Harry started his presentation with a quote from Oliver James: ‘Playfulness is the cornerstone of emotional fulfilment’ and his own enjoyment in his work became evident during the evening. He has developed a particular approach, where he first takes the formal or prescribed poses asked of him and then, by forming a rapport with his subject, persuades them to allow further poses, places and props. He particularly likes to find a place which will stand the test of time - not became dated or too easily categorised, so his politicians and celebrities are encouraged to pose outside, in their gardens or in open spaces so that it becomes an environmental portrait, usually with a more relaxed subject. Asking them to close their eyes, wink or play with slightly surreal props also marks out Harry’s work as being quirky and different, so that the spontaneous, unexpected images are often preferred by the picture editors.
Harry explained that joining the IPG, Independent Photographers Group, helped him learn to relax in shoots and be more playful and confident. His photographic inspiration comes from the work of Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon and Irving Penn and now he uses mostly natural light, with one 50mm lens and a dazzling array of cameras. Since moving from film to digital work, he has found he uses the tripod less, getting his images right in-camera, with little post-processing. During his career, he has gained confidence and enhanced his professional reputation by entering and being successful in many national and international competitions and he is rightly proud of having over 100 of his images in the National Portrait Gallery collection. We over-ran until 9.30 and there were still projects and plans we wanted to know more about, finishing on the poignant and historic series of photographs and accompanying interviews Harry has carried out with survivors of the Holocaust, now published in a beautiful book. It was a very good evening.