Photo by Dave, post-production/image manipulation by myself.
You may have noticed a sudden influx of blog updates on my otherwise neglected blog in the last couple of days. I wanted to bring my work up to date before posting this particular update.
I learned yesterday, from his sister in Australia, that Dave Collier passed away yesterday morning. Over the course of a decade, I had worked with him more than any other photographer.
Let Me Rest -
From our first shoot together in 2004.
I first met Dave in 2004, at a studio day in Uxbridge. It was a long day in a studio located in an industrial estate (where I hadn't foreseen there would be no shops handy), and Dave was the only person throughout the day who thought to bring me anything to eat. I worked with him many times after that on an individual basis, on location and at his home, in Faringdon.
Beam Me Up -
One of Dave's all time favourite photos.
Dave will be remembered as a kindly soul, and a generous man. I still find little trinkets and printed images from the many shoots we did together over the years, each time I tidy the house. He never hesitated to provide for his models, or allow me to keep the props we had used to shoot with.
There is a term, often used within the internet modelling community: some photographers are described as a 'GWC' (guy with camera), often used as a derogatory term. I hope I will not be misunderstood, and I hope that Dave himself would not be offended, if I describe Dave as a GWC (in his case, Gentleman With Camera). Unlike many, he had no aspirations or pretensions to be something he wasn't. He didn't make promises he couldn't keep, or have false delusions that he was any better than he was. (I think his pseudonym, 'Mugshots UK' is testament to his humility as a photographer). He was a humble man, and an amateur photographer, who aspired only to create images to the best of his ability, and appreciated recognition from fellow photographers when he got it right. Photography was his hobby, and his motives were no more complicated than that. He may have been a 'GWC,' but he was a good one, with a kind heart.
Secret Garden -
This image was one of Dave's favourites, and was his desktop image for many years.
Over the course of the years that we worked together, Dave took some of my favourite images of myself - a select few of which, I have showcased here. (It must be said, that he also took some fairly terrible shots... but you have to take the rough with the smooth, and I never claimed to have a 100% hit rate!) Dave always gave me a CD of the images from each shoot, and allowed me to 'be creative' with them in post-production. 'Tessellation' - the first image in this blog entry - was one of those images, shot by Dave and manipulated by myself, and I've always been proud of the results of that collaboration. Another is below.
Musical Chairs -
Manipulation by myself.
Since I first knew him, Dave was never in the best of health. He wasn't very mobile, which meant that shooting with him could be a bit of a challenge, as in a studio environment, he was more or less stationary, while it was up to the model to change position and perspective. At times, this forced me to be more creative in our shoots together, to avoid a series of similar shots.
Over the years, as I got to know him, I sometimes wondered if society in general had 'written off' Dave, due to his weight. Over time, he spoke to me about his various medical complaints, and I knew that his size was the result of a medical condition. It saddens me to think that people often dismissed him, simply because he was overweight. I suspect that many people never got to see the kindly man beneath his size. I am also led to believe that his weight delayed a correct diagnosis, when his medical conditions worsened. I think the modelling community provided him with a social circle that was important to him, and I'm proud to have been part of that network.
'Bandage My Brokenness' and 'Recovery'
Dave phoned me in November last year to tell me that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was very matter-of-fact relating the news, and I promised to visit him. I'd known him for a decade, and considered him a friend; it was the least I could do (nobody should find themselves in that position, alone).
I visited him just two weeks ago, by which time he was in a hospice. I was pleased to find him in good spirits, and he seemed well in himself. He was looking forward to moving to a nursing home, where he expected to stay for at least six months or so, to see out his time in comfort.
Summer Friendship (featuring Fire's Secret) -
From a hilarious day's shooting.
Dave did move to the nursing home in late January, but was only there a few days before he passed away yesterday on 1st February. While the news was not entirely unexpected, the fact that it came so soon still seems a bit of a shock.
He was a good man, and I will remember him as a kindly soul (whose many generous gestures I have no doubt I will continue to stumble across from time to time). For those who knew him, I believe it is better that he didn't linger, and suffer; his illness was terminal from the moment it was diagnosed. And for those who weren't fortunate to meet him or come across his work, I hope this brief tribute will perhaps be a reminder not to judge a book by its cover. Never write someone off based on appearance.
Dave Collier - 2014
He used this image as his profile picture on most of his websites.
It's a photo I took of him during one of our many shoots together.
Farewell, Dave. You will be fondly remembered.