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, we were scheduled for an hour in a Knightsbridge studio. 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 was determined to get 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. Nevertheless, this small gesture of treating him like a normal person instead of 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 one brandishing a huge soft-box and large battery pack that for the previous twenty minutes had been clobbering the paparazzi group sandwiched in the tiny room. The soft-box blocked their vision and the sync-cable tripped them up. I probably wasn’t that popular, but I did get a decent shot.

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. There are benefits of being a clumsy, yet well-prepared, clown.

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.

In addition to charged batteries always pack your good manners. Even a two-minute shoot requires a gentleman’s handshake. And Hef was one hell of a gentleman.