Arrowsmith – Stumped By The Beautiful Terence Stamp!

I photographed Terence Stamp about a decade ago for a newspaper supplement feature in Holborn, sort of East London way. Terence arrived in a very uncoordinated outfit. A pale blue polo shirt, topped off with muted russet cardigan and grey trousers. I looked at him and thought, oh no this is like something my Granddad would wear, complete with the horrendous old man cardigan. To make matters worse, the only prop in the studio was an electric purple sofa that clashed horribly with the drab tones Terrence was wearing. I immediately covered the sofa with an old dust cloth. For this session there was no stylist or make up artist and at that point I really wished there was (where was Michael Roberts, Grace Coddington or Marcella Martinelli when I needed them!).

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However Terence is still such a ridiculously handsome man that the kind of clothes he was wearing was really irrelevant. I was really surprised at his attire as I had seen him out on the town and he was very sharply dressed, but also I expect he was expecting there to be a stylist on hand. He did however fortunately have a tie, shirt and black jacket with him that did work which I was extremely please about. That aside I decided the way to go was to just try and get a really classic head shot portrait. He is after all such a great actor, that ultimately his clothes are a secondary consideration.

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He was totally relaxed in front of the camera, which didn’t surprise me considering how many incredible films he’s starred in (Far From The Maddening Crowd, the Superman series, Valkyrie) to name just a few.  The photo session was very relaxed and we chatted about our mutual interest in Eastern esoteric schools of thought and I found he was very knowledgeable about Krishnamurti, and various other Eastern schools including Japanese Zen although his Master I believe was Indian. The session went well and I was really happy with the session, particularly when I enlarged and printed the pictures in black and white.

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Last year I had lunch with Michael Stephenson who was awarded the BAFTA for being the assistant to Kubrick and many other directors. He mentioned that he had seen Terence and that Terence wanted to use one of the pictures on a book he was writing. He suggested we all had lunch at the infamous E Pelicci Cafe in Bethnal Green. I had been told that it was the haunt of various East End underworld figures like the Krays, although I don’t know if this is true. I agreed and on entering the establishment the wonderful aroma of baked beans, sausage and egg and steaming pies filled the air. The place was packed and heaving with people and waitresses shouting orders to the kitchen “Sausage and egg twice and three pies”. My girlfriend who is a devout vegan looked completely horrified but brightened at the prospect of meeting Terence Stamp. Terence was sitting at the far end of the restaurant with his brother and Michael Stephenson. We struggled through the crowd and made our way to the table. Terry looked up while eating and just nodded, I presented him with my book.

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He said he would like to use one of my pictures I said that’s fine and then I ate a cheese and bacon sandwich while my girlfriend attempted to order tea with coconut milk. This  turned out to be a river of no return and the waitress burst out laughing. We drove back through the bustling East End and I handed Terence’s request to use the photo onto my agent and heard no more about it for a while.

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A few months later I got a call “Hello Clive it’s Terence, once again I would love to use a picture of yours on the cover of my book which I have just finished.” I said that’s fine; I will send you some prints, which my daughter delivered personally to Terence’s doorman. A week later the publisher called and said he would like to use the image and I said to the publisher, I am absolutely fine for Terry to use it but there will be a fee. His publisher said, “Oh, I thought he could use it for free”. I said, “Well I gave my permission but as this is a book there will be a fee”. I thought the book was going to be a large hardcover biography at the time and left the process with my agent. My agent called and told me they wanted global usage and that I couldn’t just give it to them for nothing. I said well try them with £500.00 then, and she said “but Clive usually we charge £5k for a deal like this”. Anyway in the end they did not use it as no agreement was reached.

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However my ex son in law Mike works at a famous mystical bookshop in Central London that was used in the Harry Potter films and rang me and said, “Clive Terrence Stamp was in here and he comes here a lot buying books on Eastern mysticism. Anyway somehow we got around to talking about photographers and I mentioned that you used to be my Father in law. He then gave a copy of his book ‘An Ocean Fell Into a Drop

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I received the book in the post and when I showed it to my daughter, she said “Don’t you think that cardigan looks terribly familiar, I think they’ve scanned and messed with your photograph”.  Terence sent me a dedication with the words, “Especially for Clive, all the very best wishes. I asked for your portrait for the cover, but you were too expensive, but worth it no doubt Terence.” I don’t actually care if they did or didn’t use it, I think its quite hilarious. Original image above and the book cover. Draw your own conclusions. Blessings Terence it’s a great book, which I will cherish.

 

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