Mark Harrison has shot a lot of famous people in the last 20 years and the vast majority of them have thanked him for the privilege.
Mark, you see, is a photographer of rare insight that has used his lens to flatter some of the most powerful and important people on earth: From Sir David Attenborough to Tony Blair and from Benedict Cumberbatch to his most recent claim to fame - capturing the moment the veil finally dropped on Royal black sheep, Prince Andrew.
Mark, who also claimed a Bronze and Silver People’s Choice award in last year’s Creativepool Annual for the fascinating “Liberty Choir” project, took some time out of his busy schedule making beautiful people look even more beautiful to talk to us about his job, his passion and what it’s like to deal with and immortalise (in his own words) everyone from “rapists to monarchs”.
Tell us a bit about your role
My role is dictated by my freelance sole status - I am the photographer on-site, making decisions (usually to brief), but in the case of (for example) the Prince Andrew shoot, I have to hit the ground running with zero info. I didn't even know who I was photographing until I walked in through the door. My role is simply to deliver something finished and to brief as a useable picture ASAP.
Tell us about your background and how it has equipped you for today
My whole working life has been in the job - it's all I ever wanted to do and I've managed to stay employed for over 30 years. Experience of dealing with people from rapists to monarchs, Prime Ministers to weeping parents, means I attempt a rapport early on so that the taking of the photograph is not a stressful occasion.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
The only other job I even considered was as a TV cameraman so I guess I was born to look through a lens.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
Looking and appreciating lighting everywhere. From movies to other photographers to the colour of the fields. I'm the only person I know who takes note of the colour balance of everyday life. To remain motivated I set myself a task each year where I remove all my safety fall backs-no usual lens/no default lighting, intact a shoot where I am forced to respond to the subject differently. In fact, a version of the Oblique Strategies cards (Brian Eno). Speaking of which, music is my other love - watching and listening but also trying my hands at composing with my mini studio. Thought I honestly still have no idea how to use it.
Tell us something about your professional life we don’t already know
I am always on the edge of unemployment. It's only when I look back that I can see the year has actually been ok.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
Still being in work after all this time. Oh, and having my photos acquired by the National Portrait Gallery.
What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?
I hope that copyright remains an acknowledged right of all creators. It is being edged away every year by blatant theft, but without it, I'm not sure how we will all garner respect (and a paycheque).
Finally, we know you were awarded the Creativepool People’s Choice Award for photography last year. What was that like?
I was thrilled to receive the CP People's Choice Award. The project that I shot and entered (above) was a charity project, with limited exposure, so this was a chance to see how people really judged it. I tried to break away from the usual approaches, so recognition within Creative Pool was terrific. The Awards book is sitting proudly on my shelf right now.