David Byrne - The Face

David Byrne - London 1981

There is something about David Byrne that makes you take good pictures, almost like you don't want to bother him with something that's not interesting, I worked with him a number of times, but the 30 minute session we did for an early issue of the Face was the most productive.

It was shot in the basement of the Warner Bros building in Soho. There was a gym down there and quite often I built a little studio in the space, I did the Pretenders, Laurie Anderson, even Aha in that basement.

We told David the ideas and he cooperated fully, we decided to shoot on black to emphasize his face, after all it's one of his most interesting features, we shot him distorting it, pulling the skin this way and that, ending up with the classic frame of him opening his eye, quite literally in fact.

We also experimented with double exposures, combining profiles with straight on views, now you would do it in photoshop but back then it was all in camera. And also one set of pictures where I used three consecutive frames to shoot his body, to show his height, and to make something other than a simple 3/4 length photo shot the usual way.

It's amazing what you can do in 30 minutes with the right person, David Bowie is someone else that inspires you to try anything, and to trust your judgement and forget any normal poses.

I always remember Brian Eno's observation, That it will be so great when Byrne and Bowie are really old, they can sit together on an island and still look cool. Of that I have no doubt.