Photographer interview: Clive Sherlock

I remember browsing through Clive Sherlock‘s website when he joined our platform. First, I viewed his architectural photography. I found myself spending time on each photo and losing myself in the images. Then came the food, and again, I enjoyed his style and execution. Gosh, I thought, this guy does both food and architecture photography really well. Then, when I realised there’s also a portrait section and I started looking through the images, I really struggled to believe how this can be the output of the same person.

Food & Interior Photographer Southwark London
Clive Sherlock photographing food for Mark and Spencer.

Usually, when a photographer of objects photographs people, their style would very clean and and they treat the humans in their photos as compositional objects. With Clive’s work, it was the opposite. As an ex-people photographer, I was jealous. His portraits were incredibly simple and direct, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, the people looking at me from the photo seemed present and unguarded. I wanted to learn more about Clive’s process and how he got to where he is. This interview, is a result, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

You photograph three very different disciplines at exceptionally high levels: Food, architecture and portraits. How did this come about and what came first?

Clive, portrait and headshot photographer London
Personally, I’m no fan of Brussels sprouts but this photo by Clive Sherlock make them seem so darn tempting.

I think this comes from my love of photography as a medium, rather than the subject matter in front of me, if that makes sense. The process of creating an image still gives me quite a buzz. I feel equally excited spending 2 hours creating one food image, with a food stylist, a props stylist and a chef, painstakingly adding different aspects to an image with a tweak to the lighting here or an adjustment to the composition there, as I do going out shooting a beautiful piece of architecture.

These two disciplines vary enormously in that Food is generally a team activity, which I love. Two or three creatives all contributing to make an image can be great fun, although it’s not for everyone. You have to able to adapt and incorporate different points of views. Whereas shooting architecture is generally an individual pursuit, which I also love.

And then with portraiture I go back to being a people person, I love getting to know someone through taking their portrait, just chatting to them as I’m shooting, in order to try to capture an expression or a fleeting moment when their guard is down which reveals something about their personality.

Do you find that your diverse work confuses clients, as they can’t figure out who you are as a photographer?

Clive, portrait and headshot photographer London
One of my favourite photos taken by Clive for the British Library, which shows his diverse range as a photographer.

This is a concern to me. As a photographer you’re always advised to specialise, to hone your craft in one particular direction. I just hope that prospective clients can see that I make visually stimulating images, no matter which type of photography that may be in. But I would be interested in what other people might think about that. As it’s very hard to give up one aspect of my work, say the food stuff.

Tell us about a photo that your proud of

I think being proud of the images I produce is an ongoing process, I suppose the cliché is that you’re only as good as the last piece of work you produced and I’d go along with that. Although taking Tony Blair’s portrait was a buzz. I know he’s a controversial figure, but he has quite a presence. I photographed him after a Reuters lecture he gave and he had the audience in the palm of his hand, speaking so sensibly about the folly that Brexit was.

Clive, portrait and headshot photographer London

When I look at your portraits, I get a sense that the sitters trust you, they feel very approachable. What do you do to achieve this?

Clive, portrait and headshot photographer London

Trust is essential in portraiture, people can often turn up at my studio, absolutely dreading what’s to come, as if visiting the dentist or something. I don’t do anything in particular, I just try to be my myself and get to know them as much as one can in the often limited time available.

What makes you happy as a photographer?

Clive, property interiors and architecture photographer London
An eye for detail, photo by Clive Sherlock.

Last week, after sending in the images to a client, the head of the company took the time to call me and thank me for the images I took. He wasn’t gushing or anything like that, he just said the images were exactly what they were after (it was an interiors shoot and the images were to accompany a trade article about that company) and there would be other shoots to come. That is so rare. Often I’ll send in the images and you hear nothing back, they pay you and they commission you again, so in that way you know you’re doing ok. But to get positive feedback on the images you supply doesn’t happen often. That made me happy. Reading this back I’m conscious it makes me sound a little needy, but hey ho, we all need a little encouragement now and again!

Do you find photoshoots that you enjoy yield better images or do you have to ‘suffer for your art’ to get the image?

Clive, property and architecture photographer London
Symmetry perfection in this interior photo by Clive Sherlock.

Shooting architecture can be a labour of love, where you might have to suffer a bit. As it involves a lot of waiting around. Waiting for the light to change or for the light to appear on the side of the building, waiting for a break in the London traffic (good luck with that).

What can clients do to help them get the most out of a photoshoot?

Clive, property and construction photographer London
Reaching new heights with this construction photography. Credit: Clive Sherlock.

A detailed shot list helps enormously. Being able to plan what I’m going to do always makes for better images. It can be tricky when a client makes up the shot list on the hoof, it can make for quite a chaotic shoot. Things can get missed that way. Photography is all about the details and to take care of the details and to be creative at the same time, it’s best to work in a calm and ordered atmosphere.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be doing?

A dog handler/trainer. I once won a dog training competition with our family dog ‘Bucket’, it gave me a lot of pleasure to receive that little rosette. Maybe that’s the equivalent of the client who called to thank me for the shots?

Clive, portrait and headshot photographer London
Luckily for us, Clive is a photographer and continues to produce wonderful image like this portrait taken for the British Library.

Where can people find you?

I’ll often be in my studio in Forest Hill, in South East London. The best way to find me is through my web site:


Interview by Odi Caspi – Founder @
All photos © Clive Sherlock