Q: Much has been made of the power of drones for aerial photographic purposes. Can you explain why this is not a route you would take?
P: Drones are great and there is nothing wrong with a drone in the hands of a skilful professional pilot who knows what they are doing, however, there are height restrictions when flying a drone over London which mean you cannot legally fly over the top of many of the skyscrapers and also not that far from the River Thames. The maximum legal ceiling height is 400ft – putting that into perspective, The Shard is 900ft tall. The skies above London are also a dangerous place to be because of the constant activity of aircraft flying into Heathrow and London City airports. Also, and importantly, drone technology to date cannot deal with the autofocusing of telephoto lenses, which I used for some of the shots. It would have been far, far more economical to use a drone than a helicopter but unfortunately not possible.
Q: Did the London skyline change a great deal in the five years it took to shoot the images for the book?
P: It has to a certain degree because London is relatively flat, so any tall building, such as The Shard, appearing on the landscape immediately creates a lasting impact. There are skyscrapers constantly popping up at Canary Wharf and the recent arrival in Bishopsgate of the new king of the City of London, The Pinnacle, at 278m (912ft) does change the skyline for posterity.
Q: Can you share with us a few of your favourite images in the book?
P: I am pleased with the cover shot of The Hub in Regent’s Park because of its graphic simplicity and the fact it gets you thinking. The rowing boats on the Serpentine, close-up shot of Lord Nelson, Battersea Park and some of the photography in the Rooftop Secrets chapter I feel particularly good about.