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Kanye West 11/11/2008 for the Observer Music

The Landmark Hotel, London.
We were promised an hour and 2 changes of clothes.
After the usual tense wait, Kanye arrives.
Demure but steely, he insists he will be holding a Louis Vuitton bag in all the pictures and won’t be taking off his sunglasses or his scarf.  I will have 15 minutes maximum.
We take a few images against a paper backdrop and it occurs to me that he looks as though he’s on his way to, or from, somewhere. In transition.
5 minutes to go and I bundle him into the goods lift of the hotel.
When he left, he put on his duffel coat.  A hip-hop Paddington bear.

Kanye West

 

20 Years of the Spice Girls. Shoot 1 of 4.

27/6/1996.

A few friends convene at my flat in Bethnal Green to watch England get knocked out by Germany in the Semi-finals of Euro 96. (6-5 on penalties).
The joyous atmosphere evaporated as Gareth Southgate missed his penalty and talk turned to the coming week. The frivolous nature of my life was mocked when I announced that the following day I was going up in a hot air balloon with an unknown band called ‘The Spice Girls’
6am and Muff Fitzgerald (the press officer) and I head out of London to meet the girls. Our departure point, a field in Hertfordshire is enveloped in fog and the balloon pilot insists we must wait for it to clear.
Anxious to get ‘something in the bag’, I suggest a couple of frames in the mist.
Not yet the well oiled machine they would become, this, there first press shoot was an awkward affair until, unbeknown to me, Muff decided to drop his trousers and moon at them from behind my camera.
After an hour at a service station drinking coffee we finally achieve lift off.  I’d hired a fish-eye lens and had to sit on the edge of our little wicker basket to get everyone in the picture.
A memorable shoot ended with us crashing in a ploughed field.
A tangle of Spice.
Spice Girls

Martin Parr for The Independent on Sunday Review

Back when I was starting, when photography felt inspiring and true, I first encountered Martin Parr.
We went along to Plymouth Arts Centre to see his seminal ‘The Last Resort’, and I was blown away.
I bought a poster and it was a constant on the wall of my student bedsit.

Lovely then, if a little nerve wracking to photograph the maestro 2 weeks ago for the Independent on Sunday.

Genial if slightly brusque, I managed to stretch our time to an hour by suggesting we do a few pictures with his wife, Susie.

Without a support structure, artists very rarely achieve longevity so it’s always good to celebrate ‘the power behind throne’.

No man is an island.

Martin & Susie ParrMartin Parr

Tom Daley

Father’s day June 15, 2008.

I drive to a housing estate on the out-skirts of Plymouth to photograph a 13 year old diver.
His Father organises everything with meticulous care; my diary reveals a Sunday and we can only shoot between 1.45 to 2.15pm.

I remember a bright clear sunny day, a trampoline dwarfing the tiny back garden and the small boy with dark intense eyes.  After I made a portrait of him, I include his Mum and then the whole family.

Comfortable on their sofa, tactile and intimate, they seemed to represent modern Britain.  Free from constraints, hopeful and optimistic.

Over the last 8 years, I’ve marvelled at the man Tom became.

After becoming the youngest British World Champion in any sport, he’s been an advocate against bullying, become a television personality, completed is education and had to deal with the loss of his father who died of cancer in 2011.

Tom DaleyTom Daley

At the beginning of October last year, Tom and his fiancé Lance announced that they were engaged to be married.  Happily I was asked to do their first shoot as a couple for Out magazine.

It was genuinely lovely to see him again and poignant to give him the family pictures from our first shoot.

Tom Daley and his fiancé Dustin Lance BlackTom Daley and his fiancé Dustin Lance BlackTom Daley