William Atkinson portrait – the “contact sheet”

When I took these pictures in May 2008 it was only a month before William Atkinson was Knighted in the Queen’s birthday honours list. He had been the Head Teacher at The Phoenix High School in west London since 1995. I shot these portraits on the school’s “farm” which had been an unused area of land which has been brought into use as a community resource and outdoor classroom.

©Neil Turner/TSL. May 2008, London

His CV is long and distinguished and he is an impressive man. Shooting his portrait took patience because he had quite a bit to say about quite a few topics and, like so many head teachers I have photographed, he was constantly watching what was going on around us. This wasn’t the first time I had photographed him – I first shot pictures at Phoenix when he first arrived back in 1995 and the lovely thing was that he still had a copy of that magazine cover on his wall.

I shot 92 frames on this job and submitted a tight edit of 11 having previously trimmed the selection down to 18. Looking back through a lot of the portraits that I did between 2000 and 2008 it is amazing how often 18 was the number of frames that I kept. There has to be an explanation but I am afraid that I cannot think of it!

Techie stuff: Canon EOS1D MkII cameras with 16-35 f2.8L, 24-70 f2.8L and 70-200 f2.8L lenses. Lumedyne Signature series flash and a 23″x24″ Chimera soft box.

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