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Last Updated: Friday, 11 November 2005, 12:37 GMT
A day with the master photographer
By Caroline Briggs
BBC News entertainment reporter

Lord Lichfield and Caroline Briggs
Lord Lichfield was 'generous, entertaining and engaging'

I only had the pleasure of meeting Lord Lichfield once.

It was at his London studios last month, where I was taking part in a master class in portrait photography.

As a keen, if amateur, photographer myself, it was something I was excited and nervous about in equal measures.

So when I was introduced to the man himself, he was quick to put me at ease.

"Call me Patrick," he said. So Patrick it was.

Suave

I found his suave, aristocratic manner to be warm, entertaining, engaging and utterly charming.

The anecdotes about the myriad of famous people he photographed over the years were dispensed with a twinkle in his eye.

He recalled the "ridiculous" Hollywood actor who arrived late for a photo shoot surgically attached to a bottle of whisky.

See if Lord Lichfield's tips turned me into a master portrait photographer.

And who could forget the blonde singer who was so wrinkly "she simply must have had a facelift" since he photographed her.

But Lord Lichfield was also keen to impress the elements of successful portrait photography on us, such as lighting, composition and interaction with your model.

He showed us photographs of the Royal family, Hollywood stars, and other world figures, such as the late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, whom he had shot over the years.

Passion

Each was delivered with an anecdote, revealing a passion for the glamorous lifestyle of a photographer as well as the craft itself.

The Queen and Prince Philip.  By Patrick Lichfield
Lord Lichfield photographed the Queen for her Golden Jubilee

Lord Lichfield was from the old school of film photographers, who honed their skills in the darkroom.

And he freely admitted he had feared his career was over with the dawn of digital photography.

He was wrong.

Digital technology, he explained, offered new channels of creativity and "reawakened" his love of photography.

Excited

He was excited about what could be achieved with digital and showed us examples of his work.

One was a picture of comedian Barry Humphries sharing a drink with his alter-ego Dame Edna Everage.

Another was model Jerry Hall standing near a cactus in a Utah desert, taken when she was actually in a Las Vegas hotel.

But Lord Lichfield was also enthusiastic to see what we could achieve as photographers and took his role as mentor seriously.

He demonstrated the use of light on a leafy Notting Hill street, and dispensed tips of how to capture the perfect expression.

Generous

I found him both generous with his compliments and constructive with his criticism when he looked at my photographs.

Lord Lichfield also kindly agreed to take my portrait, snapping away swiftly but precisely in a quick burst of flashlight.

I took away some valuable tips from my master class, along with the determination to give digital photography a go.

But I also left with a sense of having spent time with a man fulfilled by what was truly an amazing career.




SEE ALSO
Obituary: Lord Lichfield
11 Nov 05 |  UK
Photographer of the Year 2005
12 Oct 05 |  Magazine
Developing world
22 Jul 05 |  Magazine
Facing up to 'death of portrait'
23 Jun 04 |  Entertainment
How to take perfect wedding photos
27 Sep 02 |  Breakfast

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