Emma Egging – FT Magazine

In August, I was commissioned to make a portrait of Dr Emma Egging for The Financial Times Magazine. The brief was to capture Emma’s moving and inspiring story and the final image was published in a first person feature on 28th September 2013. Emma’s husband, Jon Egging, tragically lost his life in 2011 when his Hawk T1 aircraft came down whilst flying for the Red Arrows at Bournemouth Air Festival. Since then, Emma has worked tirelessly to set up and run the Jon Egging Trust, a charity committed to inspiring young people through providing insight into the world of aviation. The trust’s Blue Skies programme gives young participants a chance to meet inspirational individuals and spend time in exciting environments connected to flying.

Studying the copy ahead of the shoot, I was enticed Emma’s evocative description of Jon’s striking red flying suit, a thrilling symbol of determination and bravery. I instantly yearned for an emotive set up including the suit, but didn’t yet know whether that would be possible. I began compiling a list of ideas and questions to ask Emma in preparation for the shoot. Would she have any objects, books or artworks of the Red Arrows? Were there any open fields near her home if we didn’t have time to make it to a nearby airfield? After a chat on the phone, my hopes for the shoot seemed promising and it was good to firm up some specifics, like how much time we would have and what Emma had thought about wearing. The morning of the shoot soon arrived and the light was sublime as I made my way south. Emma’s home was a beautiful old cottage nestled in a country village. She had picked out some Red Arrows artworks as we had talked about on the phone, which were just perfect. I went about carefully taking down her existing pictures from the walls and hanging the chosen prints. The cottage, being so quaint, was very small with tiny windows but a carefully balanced reflector saved the day and bounced just enough light back. We shot two set ups in the cottage but the dining table worked best as a domestic setting with a gentle appeal. After some coffee, we headed out into the fields. The sun was glaringly bright by now but thankfully, we found a shady spot to shoot. The quiet tick of my Mamiya 7 punctuated our chatting about the trust, Emma’s past job as an archaeologist with the British Museum and a love of interesting objects (I mentioned my obsession with the Radio 4 programme, A History of the World in 100 Objects). I couldn’t wish for a kinder, more patient sitter – a lovely morning.