To take the portrait of Simon Cundey, Managing Director and seventh-generation family member of Savile Row bespoke tailors Henry Poole & Co. Poole famously invented the dinner jacket when in 1865, the Prince of Wales and future King Edward VII (known to his family and friends as Bertie) asked his tailor and friend Henry Poole to cut a short coat he could wear at informal dinners at Sandringham. Henry Poole accordingly shortened the traditional tailcoat and presented the evening jacket to the Prince of Wales in celestial blue.
The portrait of Simon Cundey was taken to accompany a profile piece for a menswear publication. Other images included close ups of Simon’s cufflinks, his watch and other sartorial items showing their detail and craftsmanship. The portrait was taken on Savile Row at Henry Poole. Most Savile Row tailors, who have ground floor establishments, have large windows overlooking the Row which offer large amounts of natural light. This light can decrease dramatically as you venture from the front to the back of the tailors’; some have skylights to allow natural light to fall in the workspaces at the rear while some do not. As such the best location for photography is at the front, near the windows.
For this portrait of Simon I took advantage of the natural light from the windows and asked him to sit on the edge of one of his large leather sofas. With Simon front and centre of the composition I then tried to incorporate as many situation and trade elements as possible; on camera left (above his right shoulder) there is a mannequin featuring evening wear in a nod to Henry Poole’s invention of the dinner jacket, the frame includes a certain amount of depth to show the size of the tailor where a bolt of cloth sits on a table while on the wall behind Simon’s head are the many historic royal warrants and letters sent to Henry Poole by famous customers.
Due to all the composition nods to the tailoring industry in this portrait, it is a relatively busy image as it contains certain elements that I may otherwise would have preferred not to include; there is the edge of an table behind Simon’s left arm, there is a fan unit on the ceiling in the top right hand corner of the frame and the various colourful dots over Simon’s left shoulder are box files. There is always a balance in regards to lifestyle portraits; what to include and what to exclude and sometimes you have to accept if you include X, you have to also include Y.