A morning at Air Studios

Emmy award winning composer, conductor and pianist took some time away from working on his next solo album to spend Saturday morning with us updating his portrait portfolio. Thanks to Gavin we were fortunate enough to use Air Studios, Hampstead. Mat was a like a kid in a sweet shop when Gavin offered to show him around after the shoot – he had the chance to visit years ago on a school trip; not as good as this one-to-one tour.


AIr Studios, London

A treat to hear Gavin play the Steinway at Air Studios whilst we captured some shots for his upcoming album.

Congratulations Nell!

Work admin can be dull. Especially tedious and slow-going with my right hand in a splint; my stupid fault for losing a fight with a cement mixer at the weekend. It did feel less irksome today thanks to BBC Radio 4’s distraction of airing Nell Stevens’ short story “The Minutes”, which follows a group of ill-fated student activists as they plan a protest against the demolition of a South London tower block.

Nell at home, mobile studio set-up

Nell is one of the five all-female finalist authors shortlisted for the prestigious BBC 2018 short story awards.

Wandering around Nell’s part of town

We’ll be sure to tune in to BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on October 2nd to hear whether she is crowned winner. Either way, a great achievement to be a finalist, her work selected from 800 stories entered this year.

Meeting interesting, talented people like Nell is one of the more enjoyable aspects of our work. It makes the admin side of things bearable! Congratulations Nell, and best of luck from us at Mat Smith Photography x

The Lawson Trio Welcomes Violinist, Francesca Barritt

The Lawson Trio: Rebecca Knight (left) Annabelle Lawson (centre) Francesca Barritt (right)

After some time away from the music scene for the birth of Annabelle’s beautiful son Marty, these photos are to welcome Francesca Barritt as new violinist to the Lawson Trio.

Annabelle Lawson: Pianist

Francesca Barritt: Violinist

Fran has been busy this year leading English Touring Opera, and recently performing recitals as part of the fascinating Multi Story Orchestra series, as well as playing at Opera Holland Park season with the trio’s cellist Rebecca.

Rebecca Knight: Cellist

You can catch the Lawson Trio for their latest CD launch concert next month at the Sound Laboratory, University of Sheffield, and events starting in 2019, with recitals in Bromsgrove on 22nd February and Sheffield on 10th March.

On the steps of St. Michael Cornhill Church

The Lawson Trio

Author Marianne Power hiding behind her novel "Help Me", wide eyes peeping from above book cover

Marianne Power: Help Me!

The summer hols are here, and what better way to spend time relaxing and reflecting than by a pool with a good read. My usual go-tos are dark, edgy novels – think author Ian Macabre, (sorry, McEwan).

Not so for Marianne Power, who set herself the task to read a new self help book each month for an entire year, following their advice to the letter, in a quest to change her life, hopefully, for the better.

Picador are set to publish Help Me in Hard back, e-book and audio in September 2018, and we were invited to take some publicity shots of Marianne in East London.

We had fun wandering around Marianne’s neighbourhood of Homerton, popping into some of the local cafes that were favorite haunts of hers whilst penning her journey of self help.

Marianne Power, Author, smiling sat outside a cafe in East London

Marianne’s “go-to” cafe to write about her journey

As Help Me is out after the hols, forgive me if I stick to grizzly fiction whilst enjoying the unusually glorious English summer – I promise to break from my usual genre to dive into a year of self help with Marianne once her book is out this September.

Author of "Help Me", Marianne Power, leaning against London stock wall

The bookseller: Interview with Marianne Power featuring photograph by Mat Smith Photography

An article in The Bookseller

portrait of man in suit with skull and crossbones tie in shoreditch graffiti tunnel

Battling “The Beast from the East”

The combination of outdoor, early morning, winter lifestyle shoots can generally be a little unforgiving on photographer fingers. However, when Graham booked with us a few weeks ago for such a shoot, amongst the planning, the mood-boards, the image consultation and wardrobe styling, sub-zero temperatures did not feature as highly on the consideration list as perhaps they should!

Our surprise battle with that wicked wind-chill began early one Sunday morning, close to Shoredich High Street Station. We love to start early; to capture the pre-dawn light, the empty streets and, from a more practical pragmatic perspective, before traffic wardens have started their shift.

Man with ponytail sitting on pavement with graffiti wall behind, with the word "start" in the jaws of a lion

And let the shoot begin…

It takes a combination of factors to make a memorable, fun, and successful shoot. Some of it is in the preparation, the honed brief, the planning, and of course the photographer’s skill, but once these boxes are ticked, much of the day is down to serendipity and the sheer amount of effort put in by the client. Graham put in effort by the bucket load – both before, and throughout the shoot. Many would have shirked the cold; Graham’s costume changes in the chill and his bare arms (see the portrait on yellow) are testament to his fortitude!

Headshot of man in black army style coat in front of red and white graffiti

Graham – Dawn in Shoreditch

Heating set to full blast, it was time for the car to give some warm relief. The plan was to stop off for a coffee near Bank, but due to a rally and road closures we found ourselves diverted nearer to the Barbican. It’s a running joke here at Mat Smith Photography that the Brutalist Barbican is Mat’s Bermuda Triangle. Once he enters, he and his camera are never to be seen again, at least for a very, very long time. We played it safe today, and used instead for backdrop the high-rise glassy buildings around the danger-zone:

Man with slicked back hair in front of a green tinted glass building in a army style black jacket with silver double buttons

Brutalist Reflection: A portrait of Graham in the eye of the Barbican

Next, a quick stop for a much needed brew & brunch at caravan coffee. Mine was an enjoyable Ethiopian Wote Konga V60 followed by a ludicrouly laden sourdough grilled cheese sandwich, quince jam, with a fried egg for good measure. Graham followed in the same suit, whilst Mat plumped for the smashed avocado, pickled red onion, soy pumpkin seeds, sprouts, manouri – not forgetting a poached egg on top. No food photos, but back to the blog in hand,  here is a portrait of Graham, whilst waiting for his chow:

Man in coffee shop looking out of window

Coffee at Caravan in the City

Back to business, Graham donned his work attire and we wandered up to Bank. Our brief was to capture Graham both for personal portraits and for business use. The stone archtecture of Bank offered us a good contrast to the glassy walls near the Barbican and street art of Shoreditch. Too corporate, however, would certainly not do for Graham’s brief. The choice of orange tie nicely took care of this!

Business man in blue suit, orange tie and white braces in front of grey stone wall

The back streets of Bank

A business man wearing a bright orange tie walking through columns in front of the Bank of England

Suited and Booted by The Bank of England

Black and white photo of a suited and booted man sat laughing on the Bank of England's steps

Bank of England steps

Being Sunday morning, we quickly stopped off at church (albeit not making it past the front door):

Portrait of a man sitting in front of large blue church doors on the steps of a church entrance

A moment’s reflection

And onwards though backstreets and alleyways photographing as we went, happy in the knowledge, for today’s shoot at least, the Beast from the East didn’t defeat.

Man walking down a back street in the city of London looking back at the camera

Till We Meet Again – A backstreet portrait