INTERVIEW: Vanessa Champion – Documentary Photographer

vanessa-champion-photographer-press-image-2b
Photographer, Vanessa Champion

A slight break with convention from my Writers’ Interviews here… But keeping with the same creative vein, a photographer: Vanessa Champion.

I was fortunate enough to meet Vanessa (‘Ness’) back in mid-February for a headshot shoot for my acting portfolio (more images here) and was immediately taken by her charm, her easy-to-work-with professionalism, and her aura. It was like I had met a long lost soul and was catching up on old news. It seemed obvious that I should do an interview. Ness is a fascinating lady, a talented lady – with oodles of modesty thrown in for good measure (which is why I haven’t edited ANYTHING out!) – and I’m honoured that she is now one of my close friends.

Without further ado… Vanessa Champion, in her own words…

Technology has changed over the years, do you have a preference over digital or ‘old school’, and why? 

I started life working with film cameras. My early sales were just with a little Olympus, and one could argue it’s the photographer not the camera which makes the image, but maybe I won’t bang on about that here (I can waffle and write for England!). I can’t stress enough the importance and value of having worked with a medium that MAKES you THINK before you press the shutter. With film, you have to think, frame, think, focus, think, expose, as every time you press the button, it costs money. When I started earning money as a “jobbing” photographer, I used to buy a 36 exposure film, shoot 24 for the client and keep the rest for me to shoot. I did a Roliflexdeal with my supplier and printer, so my client paid for 24 and wasn’t out of pocket I hasten to add (I didn’t shaft them!). I learnt in subsequent years, that Cartier-Bresson did just that, he would be commissioned by Life Magazine and shoot most of the rolls for them and keep some frames for himself to shoot. When I did make the move to digital, I still shot with that slow and considered way, and still do. I find myself firing off more during portrait sessions, but that’s more to put subject at ease than lack of framing. Am converting from slapper flapper Nikon (the loud “clack you hear when photographers press the shutter) to the silent Fuji mirrorless system, which is perfect for the theatre, opera and TV still work I do. Actually Fujifilm gave me a load of singleuse cameras (you know those throwaway ones you often get at weddings) to teach former street kids in Uganda how to document their lives. Was really interesting to see how they started thinking and framing, they REALLY understood the value of each photo. Am producing a book of their work to help raise money for much needed beds for the kids out there. Tough lives.

Vanessa ChampionYou have been described as a ‘documentary photographer’, can you expand on what this means to you?

I story-tell. When I shoot, I see stories. That might seem obvious when I’m shooting an opera or a theatrical piece, but I see the same when I’m shooting a corporate event, I watch interaction, reaction, timing, personality and try and capture the energy and rhythm of the moment. I shoot for NGOs in Africa and Asia, the same thing, I look and see the stories and time my capture with the heartbeat of the story unfolding infront of me. Sometimes I do feel like a sniper!

Do you have a ‘wish list’ of subjects you’d still like to shoot, and why?

Adam Ant, the former President of Uruguay…  – the reason? Character, I love character. Also a road trip up South America, to document the music, food, people, artisans, workers. I’m working on some personal projects, WWI Ulysses (an installation piece of a soldier in a WWI trench, with music and soundscape), plus a series of sportspeople and well, there’s quite a bit in the pipeline I’m building!

photoaidYou wear many hats, as you’re not just a photographer, you are editor of a newspaper, and do a lot of charity work. How did this all come about and how to you juggle so many things?

Not sure how it’s all happened. Have been very lucky, have put in some long hours (hate to think sometimes just how many!) and have been blessed with some terrific clients who have given me opportunities. Being an academic first, I think, makes you a solution finder, a researcher. I love solving problems and helping fix things. And really, that’s all business is about, having a “problem, product, idea” and needing a solution to “fix, sell, make happen”. I just utilise the years of research experience and deliver. I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, am working on it though… Photography has always been there, it’s the creative thread that holds my world together.

If you were not able to do the things you do, what would do instead?

I love music, so I’d love to be Ray Charles with the voice of Aretha Franklin (fix it for me, Ant!).

MumbaiDo you have any advice for aspiring photographers?

Photograph, photograph, photograph. And then shoot some more. Find your genre, create your style and most importantly LOVE what you shoot.

I know you’ve recently returned from Mumbai, what else is on the horizon for the rest of 2015?

I was documenting the work of one of the NGOs I work with, “Born to be Beautiful” in Mumbai, which teaches impoverished women beauty skills they can then use to earn money and slowly gain value within their community and therefore try to stop the endless cycle of violence and fear.  I am founder of PhotoAid Global, and we are running a course in extreme PhotoJournalism this year (theory and practical), plus sponsoring a photojournalism award with the Art Gemini Prize, with an exhibition at the Menier Gallery, London. To enter click here… Plus I’m writing three books, one of which is an entry level “how to photograph your crafts”, a book on British Heritage Artisans (coffee table photography book), plus a book on Cuthbert Orde who drew the pilots of Fighter Command in 1940. Am putting together another couple for the NGOs I work with, but that’s alongside the day job. Hoping to head into France, and maybe off to Ethiopia with the lovely NGO I work closely with, PENHA  (Pastoralist and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa), it’s the 25th Anniversary this year, so watch out for an exhibition of the images I shot with the pastoralist nomads in Uganda as part of their Silver anniversary (some of the images have already been in Venice as part of the Biennale).

Anything else you’d care to add…?

Some recent work on www.vanessachampion.co.uk love to hear from anyone who reads this. Much love and thanks, Ant.

Unfortunately this article isn’t long enough to give Ness the words to say ALL she’d really like to say, but she’s very approachable, and doesn’t bite (hard!) so check out more of her wonderful work: Vanessa Champion Website.

* * *

The Shepherd Cover ArtANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for children and adults. His latest book, a short, inspirational parable THE SHEPHERD  is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance. Most recently you can see him back on the sets of films and in front of the modelling camera again.

Bullshit London Tours

Bullshit London CollageWhat an exciting weekend that was!

Whether you’re new to London or have lived here for centuries, Bullshit London Tours are sure to entertain and surprise you! I managed to piggy-back off a group of six Australian tourists that had booked an off-peak tour (main season is April – October) with our host, guide, and comic entertainer, Reuben Williams (if that name is to be believed!)

Learn who stole the clock from St Pauls… where God lives… the world’s smallest children’s prison… and much, much more…!

My favorite part had to be the guided tour of the famous Swedish soap opera film set…

As said, if you thought you knew London, think again!!!

For more details and bookings, check out their website: http://www.bullshitlondon.com/

“A tenner! This tour’s worth more than a tenner…”

“Oh, okay, here’s twenty!”

“Twenty! Twenty? Nah, nah, you have to haggle…”

If Monty Python did London tours… this might well be it.

 

SPECIAL TIP: Ask them about their special pub crawl…

 

The Fun Never Stops…!

copyright vanessa champion 07747 025 361Sorry for the prolonged absence, folks!

I’ve been busily putting things together in my alter-ego as an actor and model… getting headshots taken… getting my feet wet back on film set… auditioning for new roles… building footage for my showreel… and networking with fellow actors and creatives. This all takes time away from my writing passions.

You can check out my acting and modelling website here.

I’ll soon be back to interviewing fellow authors, and I might just expand into interviewing upcoming actors as well.

Thanks for all the continued support…!

 

Be well. Be One.

#NEW #KINDLE Novel 4 #FREE

49q cover 149q? The Enigma Continues is currently FREE to download in Kindle format. Please help spread the word and share this blog, tweet it up, and post it on Facebook…!!!

Currently ranked #58… can we get it into the Top 10 together…?

“This is a great concept novel from author Anthony Donnelly. His works are among the most interesting and ground-breaking on the Kindle store. I think that Anthony is a very talented author and that we will soon start hearing of him in respected book publications.”

(one of the 5 star reviews so far)

 

 

#HELP…! Book Cover Designs – any ideas?

Hi folks! Well, I’m moving right ahead with the text for The Shepherd Workbook, which accompanies my parable The Shepherd, but I thought I’d put some effort into a catchy front cover.

Cover Idea #1
Cover Idea #1

I need your HELP…

  • Do you like any of these?
  • Which (if any) is your favorite and why?
  • Any suggestions,?
  • Anyone like to get credit for designing a better cover?
Cover Idea #2
Cover Idea #2
Cover Idea #3
Cover Idea #3

 

Please add your comments at the bottom of the blog.

Thanks for all your support… I’ll let you know the outcome and when the book will be available 🙂

#poetry #suicide “I Hate You Because You’re Me” by Anthony Donnelly

“I Hate You Because You’re Me.”

By Anthony Donnelly

 

I took all the abuse and rejection

In my earlier years

There are no more tears

Only fears

Only fears

Only…

I withstood all the abuse and rejection

From girls and boys

And things and toys

All the joys

All the joys

All…

There is nothing more of me

Nothing nobody can’t see

Just me

Only me

Awkward me

For all to see

 

paparazzi

Fuck off…!

 

By Anthony Donnelly

 

#newrelease #books “Eric, the Brick” by Anthony Donnelly

Happy weekend to you all! I am very happy to say that I rediscovered this older work of mine from 1998, back when I still lived in London, and wrote for a younger friend of mine, and felt I should let it see the light of day. I thought it had been lost amongst my travels and crashed computers, but stumbled upon it just recently.

"Eric, the Brick" by Anthony Donnelly
“Eric, the Brick” by Anthony Donnelly

 

It is a very simple, almost old-fashioned story about a common house brick named Eric, who is ‘brick-napped’ from the building site he’s delivered to. Thankfully, a local ‘Brickologist’ (someone that makes a study of bricks!) is close by to save the day. Cute, charming, and educational, this little work will allow parents to discuss topics of ‘doing the right thing’, ‘good vs bad’, teamwork and unity, amongst other things, all via a very simple and engaging story.

EXERT:

Now for those of you who aren’t Brickologists and don’t know much about the subject, let me just explain a few things about bricks. Bricks come in all different shapes, sizes and colours. There are red bricks, yellow bricks, grey bricks – oh! far too many colours to go into for one story. Bricks also have many uses. There are house bricks, paving bricks, bricks that don’t even look like bricks, all fancifully carved and frightfully pretty.

Now, not many people know this (apart from Brickologists of course, who have spent a great deal of time and effort studying them in depth) but bricks also have some amazing abilities. For example, did you know that bricks can talk and have a language all to themselves? Well they do, it’s called Arabrick. How terribly boring it would be for bricks standing all day long next to each other in a wall without being able to talk! Seeing as only the very highly qualified Brickologists can understand Arabrick, I have taken the liberty of writing their speech in English so that you can better understand what they are saying. You’ll discover more about their talents later on in the story. Well, just so that you know what sort of brick Eric was, he was just your ordinary red house brick.
Now, on with the story…

 

Available to buy in about two weeks, if you go here: Book Country books

Remember to follow me on TWITTER and FACEBOOK, or email me here!

#Freebooks Reviews

If anybody would like a FREE copy of any of my books in exchange for a review on Amazon, I’d be more than happy to send you a copy via email.

Please send me a short note, and I’ll be in touch: adonnellywriter@yahoo.com

 

Here’s a quick overview of the titles I currently have online:

CHARLIE THE MIGRATING SNAIL: a young, curious snail sets off on an  adventure to find answers to all the questions in his head, and is very surprised by what he discovers.

THE COCKROACH CHRONICLES: a cockroach explores the world of The Enemy (humans) to discover why they are hated so much. A reflection on humanity and a mirror to how we, as humans, are not living in balance with the natural world.

MICHAEL AND THE MAGIC HICCUP – The Adventure Begins: a quaint fairytale about a common garden gnome that hiccups his way into a magical kingdom.

MICHAEL AND THE MAGIC HICCIP – The Teapot’s Revenge: part two of the story of a special garden gnome, that rescues the Princess and her friends, and becomes a hero afterall.

 

I’ll also post the reviews on this blog, and if you have a link to your site, or books, I’ll add them to my resources section.

 

Many thanks for your help and support.