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SIMON FOWLER by Rob O'Connor
The best decision Simon Fowler ever made was to put down his guitar and pick up a camera. That's the photographer Simon Fowler of course, not the musician, the botanist, or any of the other Simon Fowlers thrown up by a gaggle of internet search engines. This is Simon R Fowler, a name synonymous with portrait photography, with quality, experience and personality. (And a name from which you can make the anagram "smile or frown" - an appropriate coincidence for someone who's spent much of his life looking through a lens at people's faces).
After studying photography and fine art at Amersham he began his photographic career with LFI (London Features) shooting pictures of the rich and famous for press syndication. It was here that he met fellow snapper Paul Cox, with whom he forged an omnipotent partnership in the early 1980's. In their Fulham studio the pair rubbed shoulders with the likes of Spandau Ballet, Iron Maiden, Boy George, David Cassidy, Meatloaf; anyone, in fact, who meant anything to the vibrant '80's music scene. The images created during these years filled the pop glossies.
By the time Fowler had set up in his own bohemian west London mews studio next to design agency Stylorouge, he was Smash Hits photographer of choice. The gangs of young girls who congregated from time to time in the street outside weren't there to admire Mr Fowler's musicianship (his aspirations in that area had diminished after reaching page 7 of the Status Quo songbook), no, these kids were bunking off school to catch a peek of Bros, Kylie, Rick Astley... Whichever pop starlet was being immortalised on film that particular day.
Apart from a client base that included every major pop record label Simon found favour with book publishers, news and magazine features editors and the classical music labels, photographing authors, sportsmen and women, comedians and actors. His skill goes way beyond choosing a background colour that doesn't clash with a green Versace suit and a Des O'Connor tan. His pictures flatter, without a doubt, but he manages to cut through the facade of fame, finding the real personality of his subject and exposes it for the world to see. As well as making celebrities of ordinary people, he finds the real people behind the celebrity. Extended working relationships with so many of his clients is testimony to his understanding of the individual and their public image.
By the mid '90's his work had taken him all over the world, gaining invaluable experience working on location and still finding the time to build a new darkroom and office space in Bayswater, pick up his youngest of three kids from Cubs and learn four languages (OK, so I lied about the languages).
His portfolio now boasted hundreds of record and book covers, ad campaigns and theatre posters. On the classical music side of things alone he had worked with Placido Domingo, Lesley Garrett, Thomas Hampson, Nigel Kennedy and Sir Simon Rattle.
Inevitably, Fowler moved into the world of the moving image, directing TV commercials and promo clips, particularly for some of his longest standing clients including Sarah Brightman and Cecilia Bartoli.
Still based in west London he continues to photograph people, his affable manner endearing him to young and old alike, and he is also building a collection of personal images for a forthcoming book of his work, tentatively titled "That's nice, what the fuck is it?"
Check out his website, you'll love it. Oh yes,I almost for got,he's just started a new blog.
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