What started out as a temporary job at Virgin Records turned into a 20 year career, and gave Caroline the opportunity to work with a variety of artists and musicians including The Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, and George Michael. In 2006, she decided to make a career change and move into photography. Currently she’s working with George Michael on his Symphonica Tour using our very own Leica M9 to document the tour.
Q: How and when did you start out in photography? What is your background?
A: I started my working life as a temp at Virgin Records one Friday afternoon, which became a 20 year career. I realised my eye during my time running the music video department in the ’80s, when I worked with some great artists including Simple Minds, Culture Club, OMD, XTC, The Sex Pistols and Peter Gabriel. I was very lucky to have been in the right place at the right time. Virgin Records was buzzing, music videos were such a new, innovative format and the creativity was immense. I commissioned some very talented directors and photographers in this time, some of whom have gone on to achieve massive success in film.
I moved to LA in 1989 to run the music video department at Limelight, a hugely successful production company at that time. Whilst in LA, I was offered the opportunity to work with Jake Scott, Ridley Scott’s son. We set up Black Dog Films, a music video production company, which I ran until I returned to the UK four years later to work at Virgin Records again. I was lucky enough in the ten years that followed to have worked in a creative capacity, with, among others, George Michael, The Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey and a host of truly incredibly talented video directors and photographers. Then, in 2006, I decided on a career change into photography. I took two years off to learn how to take a picture, to understand lighting and taught myself how to get what I wanted to achieve from post-production. Osmosis came into play here and I realised how much I knew just from having worked with such talented people for so long. I am passionate about making people look and feel good and finding the shots that I know they will like (well at least, hope they will like). Having spent 25 years in telecines and edits gave me an extraordinary insight into what I wanted to achieve from my post-production and how to be brutal in the edit, leaving only the very best images to show my clients.
Q: What is your connection with George Michael?
A: I have known George since the early nineties. We worked together at Virgin Records, and post that, I worked with him on the videos and photo shoots for his album, Patience. I also produced a documentary film about his life called “A Different Story”. I’m working with George on his current Symphonica Tour as his tour photographer, the UK leg of which starts this week at the Royal Albert Hall.
Q: What made you choose the Leica M9 and why did you select it for the documentary-style photography for the George Michael official tour programme?
A: I love the M9 for candid, backstage, behind-the-scenes type photography. It makes me stop and think about framing and focusing; it’s altogether a different, more controlled feeling. I have to take my time, which I like a lot, and it’s very quiet and unobtrusive, which everyone around me likes a lot! The quality is extremely high for such a small camera. The pictures I took in the studio look gorgeous printed in the tour programme. I wouldn’t have achieved the studio shots with any other camera … it was very dark in there!
Q: Who or what inspires you? Who are your favourite photographers?
A: People who don’t compromise: Irving Penn, David LaChapelle, Richard Avedon, Robert Frank.
Q: What do you do when in your spare time?
A: Spare what??
Q: What are your three favourite things in the world?
A: There are four actually: my two nieces, my nephew and Mister Popple, my dog!
Q: Have you worked with other artists or do you work exclusively with George Michael?
A: I have worked with many artists throughout my career, as mentioned previously. I’m not exclusively working with George, but I am currently very focused on the work I’m doing for him on his tour. I’m also finding a little time between the shows to do the odd shoot or two for private clients!
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Photographing the George Michael Symphonica shows in the UK. I can’t wait!