Giants of Photography Xposure 2017: Sharjah – Setting Up The Shoot


Here I am with my team in Sharjah setting up the shoot for Xposure 2017. The logistics of shooting outside are complex and you have to find a way to control the lighting. I first used this technique in the the French Dordogne in 1991 when shooting my first Pirelli Canada in 1991. The reason I do this is that I want the figure within the awning to be completely in shadow so that I can light the model and then shoot with an iris shutter camera (like a Phase1 or a Hasselblad).


This is because  a focal plane shutter can only shoot at 125th of a second before you get cut off either side of the image from the focal plane shutter .  With the iris shutter one can shoot up to and over 1000th of a second, so that the background can be lightened or darkened, with the powerful flash on the figure over powering the daylight for a fraction of a second giving the dramatic effect. For example a clear blue midday sky with the sun overhead shadowing the model can become a deep blue or even a night time dramatic back drop. This is a bonus with modern digital photography which is much more light sensitive than film. Making the process, quicker and instantly viewable on a monitor, so you know what you are getting and can therefore adjust the camera settings.


Here is one of the finished shots, where the model was in the shadow of the overhead canopy but lit by the flash.

Kansai Yamamoto – Debut Vogue Shoot 1971 and more…


I think without doubt designer Kansai Yamamoto will always have a very special place in my heart. He was then and is to this day, ahead of his time. His work encompasses so much more than just fashion and takes in architecture, interiors and large scale public performances dedicated to making the world a better place (read his incredible biography here). He is a true visionary as David Bowie, British Vogue and others clearly recognised when he arrived in London in the early 70s.

Kansai chose his own models and wanted the sessions to be ethnically mixed (and rightly so), but this was very much the exception for the time. There’s a determination in his eyes, looking straight at you at the centre back of the image above, sat behind Marie Helvin (who Kansia discovered) and who was shooting  here for British Vogue, very early in her career, if not for the first time, before she became more widely known.


The above image of Marie is one of my favourites from the session, the light, clothes and mood, just worked perfectly.


Kansia also introduced me to the amazing model Sayoko Yamaguchi who I first shot for Harpers (UK) and then shot privately for this portrait above. Sayoko was one of the most beautiful women I have ever photographed and was without a doubt the first Asian supermodel. She was also a very talented designer in her own right, which somehow seemed to translate into a deep intelligence and intuition for what I needed when taking a pictures of her. I am very moved by this image still  and was greatly saddened to hear that she died so young in 2007. I never had the chance to photograph her again, she was a gift to the camera and the eye.


It is fantastic that Kansia and I have managed to maintain a connection since the 1970s and that be both debuted at Vogue at the same time. In the fickle world of fashion, relationships and creative connections are something to be cherished. Below are some pictures I shot for Kansia when he very kindly invited me out to Japan in 2014 of his most recent collection.




Layla Ali.

Layla Ali
I flew to NYC to photograph Layla Ali, the stunning boxer and daughter of legend Mohammed Ali.
Layla arrived with her entourage, swept into the dressing room, gave my assistants and me a fleeting glance. She was accompanied by some really tough looking boxer friends, who stopped and looked at me up and down, then one of them said “who are you then”?
“ I’m Clive Arrowsmith. I’m the photographer from London, here to photograph Layla, for this Nike promotion.
“Ok I’ll tell her”
We waited until Layla finally appeared again, dressed in a full length boxing robe. I was immediately struck her
beautiful golden dark bronze skin. She was stunning.
“Hi”, I said, “so great to meet you. How do you want do this? Personally I would like you to be in the outfits you feel really comfortable in. They should be like training clothes if that’s ok with you”. She agreed and went to get her make up and change.
Some time later she came back dressed and ready in a white vest and black training shorts. In her left hand hung some bright red boxing gloves. I remembered thinking, “Wow, she looks like an Amazon Warrior Princess. “
“That’s great”, I said.
We chatted as the scene was prepped and I showed her a picture I’d taken of His Holiness Dalai Lama and gave it to her as a gift.
“This is for you,” I said “I know your father met His Holiness and they got on really well”. She smiled a warm smile and we shot this picture.



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Tel: 01622 600491 /// Web: /// F. @CHILLIMEDIA Steve Tomkins

Gucci Glamour with Lisa Seffert



Everyone asks me ‘How did you get that beautiful shape, like a wave on the dress’ ? Confession; I did not use wind, wire or strings. I simply had my assistant throw the skirt in the air from the side and quickly pull his hand out of shot. Many of the frames had his arm still present but after about 25 attempts we finally got the shot that we all loved. The dress is by Tom Ford for Gucci.