Inside Story: My favourite cover shot - Media - News - The Independent

Inside Story: My favourite cover shot

Delivering a sensational magazine front is almost routine as far as the world's best fashion photographers are concerned. But which ones mean the most to them?



YEAR: 1996


I love this cover. It was taken in Paris in 1996 for The Face magazine. I like it because it shows a side of Kate Moss that we don't usually see. Kate has always been a favourite model of mine - she's such great company and a truly nice person. Shooting this cover was refreshing as, nowadays, most cover images are done in a very commercial way - after all, it's through the cover that you sell a magazine. But working for The Face wasn't about selling, it was about turning heads, catching people's eye and grabbing their attention. For most of the covers I do today I have to bear in mind that they have to sell, which gets away from this is what made this shoot with Kate so memorable.




It would have to be a toss-up between an image I took of Mick Jagger for the cover of the Rolling Stones' albumSticky Fingers and the portrait I took of Her Majesty the Queen - the two extremes of rock royalty and royalty, you could say. But if I was pushed, I'd choose the shot of the Queen. It ran on the cover of The Observer in 1967. I was 25, and it was to be the first informal portrait of her. I shot her sitting on the floor, in front of a fireplace, with her corgis at her feet.

I'd been called up to Balmoral and told that I wouldn't have a lot of time with her, but as it turned out we spent over an hour together. There was no prior meeting, this was it. I remember her walking into the room with an equerry who then left and I was struck by the enormity of being alone with the Queen. My nerves were shot! She was very gracious and, I thought at the time, quite shy.

I took four shots in total and at one point we went outside, myself, my assistant and Her Majesty. Suddenly, there was this shrill whistle, like someone hailing a cab in New York. Shocked, I turned and looked at my assistant, wondering where it had come from. Then we realised it had come from the Queen! Out of nowhere, all these Shetland ponies appeared at the gate and stood waiting for her.

I suppose I've always been fond of that shoot because it changed a lot of subtle things for me. As an American, I was always aware of being an outsider when I first arrived in the UK in 1969. My neighbours, a sort of dignified gentry lot of majors, would always criticise my dirty car, but once that image had run in the paper they would call and invite me round for sherry - though I didn't accept. Yet still I suppose it's a sense of pride, national pride.



YEAR: 1988


The shot was taken back in the mid-1960s. I like it because it amuses me that the image was published more than 20 years after it was taken. Paul Croughton, the deputy editor of Arena, says: "It's an iconic image that made for a great cover. There's something extremely cold and magnetic about Michael Caine here. His eyes - a mixture of menacing and engaging - really draw you into the magazine. Despite it being an old picture, shot in the Sixties, it didn't feel out of date. In fact it had such impact that we recreated the image in November 2004, when we asked Bailey to shoot Jude Law in the same pose for the release of the remake of Alfie."



YEAR: 1998


I have to admit that the premise of a "favourite cover" is alien to me as I don't see my work that way. The notion of making a trophy out of a specific shot just isn't how I approach what I do. If I'm honest, I've always been far more interested in creating the next image than reflecting on anything I have already executed.

I see photography as a conversation, as an ongoing process. So to select a single picture would be comparable to removing a single word from a sentence and hoping that one word would or could convey the weight and complexity of an entire conversation. It would be like looking at a single frame of a movie and expecting it to evoke and encapsulate a whole movie. I suppose I've always tried to avoid that kind of arrogance, and it's undoubtedly why I shy away from producing books and exhibitions of my work.

But if I had to highlight one cover that really sticks out for me, which, as I have explained, I'm not comfortable doing, it would be a Dazed & Confused shoot from the late Nineties. It's a shot of Aimee Mullins, who has since become a good friend. A paralympic gold medallist, I shot her when Alexander McQueen asked me to produce a series of pictures that presented people with disabilities in the mode and format that is usually applied to fashion models.

Aimee was born with no major bones in her lower legs and they were amputated from the knee down on her first birthday. I had seen a picture of her on the cover of American I D Magazine (International Design) with her prosthetic running legs, so I showed it to Alexander and we flew her in. The image appeared on the cover of Dazed & Confused and has always been important to me as I felt it represented a significant moment - a widening of the parameters of what is considered acceptably beautiful. Emotionally, I feel it articulates something that needed to be said.

I do enjoy the whole construct and power of cover imagery. I think with covers it's that brevity, the conciseness and speed of comment that works for me. Like photography, a great cover delivers its many messages fast.

This, of course, is the romanticised view. When the marketing men get involved it becomes about rules and regulations - the model must make eye-contact; never use yellow, etc etc. This can take the pleasure out of the creative process, but I am known for my robust imagery and I don't mind battling my corner. It's a struggle between creating a beautiful innovative image and the men in suits wanting to play it safe with tested formulas.



YEAR: 1998


This is a hard one, as there are so many to choose from. But this was the first time I'd worked with Kate. It was great to meet her as all of the things I'd heard about were true. She was dynamic and keen to try something new for the cover.

It was a concept that Katie Grand, the fashion director at the time, and I had come up with. We wanted to use Kate as a blank canvas and spray-paint her - like a graffiti-covered wall. The idea worked and Kate was great to shoot. As a photographer, when you get someone who delivers every shot, it's just so refreshing. She was consistently brilliant and it gave me a real buzz.

I suppose it was the first time I realised the true meaning of what it is to be a supermodel, that special dimension they bring to a shoot. Kate and I became good friends.



YEAR: 1999


Without a doubt it's my second i-D cover, taken back in 1999 of Amber Valletta. Funnily enough it was the same day I shot my first cover try for them too, but it's this image out of the two that really sticks in my mind. I like it for a number of reasons, notably and most sentimentally because it meant working with make-up artist Pat McGrath and hair-stylist Eugene Souleiman again - both people I had collaborated with when I was really young and just starting out back home in London.

The fact that i-D is such a British institution was important too. I'd been away in New York for a while so there was a certain patriotic element and some nostalgia as I'd worked for them years before and it was a real honour to shoot their cover.

I remember - as is the tradition with i-D cover shoots - that we'd all been working on separate projects throughout the day and came together late at night for this job. We ended up taking this shot in the early hours of the morning, and despite it being a long, tiring day, I still look back at it fondly.

It was the first time I'd shot Amber - she's got such an extraordinary face, and we've worked together a few times since. While the image shows the classic i-D wink, I feel there's something really special about this cover. Especially as it's so different from many of my other covers, which tend to feature a lot of text and straplines. This image is clean and uncluttered, with only the single word "kinetic" overlaid on to Amber's face. I like the purity and simplicity. Then of course there's the fact that this image was the springboard for my shooting many more covers for i-D. I guess I can't have been the only one who liked it!

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage

Commuter travels 320 metres, 75 steps, two ticket barriers and a labyrinth of roads to get to work
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK edition of wedding show forced to recast after wave of drop-outs
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Top conservatoire offers ‘groundbreaking’ arts degree

Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Head of Marketing - London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketing Manager / Dig...

Brand Manager / Account Manager

£28 - 36k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Brand Manager / Senior Account Manager is nee...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week