This time last year I was lucky enough to photograph this gentleman .The occasion was the Radio Times Covers Party, an event to celebrate all the cover stars from that year. The main party was in the swanky surroundings of the main ballroom at Claridges. I was in a (very grand) side room where we had set up a colourama backdrop to turn it into a studio space .The idea being that we would take portraits of all the artists after they had received their awards.
After taking a couple of hours to set up we were informed first up was Mr.Hawkins who would be arriving early with Lucy his daughter through a (step free) side entrance. He drove onto the set and his wheelchair totally trashed the newly laid colourama beneath the chair …..I vaguely remember saying something to him like “we will sort that out in photoshop afterwards”, but was also thinking that a man of his super intelligence would have little interest in the superficiality of posing for photographs. So I told him what I wanted photographically but was conscious of not attempting to indulge in smalltalk. What do you say to the man who knows the Theory Of Everything ? . So we did the pictures, and also some with Lucy and him together . Then he was gone, into the party, and that was it .
At the end of the evening we had broken down most of the equipment and myself and both my assistants were looking at the pictures of him on the laptop ,reflecting on what a bizarre experience photographing him had been. Just then, into the room, he returned, enroute to the same side entrance of the building he had entered at the beginning of the evening.
I then found myself showing him and Lucy the pictures we had taken earlier. I just remember looking at him and thinking, wow thats Stephen Hawkins, right here ,right now .
He left and I remember saying “did that Just really happen.?..
It was quite surreal really. and we all felt a little bit honoured to have been in the same room as him.
And im reminded of that feeling today
He said a lot of amazing things ,and this one is probably all over social media today ,for good reason ,because it says it all in a nutshell.
“Remember to look up at the stars ,
and not down at your feet.
Never give up work.
Work gives you meaning and purpose,
and life is empty without it.
If you are lucky enough to find love
remember it is there and don’t throw it away”.