Twenty Two from Twenty Two

A retrospective of my favourite images taken during 2022

Gary Marlowe
12 min readDec 31, 2022

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As another year passes, it’s time to look back on the images I created and narrow down which ones really stood out, those that had something about them that merited a second look.

Curating my twenty-two favourites from 2022 meant having to think really hard about what made each one that little bit more special than some others. How do you choose between two images that are equally striking? What elevates one ahead of another?

Intangible factors aside, ultimately, it comes down to the ones that hold the most personal appeal and choosing those that together best represent the ‘flavour’ of the past twelve months and help define what I’m about as an image maker.

As someone who has focused much of the past dozen years on photographing musicians, 2022 proved to be my least prolific ever. In fact, I only shot four gigs the entire year, when in the past I’d often do that number in a month. A combination of factors contributed to this. First, there were far fewer gigs that I wanted to see, then some that I did were cancelled at the last minute.

All ‘n all, it was a less than bountiful year in terms of photo opportunities. With less to shoot, it meant there’s much fewer images to choose from than I’m used to. Even so, it was still difficult to select the ones that stood out the most.

Having narrowed down my favourite twenty-two, the next issue was to decide the best way to present them. Without any other rationale, I figured why not show them in the order they were taken? So here goes.

And if you’re new to my images, just so you know, all of them contain text. They always have and they always will.

Prospect Cottage | Dungeness, Kent | February 2022

This was my second time photographing the former Victorian fisherman’s hut that was film maker Derek Jarman’s home until his death in 1994. In April 2020, this iconic black and yellow cottage on the windswept Kent coast — the only part of England officially classified as a desert — was purchased by Arts Fund, an arts charity, following a £3.6m campaign.

Look closely and you’ll spot the black text on the black timber. It’s John Donne’s poem, The Sun Rising. I especially like this composition as most people tend to shoot the cottage head on. Even though it was a cold, windy winter’s day, lots of people were walking around the property. The biggest challenge was making sure they weren’t in the shot, or their shadows reflected on the ground. (Shot on iPhone 12)

Brighton Tattoo Convention | Brighton Centre | February 2022

I’ve been photographing this annual convention since 2010, but this was the first time it had been held for two years courtesy of Covid. As the UK’s premier tattoo convention, there’s always an abundance of inked bodies to shoot. However, to get my attention they have to be pretty special.

Getting good shots isn’t easy as the venue is packed, the artists are working, the booths are small, the aisles narrow and the lighting isn’t that great.

I’ve chosen two portraits because both had great faces. I hate posing my subjects, preferring to ask their permission to shoot them and then waiting to get my shot once they’ve forgotten I’m there.

The first is French tattoo artist Rafel Delelande who had self-inked his entire face with a tree motif. Now I’ve seen quite a few people with facial tattoos, most of whom look a mess, but I thought this unique inking looked amazing. I went in tight to avoid other people, tattoo equipment and banners, although I do think the background worked well with his tattoos. (Shot with OM-D E-M1 using available light only)

The second is of Kitty Stopps who caught my eye despite not having any visible tattoos at all. Initially quite self-conscious, she took some convincing before agreeing to let me photograph her, which I did from a distance. I really love this portrait. I think she looks stunning! (Shot with OM-D E-M1 using available light only)

The War of the Worlds | Brighton Centre | March 2022

This was my fourth or perhaps even fifth time photographing Jeff Wayne’s theatrical version of the HG Wells Martian classic. Whilst the songs remain the same, the cast of singers change. It’s not an easy show to shoot as the audience are seated and you have to shoot crouched down in the aisle.

I’ve selected two images that I think capture the performance. When shooting actors, you want to convey the emotion of their performance as it relates to the character they’re playing. The first is a portrait of Nathan James who was back as the Voice of Humanity and the second is of the bloodied Artilleryman, played this time by Strictly’s Kevin Clifton.

The Artilleryman is a straight performance shot, while the other required a bit more work in post to create the final image. (Both were shot with the OM-D E-M1)

Arundel Castle Tulip Festival | April 2022

Although this year’s festival featured some 130 tulip varieties, it is much the same event from one year to the next. The challenge as always is to find fresh compositions.

What I like about this image of potted tulips on display in front of the Park Temple in the Earl’s Garden is the contrast between the monotone temple (made not of stone but of green oak) and the colourful flowers. (Shot with the OM-D E-M1)

RHS Chelsea Flower Show | May 2022

This was the first Chelsea back at its regular May date for three years. Whilst there’s always plenty of things to shoot, the challenge is trying to find something that’s less than obvious.

Two images stand out for me. The first is a top-down shot of my favourite show garden, the Japanese influenced Boodles Travel Garden by Tom Hoblyn. Small, but perfectly formed, it featured a curved rill lined with verdant leaves. The rippled-water feature was created by Bamber Wallis and edged on one side by Tom’s exquisite planting. Inspired by a 16-day around the world business trip taken 60 years ago by then Boodles chairman Anthony Wainwright, the garden won a Gold Medal. (Shot on iPhone 12)

The other image is of a bronze by Essex-based sculptor John O’Connor. I’ve been photographing John’s human forms with their elongated limbs for years now and always try to put my spin on the final image, often giving them my own colourful twist. This one is based on John’s newest work, Moth, although it isn’t actually mauve. (Shot with OM-D E-M1)

Jungle | Brighton Centre | June 2022

Although I was able to shoot the whole show — usually you only get the first three songs — this was a really tricky gig to photograph, mainly because the musicians were in almost continual silhouette and most of the time the stage was bathed in dreaded red light.

This shot was taken from the back of the balcony. I like it because it’s so very different from the type of gig shot I usually go for. (Shot with the OM-D E-M1)

RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival | July 2022

The show gardens at this year’s Hampton were pretty underwhelming. Apart from one. Mattie Childs’ circular garden for the Over The Wall charity, was not only the most colourful, but by far the most photogenic. Against its vibrant orange and blue walls, the bold planting really pinged. Most garden designers don’t seem to appreciate the need to make their gardens work for photography or when the sun’s not shining. Mattie is one of the few that does.

This view captures it perfectly, but was tricky to get because of the constant stream of people walking through the garden. Even on Press Day, Hampton was rammed and the last thing I want is to see any of them in my shots. I love the painterly feel of the composition, where all the plants look like they are in movement.

The feature tree is a black pine (Pinus Nigra Austriaca), the purple tubular flowers are Agastache Blackadder and the pink coneflowers are Echinacea Pallida.

Quite rightly, the garden was awarded a Gold Medal as well as being named Best Show Garden. (Shot on iPhone 12)

Sometimes in order to get a really interesting shot you need to look at things a little differently. A case in point was this Fern Firepit made by Light And The Landscape using laser cut corten steel. This intriguing image was taken with the camera inside the fire pit. The end result, something that I think MC Escher himself would have been proud of! (Shot with iPhone 12)

Goodwood Qatar Festival | Glorious Goodwood | July 2022

Ladies’ Day is the glamour day of the Goodwood Qatar Festival where you’ll find all the fillies wearing fancy fascinators and huge hats. This candid shot was taken from the winners’ enclosure looking up at these two revellers enjoying a drink or two. While both were posing for a selfie, neither knew I was snapping them as well. Although I had nothing to do with it, I love the composition. (Shot with OM-D E-M1)

Brighton v Espanyol | Amex Stadium | July 2022

After this pre-season friendly, Brighton manager Graham Potter gave a impromptu pitch side interview with a handful of press. It only lasted a few minutes and they were all huddled around him with their mobiles up near his face.

Getting a ‘clean’ portrait of Potter was nigh on impossible, so I had to find a gap among the journos and go in high and close. In the end, the obstacles provided me with an unusual and intense portrait that worked really well in black and white. A few weeks after it was taken, Potter left Brighton to become manager of Chelsea. (Shot with OM-D E-M1)

Pride | Preston Park, Brighton | August 2022

Brighton hosts the oldest Pride event, which returned to the city this year after a two year Covid absence. I focused on two areas: the mainstage and the drag queens.

A profile portrait of Dave Lynn, the self-proclaimed ‘godmother of drag’ performing in the Legends Cabaret Big Top at Pride. (Shot with the OM-D E-M1)

The challenge of shooting acts on the main stage is that the stage and catwalk are very high and the pit is very narrow, meaning you are always shooting up at the artists. Additionally, only the headliners get to appear in darkness, everyone else goes on during daylight. What made this portrait of Sophie Ellis Bextor was her frothy pale blue outfit that perfectly matched her eye makeup. (Shot with OM-D E-M1)

Raye is the stage name of 24-year-old South London singer/songwriter Rachel Agatha Keen. I love this glamorous shot as it’s quite different from the usual musician portrait. (Shot with OM-D E-M1)

I’ve shot Paloma Faith many times, and each time she has a different look. This is one of my favourite portraits of Paloma thanks to her pose, that voluminous red PVC coat and the lighting behind her. (Shot with OM-D E-M1)

Drag queen Snow White Trash playing sax on the mainstage with Jake Shears. This capture is all about body shape, that sparkly dress and Snow White’s face. I absolutely love it. (Shot with OM-D E-M1)

Concours of Elegance | Hampton Court Palace | September 2022

I’ve been shooting the Concours of Elegance for years. It always features some of the world’s rarest, most expensive and most unusual cars. None more so than this 1927 Avions Voisin C4 Lumineuse.

This eye-catching car, with its hand-painted livery patterned after a Vogue cover had been owned by the same family for 72 years. It was sold by Gooding & Co for £202,500. I focused on the bonnet detail and ended up with one of my favourite ever car shots, even though it bugs me that the bonnet mascot is off-kilter. (Shot on iPhone 12)

My favourite Concours car at this year’s event was Jonathan Segal’s stunning red Maserati A6G Zagato Coupe from 1956. I love this interior shot with its rich claret carpet matching the colour of the fascia. The car won the Elegance in Motion award and was named winner of the 1950s class. (Shot on iPhone 12)

Hampton Court Palace | September 2022

I’ve photographed this bronze statue of The Three Graces before. It’s in the palace’s Great Fountain Garden. It was placed at the head of The Long Water in the 1850s and is a cast of the original that’s displayed in the Louvre.

In order to produce this image, I cropped into one of the Graces and spent time in post, giving it a gold sheen and adding the flowers. By the way, the streaks on her face are guano, a fancy word for bird poo!

I absolutely love it, which is why it’s been my phone background ever since. I think it’s probably my favourite image of the year. (Shot with the OM-D E-M1)

Winchester Cathedral | October 2022

Dating back to 1079, Winchester is one of Europe’s oldest and largest cathedrals. Its magnificent exterior has recently been cleaned and it looks even more impressive now that its walls are no longer black.

These are the stunning arched doorways of the west front entrance. Much photographed, I’ve not seen a more painterly image than this one. (Shot on iPhone 12)

So that’s it, my 22 from 22. Twenty-two images that I think represent the best shots I created during the year. Each has a story to tell, not just in terms of their subject matter, but in their visual style. I’d like to have shot more things that were new to me, however 2022 ended up being a far from prolific year. Fortunately, I managed to get a selection of out of the ordinary shots that I’m proud of, which is testament to the best piece of advice anyone can give about photography: if you want to take more interesting images, go stand in front of something more interesting!

About the author: Based in Sussex-by-the-Sea, on England’s south coast, Gary is a creative writer and image-maker. He specialises in creating out of the ordinary portraits of musicians and people with interesting faces, as well as photographing some of the world’s finest flowers and gardens, not forgetting an array of automotive exotica.

On the writing side, he has used his research skills to author deep dives into some noteworthy songs beginning with Bryan Ferry’s ‘These Foolish Things’ ‘Ghost Town’ by The Specials, ‘All The Young Dudes’ by Mott the Hoople and ‘Real Wild Child’ by Ivan.

He has also written a biography of Robert Palmer and the stories behind Whitesnake’s blatant Led Zep rip-off, ‘Still Of The Night’ and Harry Styles’ anthem to positivity, ‘Treat People With Kindness’.

Most recently, Gary has penned the fascinating story behind George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ and written an article about Fake News.

All these can be found here on Medium, along with his reviews of gigs and events and chats with musicians including the likes of Brighton rockers Royal Blood, Californian sister act, HAIM, guitar virtuoso, Joe Satriani, Fee Waybill of The Tubes and Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell.

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Gary Marlowe

Creator of images that are out of the ordinary, reviewer of live music and live events and interviewer of interesting people