Lucy Sewill on photographing some of the biggest names in the music industry

PUBLISHED: 11:44 22 December 2014 | UPDATED: 14:35 25 March 2015

Midge Ure & Bob Geldof

Midge Ure & Bob Geldof


Acclaimed portrait photographer Lucy Sewill tells us about her latest commission - photographing some of the biggest names in the music industry for a special centenary publication

Dizzee RascalDizzee Rascal

From legendary rock stars to the unknown composers behind some of the world’s biggest hits it’s not often that you get the opportunity to meet some of the great names that have shaped our music industry. This year PRS for Music (the organisation which protects copyright and provides an income for music creators and their publishers) decided to mark their centenary by publishing a special book 100 years of British Music. With forward by HRH Prince Charles, the book is a photographic tribute to some of our greatest songwriters and composers over the last century - from Sir Edward Elgar to Adele.

I was commissioned to take all the new pictures for the book. These included composers of symphonies, film music, opera and stage shows as well as the writers behind the some of the greatest rock and pop songs of all time. All these people in their own way have contributed to creating our musical landscape.

This project was a fascinating and at times very personal journey for me as I took my camera into private homes, recording studios, opera houses, city streets and hotels. Here are some of my personal favourites from this landmark publication.


Phil CollinsPhil Collins

Phil Collins

I photographed Phil in his suite in the Dorchester Hotel while he was on a brief visit to London. One of the toughest aspects of my work can be gaining access to my subjects. Though I was expected by Phil and his team, the immaculately dressed staff at the hotel needed convincing but after a few phone calls I was in. I asked his management to leave us to it and thankfully they did. A shoot is always so much better when it is just them and me, it is only then that you can get such an intimate shot as this.


David ArnoldDavid Arnold

David Arnold

David is a multi award-winning film composer probably best known for scoring five James Bond films including Casino Royale. When I met David at Air Studio he was brimming with ideas and the studio was bulging with equipment. Somehow it seemed a good idea to combine the two. David loved the thought of getting into a crate and being covered in headphones. We were working along the lines of him being immersed or maybe crushed by his creativity.


Gary KempGary Kemp

Gary Kemp

I like to photograph people in their own homes and musician Gary Kemp, who is the chief song writer for Spandau Ballet, was happy to welcome me to his for this shoot. Photographic studios can be very sterile places and people are far more relaxed at home surrounded by their own things. Gary played Through the Barricades, the title track of Spandau Ballet’s 1986 album, on his guitar for me just before this shot was taken. When he accepted his award for Outstanding Song Collection at the 2012 Ivor Novello Awards, he singled this particular song out as a favourite of his.


Rod TempertonRod Temperton

Rod Temperton

This is the unknown superstar who wrote Michael Jackson’s Thriller. For this portrait I took Rod to a very small studio in Soho with a smoke machine. It was a Friday evening just before Christmas and with the sound of partying below we created the world of Thriller. Rod was totally involved in the theatricality of this shoot which is why this picture works so well.


Dizzee Rascal

I had a very strong idea of what I wanted from Dizzee Rascal, the Mercury prize winning MC, songwriter and record producer. I set the shot up before he arrived and used a member of his team as a stand in. A few minutes and a few clicks of the shutter later and I had what I wanted. Dizzee was delighted that it had all been done so swiftly, this was the only shoot I have ever closed with a high five!


Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure

This was taken at the world famous Sarm Studio - the location for the recording of the Band Aid single 30 years earlier. This is the first picture taken of the pair together since that epic event. It was really good to be able to make this happen having been at the Live Aid concert myself. Record producer Trevor Horn, owner of Sarm, was delighted to help by providing the location and he even turned up for the shoot. The only problem was that Bob and Midge had a lot of catching up to do, so I had to ask them to stop chatting and concentrate a couple of times!


About Lucy Sewill

Best known for her perceptive portraits of major British celebrities, acclaimed photographer Lucy Sewill specialises in informal one-on-one personal portraiture. Her work is published worldwide, with commissions from major publishing houses and magazines, including Dorset Magazine where she does the Dorset Portrait. Lucy specialises in the worlds of music, film, broadcasting, politics, theatre and Opera. Her work as been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery and a number of her portraits are held in the collection. She lives with her family in Cheselbourne near Dorchester.


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