The Etherial & Mysterious Kate Bush

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Kate Bush came the famous Holborn Studios in London for a shoot for Hearst Magazines who had asked me to take  cover photograph for their new magazine Company.    Kate was very definitely the woman of the moment at that time and her career was going from strength to strength all over the world.

She said very little when  she arrived and looked a little sad. Not everyone enjoys promoting their music be doing shoots and I appreciate that. Most performers love it but some find it a necessary evil. I was immediately struck by her striking looks. I sent  the stylist out to get strong theatrical gauze, in different colours, while Kate’s make up was being done,and I asked for some strands of Ivy (more on that in a moment).
Kate was very easy to work with and a calm silence pervaded her while we all worked, after hair and make, I got the stylist to help me by fiddling around with the shape of the blue gauze which I wanted to surround her face.  I set up a blue light behind her, to surround her in blue and to enhance the blue gauze, which contrasted with the red of her lips and her hazel. She was not animated in front of the camera, hardly varying her facial expression while I was shooting, maybe it was me, or she genuinely found it difficult being in front of the camera. I felt as if she was  just enduring the shoot, or that she must have something sad thing on her mind.
She  spoke very little, and then in quite voice and just obey my request that she move this of that way.  After the blue image my team and myself hung the Ivy from a boom  over her head   I directed  the hairdresser from my camera viewfinder to refine the ivy strand arrangement. I asked  Kate to hold the pose and we got the shot below.
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I asked the Magazine Editor why she was so silent and contemplative, she told me later she was upset by something that had happen that morning before she came to the studio. We never found out what it was and I don’t suppose it matters, but you do feel an etherial sadness in these pictures which to this day I find totally captivating. When you are shooting portraits you have to take people as you find them in that moment so I did try and reflect the wistful and ethereal feeling I got from her.  I had been very excited to meet her and had been listening to her music the evening before. Kate is a totally genuine musical artist and these images also capture that very serious aspect of her talent. Although these could be seen as fashion or beauty images Kate’s presence adds such a depth of feeling that they have become an artwork in themselves. Even though I spent that time with her I still feel she is a complete enigma and that I know, no more or less than I did from listening to her music.
  • Clive Arrowsmith is still  shooting stunning images, staging exhibitions and is as passionate about photography as he was when he first pressed the shutter at The Paris Collections. He is available for global media opportunities related to his work and photography generally. Bespoke prints from Clive’s archive are also available by special request, for any enquiries  (email Eugenie here). Clive’s book Arrowsmith: Fashion, Beauty & Portraits is available here and Lowry at Home: Salford 1966 is available here

4 Comments

  1. I absolutely love the ivy shot I always have done , it just says so much, I’d love to own a print of it do you still sell them ?

    1. I do sell my work Jo’anne but only by special arrangement to trusted people. I like to know that my prints are going to a good home and that they will be valued and appreciated. Please email my daughter Eugenie at eugenie(A)totalcreativefreedom.com . Very happy to talk about as I know you will value the work.

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