Radiohead photographed at Holborn Studios, London, 2007

In 2007 I photographed Radiohead for the Observer Music Monthly. They were about to release their seventh album, In Rainbows. They were also a more cerebral outfit than most other bands, so I thought carefully about how I would photograph them. I definitely didn’t want to turn up completely unarmed to photograph a band of hip and savvy people. The Observer had hired a room at Holborn Studios in north London, but I aimed to do something different from the average studio shoot. I wanted to approach it from an alternative angle, to include some element of performance and encourage the band members to be fully engaged and collaborative. With all that in mind, I came up with the concept of allowing the band to photograph themselves. I liked the idea because they seemed empowered and in control of their destiny, so it seemed an appropriate approach, as well as being quite funny. I talked it through with the magazine’s editor, who agreed, then bought an infrared cable release so the band could fire the camera’s shutter.

When they arrived for the shoot, I explained the idea to them and they were really up for it, so I went ahead with setting it up. We had the biggest studio at Holborn. The equipment included a splendid block and tackle arrangement that I’d often admired, so I decided to incorporate it in the shoot. I attached one light to it with an Octa softbox, which I love using. I only used one light because when it comes to lighting I always believe that less is more. My Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II was set up on a tripod with a 50mm lens attached. I asked the band to stand under the Octa and arranged the band members with lead singer Thom Yorke at the front. Then I gave him the infrared cable release asked him to point it at the camera. I let him take the pictures until the memory card was full. One of those images was used on the cover of Observer Music Monthly. After we had done that scenario, I borrowed my assistant’s 1DS Mark II and asked the band to stand in the same places as they were when taking their own picture. Then I switched the radio sync to my assistant’s camera and shot the whole set-up from a different angle. I got some frames of my assistant standing by the camera, but ultimately the set-up worked best when it was just the band taking pictures. My favourite shot, shown here, has Thom Yorke giving a knowing look to my camera. 

This picture was used inside the magazine. As well as being something different and eye-catching, it works well because I think the picture references the kind of band Radiohead is. 

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