Look at this, I found an old sheet of negatives from 1996.
I’d been sent out to New York to photograph a band called The Lilys there. It was my first trip abroad for a job and at the end of the roll of film, someone took a shot of me. I look barely able to contain my excitement!
This is a previous post and I’m moving it to the front page because I was sad to hear that he’d died. I really hope he had some wonderful, joy-filled days during his time here. I’m sure he did.
I met John Martyn one lunchtime in a pub in Henley-on-Thames. He had been on the refreshments for quite a while before I turned up.
I had been scouting for a location and had found a nice looking doorway of a church. This was about 200 yards away but it still took a fair while for us to get there as I had the added problem of another pub between there and the one we were currently in. John felt obliged to pop his head in at this other watering hole on the way. I virtually had to manhandle him out of there.
He is a gentle and sweet man underneath all this. As we were crossing the road to the church, I told him that I dearly loved his album ‘Solid Air’ and apologised as I said I thought he must get people saying that all the time. He thanked me and said you’d be surprised and proceeded to sing for most of the rest of the time I was with him.
“John Martyn (born Iain David McGeachy on September 11, 1948 in New Malden, Surrey, England) is a British singer-songwriter and guitarist. Over a forty-year career he has released twenty studio albums and worked with artists such as Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, and Phil Collins. Despite this, he has largely remained a cult figure.”
I met Robert Downey Jr in a private members’ club in Soho, London.
I was, as usual, given all of 10 minutes for the shoot. I don’t mind about that; it’s 5 minutes longer than I usually spend. On this occasion there were lights to set-up and ‘stuff’ to be moved around in the room. Whilst this was going on, Robert was over the other side of the room in ‘hair and make-up’. This is standard for actors. If your reputation rests partially on your looks, you need to look after them.
What did surprise me though, was when Robert finally came over to say hello. I shook his hand and made small talk and was taken aback by his somewhat nasty tracksuit.
Photographing people, for me, is ever such a delicate task. It almost involves getting the camera to your eye and letting the shutter go whilst at the same time sort of NOT doing that. What do I mean? (I wish I knew) I think the task is best tackled by having more than a passing interest in psychology or, at any rate, what people are like. Not just what they look like.
We all know the situation where a conversation with someone is going well: free, un-stressed, easy and then the camera comes into play and, bing, the atmosphere has changed. Sometimes imperceptably but it’s changed.
If one does get the shot, I’ll wager it is partly because you were paying attention to the person involved rather than just juggling light, exposure, viewpoint and moment.
If you fancy learning how to look after your one and only apple tree in the garden or you need to get the best out of your rich uncle’s 10 acre orchard (and you can make a trip to West Dorset), there’s a chance to learn on the 7th Feb 2009.
I went to do a few photographs at today’s pruning course run by Treewise in the village where I live and found it pretty exciting which is odd because it didn’t have anything to do with either cameras, guitars or coffee. The tuition is by master pruner (if that’s the right term) David Squirrell.
Anyway, I was impressed so thought I’d pass it on.
Just been digging through some old negatives and came across this of me and painter Phil Hale who I used to hang out with on an occasional basis. I tried whisky for the first time one evening at Phil’s studio as I played electric guitar and he played drums. The embarrassing fact that I’m tempted to omit is that I was aged 22 at the time.