I want to be as cool as Diana Athill when I am 98. She is one awesome lady. Full of fascinating confessions and wonderfully opinionated Diana kept me on my toes all through the photoshoot. I only hope that when I reach my late 90’s I can still be this intelligent, interesting and unique.
We were lucky enough to be there on Diana’s 98th Birthday to celebrate with her nephew Phil. The shoot was in the Mary Feilding Guild, Diana’s residential home, and we met them in her small room. Surrounded by books Diana welcomed us in and then proceeded to tell me stories about all the famous photographer’s she had worked with before, informing me that her favourite photographer took no time at all, had no assistants or fancy lights and still took beautiful photographs. I stood there slightly embarrassed in the corner... with my assistant... and my fancy lights. However, this did give me an insight into the formidable and fascinating woman before me. I was now determined more than ever to capture that energy in her.
Even with all the lights the shoot went well. Phil and Diana were great subjects to photograph and collaborate with. So at the end it only felt correct to celebrate Diana’s birthday and stop getting in the way with my camera. There’s nothing like the joy of a good birthday cake, all lit up with candles and the pop of a champagne cork. I don’t know if I lived up to Diana’s high standards, but I certainly enjoyed photographing her.
Thanks to the Sunday Times Magazine for the commission. You can read Phil and Diana’s Relative Values column here: LINK