Best of British

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Jocelyn Bain Hogg speaks to Matt Fleming about the celebrities he’s snapped during this very British of years

It’s a year for the Brits. Forget the state of the economy which is crippling Hong Kong’s former colonial rulers – they’ve got the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to shout about. And award-winning documentary photographer from the land of hope and glory, Jocelyn Bain Hogg, has put together a photo-book just for the occasion.
A British Entertainment is a limited edition art book which celebrates the essence of being British by focusing on those elite and royal classes which all-too-often symbolise the country. It’s been described as ‘a volatile, heady mix of social gatherings of unlikely social bed fellows’ and includes exclusive photos of Prince William, Kate Moss, Ronnie Wood and Pippa Middleton, all taken by Bain Hogg.
Bain Hogg has worked for leading magazines on photographic assignments over the past 20 years and he’s also completed five photographic books – including The Firm in 2001 and The Family last year, both which foray into the British criminal underworld. He’s just been in Hong Kong promoting A British Entertainment at The Landmark’s Thomas Pink store, where he let us into his world of royals and British celebrities…

A British Entertainment. An eye-catching read. Tell us more…
It’s a book about the contemporary British ‘season’. The season started back in the 18th century and was a series of events and parties from May to September where upper class boy met upper class girl. Very Jane Austen! Arguably little has changed and the class system is alive and well in my country. A British Entertainment documents this sector of the British at play throughout the year and starts with the traditional Gold Cup race meet at Cheltenham and continues until the winter fox hunts. This is a Britain rarely seen and even more rarely documented.

What was it like to photograph Prince William?
Erm... six feet away in the pouring rain with rather large security guards mostly in the way? Um…

Any other stories to tell us during the making of the book?
I think there were two instances that I personally loved. The Thaxted Morris dancers, on seeing me work so hard at their festivities, offered me a bed for the night in one of their homes, rather than face the long drive back home. I got amazing pictures the next morning as they danced in the 14th century church during the service. The other was the Glenisla Highland Games where they were so friendly that I was invited to the private village ceilidh and had a damn good highland dance. These instances make a project personal and, I think, add to the joy in the pictures.

What sort of appeal does it hold for Hongkongers?
This book is a celebration of joy. For Hongkongers, it allows them to have an insight into a different side of the British.

It’s a big year for the Brits. Are you feeling it too?
Absolutely! This rain-soaked summer seems perfectly fitting for our major celebrations!

Any other books on the horizon?
The next is Tired of London, Tired of Life. A look at my city of birth and a co-operative project with both an artist and designer colleague. Very exciting times ahead I think!

A British Entertainment is published by Foto8 for Thomas Pink, priced $950, and is available only in Thomas Pink stores.

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