I had very little intention of photographing Simply Red ever again, once was enough. But as Natalie Imbruglia supported them and I hadn’t shot her in a good ten years or so I thought this would be a nice and effortless shoot to round off the year, which it certainly was.
As Madonna sang the word ‘iconic’ tonight, the word ‘ironic’ was what kept ringing in my ears. Ironic, simply because here we were, photographing an undisputed pop icon from a position right at the very back of the O2 Arena where the chances of getting an iconic photo were nil. The saving grace was that our position was raised up enough that we had a clear view of her most of the time, except the best part when she played guitar on her knees on the runway.
It’s just over seven years since I last photographed Madonna, and so I was excited about this show even though I knew I’d need to hire a 500mm lens – I’ve only ever used a longer lens at a gig when photographing Madonna last time at Wembley Stadium on a 600mm! The lens itself was pretty spectacular, but the point is that from the very back of an arena, and being off to one side, the vantage point really wasn’t good. Perhaps if we had been put at the end of the runway in the pit we would have been far away enough not to disturb her but close enough for much better shots.
Shooting location aside, I was one of only ten photographers tonight, ‘handpicked’ apparently, according to Madonna’s PR Manager Barbara Charone, which puts a smile on my face. The show was pretty spectacular and any frustration I felt tonight is only because I know just how good the shots could have been if only we had been closer to the stage.