I shook his hand, a hand that had also greeted most of the most famous figures of the last half-century—and fondled many of the nicest bottoms. It was a pleasure to be able to photograph one of my idols, with only a few hours notice!

Originally, I was to have his personal attention in a Knightsbridge studio for an hour. However, the time with Hef was cut more and more, eventually to just a few minutes in Harrods basement surrounded by a bank of press photographers. It was not as personal as I’d hoped, but I wanted to make sure I got more than a ‘pap’ shot.

When my turn came to shoot, I was the only person to reach forward and shake the man’s hand. The press photographers smirked and giggled, however, this small gesture of treating him like a normal person instead of like a zoo exhibit, was appreciated by Hef, and from then on he gave me his undivided attention.

This wasn’t difficult. I was the only person who had brought along a huge soft-box attached to a Profoto Pro-7b battery pack that for the previous twenty minutes had been annoying the sandwiched paparazzi group in the tiny room. The soft-box blocked their vision and the sync-cable tripped them up. I was, unsurprisingly, the one to get a decent shot. There are benefits of being a clumsy, yet well-prepared, clown.

The softbox was essential. Apart from giving more flattering light (the girls knew this), it looks like you mean business. In that small room, it dominated.

Even though the paps were shooting flash during my time-slot (without his eye-contact), I’d used a cable and not a slave. Therefore my flash unit wasn’t set-off by their flashes. That small error could have rendered me useless.

To get some kind of composition, I did a little directing of the girls and grabbed fifteen shots before being moved on by the PR guy. In hindsight, though, I don’t think an hour-long shoot would have been much better. More grooming and make-up perhaps, but I don’t think I could’ve got a nicer smile from Hef. He looks damn cool at a moment’s notice.

The main thing I learnt that day was to be nice. Even a two-minute shoot requires a gentleman’s handshake. And Hef is one hell of a gentleman.