Charity work for Help Musicians UK
Photographer for the Musicians Benevolent Fund ‘Opera Offstage’ Calendar 2013
For the past few years I have moonlighted as a photographer, running a studio in London which specialises in publicity shots for musicians. Being able to capture the essence of an artist with an image has been a real joy, and I’m fortunate to be able to work in this field whilst I’m ‘offstage’. My method relies on creating an atmosphere where the artist can truly drop their barriers, and show who they are, in an honest and beautiful way. When I was approached in the summer of 2012 by my frequent partner in crime, the phenomenon that is the young and talented tenor Nicky Spence, to photograph opera stars for the Musicians Benevolent Fund ‘Opera Offstage’ calendar 2013, I jumped at the chance. The Musicians Benevolent Fund, now known as Help Musicians UK, does the integral work of supporting musicians during illness and retirement, as well as providing aid for young emerging artists with their studies. The life of a musician is unpredictable, and many gladly forsake stability for the chance to explore their art and enjoy the crystallised moment of joy that is live performance. Every second on stage though, is supported by countless hours in the practice studio, and optimum health is needed to support both the practice and performances. Any illness can feel like a devastating set back, as precious time and income are lost due to the recovery period. Help Musicians UK provides the financial and practical help needed during a time of crisis. Many a musician has them to thank for getting back on track after an illness, and going on to enjoying the longevity associated with a successful performance career. Help Musicians UK do such important work, and I feel privileged to have been able to ‘give back’ and support them.
Nicky Spence and I spent the summer of 2012 travelling all over the UK, photographing the opera stars who graciously gave their time and faces to this project. Many of them were part of the creative process, bringing their own ideas about locations and themes to the shoots we did. Looking through the images post shoot was always a wonder, as everyone presented themselves with such enthusiasm: bringing their own unique style to every photo. There were so many great images, that it was very difficult to make the final selections. What we got in the end was a brilliant calendar, created for a good cause, with real ‘star’ quality displayed on every page.
I include a selection of images from the Calendar: Renée Fleming as Ms January, Sir John Tomlinson as Santa Claus and Sarah Walker CBE as a pool bunny.
The whole series of photos from the calendar can be viewed on my photography website www.raphaellephotography.com
For more information on Help Musicians UK, please refer to their website www.helpmusicians.org.uk