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Q&A: Scarlet Page

Brit photographer Scarlet Page on how she pinned down the
 world’s greatest guitarists for a charity photo exhibition


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Lalitha Suhasini Mar 12, 2014
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Brian May

Queen guitarist Brian May. Photo: Scarlet Page/Happy Finish and Metro Imaging

 

Rock music photographer Scarlet Page wears her surname lightly. “I haven’t made a big fuss about that,” says Scarlet, 42, the daughter of legendary guitarist Jimmy Page. She studied photography at the University of Westminister in the early Nineties and also assisted celebrated rock photographer Ross Halfin. “I’ve been shooting for 20 years nearly,” says Page, who has shot some of the biggest bands including The Rolling Stones, The Foo Fighters, The Black Crowes and Red Hot Chili Peppers. This month, she launches her photo exhibition Resonators, a remarkable collection of portraits of some of the biggest guitar heroes including Paul McCartney, Brian May, Slash and Jimmy Page, at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The exhibition hopes to raise funds for the teenage cancer trust. In an interview from London, just before she set out to shoot guitarist Johnny Marr from The Smiths, also for Resonators, Page sat down for a quick chat with ROLLING STONE India.

How did you pick the guitarists you wanted to shoot for Resonators?

I looked at Top 10 guitarist lists. I also Googled and got an amazing response. I only wish there were more female guitarists in the series. I did try to get Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt but since I’m based in England, it was a little tough. I did go to L.A. though, to shoot Paul McCartney.

You shot other artists in L.A. too. Tell us about that.

Well, I shot eight guitarists in a week. Slash in the morning, John Frusciante in the evening ”¦they all live quite close by in the Hollywood Hills. I based the trip on Paul McCartney being there, but his management couldn’t really commit anything, so I took my husband along and planned this as an escape from the children (laughs).

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What’s your day at work like? Is there a lot of setting up involved?

This project has been quite different and hectic. With Paul McCartney, I was told, “We’re going to be on the Jimmy Fallon show in an hour.” So there was no setting up. I just arrived and shot 10 frames in the green room. He’s such a busy man, so this was probably the shortest shoot for Resonators.

If it’s a press session, I work with a concept and an idea especially if it’s with a group of people. I usually have the entire day for the press shoot.

Do you play music during shoots?

Yes and I usually, I let the band decide what they want to play. Sometimes, they play new music that they’ve been working on. It doesn’t always happen and happens a lot during editorial shoots. The Foo Fighters played some of their new music. I was on the road with them. [U2 frontman] Bono convinced them to get into the hot tub. Fortunately, it wasn’t a hot day.

Do you prefer studio shoots over gig photography?

I like reportage projects like this one. I’m going to shoot Johnny Marr of The Smiths now, but I don’t know what is going to happen. It’s like being a fly on the wall and ”¨capturing the essence of what is going ”¨to happen.

Could you tell us about the other memorable shoots you’ve done?

Two of the shoots I did during Resonators were really special. I shot Peter Green who played with Fleetwood Mac during their early days. While his life has been well documented, he had become a recluse and doesn’t do shoots at all now. I felt very honored that he agreed and it’s a very strong portrait.

I just shot Nile Rodgers yesterday ”“ he’s like the busiest man on the planet. When I walked in, he was just ordering his food and I felt like I was invading his private space, but he’s such a lovely man and was so accommodating.

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Lastly, has it been an easier ride for you because you’re Jimmy Page’s daughter?

I haven’t brought up his name until this project. I don’t ever bring it up during shoots either. Sometimes people who don’t make the connection tell me, “You could be Jimmy Page’s wife,” and I just let it pass. I’ve carved out my career without bringing up his name. Even for Resonators, I’ve left his portrait until the very end.

But I’ve developed a sensitivity and I’m very aware when people don’t want their picture to be taken. I’m not too fazed by celebrities either or too nervous since music and visuals have always been a big part of my life. My mom was a model so I was used to all this. Of course, I was very nervous when I shot Duran Duran because I’d grown up listening to their music and it was such a big part of my life.

For more details on Resonators go here  http://bit.ly/resonatorsauction

To buy prints in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust London go here 

For autographed prints go here

Resonators opens on March 24th at the Royal Albert Hall and is on until April 24th.

The exhibition can be viewed when attending performances or on the following free open days:

Saturday 29 March 11am – 4pm
Sunday 30 March 11am – 4pm
Sunday 6 April 11am – 4pm
Saturday 19 April 11am – 4pm

This article appeared in the March 2014 issue of ROLLING STONE India.

Check out the gallery of Scarlet Page’s photos below. All photos courtesy Scarlet Page/Happy Finish and Metro Imaging

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