Caitlin Moran, Grace Dent and Lily Allen: Celebrity Photographer Chris Floyd Finds New Muses On Twitter

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Portrait photographer Chris Floyd has a number of starry names on his books: Steve McQueen, Oasis, Supergrass and Christopher Reeve.

But his latest exhibition doesn't include people famous for making movies or trashing hotel rooms, it features famous people he's met on Twitter.

One Hundred and Forty Characters is a collection of portraits of 140 people Floyd has met and chatted to on the social networking site, the results of the photographer's mission to put faces to the online aliases.

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Lilly Allen poses with Tony Cochran, a London businessman who won an auction to pose with her


As Floyd, who describes his career as something he "tends to make up as [he] goes along", connected with other online-savvy strangers, he decided to photograph them.

So what is it like asking complete strangers for a photograph?

"For each person who said yes to my request there was a little leap of triumph and a small air punch at the moment of acceptance." Floyd tells HuffPost UK of his unusual experiment.

"Then, as their visit approached, a kernel of apprehension would grow inside, until a mighty oak tree of relief burst from within me as they walked through the door and it was clear that although they all have eccentricities and quirks, there weren’t any full blown psychopaths or dullards among them."

For Floyd, portrait photography is an emotional day job. "The highs are indescribable. When you feel that you’ve nailed somebody, got to an essence or primal part of them, the buzz is fabulous."

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Journalists and Twitter personalities Caitlin Moran and Alexis Petridis

Whether somebody's a Twitter friend or a Beatle, the challenges are similar, he says. When photographing Paul McCartney, Floyd wanted to capture the inner "steely grammar school boy. To get there I had to get past and through the public persona he has developed over the last 50 years. I literally felt like I was trying to break him down."

"I spent half an hour coaxing him out of his thumbs aloft, whimsical, Macca autopilot setting and there was a moment where I said something to him that caused his cheery face to melt instantly. For two frames he showed a piece of himself that was real, not a mask. I knew it instantly. My adrenaline levels probably went up into space."

Floyd will be celebrating the opening of his exhibition at Leeds' White Cloth Gallery by hosting a portrait workshop, where he will be taking photos of the public.

But for all his comfort with photographing strangers, there are two people close to Floyd he says he will never be able to capture. "I would love to be able to photograph my parents. But our family dynamic makes the intimacy that it would require almost impossible to engender. In all my years of photography I have never photographed them. I will come to regret that one day."

One Hundred and Forty Characters opens at White Cloth Gallery, Leeds on the 15 June and runs for seven weeks. The portrait workshops are on 16-17 June. www.whiteclothgallery.com

Also on The Huffington Post

Chris Floyd Twitter Portraits
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