present my discoveries to others. I want my images to capture an essence of something - a feeling, an emotion - because I think that's the best way to communicate ideas and opinions; you need to engage the gut to engage the brain.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Recent Assignment: Save the Children, Central African Republic

I was recently commissioned to travel to the Central African Republic for Save the Children a cover a visit by their CEO Justin Forsyth, producing both film and stills. Whilst we were there the situation in country deteriorated rapidly with fighting breaking out across the region and leaving us trying to continue operating under tight restrictions. It was certainly an interesting time to be there, the country needs attention from the International Community to make sure it doesn't descend into bitter sectarian violence - it felt we were there just as the story was beginning to break. Hopefully the attention it's received in the last few weeks and the intervention of the French and African Forces will bring some stability.

A 3 year old who was shot in the arm and had to have it amputated, Bouar Hospital.

A child undergoes surgery in a Hospital with no electricity and one trained surgeon for 37,000 people

Local militia's patrolling in Bouar

French forces on the streets of the capital, Bangui

Monday, December 16, 2013

RECENT WORK // EY Advertising

I was recently commissioned to shoot a series of portraits that were to be used online and in printed media as part of campaign for the accountancy firm Ernst Young. Spotted this one online the other day - pretty happy with the results!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Recent Assignment: Save the Children, Malawi

I was recently given as assignment to go to Malawi and produce a video and stills package for a healthcare award run by Glaxo Smith Klein and Save the Children. The deadline was quite tight, I had two days in which to shoot everything I needed (stills and video) and then had to edit and deliver on the 3rd day. These types of assignments are always a challenge because you tend to work solo and have to be capable of doing everything, wearing all the different hats, and doing so in an unfamiliar, sometimes difficult environment. On this occasion I was very lucky to find some great local help on the ground, including a fixer who also knew his way around a camera (always handy). Below are some of the images from the assignment and also an edit I put together from the two days of shooting. 

bCPAPMalawi 4 from Greg Funnell on Vimeo.

And below are some little behind the scenes snaps: With Esther and her son at her home in Blantyre, Malawi

Ernest (my local fixer) shows a previous video he shot with Esther, to her and her family, for the first time.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tips from the Road: Travel wallet

One thing that is definitely worth organising if you travel frequently is a travel wallet. For some this may seem obvious but hopefully for some others it may be useful. Below is a pic of my travel wallet.

Passport - two things I always try and make sure I have with regards to my passport is that it has a sticker on the spine. I use this to make it out in a pile; it's just a marker so I can spot it quickly. This is useful when you find your passport being mixed in with a number of others at things like checkpoints or if you're travelling in a group. It's a quick marker that allows you to keep tabs on it. I also try and always have my passport contained in a clear plastic bag. This is designed to keep it dry and clean from spillages etc or if your bag/wallet goes in the water. Another thing to check with your passport is to keep an eye on the expiry date (you normally need six months remaining) and the number of pages you have left (it's good to have at least two clear).

Spare passport photos - always worth having a few available as you never know when you're going to need them on forms, visas, applications etc. I learnt is the hard way having to find a passport photo studio in Beirut and the whole process being an utter faff. (Besides they're good to have a laugh at later - both of those in the above picture were from a while back now)

European health insurance card/air miles cards – just good to always have these handy.

Spare business cards – never know when you might need them and it’s good to always know you’ve got back-ups

Spare dollars – Dollars are king. Wherever you are in the world they can help get you out of a sticky situation.

Spare home currency - always good to have emergency cash in your home currency in case you return to find your wallet or bag lost.

Yellow Fever Certificate - a few countries need this for entry. The number of times I've seen people getting hassle because they don't have it on them – for that reason alone it seems always carrying it with you when you travel.

Vaccinations card - it's always good to know what you've had and what your up to date with

Paper clip - if like me you carry a spare iPhone for local sims then this is always useful. Getting the sim out is much easier if you have a paper lip to hand!

Copy of your passport and copy of your travel insurance documents (although worth keeping a copy elsewhere too otherwise it kind of defeats the purpose!)
That's all for now - hopefully there's some little nuggets there that will be of use to someone! If you found it useful you might want to read this article on what's in my travel 'grab bag'.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Recent Tearsheets: Another Escape magazine

I was lucky enough recently to be asked to submit some work to a relatively new publication called 'Another Escape' - I chose to submit some images from a trip to India I took in 2012. The above tearsheets are how it ran in the magazine.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Recent Commission and Interview: Making a digital Pinhole

I was recently commissioned by HUCK magazine to create a series of 3 images that they could run in their Special photography issue that was published in November 2013. At first we discussed what direction I would take with it as they wanted to do something that was a bit different and yet it needed to be something we could do in a short space in time and one that would reproduce well for the magazine. Initially we had been discussing some ideas involving a camera obscura - but felt it might be tricky to make something work in the time frame. I took this idea though and scaled it down - rather than create a room sized camera obscura - we could use the same basic technique at a more manageable size - the answer it seemed was to produce a pin-hole camera. Given the time frame it seemed sensible to do this digitally.

The drilled hole on the body cap (above) and the cinefoil behind the hole reducing it's size further (top)
The technique for doing so is relatively simple; you need to make a small precise hole that will allow light to fall onto the cameras sensor. After a bit of research I realised the optimum size for this needed to be about 0.3mm, and the best way to achieve this would be to use a pin to penetrate a material but not to pass through it. Obviously you don't want light being reflected and bouncing around inside so the material needs to be dark. I figured the best way to do this was to drill a hole in a spare body cap and then use a hole in some cinefoil which was taped with black tape on the inside. Another bit of tape on the front acts as a rudimentary lens-cap (but only for stopping dust entering and the shutter still needs to be fired). This technique gives you roughly an equivalent frame of a 50mm lens - not ideal for landscapes but certainly useable.   

Below are the images as they ran in the magazine

If you're interested in catching the rest of the issue (well worth a read in my opinion) look out for it in all good newsagents.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

BIID commission

Charles Leon, Chairman of the Interior Design Association (IDA), and Sue Timney, President of British Institute of Interior Design (BIID), photographed at Roca Gallery, London.

This was a recent commission I received from the British Institute of Interior Design and the Interior Design Institute to photograph their two respective CEO's and to highlight their merger. I photographed them in the Roca Gallery in West London. It's a three light setup - using gels - and trying to sculpt the light so it really promotes the interior space which otherwise would have looked quite flat (with the lighting as it was). I was working alone on this but had asked for an hour setup time, which is crucial when trying to get something like this in an unfamiliar space.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


A couple of shots from an assignment I had back in April photographing Youssou N'Dour perform in Senegal. One of the craziest assignments I think I've had this year, involving a race against the clock driving on African roads, facing off Kalashnikov bribe seeking policemen, insane and unintended river crossings and tropical diseases. A story for another time.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Portrait: Welder, Sierra Leone

Portrait of Sullayman Kamara, 26, an orphan and former street child who is now learning welding skills at the Mayemi Skills training centre outside of Freetown. Shot on a recent assignment to Sierra Leone for the NGO ActionAid.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Peace Bridge: Sierra Leone

The Peace Bridge (formerly the Congo Cross Bridge) was where rebels were halted by government forces and Civil Defense Units  and thus prevented them from advancing further into Freetown, on 6th January 1999. The area surrounding the bridge houses many refugees who have made settlements by the river - unfortunately these communities are prone to flooding from the river. 18th August 2013. Photo: © Greg Funnell/ActionAid

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Portrait: Seaweed Pete

One from the archive, a portrait of 'Seaweed Pete' taken just off of the south coast, close to Poole Harbour, 2011.  

Monday, October 07, 2013

Jeremy Paxman for TATLER

I recently had the honour of being asked by Tatler to photograph British TV and news personality Jeremy Paxman, considered a notorious interviewer and a bit of an all round intellectual powerhouse. Needless to say I was a little daunted! Thankfully though I think  managed to break through the frosty exterior to create a honest portrait of the man himself. We was photographed at The Langham Hotel in London's West End, above is the one as it that ran and below are two outtakes.

Below is quick phone snap of the set-up and my two assistants in the day Jordan and Olivia.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

On being a Photographer: Working with NGO's in the field

I was recently commissioned for the charity ActionAid to go out to Sierra Leone and document their in-country projects on post conflict development. It was a celebrity trip and we were taking the British Actress Sarah Alexander with us. ActionAid just asked me to do a small interview which featured on their website - you can read that here

Working for NGO's in the field is always interesting and challenging work, and I think it takes a certain approach. You have to be acutely aware that you are representing the NGO and their ethos, this is true for many photography commissions, but with NGO's you're are often working in their frontline of operations, and the very nature and sensitivity of NGO work makes it especially important. You have responsibilities not only to your client but also, and perhaps more importantly, the people that they work with on the ground, the very people the organisation aims to help. For this reason I always find it huge honour to be commissioned as a photographer for an NGO - it shows that you're considered a good operator and are trusted to work in often challenging conditions. You have to be adaptable and ready for the unexpected; this tale from a photography commission I had in Guatemala a few years back is a good example of that!  

The shot below was a team photo from the final day - we just come form spending the day working in torrential rain at the King Tommy Bommah; the biggest rubbish dump in Freetown.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Recent Tearsheet: FT Weekend Magazine, Noodles

I recently had an assignment for the Financial Times working with the writer Nicholas Lander. We were covering a feature on 'The Noodle Bar', a small restaurant in London's West End, where the noodles are made fresh everyday. I love these type of jobs - they get me discovering new places in my own back yard. I also got an delicious free meal out of it.