Simon Upton has been photographing interiors for a good 30 years. But ask him to choose a favourite from those hundreds of shoots – for high-end glossies such as The World of Interiors, Architectural Digest, Vanity Fair and Vogue – and he scratches his head. “I think, if you pick one, you’re asking yourself, ‘What do I like most?’ This isn’t about me. And the funny thing is that what I like most is the recording process.”
His new book, London Living, explores a range of stylish homes in the city that has been his base for most of his working life. Locations range from Hackney and Spitalfields in the east, through Marylebone and Belgravia, to Notting Hill and Acton in the west. The introduction, by his friend and colleague Nicky Haslam, is amusingly acute. “Simon – long-legged with a neat head – does have the bearing and ordered mentality of an army officer. One can picture him on the Khyber Pass in pale khaki, riding into darkened chasms with, of course, only the stars as his guide.”
Upton’s subjects could loosely be described as creatives: the fashion designer Bella Freud; Maria Speake and Adam Hills, founders of the architectural salvage company Retrouvius; architect Tom Bartlett; interiors grandee John Stefanidis; antiques dealer Adam Bray; designer Jasper Conran. These very public people gave him access to their most private of spaces, resulting in images that are exquisite, vibrant and full of texture, each house illuminated by an interview in which the owner defines the true meaning, for them, of “home”.