Long Read

We (Lionel & Claire) came together whilst both working at a well known High Street chain that features rather heavily a delightful shade of yellow on its frontages.

Lionel hired for his expertise in running family portrait studios (which was nil at the time) was charged with the creation and development of their new brand, Snappy Studio. Over a period of four years he opened seventeen family portrait studios mostly in and around London. It was at the Crouch End branch that Claire

appeared working on the machine printing and processing, as it turned out Crouch End were opening a studio and were in search of a photographer, Claire had only recently completed a degree in photography in Falmouth one of the most highly respected photographic seats of learning in the country, she got the job!

Long and the short of it, two people had found one another, we left to start the ultimate family portrait photography studio in London run by two photographers, we married almost three years ago.

Nousha ?

In 2009 on the eve of Northern Rock and the crash we started Nousha Photography family portrait studio London. I recall sitting in the living room of our home in Peckham with Claire debating what we would call our new venture, Nousha (our Norwegian Forest Cat) came and sat in  the middle of the room and stared at us both in only a way a cat can.

 

 

Nousha was the only choice of name. As it turns out there is a very good photographer called Nousha Salimi who works out of NYC, totally unconnected of course, I have written to her  explaining how we came about the name for our business, she replied with grace and charm congratulating us on the quality of our work.

Sarf Landan

(I beg forgiveness Mr Caine)

From humble beginnings we began our new business from home, a beautiful (then, shabby chic) Georgian/Regency Villa, we were doubtful that people would come.

But they did, from Dulwich, Hampstead, St. Johns Wood, Notting Hill, Chelsea, Battersea and Kensington, amazing, most of our customers only knew Peckham because of the Trotters and it’s bad press.

One customer arrived, horrified at the thought of parking her very shiny automobile in Peckham, turned on her heels and disappeared in a cloud of Mercedian dust back to whence she came (Undoubtedly North London).

I do understand of course, I have lived most of my life in central and north London, it can still be quite disconcerting driving over a bridge to go home.

But Peckham is now the ‘quartier’ of choice I am told, restaurants and bars opening by the minute, you can’t walk down the road anymore without an encounter with someone wearing a really bad jumper or sporting a Grantesque hairdo…

Cause célèbre

Some two years ago we began the long and arduous task of renovating our home, the first day our builders took it upon themselves to destroy our hallway, black 150 year old dust was everywhere.

The doorbell rang and a very very well known political face appeared on the other side of the door with his wife and two children, my embarrassment was palpable, but to his credit he seemed to enjoy the pandemonium (it is no wonder he has ended up working for the Thunderbirds organisation), we all locked ourselves in the studio and what followed was a normal unaffected session that produced some wonderful pictures.

I confess to being rather used to dealing with famous faces, I have a history, the discretion required is applied to the whole business. We have had many well known customers, probably because we don’t talk about them that much.

Claire

Claire is a photographer, she loves the big sky, the landscape picture, she sees stuff I just do not, she sees a dramatic landscape, I see a some green stuff and hills that is all.

In Nousha Photography Claire has taken on the demanding task of our production. Every picture you see that comes out of our studio has been meticulously examined, corrected and cropped by our three excellent retouchers under Claires watchful eye.

The finished product is only so good because of her eye, our wastage is embarrassing, the slightest imperfection in the printed paper, a scratch here a bash on the back board there, we start again. I confess to not seeing most of those imperfections, but you need a trained eye to see them.

Nousha has, over the years, grown from a small cottage industry, numbering only Claire and me to today employing six permanent staff and a good dozen temporary to become a specialised and highly professional little organisation, like no other in our industry. You may meet Claire at the viewing of your images.

Our Guiding Beliefs

We are specialists in what we do, we are the best at what we do, a very un British expression of confidence I realise, but an honest one nevertheless demonstrated by our success.

As a couple we are very difficult customers, in a constant search for the very best, we hate laziness with a vengeance, we love well thought out services and product offerings.

At Nousha if you need something out of the ordinary, ask, if we can, we will arrange it.

We are unashamedly A-corporate, there, I said it, and in the process I have coined a new saying.

We make people very happy in our business, we produce items that will far outlive most of us, these are things of great beauty that last and get handed

 

 

down through generations. Recently one of our customers quipped to her husband that they had chosen pictures framed and digital to the value of a “small car” slightly phased by this they hesitated in going on, but the value and the quality of what they were buying was apparent, this was not a small car or a sofa, this was a one of a kind collection of images of their beloved children, they would never be repeated.

When you come to think of what we do in that way you will understand the joy and the pleasure you get from such objects of beauty they are laden with emotion.

Your children will change over weeks, months and years, but those glorious naïve years will be there for all to see for years and years to come, even when they hit teenagerhood, best not talk about that!

Bringing it all together

We have only recently been able to boast of having brought everything in house, photography (obviously), retouching, printing and framing,

Not just any old framing, we have become very pernickety, I used to be happy with Ikea frames (before Nousha) now we won’t allow it in the house!

Our frames are little bits of understated furniture, all cut and put together by hand, our hardwood frames are, filled, sanded, stained and waxed by…well, by a craftsman, you will only find the equivalent at John Jones, the very best framer (in the world?) we have fewer choices, but those that we do have are chosen to suit our pictures and they are most splendiferous and worthy of any top Gallery.

Art

All the materials used in the process are ‘Conservation’ quality, this means it will last a very long time, but if you hang your picture in bright sunlight, then it will fade however good the materials are.

I hesitate to use the word ‘Art’ about what we do, as the word is so hard to define and to apply, some art I despise, some I love, portraits at the Galleria Borghese and the National Portrait Gallery can keep me entertained for hours.

The key I think, and I am at pains to describe this to our customers, is to understand the complicated portrait, by that I mean, the portrait you can enjoy again and again and every time get something new from it.

A smile is a joy to behold, but a smile is one message, one you want, but you shouldn’t just want that, ask for more, look for the more complex message in a portrait, something a little more difficult to read.

How many smiling portraits are there hanging in the National Portrait Gallery?

Sophisticated taste

One example might be that of how our tastes in wine have changed over the years, my first experience of wine was, I am ashamed to say ‘Blue Nun’ or on really special occasions ‘Black tower’ actually not even that good, the supermarkets used to sell litre bottles of the sweet stuff, but that was thirty years ago.

We all used to like that oaky Chardonnay, our tastes have changed we now look for something with more depth and layers of flavours, not all of those flavours are easy, some are chalky, some are astringent, fruity, woody etc… But as a whole they are an experience that when good and rare you remember forever, our customers experience something akin to that when they come to Nousha.

So, be prepared, you will experience something very lovely, probably something you have not experienced before.

Time and again people say about their children “they look so old!”… well maybe they do to you, their parents. Consider the following: When you make an appointment to return and see the results of the photo session, we ask that you return without the children, for a very good reason. We don’t hide the fact that we would very much like to sell some pictures to you, we are a business after all, not having the demands of the children around you will allow you to make better decisions.

More importantly for you, irrespective of what you eventually decide to buy, is that you will be given the unique and exquisite opportunity to study those children of yours in a way you haven’t done before.

That is why so many of our clients are heard to say : “He looks so much older, I can see what he will look like as a man”. The only explanation I can come up with is this is the first time you have had to actually properly look at these little people you have created, without the accompanying noise and demands that inevitably follow smaller people.

Imagine the joy in being able to sit quietly and just look at some graceful, handsome, magnificent pictures of your very own children, that is simply why we stand apart as a studio.

We want you to own our pictures, we want you to hang them on the wall, we want you to enjoy them as much as we do, celebrate these miracles that you have created (I realise that may be a little strong as a description).

As a studio we shun, vanilla, banal and weak pictures, our purpose is to provide you with strong works that you will feel confident to hang in prominent positions in your home, these are pieces that will encourage conversation, surprise and laughter.

Our pictures stand well alone as ‘Art’ not just portraits of your children. The choice is always yours, we will put together something as tempting as we possibly can, we will present it to you and then sit back and hope you decide to buy from us.

That is all, we will not ‘Sell’ to you, we will, however, show you, probably the best pictures you will ever see of your children.

Our success is testament to what we do so well, if you value the qualities and complexities that go to make up finesse and perfection then you have found the right place.

 

Lionel & Claire.