Graham Ford’s B&H Goldfish photoshoot

‘It was one of those great advertising briefs where all the elements are there, but nothing was set in stone. I don’t have the original layout from Nigel Rose, art director at CDP, but I think it showed a shadow of a cat, a bowl and maybe the suggestion of a window.’

B&H Goldfish ad by Graham Ford

You were working on several campaigns at the same time: did you and Nigel discuss the look of the shot in detail? Or were you both pretty much on the same wavelength?

Graham Ford: ‘That summer of ’85 I was also working on Benson & Hedges with Graham Fink, Silk Cut for Paul Arden, Volvo for John Horton, Atora and Clarkes for Nigel, Hennessy for Guy Moore, BMW for Kathy Heng and Citroen for Dennis Lewis. I was very busy!

Nigel would have drawn a loose layout which the agency and client would have approved in principle – art directors could actually draw in those days – and we’d discuss the detail with the stylist and modelmaker. When we had everything ready on the set we would progress together, a process of discovery using lots of Polaroid.

Art directors like Nigel knew what they wanted, and they understood photography. There is a long journey from sketch to billboard, as everything had to be made by hand, assembled, lit, brought into focus, and distilled onto one sheet of film. Nigel knew my style, we trusted each other and knew we could make this work.’

Are you the kind of photographer who works everything out on paper, or do you prefer to evolve the shot until you’re happy enough to go ahead?

Graham Ford: ‘Both. I would calculate distances, sizes and lens angles, and I would set up a test and plan as much as I could beforehand. Don’t forget, the models were real and couldn’t be changed after they were made, and that sometimes took weeks…

Read the rest of Graham Ford’s B&H Goldfish at

Photo: Graham Ford, Art Director: Nigel Rose, Model-maker: Terry Kemble. Shot in Graham Ford’s studio in wonderful Westbourne Grove, London, 1985.
This feature © Ken Sparkes. All Rights Reserved.


Bennison Calendar 2012

November - Bennsion 2012 calendar by Ken Sparkes

The Bennison Fabrics 2012 calendar just has been released and it looks terrific. Like the previous calendar we wanted to showcase the fabrics in an eye-catching way and create images that would be remembered. So, we thought a childhood theme would do the trick, nostalgic but with a twist. Jude Massie-Taylor suggested Fairy Stories, I liked the idea of Nursery Crimes. We combined the two themes, went to our desks and began to sketch.

Our Mary Poppins sketch left quite a lot to the imagination, which is fortunate because our original intention to find a suitable rooftop location was doomed. With time running out, I had to think of something else.

We photographed Kim standing on a tall chair while she tried to hold the umbrella and look as though she was airborne at the same time. I had snapped the Battersea Power Station photo just a week or two before, having been soaked by the storm that you see in the final image.

Bennison 2012 Calendar by Ken Sparkes - March

Read the rest of the feature: New Year Resolution: Bennison Calendar 2012

Photos © Ken Sparkes. Art Director/Stylist: Jude Massie-Taylor, Costume Design: Sophia Lovell Smith, Hair and Makeup: Elaine Smith, Shot at Bennison Fabrics, near Sloane Square, and other miscellaneous locations around London. All Rights Reserved.