I have never moved that quickly in my life. All the careful planning, the early start, the precise placement of lights hours before, the deep discussion of ideas over the past few days - it was all for nothing because John Newman and his mum weren’t at this location, they were at another one 10 minutes down the road...
A few days before The Sunday Times Magazine had called and asked if I was free to photograph a feature for them. The prospect was both exciting and nerve-wracking: I really wanted to do well on my first Relative Values piece for them*. My sitters were going to be John and Jacquie Newman. You have all heard John’s “Love me Again” and probably a good few more. John seems like a bubble of energy with his impressive dance moves, stunning singing and a great style to match his stage persona. This was going to be great!
I scouted the location before online and looked at loads of it on the web. We were shooting in a country pub and I wanted to get everything right. I spoke to John’s agent a number of times just to check the details of the shoot. I arranged for an area of the pub to be available just for us. I had all the mad ideas in my head. On the day myself and my assistant arrived hours before, we set everything up and tested the lights a number of times. I felt nervous but prepared, the best way to be before a shoot. Then I waited. A few minutes into the agreed time I got an impatient phone call asking me where exactly I was and how late was I going to be.
Who names two pubs in a small town exactly the same?! I mean how many Prince of Wales pubs can there be in Herne Bay? Would you have checked? Would you? Don’t tell me you would.
I have never moved that quickly in my life. All the planning, all the setting up - all for nothing because John and his mum had very little time, especially as I ended up arriving late for my carefully planned shoot. At least I had John’s extroversion to rely on. I mean a guy who dances like this can only be bursting to be photographed.
John, as it turns out gets it all out on stage. When he is off stage he is a calm, reserved, and quiet guy. And … slightly camera-shy. Here is when Jacquie Newman, John’s mum came in to save the day. Jacquie is one of the loveliest people I have photographed.The fact that they both were. Separately they were slightly nervous, possibly of doing a photoshoot together, but together they supported one another and started laughing. They giggled away. In fact they giggled so much I found myself joining in. So much fun to shoot. A pub, a great mother and son relationship and some good laughter. What more could I want for a successful photoshoot?
The photograph of John and Jacquie Newman is out today in The Sunday Times Magazine. Lessons learnt? Don’t give up when it has all gone wrong - own your failures and you might just end up giggling at them as I did.
Find out more about John’s music: http://johnnewman.co.uk/