10.10.11 QUIET CITY INTERVIEW – ED FIELDING
Quiet City talk to photographer ED FIELDING, whose work adorns Gary Numan's new album Dead Son Rising, and has recently undertaken a photo shoot for John Foxx...
How long have you been a photographer, and what inspired that career choice?
I’ve actually been a photographer since I was 15. My father gave me a camera when I lived abroad in Kuwait. I had no idea how to use it, but I quickly wanted to learn as there was so many images that i wanted to capture. At that point I decided to take a home study course for two years. The music side of things came around much later in life.
Pioneers: John Foxx and Gary Numan after the 'Back to the Phuture' gig, April 2011. © Ed Fielding
You've been Gary Numan's official photographer for a while, and more recently you’ve been working with John Foxx. How did these two collaborations come about?
With Gary it was a dream come true – I'd always been a fan of his work and had the opportunity of shooting one of his shows at Leeds for a local webzine. A few months later, my work was seen online by Gary's manager Ade Fenton, who contacted me to ask me to work with him on his project called Artificial Perfect.
Gary saw the work I did with Ade for his album and liked the concept. Through this I ended up working with Gary for a single from Ade's album and have now continued to work closely with him, which is amazing.
Regarding John Foxx, I expressed an interest after meeting him at a show at the Troxy in London in April 2011. I was then given the opportunity to travel to London to do a shoot with John and subsequently a couple of shots have been chosen for his new CD, The Shape Of Things.
I had no idea at the time any of the shots would feature. It was a great pleasure to meet the man and a privilege to work with him – John is a true gent , great to work with and a professional.
Whose music did you hear first, John Foxx or Gary Numan? Do you have a favorite song or album of each artist?
My first has to be John Foxx actually – I had a particular track I loved called "Burning Car " which I played constantly.
John Foxx – "Burning Car", favourite album – Interplay
Gary Numan – "Absolution", favourite album – Dead Son Rising (of course!)
Very much alive: Gary Numan's Dead Son Rising tour, September 2011. © Ed Fielding
You must enjoy the gigs - is there a temptation to sit back and enjoy the show? What are the typical challenges of a live shoot?
I do enjoy the gigs but don’t always get chance to sit back to enjoy them. I’m always looking for that ONE shot!
The typical problems with any show for any photographer is stage lighting – it is constantly changing.
Lighting is always a topic of conversation with most music photographers. You have to get to grips with this to be up there with the best. Many articles and blogs have been written on this subject but believe me its not easy.
Foxx and Numan are two very different personalities, both on stage and off. Do you find this affects the kind of photos you take of them, and what kind of qualities do you look to capture in your shots?
With Numan for me its much more straight forward esp with live shots you are capturing the passion and the here and now. With shooting John Foxx live its more mood and visual.
Both personalities are different but the pleasure is there because of the variation and challenges.
The shape of things: John Foxx at Play Studios, London, August 2011.
With the recent images of Foxx taken in Benge's Play studios and the asylum shoot for Numan's Dead Son Rising album, I would say you have perfectly captured the essence of where each artist is at musically. Tell me more about these two shoots. Whose idea was it to shoot in a disused asylum and what were the challenges?
With Dead Son Rising it was a real challenge. First of all it was my first major album with Gary and something I wanted to be proud of.
The location of the Asylum was my idea. I had not heard any tracks from Dead Son Rising, but had a gut feeling that this was the place to shoot. My brief was to find a place that was bleak/industrial/barren/sinister – I think The Asylum falls into most of these categories.
Our biggest challenge was the safety aspects as the Asylum had been closed for a number of years and had many rooms and corridors to explore. The place was quite run down and unsafe in areas, so we had to work with what we had. As a photographer the challenge was to get the images safely!!
The shoot also was done in winter (not sure whose idea that was!) but it was very cold and damp with lots of standing around for hours but that is part of any location shoot.
With the John Foxx shoot I had to be more creative. Plus I was working with someone who not only is a fine artist but also at the top of his game photographically.
The idea was to do a projection shoot in two locations. One at his studio and the other being a club in London.
In a dark place: A disused asylum in Lincoln was the location used for Gary Numan's Dead Son Rising photo shoot.
What kind of feedback do artists give you during the shoot? Do they usually have a preconceived idea of the kind of result they want?
Most artists will give you either a brief of what they are looking for. Others will give you free reign. Most I've worked with are very professional and more than happy for you to be creative. However you need to keep things fluid so both parties can work together to get the best shots.
Your portrait shots are very striking and detailed – Is there anybody in particular that you would love to photograph?
Great question! Band-wise, I would have to say The Rolling Stones – I would love a studio shoot with those guys... who wouldn’t?!