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Portrait shooting with Patrick Holden


Portrait shooting with Patrick Holden

I had the pleasure recently of spending a day with Patrick Holden, at his dairy farm on the West coast of Wales, to fulfil a brief for the Sustainable Food Trust who needed some images of him for media purposes.

Patrick played a significant role in the growth of the organic movement in the UK through his involvement with the Soil Association in the 1990s. More recently he has set up the Sustainable Food Trust in response to a need he perceived to deal with a wider range of challenges than those being addressed by organic practises alone.

Patrick was clearly not keen on being the subject of proceedings at the outset of our day together. I explained my reportage style of photography and encouraged him to simply chat about his work on sustainability, both on a micro level on his own farm and on a macro level with the Sustainable Food Trust. As we walked around his farm we explored a wealth of issues from soil fertility to pesticide use to vegetarianism, with me taking shots as we went.

The light was bright by this stage of the morning, despite an early start that morning; Lampeter is a long way from my home near Glastonbury and I was in definite need of revival by coffee before we set off for our work! My desire not to direct proceedings thus made it tough to capture the images I wanted – many times the natural pose or expression was right but half-bathed in shadow or such-like. Fortunately, once started on his pet issues, Patrick seemed happy to keep going, so we spent a couple of hours outside before taking a break for lunch, thus giving me sufficient opportunities to capture some of the shots I was after.

As the brief had included a desire for some images of Patrick with his cows I returned later in the afternoon for milking, for which Patrick was responsible on that particular day. The more predicatable indoor light, combined with a happily occupied subject, made documentary photography much easier, although I was glad of the low-light capability of my Canon 5DIII cameras.

Below is a selection of my favourite images from the day. I am looking forward to a return visit in July when I will be holidaying nearby with my family.

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