How Do You Get From Great Yarmouth To Miami?
Emma Brophy finds out from Chiswick based celebrity photographer Dan Kennedy
Dan Kennedy started his career working for the Great Yarmouth Mercury before working his way up to the undeniably enviable position of photographing some of the world’s most beautiful women. So where does taking headshots for corporate leaders come into play?
“I started working on a local paper in Norfolk, you know man stubs toe on pavement type of thing and became interested in photography,” he explains. “The editor used to give me free film in return for publishing my pictures. It was a really good grounding.
“Then I went to work for an agency in Nottingham that covered everything that happened in the Midlands so it could be a cute model for the Daily Star or portrait of a GP for The Observer. Those pictures were then put out to all the papers so I got to know quite a few people on picture desks then.”
Dan moved to London to work for The Times and The Independent before moving into feature work for The Sun. In 2004 he took a deep breath went out on his own.
“I met Rachel Hunter’s agent when I was on a shoot and she said ‘I quite like you, can you come and do a job for me in Miami?’”
It was all very hush hush and Dan didn’t find out until half way across the Atlantic that he was actually going to shoot the new Ultimo Campaign with Rachel Hunter. That job led to numerous shoots for OK Magazine, Observer Magazine cover shot of Angelina Jolie and a week on tour with Girls Aloud amongst others.
After an absurdly lengthy discussion about the gorgeousness of Cheryl Cole we got onto Dan’s favourite A-List subject, Keira Knightley.
“When I shot Keira Knightley, she arrived in a mini-cab with no agent said ‘Hi’, asked how I was – just amazing. People often ask me who was the nicest and I think people like her, real stars, are just amazing. With A list star you expect there to be a bodyguard, followed by an annoying woman with a clipboard etc.”
One of my favourite images in Dan’s portfolio is a Observer shot of Angelina Jolie (above).
“That was done at the Dorchester I had 10 minutes to get in, set the background up, decide what I was going to do and shoot. Sometimes it’s really tight with people who don’t have much time.”
“Ultimo Campaign is different not just because the end product is an ad campaign, you’re with them for more time. Sarah Harding’s campaign was shot in London and then Miami so I got to spend a lot of time with her and then of course it was Mel B. But if the celebrity only has a certain amount of time you can’t start getting star struck, you don’t have time.”
"I remember shooting Wayne and Colleen really early on, they were like rabbits in headlights. There was so much tension in the room because there were so many people around them, so many people telling them what to do, so many people worrying about their image. We were in a stately home which was just the wrong type of place to be shooting them. I wanted to get in the car and drive them round the corner to a pool hall!"
Dan's work with celebrities led to requests from captains of industry seeking his services. He saw this as an opportunity to set up Lightbox Portraits working with a small team of award winning photographers based in Chiswick. Overseen by Dan, the team regularly shoot commissioned portraiture for everyone from celebrities to CEOs.
Dan recently did a press shoot for traditional shirt maker Charles Tyrwhitt who asked him to shoot some modern eye catching images to help him appeal to a younger audience.
"We come to your workplace, set up a mini studio and will shoot your team with the least amount of disruption possible to your day. You will be able to proof your images later that day on the web and then choose from a variety of delivery options, CD, contact sheets, prints etc."
August 1, 2009