Local photographer: John Garrett

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Celebrity photographer John Garrett (above) talks to Jo Reynolds about clicking with the Dalai Lama and other stars.  

How long have you lived in the village?
12 years.

What brought you to the area?
Divorce.

What are your favourite places?
Every day I have breakfast in Bertotti’s on Hammersmith Grove or in The Grove. Once a week I have dinner in the Andover. I like places that are dog friendly. So does my dog, Coco. I’m embarrassed to admit she’s a cockerpoo, though I believe they’re highly prized. Harrods charge three grand for them. I didn’t pay that.

Why do you like the area?
I know it’s estate agent B.S., but this place really does feel like a village. And it’s good for the airports. I can’t live in a city unless I can escape easily.

You sound Australian. What brought you to the UK?
I began my career in Melbourne in 1959 as a Stills Assistant on Stanley Kramer’s movie On The Beach with Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Gregory Peck. I came to London in 1966 to pursue my career.

Have you photographed anyone famous?
Paul McCartney, Duke Ellington, Felicity Kendal, Sir John Betjeman, Rita Hayworth, Natalie Wood, Richard Branson, Andy Nyman, Bill Bailey, Darcey Bussell. She’s a lovely girl.

Any particularly memorable encounters?
Often people aren’t what you expect. The scary ones can be charming, and the charming ones not. When I walked into Darcey’s studio, she was lying on the floor doing the full splits resting her chin in her hands. She said it was how she relaxed.

Has the profession changed over the years?
Oh, yes. In the old days, a star like Natalie Wood would turn up on her own. And when I photographed the Dalai Lama, it was just him and me. Now the celebrity brings a posse of maybe fifty people. And you’re there with a queue of other photographers on ladders. You don’t get enough time with them any more.

Do you only take celebrity portraits?
No, I’ve done reportage work covering stuff like poverty in Britain, the Berlin Wall and Northern Ireland, for publications like Life, Paris Match, Vogue, Bazaar, The Times and The Observer. These days I focus on books.

Would we know any of your books?
I co-authored (with Julian Calder) a guide to photography called The 35mm Photographers’ Handbook. It sold 3m copies. I have a new book coming out in November.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you have done?
When I was a boy, all I wanted to do was play cricket. Perhaps I would have been a cricket coach.

Thanks John.

To learn more about John Garrett, visit
www.john-garrett.co.uk
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© Images Copyright Protected John Garrett 2013.