To photograph actors, authors & artists is interesting, often rewarding and always challanging.
The challange lies not with the person in question but with the time allowed and the location of the shoot. More often than not the artist has a string of interviews during the day and a 20 mintute time slot is allocated for both the interview by the journalist and the photography – which inevitibly takes place in an unispiring hotel room.
It was not the case when Annnmari Sipilä from *Helsingin Sanomat and I met novalist Jonathan Franzen who was visiting London to promote his latest book Purity.
It was a cheerful friendly Jonathan who met us in the reception of a cosy boutique hotel in Kensington, this was a one-to-one interview with no other media involved and we had an hour. Happy days.
A quick chat with Annamari and it was agreed she would do the interview first for 35 minutes which gave me 25 minutes for the shoot – they went off to the restaurant for the interview and I went off to scout a location. I did not get far. I had the intention of going outside to find suitable background but in the hotel bar I found a small dark room – a ‘snug’. This subdued room was dressed with a black & white patterned high back chair, a small table and thick dark velvet curtains drawn over the windows. It was perfect. I knew Jonathan was dressed in black and I set up some lighting to create hard, defined shadows but allowing for enough light to pick him out from the background.
Jonathan arrived and I photographed him in 6 poses and was finished after just 5 minutes. I was happy and I felt it worked well. On the journey on the way back I thought about the shoot and was slightly peeved with myself that for once I was given the time & opportunity to do a longish outdoor shoot and ended up doing it as per normal, quickly in a hotel … but I guess all you need is a decent background, a willing subject and a couple of minutes.
*Helsingin Sanomat the interview in Finnish.