I have a photo shoot booked in for the end of next month. We need photos all the time for all sorts of things and I’ve now been using the same ones for too long. I don’t really like having my photo taken, I think thats totally normal. But I have put off booking in a photo shoot for ages now and so we’ve booked one in with a lovely photographer called Helen. I’m quite excited, it should be a good day and hopefully we get some good picture where I don’t look like too much of a dickhead or an 11 year old child. Two things I am very conscious that I often look like whilst having my photo taken.
Photos of musicians are tricky. The obvious option (and the most common) seems to be the classic ‘stand in front of a brick wall’ look. Everyone has done it and to be fair you can’t really go wrong with it. I’ve done it! Its a bit boring but its easy and there’s no distractions. I panic with what to do with my hands when just leaning against a brick wall. When you’re used to holding a guitar it feels strange not holding one. When you do hold a guitar it’s then easy to fall in to the ‘David Brent Trap’. You all know exactly what I mean… “Oh how embarrassing you’ve caught me leaning against this wall with my guitar looking in to the sunset, I’ve just finished writing a protest song. Crack open the Blue Nun and I’ll tell you about the time I lived above a pub with Bowie”… Dick. Head.
Then there’s the on stage photos which are brilliant. You completely forget you’re having your photo taken as you’re standing on a stage in (hopefully) a room full of people. You can hop and skip about on stage with a guitar in your hands and the lovely photographers can just snap away in the pit. Great for everyone. Only small issue is the angle. The pit where the photographers stand is always directly below me… directly beneath my chin. Unless you’re Kate Moss, you probably don’t look great in a photo taken from the ‘underneath the chin angle’. And they can be a tad sweaty. I know thats gross but its true. Also we have the issue of there not actually being any gigs at the moment to take any photos of… typical.
I like the photos with props. I like holding things that I can do things with. My favourite photograph of me was taken by one of my best friends and I’m leaning on a fridge. It was taken at my aunt and uncles house and my auntie made us cups of tea and we ate bourbons all day. If you’re leaning against a fridge then its you and the fridge in the picture together. You and the fridge sharing the attention. Thank god. And the fridge is there for you to hold and play with if needs must so at least thats something to do with your hands. The photo is also in black and white, which I think (I may or may not be correct) helps me to not look like an 11 year old. I know what you’re thinking, one day I will be grateful I look so young. Not right now though when I get ID’d going in to my own gigs or can't buy a box of hay fever tablets without a copy of my driving licence!
You have the option of taking photos outside, but then where do you go? It’s difficult to keep it original, it’s all been done before. Joy Division shot gunned all bridge shots, The Clash did standing on steps, as did The Spice Girls (coincidence?) and every man and his dog has posed near a train station! I could show off my local area like The Smiths did with Salford Lads Club. I live in Harrow, we’ve got two Nando’s on one road on our high street! Has a band done a Nando’s photo shoot before? Would it make me look like a serious musician supporting my local area or would I just look like a dickhead… Would Beyonce do it? Help?!
Obviously I have insecurities cause I am a human. I am 5ft 3 at a push. I might be 5 ft 2. Thats the same height as Yoko Ono and Kim Kardashian, both of whom there are zillions of gorgeous pictures of! I don’t mind being small but I do think I have stumpy legs. My left front tooth is a little bit chipped and right now due to lock down I have Liam Gallagher eyebrows or should I say eyebrow. I know everybody can’t look like Grace Kelly but all of those insecurities scream out at me when I look back at photos of myself. I do like some things about how I look by the way, don’t worry!
Then there’s the completely not valid option of not being in the photos at all. My manager would kill me for a start. I could just chuck a baby in a swimming pool and take a photo of that (Nirvana) or wear masks over my face (Slipknot or Beastie Boys) or grow a super long fringe (Sia). But I’m too far in to my career to start doing that. It would be weird if I had a whole group of new photos done wearing a top hat and sunglasses as much as sometimes I might want to do that! People would question where the beehive had gone and Slash has already stolen that look, fair play to him, he got in early.
What ever I choose, I’m sure they’ll be fine. I love picking out the outfits and it’s great fun making a photo shoot playlist. Yes I’ll probably play ‘Vogue’ by Madonna on repeat and then follow it with ‘Fashion’ by David Bowie, so what? As long as it’s not too cold and there’s a huge supply of bourbons I’ll be alright. And if all else fails I can just find a fridge to lean on.