Handprinted on Silver Gelatin Paper
100 x 145 cm
‘It's interesting because I shot this backstage in Barcelona, when they were clearing up the stage… And these are the dummies and people don't realise sometimes they're dummies, it is so difficult to see. In a way these are the photographs that immediately translate their sound … but in the end it is a dummy. I just shot one of each of the heads, not a whole series with different angles.
I printed one of these at some point for my first book, and it was still a lot of years later before I realised that these made a nice series.
As a result, in my first book Famouz , there’s only that one portrait, but later I started to use all four because it was just an amazing series. I hadn’t realised the potential, but it is one of my favourite bodies of work from that period. So yeah, one of each … I used to take many more risks when I was young. I cover myself more when I photograph now, but in those days, I would just take a few pictures because I was careful with the amount of film because, you know, that’s what you do when you have no money. I came from no money, and you just had to be careful with how much you shoot.
That's why I used that Tri-X film - so that I didn’t have to change the film when I did a few live shots one night and then daytime shots the next day. When I look at my old film, sometimes it's five sessions or more on one film, and now it’s like five films for one session.
This is the problem with digital … and I've seen this with my friend, Peter Lindberg. He shot so much, and it took him days and nights to actually make selections, because it's all like, ‘why is this one better than the other’. I shoot a lot of stuff digital now too, but you have to be so careful that you don’t shoot too much, because you make it a nightmare for the editing process.
It's really interesting to me how different digital shooting is. You know, especially because some will have a finger on the shutter the whole time. It's like shooting a movie... and I don't do that, but I still shoot too much when I shoot digital.
For example – when I shot Ai Wei Wei … and I went into his compound in Beijing where he was under house arrest, and I thought I would have plenty of time to talk and have a cup of tea, but then he got a call that he had to report to the police station. So, suddenly I had to make my pictures in just 25min, then go back to my hotel and leave the next day … going through the airport x-rays with my films, going to London where I give the films to a freelance developer outside Liverpool St Station (because all the printers I used are now closed), and the lady had to take it home an hour outside London where she develops, before bringing the negs and contacts back up to London the next day – so all these risks, where things could possibly go wrong. You take it for granted now the issue of film in the old days. You used to think, ‘I don’t know what I’ve got, I have no clue, I might have lost it’. Anyway, it worked out well, but you know … you do take risks.
I remember in 2007, I had just finished filming my first movie Control, mostly with my money – I had nothing left, so I was eager to do some stills work. I was asked by HBO to do the poster for ‘The Sopranos’ for the final series, as they loved the photo I did with Isabella Rossellini and the Statue of Liberty, shot from Manhattan. So, they wanted the same but with James Gandolfini. The writer called me and said, ‘You know this series is about America turning its back on “The Sopranos”’. His only stipulation was that it had to be shot from the New Jersey side, because that's where The Sopranos were based, and because it is much closer to the Statue of Liberty. So anyway, I went there, it was a big deal. All these people flown in from LA to do the shoot, oh my goodness … I felt very uncomfortable, because I'm used to the camera and just me and my subject. So, they are all standing behind me and I say ‘So, why don’t you guys go and look at the monitor’, and they say ‘Oh yeah, great, great. Where is it? looking around’ and I say ‘There is no monitor’ but I just wanted them to leave me and James, but they all expected there to be a monitor. I shot on film of course.
It’s true, I have worked across Fashion, Art, and Music, and there are a lot of things that maybe the public aren’t aware of … I’ve never really pushed the PR side, so it’s only friends of mine that often know the extent of work that I have done.
I was always very defensive about a lot of things… about the people I shot, the story behind the image… I want people to discover it themselves, and not to give away all the stories about the photographs. People want to know too much. The beauty with photography is that you, as a viewer, project your own thoughts onto a picture, make your own story, and you can’t If you know the exact story.’ - Anton Corbijn
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