I met Amanda Pays at a Harpers casting and we got on really well as she is very quick witted and funny. I was really delighted when Harpers booked her for the India shoot which was my first foreign assignment as a photographer. We stayed at the legendary Rambagh Palace as guests of the the Maharaja of Jaipur. Willy Landels (Art Director) Susan Farmer (for De Beers), the legendary Anthony Clavet (Hair and Make Up) and myself were all very excited about this shoot.
Stepping of the plane and feeling the heat and the smell of India was something I will never forget. The spices, cow dung, sweat and incense filled the air as much as the noisy bustle of the streets, it was a really incredible scenario, I’d never seen or heard anything like it in my life. I was practising the Hindu path at the time inspired by my dear friend George Harrison, so for me it was a really karmic moment.
I couldn’t get over the radiance and colour saturation of all the flowers the intensity was overwhelming. I was also struck by the beauty of the buildings and the incredible light. We were given beautiful suites at the palace, white marble, ensuite bathrooms with deep carved marble baths, high ceilings . The air conditioning consisted of a huge piece of carpet hanging down from the ceiling with a rope that went through a hole in the wall to the outside of the room where an older servant would sit outside and pull the string to fan you. I would greet and thank him every day and he would just say ‘Good morning my Lord” (if it was day or night), which was not something I had ever been called before.
Amanda was a really stunning model and we all got to work once we had got over the journey but unfortunately she got rather unwell on the trip in the heat as the result of some form of food poisoning. I had to carry her back to her room and get her into a cool shower to lower her temperature as she was so unwell (fully clothed I hasten to add!). This was one of her first modelling jobs, she was quiet to start with but gradually over the period of the trip she really opened up and created some timeless images.
Amanda has gone on to be an accomplished actress in her own right and most impressively the mother of four sons with actor/director Corbin Bermsen. I absolutely loved working with her and am not at all surprised that she went on to have success as an actress, we were always very good friends from this point onwards.
While we were in India Willy suggested we go into the desert to photograph some shoes. The car arrived covered in jewels and deities to collect us from the Hotel and we were delighted to get in. However our joy was short lived as once we got to the back of the hotel the driver asked us to get out and get into a very bashed up Morris Oxford. When we queried this he said ‘Sir, this is the show car to get the business’ at which point we began our perilous journey into the desert in a far less impressive vehicle, which broke down several times on the journey to and from the hotel.
When we got to the desert I knelt down and positioned all the shoes along the dune and knelt down in the soft sand with my tripod and camera to take the picture, only to be tapped on the shoulder repeatedly by the driver who I admonished for repeatedly disturbing me. He however said, “Sir I must insist the sand vipers are in the sand” at which point I slowly extracted myself from the dune and stood up, trembling as I went.
Willy then said as art directors sometimes do “Can I have a picture, that shows nail care”. As we didn’t have a model with us at that particular moment I was more than perplexed, but fortunately I noticed the night before a beautiful Indian dancer on the street with beautiful long elegant hands and nails. I asked our interpreter once we got back to the hotel if he would ask the dancer if I could take a picture of her beautiful hand with the setting sun glistening through the gap between her fingers. It was very difficult to get the Sun to come through at exactly at the right point between her fingers and it was also 38 degrees so I was sweating in the incredible heat but we eventually got the above image on film.
I will leave my last words for my dear friend and genius make up artist Anthony Clavet, standing waiting with his camera to go to the desert with me. Wearing the most incredible sunglasses and this white traditional Indian outfit that we both wore throughout the trip. We worked, laughed, got lost and stoned together, Willy found us in a small hut watching a dog giving birth to her puppies and pulled back the beaded curtains and said to us, “Clive, Anthony, do you think perhaps we should start to take some pictures as we haven’t done anything for two days”. Those were incredible times and I was very privileged to know and work with Anthony who was a genuine innovator in the field of hair and make up and the wonderful Willy Landels who was free thinking enough to give us all the space to be so creative.
- 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