In the current issue of Q Magazine you’ll find my portrait of Professor Brian Cox.

This was such a satisfying shoot to do. I thrashed out the concept of Brian sat at a table looking at a space shuttle mid-launch with Russ, Q Magazines Picture Director the day before the shoot. The thought of doing this as a digital comp just felt naff to us so as ever I suggested and promised to pull of an idea that I had no real clue how best to achieve. (Russ is used to this…)

All we were certain of was that we wanted this shot to all happen in camera. No digital trickery or retouching and apart from having to retouch out the Magic Arm that was holding the model shuttle aloft (the small room wouldn’t allow me to position it in such a way as to hide it) we achieved our objective.

Everything was done in camera.

I built and painted the model shuttle through the night and heart in mouth made the ‘take-off’ smoke cloud in the morning before the shoot drawing on my complete ignorance of basic electrical wiring and hoping my death trap of a setup didn’t electrocute Brian halfway through the shoot. When I switched on the smoke model for the first time I was so pleased and had high hopes it was going to be a good one.

Anyway, after about 18 hours of solid work to build it we had the shot nailed in about ten minutes. Brian enjoyed it and for my part, in recent years this portrait is a personal highlight.

(behind-the-scene photo © Russ O'Connell)