When Tim Andrews got in touch to invite me to take part in his project, ‘Over the Hill’, I was delighted, bemused and confused all at the same time. How did he know about me? Why was he asking me to photograph him? Did he know that it had all been quiet on the photography front for me for a couple of years and that it was a long time since I had made any portraits? It took months to arrange getting together for the session and by then he couldn’t remember the answers to the questions and to be honest, although my ego could have been tenderly bruised by this lack, it turned out that it didn’t matter at all. Why didn’t it matter? Because Tim Andrews is a nice fella and a real gent and it was a pleasure to spend an afternoon in his company.
We’d met up at the National Trust’s Polesden Lacey property and I’d arrived an hour or so before him so that I could have a scout around for locations/inspiration. I had no idea what I was doing, what I was going to do, nor what to expect of the session. Since 2014, I have mainly been focusing on the ‘day job’ (teaching) and haven’t made real time for photography (I have found it’s really hard to locate the reserves of energy and creativity required when stressing about Key Stage 3 classes and GSE results.) Plus, I’d only recently returned to work after a few weeks off ill and I was not feeling too confident about presenting myself as anyone worthy of making pictures for him - after all, he had been photographed over 400 times as part of the project so far!
Luckily for me, what the jaded post-poorly photographer lacked in recent experience or ideas, Tim Andrews made up for in abundance. I had found a beautiful wall, with a beautiful circular hole - a round window of magic without any glass. I thought it would be good to photograph Tim using the circle as a frame - which I did and then Tim thought it would be good to jump up and down during the process, which he did. Cue laughter, cue surprised visitors, cue the first twinklings of light into this subdued heart of mine. Here was this man - with Parkinson’s - who was leaping and contorting and basically crazily sharing his energy with the world, with me. As he was jumping, I was thinking, “Pull yourself together Myers - so you have been ill, so you aren’t right - but look what Tim is doing - he is just ‘going for it’ - so should you.”
What then ensued was a playful, joy-filled exploration of the gardens that made me laugh properly for the first time in months - thanks for that, Tim - I don’t think you realised how significant this was for me. He crouched amongst flowers, was ‘eaten’ by a perfectly pruned hedge and crawled around in between topiary. He also stood still and answered my questions about his life, his illness and his creative project, ‘Over the Hill’. We played and we conversed. It was lovely.
He has now published his blog post, with his selection of images from our afternoon and I can post mine. I’ve chosen these pictures because for me they represent the fun he brought to proceedings: the fun we shared.
Thank you, Tim.
You can read his post here: http://timandrewsoverthehill.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/who-are-you-by-denise-myers.html