Playing to the Gallery

May 1, 2018

I am with Amanda, Eleanor and Maddy and we are having a celebratory dinner the evening before Eleanor’s wedding. Ellie and Alex have brought their wedding day forward by a month, just in case. I pooh-pooh the necessity of doing this but, as it turns out, it is the right thing to do. We are excited and happy and having a lovely evening.

The next morning we are at the hotel just about to have breakfast. I suddenly feel very hot and sweaty. I don’t know why, but it’s not good. I go and lay down, very weak. I am very unwell. The girls call the registry office to see if the ceremony can be brought forward by an hour. I lay on the bed sweating while they anxiously bustle around getting ready, making calls, changing plans.

I manage to get into my suit and tie, and with lots of help I get into the cab. It’s pouring with rain. We arrive at the Guildhall just as another wedding party comes out. Maddy and a man wearing a medal help me up the steps and into a wheelchair. We are shown into the ceremony room and Alex’s family arrive.

Eleanor is waiting out in the lobby. This is the moment that I should be walking Eleanor up the aisle. I pull myself out of the wheelchair, and leaning heavily on Amanda, I go out to Eleanor. And I am so pleased to walk back into the room with Eleanor on my arm – she is holding me up.

We watch Eleanor and Alex get married. It’s perfect. She looks so happy. I want to take lots of photos but I can’t even think about it. Alex’s Dad has a camera thrust into his hands, and he records the special moments for all of us, including the sick bag on the floor next to me. Ellie and Alex say their own vows for each other, and we are all moved to tears.

Instead of a Michelin-starred lunch, we decide to drive home. Amanda, Maddy and I have a grim four and half hour journey back. It’s Friday and it’s still pouring. I feel terrible, but so, so pleased to see Eleanor married to the lovely Alex.

Late that night, Eleanor and Alex decide drive back here too. Maddy’s fab boyfriend Nick also comes over. The next day our brothers come over with their families, together with my Dad, and my good old friend Chris. I rest on the sofa while Amanda prepares copious amounts of food for everyone throughout the day and my Dad gets very drunk. I speak to people as they wander in to see me; there is lots of hand holding and many tears.

My liver is failing. This is the end game, and this will be my last post. Nobody can quite believe it, but I know I have days not weeks. I am very tired, and make an executive decision to eat as many sticky buns as I can! And bananas. And chocolate. My conscience is clear!

I am so fortunate to have this special time with our families and close friends to say goodbye. Tissues are issued. It’s intense – no one wants to say the ‘G’ word.

I know now that I have done almost everything for the last time. I started this blog to document the personal side of my life, way before The Diagnosis. The tiredness is no longer creeping up but galloping up on me. But I feel calm.

I am grateful to have got this far. Amanda, Ellie and Maddy are with me. They are, and always will be, the greatest loves of my life.



Tim Kent
17:51 September 28, 2018

I have only just this evening heard from Martin Black that Steve died in June. I am so sorry as I really wanted to be there to pay my respects, but had no news he had passed. Steve was an incredibly good and talented photographer and was an amazing teacher to me whilst I was his assistant. My heart goes out to Amanda and the children. With deepest sympathy and respect. Tim

sara epstein
09:30 May 24, 2018

Steve. I've read though all your messages and every single message tells the same thing I wanted to say. You have made such a huge impact on so many people both during your life and just as much towrards the end. I walked into your studio just over 20 years ago and you offered me a job as your assistant. I was overwhelmed by all the photographs of the famous people on your wall, 'stars' you had photographed and then loved the fact that you were never overwhelmed by them, in fact I believe sometimes you didnt even know who they were :). You told me many years ago that you would photograph my wedding one day and that was before you had thought to ever photograph weddings. I think I rolled my eyes at you but 20 + years later you did take those photographs and I will always cherish those beautiful images and they will always remind me of you. I will miss you so very very much xxxxx

Brenda Kilgallon
15:48 May 12, 2018

I am writing this with tears in my eyes. Tears of Joy for Eleanor & Alex. Eleanor looks so beautiful. Tears for you, Amanda, your beautiful daughters, Ian, your Dad and all those lucky people who have had you in their lives. We will miss you so much our very good and dear friend. Can't really imagine a world without you. Your bravery, humour and sheer love of life will be an inspiration. Go into the light. You'll always be in our hearts. Brenda & Dennis - your friends from the North.

Brian Harrington
21:04 May 3, 2018

Thankyou Steve for sharing your story. Thankyou for reigniting my interest in photography at Barnet College, I always think of you when I think of photography. And these days I always seem to have photography on my mind.

Tim Kent
19:20 May 3, 2018

Dear Steve, I just heard from Martin Black and am shocked and saddened to hear of your condition. You are an amazing photographer and great teacher and it was a privilege to have worked for you in the 1980's when you were in the height of your celebrity portrait days. You were always a great inspiration to me with all the stories you would tell during the many hours we spent bombing up and down on the motorway in your red Golf GTI! I see Eleanor is all grown up now, I remember so well the day she was born and taking over on the David McCullum shoot when you did the dash to St Albans to be there for the birth. Seem like yesterday!

Louise Sandiford
17:21 May 3, 2018

Thinking of you.

Helen Bartlett
07:30 May 3, 2018

Tom and I are sending you and your family all our love, you are an inspiration. xxx

21:42 May 2, 2018

Steve, I’m overwhelmed by your bravery and the love and strength of your family. Thank you for sharing these intimate moments so openly and honestly. Love Kirstin.

Myah and Dave Ward
21:05 May 2, 2018

There aren’t any words that will make what you are facing any easier. You touched our lives in the most lovely way for the brief moment you worked with us photographing our wedding. Such a humble, calm, talented and humourous person you put us both at ease and gave us the gift of a perfect snapshot on an amazing day in our lives that we can look back on forever more. We look back at this snapshot and think of you and the way you remained so cool and calm when the wasps nest unbeknown to any of us under the tree trunk we were stood on inadvertantly broke free sending a swarm of wasps up Myah’s wedding dress to wreak havoc with your planned photo. Cool, calm and collected you helped free the wasps, admistered anti histamine and shrugged it off with “I normally don’t work with animals” phrase - teaching us all that even when the chips are down - smile, carry on and above all remain calm. Reading your blog years later and it’s clear it’s a mantra you have lived by all your life and one we should all try to mimic. Thank you for everything you did for us on that day, the memories you gave us and most amazing snapshot we’ll always treasure. Lots of love to you and your family. Our thoughts are with you all. Myah and Dave xx

Marcus & Rebecca Chidgey
20:15 May 2, 2018

Thank you for your incredibly moving blog. I just wanted to say that your photographs of our wedding are some of our most treasured possessions. You captured the day back in 2007 with such warmth and ease. We were so lucky to meet someone so talented and special. You were an inspiration to us then as you are now. Thank you and travel well. Sending you and the family lots of love. Marcus & Rebecca

Kelly Woods
20:08 May 2, 2018

I read this post with a heavy heart, but I am so pleased that you were able to play this most important part in your daughters wedding, after playing such a hugely important part in so very many weddings. The moments you have captured for us, and countless others, will be forever treasured, and we cannot thank you enough for the love and care you showed us. Rest well Steve, you are all in our thoughts.

Tina Cleary
19:15 May 2, 2018

Thinking of you and your family. So pleased you got to see your daughter marry. You are such a wonderful, kind, talented man that I am so honoured to have met. Thank you for photo talks, helping me grow as a photographer and being such an inspiration. Sending so much love xxxx

Michelle Beaumont
17:38 May 2, 2018

Such an amazing man. An incredible photographer. One of a kind. Glad you saw your beautiful daughter get married. Thinking of you and your family xx

Peter Prior
17:15 May 2, 2018

Steve, I was privileged to meet you a few times over the years. In particular I remember chatting at the IOD Wedding Faurs in London. So sorry to read this. To me you were one of the nicest guys I've met in my 23 years in the industry. My thoughts go out of you and your wonderful family. Gutted for you all. Very best wishes, Peter

16:21 May 2, 2018

Steve, what can I say? We met at the Jerry workshop nearly 8 years ago and kept in touch. We have worked together on so many weddings and you have been such a support both personally and professionally. You are my mentor and one of my best friends (what a combination) and it is because of you I am where I am today. I can not thank you enough for everything and am so lucky and blessed to have had some amazing times together. Steve thank you for everything and I am so glad we got to speak today. My prayers, love and thoughts are with you and your family. Lots of love. Rups x x x

11:53 May 2, 2018

Steve, I have written and re-written this comment so many times. There are so many things I want to say and so many things I don’t. I want to read more about your biking adventures, I want to hear how against the odds you are managing to live an active happy life with your family, I want to see more of your photos (I always want to see more of those). I am so happy that you were able to attend Ellie's wedding, but it was so hard to read this post. I want to say thank you for everything. For being there on the happiest day of my life to capture every precious moment with beautiful images. For all you kindness, generosity and support. For your words of wisdom, for all your advice and never ending patience, I am so grateful to have you as a friend and mentor. For being a such a huge inspiration, both professionally and personally, your courage this past year has been remarkable. Sending you and your family all my love and hugs. Louise xxx

Denise Slark
11:24 May 2, 2018

No words. Beautiful and heartbreaking x

Julia Boggio
09:14 May 2, 2018

You brave, brave man. I'm so glad you were able to celebrate with Eleanor. I can't even think of what to say except thank you for sharing your story and your courage. Jx

Keith Hammond/Appleby
08:23 May 2, 2018

Steve, I've been following your extraordinary blog and your honesty about the relentless progress of your illness. Your words are so eloquent, direct and moving; several times I've been moved to tears and none more so than this, your last post. You've lived this last period of your life with such dignity, it is a lesson to us all in how to 'live'. We all have to die eventually, it is just the timing that can be so cruel. Thank you for showing us that even with a terminal diagnosis you never gave up and tried to give it (life) your best shot everyday. To say you'll be missed by all who know and love you is an understatement. Love Keith

Mona Ali
06:00 May 2, 2018

Such an incredibly moving, happy and sad post so many feelings wrapped up in one big bundle. I’m so happy to see this beautiful picture but equally sad to read your words Steve. Blessed to have spent that short time together earlier this year. No words, just thankfulness and love.

Jim & Annie
23:08 May 1, 2018

Such beautiful pictures of you, Amanda, Ellie and happy that you walked Ellie down the aisle. You are a truly inspirational person and exceptional photographer who has touched so many people's lives. We felt privileged and so happy to have you with us on Ren's wedding day. As a nervous FOB you were such a calming sight in the hotel the night before with your book and glass of red! You and your stunning images will be treasured forever. Loads of love and hugs to you, Amanda, Ellie and Maddy xxxx

Sally Williams
22:30 May 1, 2018

So so sad to read this, feeling very heavy hearted. Steve, I enjoyed our time photographing together so much, you were an excellent mentor and are a real inspiration in so many ways, also one of the kindest people I think I am ever likely to meet. Thank you for sharing your toughest journey with us all, its been a difficult read but it has been a constant reminder for me to appreciate the important things in life. Lots of love to you and your family, brave and wonderful Steve xxxx

Nigel Eade
21:44 May 1, 2018

Steve, you and your wonderful family are the luckiest people, to have each other at such special moments and knowing they are never far away enjoying every second, be strong my friend, Nigel

20:48 May 1, 2018

Steve, I am so so sorry that you haven’t had longer. I read your words and they are all so familiar to me. I read the messages that Jason sent to me before he died and I feel he is near me. I am sure that your family and friends will feel that too when reading your blog. You have touched so many lives. I will look forward to seeing you on the ‘other’ side. Please tell your family I am here if they need anything. Your distant friend. Jo xx

20:37 May 1, 2018

Steve you have carried this with such courage and grace and you leave a remarkable legacy . My heart is breaking .

Susie Deane
20:14 May 1, 2018

You show us all how to live through everything that life brings, what we hope for and what we fear. You are a bright light and very much loved.

19:06 May 1, 2018

You have clearly touched so many people's lives, been there watching and capturing people's most intimate moments and found beauty in even dark places. I only know you through your work and that you captured our wedding blessing and son Thomas's christening but you left a huge impression . You gave my family wonderful memories that we will always treasure, you also made me feel beautiful and special as a bride when I have low self esteem . I don't have the right words to express your mark on our lives - just to say I hope you find peace - that you are surrounded by loved ones and that you realise how important you have been to us all x x x

Bridget Irving
18:29 May 1, 2018

Steve, Thank you for sharing your story, bravery and the love you have for your beautiful family and friends. Like Jo in the comment above I send hugs and love to you and your loved ones. Eleanor radiates next to her dad.

Tony Simpson
18:15 May 1, 2018

Steve, You are the strongest man I know. Beyond sad for you and Amanda. Sending positive thoughts to you all. I bet those sticky buns tasted nice.... Tony x

Nada Stankova
18:02 May 1, 2018

Steve, I am so happy you managed to be there for Eleanor's wedding. And I am also really heartbroken to read that this is your last blog post. I am keeping you in my thoughts, as the gentlest, smiliest, nicest photographer I've ever met. Really glad I've met you, even though we never really got to know each other so well. I love what you and Phil have done for the photographer's community with your PHOTO TALKS and I also really really appreciate your work as a photographer. I wish you a gentle journey where there is no pain & suffering, and hope we'll meet one day, in one way or other, and can talk some more. Lots of love, Nada & Alex

17:35 May 1, 2018

Steve, so, so sorry my friend, love to all of you.

Neale James
17:17 May 1, 2018

I'd just got back in the car when my phone pinged with your blog post news and as I read, Phil phoned me in extremely timely fashion as Phil always seems to - and we just chatted. At that particular moment and knowing that it'd be impossible to talk with you, Phil was the only person I think I would have wanted to talk with at all. When we last met Steve, I remember saying that I could never subscribe to any kind of belief that this day would really come. Your courage, your steadfast resolute courage and beautiful qualities, and the fact that you seemed to have turned into some kind of super human on two wheels over the last year had me and all your friends I'm sure thinking that you will be the one who firmly takes the cards dealt and bats them out the ground with vigour. I am so thankful that you got to walk your daughter down the aisle Steve. You're a one in a million man. I've been rather sitting on this film we made just over a year ago haven't I? And I know it. I'm pleased we got to watch it together and the truth is, I was rather hoping for it to become one of those long tail projects we'd just continue to work on. I promise that when the time is right and when Amanda and the girls feel it's right, that if we share it outside your four walls, it'll be a legacy that shows just how special you are and always will be to so many people. I know I'm waffling, but the truth is, this is one of those paragraphs I don't want to assign a full stop to. Thank you Steve, just thank you x

Carli Adams
16:48 May 1, 2018

Such a lovely blog, bittersweet. I am wishing you the greatest travels. Lots of love xx

Paul Rogers
16:40 May 1, 2018

Sending you and your family all our love x

16:34 May 1, 2018

Im so happy you walked your beautiful daughter down the aisle Steve. I have read all your blogs and love all your stunning pictures you share with us. I treasure our beautiful wedding album you created for Iri and I. Sending you and your family lots of strength and love Jenni

Rebecca Wingrave
15:50 May 1, 2018

Steve, this blog is absolutely beautiful to read. You have always been an amazing man and I used to love working with you as an assistant. You are kind, sweet and caring and these are very lovely qualities to have. I love that you have your brilliant sense of humour still and what an amazing family you have. With much Love, Rebecca (Bec) xxx

13:15 May 1, 2018

I had the pleasure of working with on many weddings. I recommended you to everyone I met. You are the most wonderful person and always made everything appear so easy. I thank you for the blogs. Sending you and your gorgeous family much love and strength. Helen xxx

Paul Alan Putnam
13:06 May 1, 2018

Don't know really what to say, Steve. I've been reading your blog and watching your pictures for a long time now, and somehow I felt like I could partner you during that time and maybe feeling connected to other people could give you strength to carry on. Now I'm not so sure about it, I feel sorrowful. Your words are so sad and poignant. I just wish I have your strength when the moment comes, you've been a huge example of resilience and courage. As always I'm sending you all my love my friend.

Andrew Billington
12:30 May 1, 2018

I was so happy to see this picture of you pop up n my feed. No words just love.

12:17 May 1, 2018

I’m delighted that you walked your daughter down the aisle Steve. Thank you again for your words and honesty. Martin x

Jo Newman
12:14 May 1, 2018

No words, Steve. Just a feeling of deep sadness for you and your wonderful family. I hoped beyond hope that you would survive this. No-one deserves to, more than you do. Thank you so much for sharing your insight and your gorgeous images. You are one brave, beautiful soul. Hugs to you and all of the people who love and care for you. X


Previous post