Meryl Streep Macintosh Chair


The Times asked me to do a portrait of Meryl Streep, she was only in London for one day and I found her so amazingly kind and receptive for an actress of her status and talent. As I was checking the camera, I looked up and she had fallen asleep because she was really jet lagged. I whispered “Meryl” because she’d told me I could use her first name and I was a little nervous. She blinked her eyes open, looked into the camera and in that moment I knew I’d got the shot.

Sienna Miller Chelsea Studio 2010


Sometimes you just have a great rapport with the people you photograph. Sienna Miller was so radiant and so funny and laughing most of the time, I just adored her. Her agent said “You’ve got a half an hour”, Sienna stayed for two hours and we drank coffee and talked about all the films that we both loved.  I could tell she was going to be a huge success, her intelligence and keen wit made her really stand out in my mind. Below are some dressing room pictures of our reflections in the make up mirror, which incidentally have have never been published before today but capture how open and fresh she was in the studio. A complete joy to work with, I would love to photograph her again.


Lowry At Home – Exhibition Salford


So excited that this exhibition is happening in Salford it’s taken a long time for the images to come to light. The process of printing these images large has also been really exciting and a lot of hard work. Genesis imaging London, Ken Seti and Paul Herren have been total heroes and have really made this process much easier. I can only highly recommend them, these large C type prints from 35mm film shot on Nikon for Nova Magazine are really incredible.


Kansai Yamamoto – Debut Vogue Shoot 1971 and more…


I think without doubt designer Kansai Yamamoto will always have a very special place in my heart. He was then and is to this day, ahead of his time. His work encompasses so much more than just fashion and takes in architecture, interiors and large scale public performances dedicated to making the world a better place (read his incredible biography here). He is a true visionary as David Bowie, British Vogue and others clearly recognised when he arrived in London in the early 70s.

Kansai chose his own models and wanted the sessions to be ethnically mixed (and rightly so), but this was very much the exception for the time. There’s a determination in his eyes, looking straight at you at the centre back of the image above, sat behind Marie Helvin (who Kansia discovered) and who was shooting  here for British Vogue, very early in her career, if not for the first time, before she became more widely known.


The above image of Marie is one of my favourites from the session, the light, clothes and mood, just worked perfectly.


Kansia also introduced me to the amazing model Sayoko Yamaguchi who I first shot for Harpers (UK) and then shot privately for this portrait above. Sayoko was one of the most beautiful women I have ever photographed and was without a doubt the first Asian supermodel. She was also a very talented designer in her own right, which somehow seemed to translate into a deep intelligence and intuition for what I needed when taking a pictures of her. I am very moved by this image still  and was greatly saddened to hear that she died so young in 2007. I never had the chance to photograph her again, she was a gift to the camera and the eye.


It is fantastic that Kansia and I have managed to maintain a connection since the 1970s and that be both debuted at Vogue at the same time. In the fickle world of fashion, relationships and creative connections are something to be cherished. Below are some pictures I shot for Kansia when he very kindly invited me out to Japan in 2014 of his most recent collection.




Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono

I was commissioned by The Sunday Times magazine to photograph Yoko Ono. Prior to my arrival and setting up, her P.R. person told me “you’ve got 10 minutes”.

Yoko came in looking very composed. There was a stillness about her, similar to that of many Japanese people I’d come across in the past on my visits to Japan…..a polite containment and dignity.

I asked her to stand on the spot my assistant had marked. I started to shoot, but Yoko remained unanimated
I said” Oh come on Yoko” in my best Liverpool accent,( as she new I had known John in my Art school days in Liverpool back in the day)
“Give us a song” she smiled “Ok I will “ she said I will sing the Beetles song,” When I’m sixty four, and I am sixty four”, we both laughed and she sang away waving her arms and really enjoying herself, ending with a bow, as my assistants and I applauded.


If you’d like to inquire about purchasing a print please contact me though my website at:

If you’d have a press inquiry contact Chilli Media who run my archive:
Tel: 01622 600491 /// Web: /// F. @CHILLIMEDIA Steve Tomkins

Layla Ali.

Layla Ali
I flew to NYC to photograph Layla Ali, the stunning boxer and daughter of legend Mohammed Ali.
Layla arrived with her entourage, swept into the dressing room, gave my assistants and me a fleeting glance. She was accompanied by some really tough looking boxer friends, who stopped and looked at me up and down, then one of them said “who are you then”?
“ I’m Clive Arrowsmith. I’m the photographer from London, here to photograph Layla, for this Nike promotion.
“Ok I’ll tell her”
We waited until Layla finally appeared again, dressed in a full length boxing robe. I was immediately struck her
beautiful golden dark bronze skin. She was stunning.
“Hi”, I said, “so great to meet you. How do you want do this? Personally I would like you to be in the outfits you feel really comfortable in. They should be like training clothes if that’s ok with you”. She agreed and went to get her make up and change.
Some time later she came back dressed and ready in a white vest and black training shorts. In her left hand hung some bright red boxing gloves. I remembered thinking, “Wow, she looks like an Amazon Warrior Princess. “
“That’s great”, I said.
We chatted as the scene was prepped and I showed her a picture I’d taken of His Holiness Dalai Lama and gave it to her as a gift.
“This is for you,” I said “I know your father met His Holiness and they got on really well”. She smiled a warm smile and we shot this picture.



If you’d like to inquire about purchasing a print please contact me though my website at:

If you’d have a press inquiry contact Chilli Media who run my archive:
Tel: 01622 600491 /// Web: /// F. @CHILLIMEDIA Steve Tomkins

Band on The Run – The Great ‘Wrong Film’ Debacle

Band on the Run1 copy

This was one of my first photographic jobs when I was still an Art Director. I had known Paul McCartney and John Lennon from my art school days and Paul asked me to shoot the cover of his new Wings album Band On The Run. With only enthusiasm and not much experience I went for a meeting with Paul and his art director the late great Storm Thorgerson from Hipgnosis. Paul and Storm talked through the basic concept that surprisingly the ‘band was on the run’ and we all agreed that the best way put this across was like an old fashioned ‘Hollywood prison break movie’ with the convicts in a spotlight against the prison wall (with additional celebrities as convicts).

On the day I hired a spotlight from the lighting company which, unfortunately, was not powerful enough for the job. This meant that everyone had to be very still for over 2 seconds for the picture to be sharp. Two seconds may not sound like a long time, however, they did have a party before the shoot and everyone was very much the worse for wear, but still enjoying each others company to say the least. Trying to get everyone to stay still and play the part of escaping prisoners was proving extremely difficult, amid the laughter, jokes and substance haze; I arranged them all together so they could lean against each other and the wall. Now, because they had all become a little unsteady on their feet, Denny Lane fell over a couple of times laughing hysterically – everyone was having a great time.  I had to have a megaphone to get their attention, I had even positioned myself up to the top of a ladder, next to the spotlight and barked instructions persistently, which the most part everyone ignored, until I finally snapped and screamed ‘Stay Still!’.

I only managed to shoot 2 rolls of film, which is only 24 exposures in total. The group couldn’t hold the pose for long, some would be still in one frame and others would be moving in another, the real worry was that there wouldn’t be a shot where everyone was still and sharp. My woes did not end there, once the film came back it had a strong warm yellow cast but thankfully there were four frames where everyone was sharp. I showed them to Paul and he loved them, I never mentioned the golden hue to him until a few years later when I was photographing the back cover for Wings At The Speed of Sound.

Paul Mc Cartney.Wings atnthe Speed of Sound.Album Sleeve.i

After the shoot, over coffee, I said ” Paul, there is something I’ve meant to tell you for years, that yellow light on the Band on the Run Cover? That was a mistake. I used daylight film instead of tungsten ” Paul laughed and said “That’s fine, I thought it looked great and that you meant to do it.”


Above is a letter I received from Paul along with the with the 25th Anniversary CD of Band on The Run which he kindly sent me. The great thing about Paul I have found over the years, is that when you ask him to dress up or do funny things, he is always up for it – and is magic in front of the camera. Working with him over the years has been a lot of fun, and a genuine pleasure. Below is a picture that has just been used by Random House in NYC for the cover of his forthcoming biography Man on The Run.


Below is the original shot.



If you’d like to inquire about purchasing a print please contact me though my website at:

If you’d have a press inquiry contact Chilli Media who run my archive:
Tel: 01622 600491 /// Web: /// F. @CHILLIMEDIA Steve Tomkins