Thursday, 22 February 2018


Hello! I’m photographer Peter Dench and I’d like to offer you the opportunity for a one to one, one day workshop.

Join me photographing at some of my favourite central London locations looking to capture the humour and irony in English society.

The route will take in the grandest tourist spots London has to offer: Oxford Street - Piccadilly Circus - Leicester Square - Covent Garden - Trafalgar Square - Westminster & Whitehall.

The day will include a pub lunch, probably involving a pork pie, pint, crisps and a large pickled onion.

A signed copy of England Uncensored and a print of your choice (from the book) is also included.

From the workshop you can expect to improve your approach to photographing people in public spaces. It's designed to show how to shoot with speed, confidence, respect, humour and above all, to have fun.

You will become more competent in creating bright clear photographs whatever the weather, often using flash. I will demonstrate how to document a familiar London location in new and exciting ways, how to develop strong themes within the work, and how to build a project and edit with skill. Each participant will receive a detailed critique on the work produced.

The workshop is suitable for beginner and intermediate photographers, capable camera handlers, aspiring professional photographers, dedicated hobbyists, thinkers and beer drinkers (wine and spirit drinkers also welcome.)

Participants should be in possession of a Digital SLR or micro-four thirds camera.


If you are buying this as a gift for someone, I can send you a voucher (and also the book and print) ahead of the workshop for your loved one to open.

To discuss dates, an alternative city and for payment instructions, please email me at:

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

A&E: Alcohol & England Print Box

1. A man laughs during a picnic in the car park on Derby Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse. June 2001 

Hello! I'm photographer Peter Dench and I thought it would be nice to offer 12 "10x12" prints for sale from my series;

The work has been published extensively worldwide and received an award from World Press Photo
Each photograph is printed on Giclée Hahnemüle Pearl, a textured paper with a bright neutral white base. It creates really natural black and white images and offers vibrant color reproduction and great detail. The paper is resin coated with a fibrous feel. The satin finish of the resin coating gives depth to the image which combined with the texture and vibrant colour reproduction gives the image the feel of an oil painting. This is one of the most suitable of the Giclée Art Paper range for mounting.
Images are provided in a polyester sleeve, the perfect compromise between access and preservation, protecting material from handling and atmospheric hazards yet allows 100% visual access whenever required. The superb glass-like clarity of the polyester and the smooth precision weld on three sides provide the strongest, clearest, safest home for the photograph. The sleeves open on the narrow end for maximum security. 
The 12 photographs are presented in a portfolio box, using quality materials to offer long term, archival storage of your valuable photos. The box is covered in black buckram cloth. The materials are both acid and chlorine free. The adhesives used are both pH neutral and solvent free.  
2. A couple kiss while a man is sick nearby on Derby Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse. June 2001
 3. A young couple kiss passionately by a red wall in a Newquay nightclub. July 2001
4. A bare-chested skinhead postures in a pub in the Lancashire town of Bacup. April 2001
5. A group of friends in fancy dress drink outside the Sloop Inn in, St Ives. May 2001
6. A visitor to the Great British Beer Festival at London’s Olympia. August 2001
7. A visitor to the CLA Game Fair at Shuttleworth Park, Bedfordshire. July 2001
8. Friends Daniel (left) and Smudge drink cider at Cleethorpes bus station. July 2001
9. An England football fan celebrates in Trafalgar Square, London. October 2001
10. A woman dressed for Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot sat in a bus stop shelter opposite the racecourse. June 2001
11. A guest at a wedding reception in a St Ives rugby club downs alcohol using a deep-sea diver themed beer bong. May 2001
12. A woman lies on the grass next to the queue for the ladies’ toilet at the Henley Royal Regatta. July 2001

(includes shipping )

This is my selection. If you don't see your personal favorite, let me know and I can swap them in:

Payment via PayPal.Me

All images ©Peter Dench 2018


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

In Conversation With Harry Borden

The grandfather clock dispatches each tick with authority. At the top of each hour, its chimes reverberate in every corner of the extensive Devon farmhouse, bouncing off the framed Cecil Beaton and Tierney Gearon prints, pounding around the en-suite office that stores over 25,000 rolls of film in regimental black binders, skipping over the Sir Alex Ferguson-signed football shirt and ruffling the belly fur of resident golden retriever Sandy who’s lying on her back in the living room. The photographer stirring in the master bedroom is acutely aware of the fickle and finite ticking of time. His time has been successfully deployed during a 25-year career that has made him one of the go-to portrait photographers of a generation. It’s 7am and time for him to get up.

I slide out of the guest bed, which snappers Zed Nelson and his partner Maja Daniels slept in just a few nights before (hoping that I had chosen to sleep on Maja’s side) and join Harry Borden in the kitchen where he is slicing up home-baked bread for marmalade on toast #bakingborden. Dressed casually in an inside-out, made-in-Vietnam, blue-and-white-hooped Gap T-shirt, knackered dark shorts and Croc shoes, he arranges the breakfast condiments on the table as obsessively as he would construct one of his portraits.

As I sit sipping milky tea from a Charles and Diana wedding mug, listening to Borden’s rapid chatter, it’s clear that from the very beginning, Borden likes to win; not only win, but to out skill, out think, out manoeuvre, out earn and out photograph his competitors. He has won World Press Photo awards in 1997 and 1999 for portraits of entrepreneur Richard Branson and singer Björk respectively (a competition he has also judged twice), won the Naylor Prize for Photography for a portrait of a farmer at The National Open Art and has had work selected for the National Portrait Gallery’s annual photographic portrait prize, once for nine consecutive years in a row (in one of those years, three images were selected). The National Portrait Gallery holds more than 100 examples of his work in their photographic collection and there aren’t many magazines that have not yet published his work. Borden’s most satisfying victory is, arguably, over his Jewish-American father. When he declared aspirations to be a photographer, he was told that he didn’t have what it takes. His father had worked as an ad man on Madison Avenue in the 1960s (one of the genuine Mad Men) working with great photographers, so he knew, and advised his son to take a job in a camera shop instead.

Richard Branson ©Harry Borden

I first met Borden in the early noughties at the offices of the Independent Photographers Group (IPG) the agency which represented us both. Borden didn’t frequent The Fox pub next door with myself, Marcus Bleasdale and Tom Stoddart; the clammy hand of mortality wasn’t one Borden was eager to shake too early (when he does get to shake it, he’ll probably challenge it to a thumb war). IPG photographers had to write their jobs down in an annual log book. I often checked how the others were doing: Borden’s list always had the most pages (win). IPG photographers prints were stored on shelves along the wall; Borden’s shelf was by far the longest (win).

Borden hauls over a metal case and lifts the lid on how his career began in London, the city that he left aged six, moving from a posh preparatory school in Kensington to a free-school-dinners comprehensive school in Devon and a childhood dominated by shovelling pig shit on the family farm. Advertising photographer Lester Bookbinder, who was in Devon visiting his father, advised Borden to move to London. He did, arriving in 1989 with an Ordinary National Diploma portfolio from Plymouth College of Art and Design and experience garnered from a brief stint working at a photographic studio in Exeter. His father’s comments galvanised Borden with a fierce desire to succeed. It didn’t take long, securing his first (£25 all-in fee) commission for the NME, a portrait of the Smiths guitarist Craig Gannon, published on 18 March 1989. I know this date is correct as it’s on the laminated, felt-mounted, tear-sheet he hands me from the case. His first NME cover, of Primal Scream singer-songwriter, Bobby Gillespie, also laminated (and I must confess, now a little sticky with marmalade), soon followed.

Young Borden said yes to everything; he said a laminated yes to commissions for Truck magazine; Boardroom magazine and Recruitment Monitor magazine. Older Borden says yes to as many invitations he can to talk at schools, colleges and universities “sending into the world an army of admirers”. If Borden says no, it would open up an opportunity for another photographer to say yes. Borden has nailed his place in portraiture history and confesses a desire for more reportage assignments. The results he shows me from a shoot of actor Tom Hiddleston in Guinea for UNICEF won’t trouble the behemoths of photojournalism but, with a few more opportunities leveraged Borden’s way, they just might. His 288 page book on on Holocaust survivors will be published in Spring 2017 by Octopus and he is making progress with his Single Parent Dads project.

It’s time to pick up his young son, affectionately referred to as Bubba and his first child with his partner, the Panos Agency photographer, Abbie Trayler-Smith, (who is away on assignment in Zambia). Borden slides on a gold-plated pair of prescription Ray Bans, a present to himself in the early 90s while on assignment in the USA, strides past the trampoline dominating the west garden #bouncingborden and does what all proud parents do – enthuses how well their kid is doing and what amazing things they say. Arriving at Bubba’s carer’s garden gate, the junior Johnny Vegas look-a-like bundles over wearing two stickers on his correctly worn red and white hooped T-shirt. I ask what the stickers are for? “One for doing wee, one for doing poo.” Amazing. Climbing in the battered silver Fiat Punto with a missing petrol flap, we nestle among the discarded waterproof clothing, iPod headphones, empty petrol can, empty milk carton, shopping receipts, antacid tablets and a wrapped tampon and swerve on over to visit the oldest of his three children Polly, from his 14-year marriage to Jane, a consummation that also produced Fred, 15, and Oscar, 12. Pretty Polly has had an offer to study BSc (Hons) Psychology at the prestigious Goldsmiths College in London (win), providing she gets the A Level results she needs*. She’s has just got up. Borden shows her a snap on his phone of her and her exotically handsome boyfriend sleeping away another day. We ask if Polly can look after Bubba to allow us time to play a game of tennis, Polly asks if she can be paid for her time.

On a bike ride along the fish-riddled canal #bikingborden that runs east to west along the bottom of Borden’s south-facing garden, he describes meeting his first wife Jane, a free-spirited Gold Coast Australian and talented gymnast (win), in a Bethnal Green block of flats; of investing in his first flat in his early 20s and swiftly climbing the ladder to own several properties across London. As I cycle further away from the 7% proof Aspall Premier Cru Dry Suffolk Cyder I have chilling in his fridge and watch the bouncing head of Bubba in the seat behind Borden get further ahead, I try to think about his work than the stiffening of my calves and the thirst in my throat. I’ve four of Borden’s prints framed in my lounge: musicians Liam Gallagher, Jarvis Cocker, Pete Doherty and his classic shot of Michael Hutchence, dangling a cigarette delicately over a Parisian balcony. I’ve a copy of Borden’s Starwhite book by my bed; 30 portraits of actors, authors, comedians, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, a singer and a chess player. The mainly square portraits vary from flash lit and daylight, close up and full length, colour and black & white, eyes open and eyes closed. The techniques may be different but they work as a style, a deceptively simple way of working that produces non-judgemental results. Borden admits to being quite forceful when shooting his portraits and advises aspiring photographers to “calm the f*** down and own the situation; there are no happy-accidents.” “This is great, isn’t it?” he suggests, slowing down to let me catch up “Make sure you cog down the gears before the steep narrow hill,” he advises (too late) and accelerates away to the top. I get off and push, a dozen middle-aged women about to begin their evening ride pause and witness my shame.

Borden has moved on from the technical tricks that helped make him a name: cross-processing colour reversal film, ring flash and Technical Pan film processed through Rodinal liquid developer (a technique that he claims to have invented) to a more understated style, and we move on to Waitrose (“Such a nice shopping experience”). Borden wanted to be like Brian Griffin (steak in the basket) and reveres photographers Diane Arbus, Irving Penn and Richard Avedon (tomatoes); he raves about comedian Stewart Lee (Gü cheesecake x 2) and the work of Alma Haser: “a true artist” (Australian Shiraz). Online photo-sharing social networking service Instagram, he believes, sorts those who can photograph, from those who can’t (dishwasher tablets).

Before we eat, it’s time for tennis. The court is located in the grounds of neighbours Kevin and Joan. Joan is at home and I observe this fruity, frolicking, sumptuous country lovely for perhaps a little longer than I should. Oof – new balls, please! There’s a virtuousness in how Borden allocates his time, where every second counts and an efficiency in the way he plays tennis, where every ball counts. I watch this confident, naturalised Brit dispatch a range of measured shots across the net. I’m outskilled, out-thought, out-manoeuvred and outplayed. Result: an emphatic Borden WIN.

*she did

A version of this article first appeared in the book - THE DENCH DOZEN: Great Britons of Photography Vol. 1

Sunday, 7 January 2018

In Conversation With Laura Pannack

Laura Pannack likes to walk. Disembarking the train from London Fenchurch Street at Southend Central, we walk west along Southend-on-Sea promenade and we walk east along Southend promenade. We walk through what Laura calls a “savagely disappointing residential area” and among savage looking bare-chested young men walking their dogs along Southend High Street. We walk past families in matching pink tops eating Jammie Dodger biscuits and dodge among myriad wheelchairs bearing their wheezy occupants. We walk to Southend Pier and we walk along Southend Pier; extending 1.34 miles (2.16 km) into the Thames Estuary, it is the longest pleasure pier in the world. It is also the most savagely disappointing pier in the world. You have to pay to step onto Southend Pier but can’t step onto it with your pet dog. There is no bandstand at the end of Southend Pier; no arcade at the end of Southend pier; no overpriced rides; no teenage girls being fingered, not even a head-through-the-hole amusing photo opportunity. You can, however, ‘adopt a plank’ on Southend Pier. We stop walking and board a train for the return 1.34 miles; there is no buffet bar on the train.

I had heard about Laura Pannack well before I first met Laura Pannack; they were tales of a ferociously determined young photographer. I first clapped eyes on Pannack at the 2011 Visa Pour l’Image International Festival of Photojournalism hosted annually in the town of Perpignan, France. A colleague I was sat with at the popular Café de la Poste flicked a finger over my shoulder flecking me with remnants of his croque monsieur: “Laura Pannack’s arrived, it’s officially a festival.” The hairs on my neck prickled to attention as I spun around. “Where!? Behind the sweet-petite-tousled haired brunette with neat eyebrows and glowing skin, wearing dark shorts, sunglasses, cute white cardigan and holding a black shoulder bag?” I inquired. “IT IS THE WOMAN IN THE WHITE CARDIGAN!!!” I swivelled around and retreated into my Aperol Spritz.

Laura Pannack likes to talk. To be fair, she asks better questions than I do but, to be fair, I’m too tired to talk after all the walking and I’m carrying half her kit on account of her arm being broken while roller-blading on her birthday. She talks of originally wanting to be a conflict photographer after watching the James Nachtwey film War Photographer on DVD. She talks of being elated after meeting famed photographer Eugene Richards in Amsterdam and deflated by another when they refused her access to shadow them on a photoshoot. She talks of getting her face painted as a tiger with her then-partner on her last visit to Southend. She talks of trauma and protecting herself from pain by surrounding herself with people she can trust. She talks of influential photographers Sally Mann, Esther Teichmann, Joakim Eskildsen, Gregory Crewsdon, Man Ray and her mentor Simon Roberts.

She talks about her South African-born father, the photographer Paul Pannack, (also a keen rock climber and martial arts enthusiast), who counted Duffy among his friends and shared a darkroom with David Bailey. The young Pannack used to enthusiastically tip trays in her father’s darkroom at the bottom of the garden and spent many adventurous weekends hanging out with him in eclectic studios. Pannack was seven years old when her father split with her Jewish mother. Born in Surrey–  “an isolated bubble of nothingness” – Pannack attended Tolworth Girls’ School where the often cruel playground environment stiffened her resolve to succeed. Like many young families, family Pannack occasionally struggled and struggled through; if payday was still a few days away, she would be served ‘mother’s surprise’ to eat, a boiled egg wrapped in minced meat with a side serving of an “amazing tomato sauce.” When there was no mother’s surprise, she was taken with her younger sister to munch on corn cobs at Garson farm, falling sick after one visit when she ate a whole cucumber and on another, after consuming too many gooseberries. 

Dench photographed on Southend Pier by Pannack using Polaroid.

Laura Pannack likes to take pictures. As we probe the streets of Southend, Pannack drops from my vision with the efficiency of Fenella Fellorick the Kettle Witch, popping up amongst the mobility scooters that crisscross this seaside Wheelie World, returning with a subject for her lens. She coaxes over red-haired Alex to be photographed – she’s wearing a red hooded top – and asks me to step in and face Alex: “Closer.” Alex smells Body Shop-scrubbed (I think it’s dewberry juice). “Closer.” Alex is listening to energetic youth music on her iPod. “Closer.” Alex has a pimple on her left ear, CLICK! Two Justin Bieber look-a-likes (Beliebers?) look on with amusement. Being photographed by Pannack I feel vulnerable, alone, manipulated yet strangely compliant. Alex calmly departs without seeking an explanation of what has just transpired or receiving one although generally Pannack likes to chat with her subjects and thinks it selfish not to. On Southend seafront, Pannack pings taut and moves towards another red-haired girl (perhaps she is hoping to nail her next Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize submission). Grace is a soft skinned, plump, sulky-looking teenager wearing a light pink playsuit and clutching a mobile phone. I don’t know what Pannack says when approaching her but I’m sure it’s said in a way that only Pannack can say it; the pink play-suited teenager, hoping to study for a BTECH National Diploma in Science, playfully swings her left foot as the Kodak Portra 160 reels steadily forward through Pannack’s Hasselblad.

We pause for more talk over lunch at the Waterfront Cafe that has no view of the water; Pannack winkingly manoeuvres the salt shaker in front of me and suggests a portrait. She can’t remember the last time she took a picture she liked but her pictures have been liked enough to take her far. She has shot for the Guardian, Sunday Times and Telegraph magazines among many others; won and been shortlisted for several awards including The Sony World Photography Awards, The Magenta foundation and Lucies IPA. She was recently awarded the Vic Odden by The Royal Photographic Society for ‘a notable achievement in the art of photography by a British photographer aged 35 or under’; she has many years left to be notable again. In 2009, Pannack received first prize in the Portrait Singles category of the World Press Photo awards for a portrait of recovering anorexic, Graham. Graham was photographed using natural light against a light blue wall in his bedroom, the winning shutter-shot deployed during a shared moment of silence as Graham reflected on his illness. It’s this shared emotion of silence that is key to Pannack’s most successful photographs and projects (that or the deployment of a salt shaker in many of her photographs, overridingly though, I think it’s the shared emotion of silence). Young British Naturists, Young Love, The Walks… all of these projects are deafeningly silent but have taken a lot of chatter to achieve. Her current project on a tight-knit community is around three years in the making, averaging just over one picture a year. Pannack is undeterred, a firm believer that “time, trust and understanding is the key to portraying subjects truthfully.”

Waiting for the return train home, I crack open a can of Strongbow cider, Pannack swigs back from a bottle of Pinot Grigio, peels open the pack of nude playing cards purchased from a Southend joke shop and gently asks: “What have you learnt about me today, Dench?” I know what this is, this is one of those shared moments of silence, of reflection, of emotion. I think about the powerful photograph she took of Shay smoking a cigarette from a car window on a day out with the teenager. “WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT ABOUT ME TODAY, DENCH!” Oh! It wasn’t a shared moment of silence and reflection. I’ve learnt that I prefer it when Pannack smiles and those smiles have to be earned. Arriving back among the city suits drinking pints of Peroni in low-level Fenchurch Street sunshine, we say goodbye, I hesitate at Tower Hill underground train station, pull out my own camera and pull on tight my rucksack and decide, that today, it’s better to walk.

A version of this article first appeared in the book - THE DENCH DOZEN: Great Britons of Photography Vol. 1

Friday, 29 December 2017

A1: BRITAIN on the Verge

In the early 1980s, English photographer Paul Graham, documented the life and landscape of the A1. 25 years later, I made the  photographic journey along Britain’s longest road.
Babs sat under the menu board in BABS cafe where she has worked with her husband Pendleton for "27 long years". Blyth, Nottinghamshire ©Peter Dench

Britain is about to change. The faultlines that exist across the country have been exacerbated by the nation’s 2016 decision to leave the EU and the unconvincing outcome of the June 2017 general election. Communities and families have been divided. Is life in Britain about to become better or worse? Will employment opportunities increase or diminish? Will the economy and industries collapse or thrive? Are the British worried about the future and do elderly people, the majority of whom voted Leave, care less about it than the young? Will Britain leaving the European Union mean immigrants will feel unsafe and be forced to leave? How proud do people feel to be British?

Challis Cooper (20) and Arnold (22) take a break at Baldock Extra Motorway Services, on their way to visit family in Great Yarmouth. Radwell, Baldock, Bedfordshire ©Peter Dench

These are some of the many questions I wanted to put to the people of Britain. The A1, Britain’s longest numbered road, was my tendril to them, an artery that connects as much as it divides. It begins near St Paul’s in the City of London, zipping north through the suburbs of Bedfordshire, the industrial East Midlands, north east England and the east coast of Scotland, ending around 410 miles later in Edinburgh. I travelled it’s length photographing the eclectic characters I met along the way; in truck stops and cafes, temples and homes, businesses and bars. It provided me with a route of certainty in a time of tumult, through a nation on the verge. 

56 year old Sikh, Vaz, hoses down the entrance of Sri Guru Kalgidhar Gurdwara before worshippers arrive on a Sunday. Doncaster, South Yorkshire ©Peter Dench

Houses situated in close proximity to the cooling towers at Ferrybridge Power Stations. Knottingley, West Yorkshire ©Peter Dench

After a break at an OK DINER, Vilma and Darius are continuing on by car to Sheffield. Both Lithuanian, they have lived in Britain for over a decade and aren’t concerned about their residency after the UK voted out in the European Union membership referendum. Newark, Nottinghamshire ©Peter Dench

A selection of the reportage will be exhibited at the Art Bermondsey Project Space in London and YOU are invited

The first 500 visitors to the private view and exhibition will be able to collect a complimentary 71 page softback book

Featured on the BBC

Paul Graham's A1

A1: Britain on the Verge prints

Friday, 7 July 2017

DENCH DIARY : June - December 2016

1st My wife and I each have a bedside lamp. When we get into bed and both lamps are left on, it’s generally agreed, that hanky panky will commence. If one lamp is left on, it’s generally agreed, that the person whose lamp it is, initiates the panky. Tonight both lights are on. Just as I get started, my wife turns both lamps off. I’m not sure how to interpret this.

18th I read of a burglary at Crouch End library. So far the Police have lifted over 350,000 fingerprints.

24th 10.30am and I’m woken by a phone call from my brother-in-law James, he sounds frantic. “What’s up Jim?” “Haven’t you heard?” “No, I’m in Norway teaching a workshop, had a bit of a late night?” “Britain has voted to leave the European Union!” I frantically get out of bed.

©Peter Dench

28th Back in post Brexit vote Britain, I’m on the train to Burnley. When Channel 4 news asked if I’d like to do a report on Brexit, I said yes. They asked if I’d like to report from my home town of Weymouth, where 61% voted OUT of Europe? I said no. They said, where would you like to report from. I said Burnley, where 66.6% of people voted OUT of Europe. Half way to Burnley, a list of questions arrive via email from my producer:

Will Brexit make life better in Burnley?
What do you think will happen to jobs and employment?
Why are people so angry with London?
Why do people hate politicians?
Are you worried about the economy collapsing?
How would you feel if life got harder if the economy collapses because of Brexit?
How proud do you feel to be British?
Do you think Britain will be stronger now?
52% voted to leave opposed to 48% who voted to remain – do you think that is a big enough win to justify leaving the EU?
What do you think about the remain voters, the 48%, being angry that leave won?
What do you think about the political fallout to Brexit?
What did you think about David Cameron resigning?
Who would you like to see as Prime Minster?
Are you worried about the future of Britain?
How would you feel if Scotland voted to leave the rest of Great Britain?
Are you worried about Britain becoming insignificant/unimportant in the world?
Can you explain what Europe does?
Why do you think the Leave side said we need to take back control of our borders?
Is immigration a problem in Burnley?
Why do you think people worry about immigration?
Do you think the vote means new immigrants won’t be able to come here?
Do you think the vote means immigrants already here will be sent home?
Would you like Burnley to have fewer immigrants?
What do you think of people saying that it’s racist to be anti-immigration?
Why do you think older people feel differently to younger folk?
Are you angry about older people voting out?
Why did fewer numbers of young voters turn out to vote?
Why don’t young people care about politics?
Are young people as worried about immigration as older people?

I try to absorb as many questions as I can, try not to think about cider, and think about what to do and where to go when I arrive in Burnley. Arriving in Burnley with Michael, the cameraman, we go to afternoon bingo at a church and join the ladies of Burnley Wood for a night of darts. We visit a gym in the ethnic Stoneyholme area and chat to the proprietor of the St James’ Cafe in the town centre. We listen to the local brass band rehearse in the community centre and to the opinions of imbibers in several working men's clubs. 48 hours after arriving in Burnley, we leave for the editing office in London


1st The five minute report from Burnley is broadcast on Channel 4 News. The people of Burnley respond.

“Your interview gave the impression that the people of Burnley are nothing more than racists. You should be ashamed of yourself, I urge you to return and interview a wider spectrum of the community and find out the real reasons 2/3 of this town voted to leave the EU.” Simon

“I have just watched your portrayal of the opinions of the people of Burnley in regards to Brexit. I have to say it's embarrassing viewing.” Jon

“I myself live in Burnley, I also voted to leave. My issue was how you portrayed the town. You chose the most deprived areas, Burnley Wood, Stoneyholme, and the town centre cafe. You chose a  family who looked unkempt, a drunk woman in a club and a young girl in a cafe and set it to music from what sounded like a Warburtons advert or Last of the Summer Wine.” Claire

©Peter Dench

And the people not of Burnley respond:

“Saw this on TV yesterday, awesome, finally news read for the people by a down to earth guy, well done.”  Mark

“Great report and photos Peter. It’s so interesting to see such a different opinion to down south.” Adam

“Watched it yesterday, thought it was really good. Well done.” Sophie

©Peter Dench

17th I have 15 Tupperware tubs and 17 Tupperware lids, none of which fit the tubs. It’s a TUPPERMARE!

20th I’m at my daughter Grace’s junior school leavers’ assembly trying not to weep as they read out their life aspirations:

“In ten years’ time I want to be at Oxford University studying psychology and the three sciences so that I can become a neuroscientist that specialises in child psychology” Hana

“In ten years’ time I see myself driving a cherry red Ferrari through America, on my way to my company’s HQ to discuss a new game that I have created for the biggest game company in the world.” Roberto

“In ten years’ time I would like to be studying quantum physics at Cambridge University. Ideally I would have visited four continents by then.” Archie

“In ten years’ time I would like to be travelling the world with all my friends. I would like to stay in luxury hotels and take lots of photographs.” Grace Dench

26th English author and former politician, Jeffrey Archer, pauses in front of the two framed photographs I have in the An Ideal For Living exhibition at the Beetles & Huxley gallery in Piccadilly, London. I I introduce myself and explain the work. He nods approvingly before moving on to the Bill Brandt and Cartier-Bresson prints on the adjacent wall.


17th Watching the Weymouth carnival, I’m pleased to see a resurgence in the number of Majorette troupes involved, it’s a tights highlight #Tilight

19th I crack a can of Strongbow cider and sit down to watch the Olympic women’s rhythmic gymnastics #Tilight. The can of Strongbow proudly displays STRIKE GOLD TEAM GB on the side. I drink enough cans to believe, if I wasn't a photographer, I too could have been a rhythmic gymnast.

21st. I’m invited to do one of those online tests; if you were a superhero, what super hero would you be? I don’t need to do the test, for I am CIDERMAN, powers include; the ability to forget, blur reality, stay in bed all day, fill the recycle bin and treat gout.


2nd The fragrant lovely in front leans left towards the man next to which she is sat and hisses; “What the F**K was THAT!”. I lean forward and say; “That, my dear, was DENCH DOES DALLAS.” Her bewilderment is understandable. Preceding screenings in Campo Santo, at the Visa pour l’Image Festival of Photojournalism in Perpignan, France, include: Missing in Action; Homeless Women Veterans by Mary F. Calvert, a report on victims of sexual assault in the armed forces who have lost their careers and more, and Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear, a 15 year report by Paula Bronstein. The programme blurb for DENCH DOES DALLAS simply reads; ‘Welcome to Dallas, Texas, the largest urban centre in the country. Population 1.2 million.’

Jocelyn Bain Hogg (left) & Gerd Ludwig

3rd The former Magnum photo agency photographer slips beneath the water for a second time, and for a second time, I help haul him back to the surface. It’s 7am and the pool party, well more of a pond party, has plateaued. A dozen guests begin to drape themselves over various loungers and flirt with sleep. I check through the stack of polaroids that have been taken during the evening, remove any incriminating ones, stuff them in my pocket and stride towards my hotel. Three hours later, I pull on a tiny pair of white Fila shorts and stroll out of the hotel for brunch and a beer, followed by a beer and a swim at the beach (where I’m both pleased, and concerned to see the former Magnum photo agency photographer heading into the sea). I head from the beach to my book signing of DENCH DOES DALLAS at La Librairie ephemere, via a supermarket to pick up a crate of beer. I sign 12 books and drink a beer with photographer, Gerd Ludwig, then take the few remaining beers to a drinks reception for my new agency, VERBATIM, before leaving for dinner and wine at Restaurant Le Sud, after which, I have a post dinner Aperol Spritz at Cafe de la Poste, then another, before heading to the hotel for a final time, stopping off for a quick beer.


4th I arrive at The Ivy Kensington Brasserie to meet Xenia Tchoumitcheva, a Russian-Swiss model, actress, blogger and entrepreneur, to photograph her for a Swiss magazine. I’m increasingly finding that the process of taking portraits has changed over the course of my career. It was generally understood that an hour was the necessary time to take a good portrait. You’d meet your subject, have a chat, get to observe and understand a bit about them, take a walk, explore some locations, collaborate. The expectation now, is an hour is too long. Xenia is impelling and dynamic, also very busy. I photograph her for eight minutes in the Brasserie garden and one minute against a wall. I photograph her taking a selfie and take a selfie with her on my phone. I take a photograph of her talking with the journalist, and the journalist takes a photograph of me with Xenia on my phone. I take a photograph of the journalist and Xenia together, on the journalists phone, and a photo of Xenia, with her phone, which she posts to her 915K followers on Instagram (without crediting me). 25 minutes after meeting Xenia, regrettably, I'm on my way home.

©Peter Dench

14th I’m about to step on stage to talk at the Association of Photographers 2016 awards, the organiser turns to me and asks, “What’s your surname?” I’ve had better motivational moments. “It’s DENCH!”


16th I listen to a report on BBC radio about online bullying and watching pornography prevalent among 11 year olds. I have an 11 year old and immediately check her internet history. The most recent searches include: 6 Recipes to Make Slime for Kids; Cute Cartoon Quotes; Cute Cartoon Animals; Paper Chase School Supplies and Cartoon Love Heart Friends. I am relieved.

25th THE DENCH DOZEN: Great Britons of Photography Vol. 1 is published. Enthused, I start to source participants for Vol. 2. I’ve never met RANKIN and never met anyone who likes him. This can’t be right, RANKIN has charmed many respected artists to pose in front of his lens. I think he’s a good place to start and ping an email to his office.

“…. perhaps I could accompany RANKIN on a shoot, see how he works, what makes him tick. I could assist, or probably best if I second assist, my early career helping out Donald Christie and Steve Pyke among others, wasn’t lauded! … They’re more observation, conversation pieces than a straight Q&A, think ‘Through the Keyhole’ for photographers. Would RANKIN be interested in this?”

The office asks: “What is the deadline?” I explain the last book took five years from pen to press. “Five years.” I reply. The office responds: “Unfortunately Rankin’s schedule is just to busy at the moment to take part. Thank you for thinking of him.” I think of him and what it must be like to be  busy for five years.

©Peter Dench

5th German daily newspaper DIE ZEIT have commissioned me to photograph reigning Formula 1 world champion, Nico Rosberg, at an hotel in Mayfair, London. The meeting is scheduled for 11.30am and I arrive at 11am and scout the outside for potential locations, it’s a glorious crisp and sunny winter morning. Just before noon I’m introduced to Rosberg and say “Hello, I’m Peter Dench”. Rosberg says “Hello, why are we speaking English”. I think it’s going well and enunciate my plan. The press liaison officer accompanying Rosberg, informs me that he’s reluctant for Rosberg to be photographed outside, on account of his fame an inevitable public mobbing so I direct Rosberg into the restaurant. 18 minutes later I grab some of Rosberg’s left over chips and head home.

25th J D Wetherspoon pubs do a gift card. It’s a one stop shop for family Dench this Christmas.

 All my books can be purchased here

Thursday, 23 March 2017

DENCH DIARY : February - June 2016

February 2016

15th. Bed. Bus. Tube. Train. Plane. Taxi. Train. Taxi. Shoot. Taxi. Train. 30 minute walk. Bed. Taxi. Shoot. Taxi. Plane. Train. Tube. Bus. Bed. It’s day 12 of a 25 day shoot for the Ford Motor company's Keep It Real campaign and the day isn’t unusual. The campaign documents the sometimes extraordinary connections ordinary people across Europe share with the blue oval. From people who rely on a Ford to do their job, or to help them put a smile on other people’s faces, to those who have an undying passion for their cars. People like Luca Sessa, who rustles me up an antipasti dish of peppers, capers, olive oil, salt, garlic at his apartment in Rome. People like Dirk and Trudy Regter who have driven their Model T from their home in Holland around the globe. People like Guilia Dalle Fratte, who loves her Mk1 Focus RS so much, she has the shoes to match and people like Fabrizio Schenardi, who celebrated the day he bought a Mustang by getting an accompanying tattoo.

©Peter Dench/Verbatim


4th My wife is stood naked trembling at the top of the stairs barely able to dial in my phone number.   She has instructed our daughter Grace to stay in her bedroom with the door shut. “Pete. I think someone’s trying to break in.” I’d left for the airport at daybreak and am just about to pass through customs. An attempted break in seems unlikely. I ask if perhaps one of our book shelves has collapsed in the lounge. It had not. I remember seeing our neighbours light on as I left. Ah. Keith! The hermetic man prone to erratic outbursts. “It’s probably Keith” I tell my wife. “Leave a note for him suggesting someone tried to break in and I’ll report it to the police when I get home tomorrow.” She leaves a note. Keith comes round to say it’s not necessary to report it to the police as it was him trashing his own home in protest at the night-time thumps of of our house rabbit, Carrots. He explains that he didn’t come out of his flat for fear of what he might do. I consider reporting Keith to the police for threatening and abusive behaviour.

21st At the 2015 Photography Show, I squatted on the corner of the Hungry Eye stand trying to flog a few books. At the Photography Show 2016, I present to a crowd of 100s from the Super Stage in a line up of luminaries including Bruce Gilden and David Bailey. After a congratulatory selfie with (in my mind) new bestie, Lara Jade, I celebrate on the train home with a 12 hour old egg sandwich and bottle of Magners cider.


8th I’m sat next to a radio playing the Alan Walker track, Faded: “You were the shadow to my light. Did you feel us. Another start. You fade away. Afraid our aim is out of sight. Wanna see us. Alive. Where are you now? Where are you now? Where are you now?” I’ll tell you where I am. I’m in the chemotherapy unit at The Whittington Hospital in Archway, north London watching my wife being pumped with enough fluids to burst a beach ball. It’s round two of six chemotherapy sessions and she’s feeling emotional. I’m feeling emotional. I snap a photo on my phone and check for an accompanying emoji. A CHEMOJI !?

28th I have an idea for a cartoon strip character and contact popular British comic VIZ. The character is called Casual Ron. Each episode begins with Ron zipping up his too tight Fila tracksuit top and heading out for the day. Ron can only communicate using football chants. Suggested episodes include: “Is this a library?” Ron is on a quest to find something to read. “You’re going home in a Yorkshire ambulance”. Ron helps an elderly woman he finds in distress and “You’re not singing anymore”. Ron breaks the news to his nephew that he’s been left out of the school choir. I press send.


2nd Riaz Khan, a 50-year-old former football hooligan (turned teacher) stares at the large TV screen mounted on the wall of a Shisha Lounge in Leicester City centre and sucks hard from the pipe on the table in front of him as Tottenham Hotspur storm to a two nil first half lead against Chelsea being played at Stamford Bridge in London. “That’s it then” he mutters and heads of to the toilet. Anything less than a Tottenham victory would crown Leicester City, the club Khan has supported since a boy, champions of England for the first time in their 132 year history. Khan returns from the toilet and slams his formidable frame back into his seat. I’ve been in Leicester for several days capturing the multi cultural flavour of the city for American sports website, ESPN. If Tottenham win, I’ll have to remain in Leicester for the seasons conclusion five days later. I don’t want to remain in Leicester, I want to get back to London. Chelsea, buoyed by the introduction of Eden Hazard at half time, are back in the game thanks to Gary Cahill’s 58th minute strike. Khan exhales deeply. Seven minutes from time, Hazard scores his first home goal of the year handing Leicester City an historic title. Khan, the Silverback in the bar, springs to his Kickers clad feet, whips on his Stone Island jacket and roars his entourage onto the Leicester streets in celebration.

16th - 22nd Begin an assignment for STERN Magazine on BREXIT, the forthcoming UK EU referendum. Destination one is Romford, the party of the country most keen on voting OUT.

24th Packing for parts two and three of the reportage, Dench Eye on America, (Dallas being part one, completed in July 2015), I decide not to take Khan’s book, Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual, with a photo of Khan giving the V sign with his fingers on the front cover and a current photo of him with a shaved head and full beard on the back. Instead I pack, Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber, a descriptive, steamy tale of Miami.

25th - 31st Miami is wet. More water falls on the city than is used in the waterboarding of illegally detained suspect terrorists across the whole of America. The Atlantic ocean is to the east of Miami, The Gulf of Mexico to the West, and The Everglades National Park in the middle. The Everglades is a large tropical wilderness, the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River and is visited on average by one million people each year. It is the third-largest national park in the lower 48 states after Death Valley and Yellowstone. It has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance, one of only three locations in the world to appear on all three lists. It’s home to over 350 species of birds, around 1.5 million alligators and the elusive Florida Panther. It’s also intensely boring. On an airboat tour through the ‘river of grass’, I see one pair of alligator ears, get roasted by the sun and bitten by a mosquito. Halfway through, I eat the cheese sandwich I brought along, pull down my cap and reflect on a week in the city of Vice. I’ve witnessed ex US Marines flexing their muscles on South Beach and New Jersey girls sipping sugary cocktails from super-sized cups. I’ve chuffed on a fat Cohiba cigar in Little Havana and been advised to put my camera away in Little Haiti (I didn’t enjoy Big Haiti, why I thought the reduced version would be any better I have no idea). I pop along to the Black Men of Florida 5K charity run at Miami zoo and attend a memorial day service at the All Wars Memorial Park where BJ Chiszar, a war veteran, hands me a flyer, “BJ for Mayor",  he shouts. Some people will do anything for power. I photograph across Overtown (a neighbourhood originally called Coloured Town and the historic centre for commerce in the black community) and I get Twerk fatigue capturing waves of rippling buttocks at a pool party in the suburban city of Sweetwater.


1st The old adage about London is, you’re never more than 6ft away from a rat. In San Francisco (SF), the same is true of a hobo (a migratory worker or homeless vagabond, especially one who is impoverished). You can’t sit down on a bench in SF as there’s a hobo sleeping on it. You can’t wait in a bus shelter in SF as there’s a hobo living in it. You can’t photograph a landmark without a hobo strung out across it. Children can’t use the slide in the playground as there’s a hobo at the bottom of it. My first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge is it arcing over an hobo. Outside the Civic Centre, I count 36 hobos in makeshift homes. At each road junction, a hobo holds a written message of despair on a piece of cardboard. You don’t use ‘jumpers for goalposts’ in SF, you use hobos. Walking through the Tenderloin district, en route to the Little Saigon Larkin Street festival, I witness a hobo defecating onto the grate of a drain in the gutter and a hobo fall backwards down some concrete steps. A syringe drops from the backside of one hobo and kicked away, coming to rest against my Adidas SL 72’s (in blue). Why would anyone want to escape from Alcatraz if the first place you reach is SF. The only fully restored Nike missile site in America (over 300 of these sites were designed as the last line of defence against Soviet bombers) overlooks SF. It was restored as the last line of defence against a potential hobo uprising. It comes as no surprise to learn, photographer Pieter Hugo, whose work often deals with marginalised groups of people, has shot a series of portraits in Tenderloin.

7th ‘How DARE you cut HIS Penis!’ reads the sign held up high by Dominic Benton Beard. ‘DON’T CUT YOUR SON’, reads another. A woman holding two baby dolls, smeared with fake blood  (I assume) patrols the nearby sidewalk. The mission of ‘Intactivists’ like Benton Beard, is the protection of children from forced genital cutting, especially focused on protecting infant boys. I thank Benton Beard for the flyer and board the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train to The University of California, Berkeley. The delightfully fresh, English major, Jamie, is to be my guide. Jamie proudly enunciates that 99 Olympic gold medallists have been Berkeley alma maters; Berkeley has 47 libraries and the largest Japanese map collection in the world (outside of Japan); 16 elements on the periodic table were discovered at Berkeley; the campus has it’s own police force, hosts an organic farmers market and the basketball stadium, has 12,000 seats, that’s around 800 more than the English premier league football team I support. During a break in her infectious chatter I Google - ‘notable University of Derby alumni’. My name comes up which says it all really.

8th On my final day in the SF, a suited city worker walking in the other direction elbows past. “Watch where you’re walking bro!” he says. I swivel on my heels and thrust out my middle finger. “F**K YOU MAN!!!!!” It’s totally out of character for me, but completely in character with the city.

16th I receive a reply from VIZ  Comic regarding my Casual Ron idea. ‘Hi Peter, Thanks for sending this. I've passed it on to the editors but they don't want to use this particular idea’. Pfff! I zip up my too tight Fila tracksuit top and chant on out into Crouch end to watch the England V Wales European Championship footy match.

A version of this feature first appeared in issue 2 volume 4 of Hungry Eye magazine available to purchase here

All my books can be purchased here