Dec 02

Giving it some Attitude, with Access All Areas.

Giving it some Attitude with the brilliant actors from Access All Areas Theatre Company


I’ve been shooting The Attitudes project, supporting theatre charity Acting for Others, for nearly 18 months now, and a key part of the project has been actively to seek out and include performers representing the full breadth of the contemporary acting community.

Shooting for diversity

Why? Well, it’s easy to gloss over in the book that inspired the project, because it is a historical document, but Shaftesbury’s 1892 text ‘The Art of Acting‘, presents a very particular paradigm of acting excellence.

In short: a (portly) middle aged white man with a fine pair of moustaches demonstrates each and every acting pose!

Now, that scarcely reflected even what limited diversity there was in theatres in 1892, (and perhaps it was Shaftesbury himself…), but suffice it to say that times have changed significantly, and in 2017 we more commonly see performers of all shape, sizes, genders, ethnicities, backgrounds and abilities in TV, film and theatre.

The Challenge of Equal Representation on Stage & Screen

That’s not to say that we have overcome prejudice or historical bias in casting processes. Many groups are still excluded from fair opportunities in theatre and film and are fighting for equal representation on stage and screen.

That’s especially so for disabled people: a recent report showed that of all types of people, they are are least represented in the media: 18% of people in the UK have a disability, but only 6% of people on television do.

So, in this celebration of the art of acting – this examination of how we understand the way an actor communicates – I wanted to help present the fullest possible picture of the modern actor.

And that’s where Access All Areas came in, making me very welcome for an afternoon of shooting Attitudes with their acting company at the east London HQ early in summer 2017.

Showing acting ability

Access All Areas is an award-winning theatre company that creates “urban, disruptive performance by learning disabled and autistic artists,” and it’s company is made up of highly talented actors, who all happen to have learning disabilities and/or autism. Pursuing professional careers, a number are represented by the agency Simon & How in an unique partnership in the industry, while others are being supported by the Company to make and tour public work.

Each actor chose an Attitude to explore and gave their unique take on the embodiment of that posture and emotion, finding a way to make it real.

Some of the images are very direct recreations, and tell us mainly about the past, like Imogen Robert’s terrified ‘Horror’ (above).

Others bring a formulaic posture to life in a real moment that could be a still from a film or TV programme, or a frozen moment on stage today: there’s delicacy, poise and poignancy in Kirsty Adam’s  ‘Disconsolation’, below.

And if disability is the least important thing about these shots, that’s not to say the actors aren’t more than capable of playing with preconceptions about them as ‘disabled’ performers; Terry Hugget’s witty choice of ‘Stealth’ (see top image) makes for a sly image that both anticipates and subverts our expectations about how limiting or otherwise a wheelchair might be; you can move pretty silently, smoothly and stealthily on wheels, after all, perhaps more so than on tiptoe…

Most importantly, each AAA actor achieved a compelling still moment of emotion and communication, the equal of every other actor I’ve shot for the project.

It’s always great as a photographer working with talented actors, but it was especially energising and uplifting working with performers who, while pursuing fulfilling careers, are also challenging preconceptions and prejudices through their work. So, I’m very glad to have them as part of the project, and a massive ‘thank you’ to AAA and all the company members for their time, energy and acting skills.

Actor Adam Smith talks about his experience here:



Learn more about Access All Areas here

View all the pictures from the project here

Read about the work Acting for Others here

4/12/2017 MW

Nov 22

Cold Water Swimmers Wanted at Brockwell Lido this Sunday 26th November

Calling all the cold water swimmers at Brockwell Lido for ‘Before & After Swim’ Portraits by the pool, this Sunday 26th November 7.45am-12.15pm (with kind permission of Fusion).

The Lido on a frosty, sunny winter’s morning.

Peter Bradley, being a willing test subject



I’m a long-time swimmer in and lover of Brockwell Lido – some 10 years – and just about to endure, sorry, enjoy, my second Winter season.

Me, clothed and without goggles or hat, for recognition purposes.

I’m also a photographer, and I’ve decided to unite my passions with a personal series of before-and-after shots of the Lido’s cold-water swimmers, this Sunday 22nd November, with kind permission of Lee White and the team at the Lido / Fusion.


I want to shoot portraits of the diverse community of swimmers prepped for their swim, and then red/goosebumped and tingling afterwards, to share the apprehension, terror, numbing endurance, joy, exhilaration and release of an icy dip. 

So come along if you’re a Lido regular and free: in your Speedos or swimsuit, wetsuit or snuggly towel, begoggled and behatted, or clutching a flask in flipflops, it would only take a few minutes before and after your Sunday swim.
Just wave at me on the poolside for your portrait.

Where: next to the pool, Brockwell Lido, before and after your swim.

When: Sunday 26th November 2017, 7.45am-12pm.
Duration: 2-3 mins either side of your swim.
Do I need to book a slot? No, just wave at Michael.
Is this for commercial use? No, it’s a personal project.

Sep 20

Home Invasion Complex… Behind the scenes on ‘Wait Until Dark’ poster shoot.

Worrying what’s at the door on the cinematic, home invasion-themed shoot for ‘Wait Until Dark‘ with Original Theatre Company

Full-page National newspaper spread announcing Autumn 2017 tour

Earlier in the summer, I had the pleasure of being brought in to shoot poster imagery for the UK national tour of Original Theatre Company‘s ‘Wait Until Dark,’ a co-production with Eastbourne Theatres, with marketing by Dressing Room 5 (DR5).

OTC have been around since 2004, and have produced a brilliant roster of national (and international) productions, including Night Must Fall, Birdsong and Invincible, which recently ran off-Broadway.

In other words, they and DR5 know how to sell a show.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 15

Shadows, smoke and Guinness are good for you…. shooting ‘The Weir’ for ETT

It’s not every day your client says ‘take photos like a Caravaggio painting’: looking at the brief and shoot for poster imagery on ETT‘s production of ‘The Weir‘ out on tour now.

The Weir final poster

It’s not every day you’re asked to mimic the shadowy style of Old Masters like Caravaggio or Rembrandt for an advertising shoot, but that’s exactly what happened with this Guinness-infused brief from the good folk at English Touring Theatre and marketing aces Joe Public PR,  in one of my favourite ever commissions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 14

Dress to Impress: simple clothing tips for actors headshots

Don’t take your whole wardrobe! Use clothing choices to control your image in the next in my ‘Take Control of Your Headshots’ series.

What to wear for Actors Headshots with Michael Wharley

Watch the video at the link, or below.

The next in my ‘Take Control of Your Headshots’ series looks at the age-old, agony-inducing issue of what the hell to wear for your shoot.

This is a fairly subjective area so many opinions are available, but I’ve tried to corral some pithy, practical tips for helping you make the most of your next shoot, whilst not taking along every piece of clothing you own.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 26

Advocating Better Headshot Prep for Kelle Bryan & AA

Popping up with some headshot advice in Kelle Bryan’s Advocate Agency quarterly magazine…

I’ve shot a fair few clients for Kelle Bryan‘s Advocate Agency over the last few years, and Kelle always provides really clear guidance for her actors about how she wants them to sell themselves. In turn that makes our shoots detailed, specific and highly productive.

Read the rest of this entry »

May 23

Hot Dame! Biggins gives me the bird at the Acting for Others President’s Awards…

Bowing down to the power of three dames – Dench, Smith and Biggins – and celebrating the charity’s amazing work for the profession, at the inaugural Acting for Others President’s Awards.

Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Christopher Biggins; slightly (ie. entirely) starstruck me at the far right end…

A week or so back, I had the great pleasure of being invited along to the inaugural Acting for Others President’s Awards 2017, at Cafe Zedel, in Central London.

If you don’t know about the charity, it is actually an umbrella fundraising ‘brand’ for 15 theatrical charities, that together help actors and all manner of theatre/film professionals when they are in need, and have been doing for decades. Read the rest of this entry »

May 15

Globe Theatre Exhibit: ‘Nell Gwynn, The Attitudes & The Art of Acting’

Showing some Attitude with a special exhibit of shots from the project at The Globe Theatre to support Acting for Others, coinciding with the return of Nell Gwynn.

 It’s been a pleasure and a privilege the last few weeks to have been invited to mount a temporary exhibition of images from The Attitudes at The Globe Theatre.

The project was inspired by one of the earliest readings of Jessica Swale’s subsequently Olivier Award-winning historical feminist comedy Nell Gwynnso it seemed appropriate the stage the exhibit, working with the Globe’s head of exhibitions, Pete le May, as the play returned ‘home’ for a two week run at the end of a 12 week national tour produced by English Touring Theatre.

The Globe have been kind enough to blog about the exhibit too, so you can read about the photographic approach and the (funny, silly, serious affecting) acting method that inspired the project, as well as check out some photos, on their blog:

The Globe says: Complementing the return of Nell Gwynn to the Globe Theatre, we are delighted to present a selection of photographs by Michael Wharley from his ongoing project ‘The Attitudes’. Stimulated in part by the play, which was first performed at the Globe in 2015, the project includes a number of Nell Gwynn company members. Michael visited this week to install the display, and describes his inspiration for the project…

[Read the blog in full or hit the link]

Still better, the installation is free to view, so pop on down to the Globe on the Southbank, anytime before 21st May 2017.

15/05/2017 MW

Feb 10

Does my bump look big in this? Taking Prevenge….

Getting distinctly non-broody with ace writer-director-star Alice Lowe shooting poster imagery for dark horror-comedy-thriller PREVENGE, out in cinemas today…

Alice Lowe, shot by Michael Wharley for Kaleidoscope Film Distribution

Alice Lowe, shot by me for Kaleidoscope Film Distribution

Had a blast of (slightly creepy) shoot with writer, director and star of new dark, surreal psycho, horror comedy thriller PREVENGE, just before Christmas, thanks to my old friends at Kaleidoscope Film Distribution.

It’s out in cinemas today, 10th Feb, and I’ll expand this blog to look behind the scenes on the shoot, because it presented some interesting technical challenges and made us get pretty inventive.

In the meantime, get on down to cinemas to support what is a brilliantly unusual, slightly genre-defying British flick from a formidable talent.

A talent who managed to wear all three hats on the film while actually being heavily pregnant… Spoiler alert though, that’s a fake bump in the poster..

But don’t just take my word for it, check out what Peter Bradshaw had to say in the Guardian…

10/02/2017 MW

Feb 10

We Survived Actors, did you….

Having a headshots-casting-director-seminar-prize-draw-discount-voucher-sweet-fuelled blast at Surviving Actors 2017…..

Team Wharley at Surviving Actors 2017

The team at Surviving Actors 2017

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you were at the event, so hope you had a great Surviving Actors 2017. It was another brilliant day for us meeting friends, past clients and new faces.

And overdosing on Swizzels lollies.

If you missed it, there were some fascinating insights on my ‘Act Like an Agent, Think Like a Casting Director’ seminar with casters Ginny Schiller & Jane Frisby, and agents Bill Petrie (BWH) and Marcus Ellard (Simon & How).

As well as covering some more basic points (tweeted opposite), we were able to drill down into the relationship between casting director and agent during the casting of a project.

Exactly how an agent follows up a submission to  advocate for a client; how a casting director manages an offline sense of up to 7,000 actors beyond anything that happens online, and whether self-tapes might mean the end of showreels (spoiler alert: not quite yet!)

Beyond all of that, we explored exactly how and at what point during casting the promo resources actor spend their hard-earned money on are used and useful.


Oh, and  PRIZES…

The Theatre Vouchers prize draw was picked today at random. Congrats to the winners:

£50 vouchers: Acushla-Tara Kupe
£25 vouchers: Ed Cooper



9 Pro Posing Tips to help lose the fear factor.

Featured in the show programme, my ‘Act Your Way to Better Headshots’ piece was aimed at anyone who’s ever struggled relax in a headshot shoot, or found it hard to translate confidence as a performer into posing on camera.

These 9 simple tips aim to help to chill out, pose naturally and use your acting skills to communicate more effectively in the stills medium.

Check it out at the link How to Pose for Actors Headshots: 9 Pro Tips


Look forward to seeing you next year for another fantastic event.

10/02/2017 MW

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