Russell Brand

Date: 06.09.17
Author: Louise Haywood-Schiefer
Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , ,

I can’t tell if it’s the pre-shoot adrenaline as I wait for Russell, or the hour long paint fume aromatherapy infusion I’ve just incurred which is making me babble a mile a minute at poor Gary the painter. Having arrived at a grand countryside Spa hotel in Buckinghamshire, with the brief to find either a plain wall or a ‘street’ location, the only room in the entire building not clad in wood panelling came complete with a guy painting it, the tinny stream of Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show emerging from a paint splashed portable radio, and incredibly strong gloss fumes.

It wasn’t an ideal environment in which to entertain a celebrity, but as the shoot time was incredibly short I was praying the fumes wouldn’t be too much of a problem for the others when they arrived. Having met Russell a few weeks before for the first part of this job when he was chatting to some Big Issue vendors in a London Church about addiction with such gusto and warmth, he seemed like the kind of guy who wouldn’t mind too much.

I got the message to say they were on their way over and waited outside the door, fruitlessly trying to waft some fresh air into the room. To be honest by that point my nose and my head had acclimatised so I couldn’t even tell if it was bad anymore. I greeted them in the corridor and to my delight Russell remembered me from the previous shoot which made apologising for #paintgate much easier. The presence of Gary, silently glossing a door frame in the corner, actually proved to be fortuitous. Russell instantly went over to say hello and chat and soon arose various random paint related conversations between the three of us which was kind of fun, plus of course there was the option to use his tools as props.

With only 20 minutes to get various options of a cover shot and a potential inside DPS I had to fly through the set ups I’d already choreographed. Sometimes this can feel like you’re rushing and not getting chance to properly engage with whomever you are photographing, but it didn’t feel like that at all with Russell. He’s incredibly friendly and curious, asking questions, being funny; he totally knows what is required of him to make an interesting shot. Sort of a dream to photograph. Even though the clock is very definitely ticking, I always feel like time stands still a bit on shoots where you connect with the subject because it’s a more engaging and collaborative process. Of course, I could just be high off the fumes.

I can’t emphasise enough how interesting the session with the vendors was. Buy this weeks Big Issue to read the text and learn about addiction and recovery.

 

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