Monaco Grand Prix: the name alone conjures images of champagne, speedy cars, big money and dashing, daring drivers. This May, under the bright French Riviera sunshine, I captured all this and more, on an unusual and privileged event photographer commission. However, most of the exclusive photos that I took behind the scenes of the race can never be shown.
A glass of champagne or two while you browse? A changing room big enough for you and ten friends to chill out in? A beautiful, trilingual personal shopper, effortlessly juggling your favourite designers’ shoes, outfits and sunglasses? Forget shopping malls, queues and fights during the sales: Monaco knows how to shop.
“Fantastic!!! Fabulous!!!” cried my client, as she caught sight of me. Its not often that I am greeted with quite as much gusto, but I’d just arrived at the ITV Studios stand in Cannes, where bubbly smiles, enthusiasm and exclamation marks abound. ITV, the UK’s biggest and most popular commercial television channel, has a big presence at MIPCOM (the entertainment version of a series of annual Cannes-hosted global trade fairs), and I provide their corporate event photography. Today, my first stop was a rendez-vous on Love Island.
A few weeks before hoards of movie buffs, journalists and photographers arrive in the South of France for its annual film festival, Cannes plays host to another huge crowd at the world’s leading property trade fair, MIPIM. Monocle magazine commissions me regularly as photographer to make a reportage of this vast urban development event, but this year, the editorial direction had changed…
“Have you warmed up now?” “Yes, thank god! Oooooh it was freezing upstairs!!!”, Mary J Blige giggled back. Away to my right I could see Clint Eastwood, drinking a beer with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Al Gore was laughing loudly at a big joke he’d just cracked to my left. I slid as smoothly as possible past Julianne Moore, deep in conversation with Eva Longoria, to catch Dustin Hoffman who I’d just spotted – it looked like he was about to leave. The term ‘exclusive’ doesn’t do this event justice. It is, quite simply, THE PARTY of the Cannes Film Festival.
Defined as a crewed yacht that is at least 24 metres long (the length of a tennis court), a superyacht comes with a price tag of over a million Euros per metre. Just filling up the fuel tank of the biggest boats can cost 200 000 €. While a private jet might be seen as a justifiable business expense (time being a valuable asset to Very Important People), a superyacht can’t be couched as anything other than pure indulgence, however imaginative one’s accountant. Yet the market is currently very healthy indeed. Last year, twice as many superyachts were sold globally compared to 5 years ago, and the French Riviera is a good place to buy one.
When I was young, I once overheard the term ‘floating gin palace’ in conversation. My imagination conjured up a thing of wonder, and so I was disappointed later to learn that the term simply refers to the kind of luxury motor yacht plentiful in Antibes, Cannes and other South of France marinas. Last week, I was asked as corporate event photographer to spend the evening in Cannes on a vessel that could have been fairly accurately described as a floating whisky palace.
The smell of summer is suddenly in the air in the South of France. Down in Cannes, fur coats have been tossed aside in favour of sequinned bikinis as winter-white skin is unleashed onto the beach. MIPIM (Cannes’s big annual real estate trade event held at le Palais des Festivals) has come and gone, which means only one thing: the countdown to the Cannes Film Festival has begun…
As I write, the Cannes Film Festival is under way. But this is not the only event that brings people flocking to Cannes every year. Le Palais des Festivals hosts a number of international trade fairs. A dazzling array of acronyms beginning with ‘M’ give titles to these business events. MIDEM is for the music industry, MIPCOM , MIPDOC & MIPTV the TV business and MAPIC for retail property, among others. MIPIM is the one of the biggest events, and it is devoted to large-scale real estate.
Alain Ducasse is known as the Godfather of French cuisine. A fortnight ago, he did his reputation proud. Michelin-starred chefs flew to the South of France from all over the world to help Ducasse celebrate his 25th anniversary at Monaco’s Louis XV restaurant. They ate, drank, cooked and made merry, all 240 of them. And a certain photographer managed to squeeze in one or two tastings between frames…