Photographing a literary legend in their private home, while they were in a writing block and busy with little time to give to the session. This is how the job was set up from the client and the personal publicist of the legendary Bryce Courtenay.
I never get nervous photographing anyone with a profile, they are just people like all of us. On this day though things could not have gone worse. I was late leaving the previous session which was out of my control, there was roadwork’s along the freeway and the address given took me to a dead end street!!
When I finally arrived about 45 minutes late I expecting the worst and thinking I was going to have to shoot this very important image in 10 minutes without any preparation. I was greeted by a very smiley completely relaxed Courtenay who immediately said “well you’ve had a bad run haven’t you “. It caught me totally off guard and put me at ease instantly. He then went on to say, leave all your gear there, come inside to have a drink and relax. It was the complete opposite of what I had been prepared for, especially considering how late I was arriving. We went inside, where he gave me the tour of the house, from the writing studio, to the rose garden. We sat in his lounge room talking about photography and it’s power as a communication tool and as art. He showed me one of his favourite photographers Sam Haskins and his two most popular books. All the while his not so young pup Timmy was with us, I was told he has written everyone of his books with Timmy by his side.
It was clear straight away that this was going to be how I photographed him, with Timmy at his feet relaxed on the couch beaming that smile through my lens. To top it off, as I was packing up I mentioned that my wife was at home sick and that I would now be going home to cook for us and to make her feel better. He disappeared for a moment and came back with a container of his own home made soup that he wanted to pass on, this gesture would again ease the rest of my day.
It’s not often you meet a true old world gentleman who has everyone else’s wellbeing at heart. I only met him that one time but it made a lasting impression. It is exactly what I aim to deliver as a professional photographer, content with a lasting impression.