Monday, 9 January 2012

Portraits: 28

The Pooh Sticks, indie band, Cardiff, 1993
The band was founded by vocalist Hue Williams, on left, and Steve Gregory, as producer and songwriter. The line-up, disbanded in 1995, was billed using fictitious female first names – so I'm not sure who else was who in this photo! This was for The Village Voice, and I and the band spent a couple of hours in different locations in Cardiff. As it became dark, I took this shot as the band sat in a Wimpy hamburger restaurant. I like the overall effect, a band member's "looking back" with the video camera, and the photo's obvious – and irrelevant – Edward Hopper reference. Irrelevant – or not? By coincidence, perhaps it plays into what All Music Guide called The Pooh Sticks' free "pilfering from the entirety of pop's past" and "postmodern cultural criticism, retro-irony".

Dennis Potter, scriptwriter, cinema lobby, New York, 1992
Another Village Voice shot. This shot – the first actually taken for the Voice in New York rather than from London – was both a treat and involved an embarrassing failure. I'd photographed Potter in conversation at a talk he was giving and gone into the Voice's offices to develop the film in their darkroom. It was a Sunday and the art director, Robert Newman, was working in the otherwise closed office. Somehow, I did something wrong in the developing process and the film was blank (to this day, I'm not sure why) and I had to swallow my pride and step out to admit the failure to Robert. He was generous (as always) and was quickly able to get in touch with Potter and arrange for me to grab a quick portrait of him instead at the film-showing he was attending that evening. Potter, too, was generous – and the lightness with which he treated the situation was perhaps apparent in this shot. Recently, I read an article which said Potter – who died in 1995 – was less respected in Britain than abroad, which is one of those odd comments from critics who seem to be stunningly ill-informed: in my youth, I remember almost religiously watching Pennies from Heaven (featuring Bob Hoskins) with my father who admired it and Potter greatly, talking about Blue Remembered Hills at school, and the praise and coverage given to The Singing Detective.

For more on these portraits see here and the portraits tag on the right

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