Jarvis Cocker photographed in Waterlow Park, London, March 1998
Harry Borden recalls the session with the Pulp frontman: “I took this photograph in March 1998. By that time Pulp had recorded two major hit albums: His ‘n’ Hers (1994) and Different Class (1995), which featured several iconic singles including ‘Common People’.
By this stage Jarvis was a superstar, established as part of the cultural landscape and featured frequently in the newspapers. I was doing the shoot for the Observer and he was being interviewed by journalist Lynn Barber at her house in Highgate, London. Using my Hasselblad, I took some pictures around the house, including in her daughter’s bedroom. The original idea was to move on and shoot some pictures in Highgate Cemetery, but I felt it wasn’t really appropriate for him as he wouldn’t have fitted into that Gothic environment.
Instead we went to nearby Waterlow Park and shot more images there. Towards the end of the shoot I asked him to zip up the hood of his snorkel parka coat, so only his big, reflective glasses were visible. I liked the idea of being confronted with someone famous and playing with the fact that it’s really them. I was concerned his face would be too dark, so I used a handheld exposure meter to take a reading of the light going into the hood. By exposing only for his face, the line of trees in the background was blown out because it was overexposed. The result was a graphic and intriguing picture.
It is possible that I had David Bailey’s portrait of Mick Jagger in a fur hood in mind when taking this picture. Rather than just copy a famous image, I try to take an idea and use it as a basis to create something that is different and original. This way, rather than getting a pastiche, you get a genuine moment. The line of trees in my picture gives it a kind of municipal ordinariness that suits Jarvis’s style and takes it on to another level. “
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