Celebrity Portraits | Steve Shipman | London Portrait Photography
I have been a full-time wedding photographer for over fifteen years now, and I’m really enjoying the buzz and excitement of contemporary wedding photography, while using as much modern technology as I can get my hands on. Before this, I made celebrity portraits for magazines.
In the olden days, when cameras were steam-driven, we used stuff called film, which was coated with silver halides and reacted to the light falling upon it through the camera lens. The resulting negative was then placed into an enlarger and with a lamp projecting the negative image onto light-sensitive paper, and the magical process of creating a positive black and white print was begun.
My good old friend Tony White was a master printer, and I could happily give him a negative and let him play at being an alchemist, summoning effects from odorous chemicals that became original and unique works of art – beautifully toned prints.
So before I photographed weddings, I photographed celebrities and notable folks for magazines, mostly the Sunday colour supplements. I had a studio in Shoreditch, in East London, and actors like Anthony Hopkins, Juliet Stevenson and John Sessions, comedians like Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, and many others came to have their likenesses recorded for posterity – well, next months magazine cover anyway! I was usually commissioned to shoot images in colour, but whenever I could, I’d put a roll of black and white film onto the camera and keep that just for me. This built into quite an archive of portraits, and I’m very happy to share some of them with you here. For the equipment enthusiasts among you, I used Hasselblad cameras, my favourite lens was the 150 mm f4, and I lit everything with my trusty Elinchroms. I painted my own canvas backdrops, and my biggest influences were Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz. No surprises there!
I’m proud to say that several of these images have been selected by The National Portrait Gallery as part of their permanent collection. (Search there for my name and you’ll see them.) They are Richard Griffiths, Leslie Crowther, Russ Abbot, Sir Norman Wisdom, Robbie Coltrane, Joan Collins, and Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, aka Vic and Bob.