Scarlet Page is a renowned music photographer, who has captured the likes of the Rolling Stones, Robbie Williams, The Darkness, Placebo, and Stereophonics to name just a few. In 2020 she was selected as a winner of The British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Britain award for her portrait ‘Esme’. She talks to us about her work and what makes a great shot.
Scarlet, tell us about your love of photography. When did all start for you?
Scarlet Page: I did an arts foundation course in the early ’90s and got to play around with a manual film camera. I just found capturing moments so exciting and so much better than painting because I always painted in a hyper-real way. This way I could literally freeze time. I went on to study a BA degree in film and photography and then stepping-stoned into assisting a photographer called Ross Halfin, a well-known ‘rock’ photographer. This was by chance but the rest is history!
What is the key to capturing the essence of someone, especially people you have just met?
Scarlet Page: It’s all about a connection. I go into every shoot presuming that the subject hates being photographed so I lure them into a false sense of security and then steal their soul, ha ha! No, I just like to have a bit of banter and each shoot really feels like a memory. I get a real sense of fulfilment from each one too.
What type of atmosphere do you create or do you let your subject set the vibe of the shoot?
Scarlet Page: It’s a two-way street for sure. I like to bounce off what I am given or try to draw something out which I know is there. I keep it very light and fast – I hate it to feel laborious.
You have shot many a legend. Who have been your favourite people to shoot and why?
Scarlet Page: I have long relationships with bands such as Stereophonics and Red Hot Chili Peppers. It is just such a brilliant job really. It hasn’t always been easy, but I am grateful to have always had a job that I truly love.
Who has been surprisingly shy?
Scarlet Page: That’s an interesting one. I think Trent Reznor was a little. Some artists are reluctant to be photographed at all so they are really trusting you. It is quite a responsibility at times.
What is your favourite image of all time?
Scarlet Page: It’s so hard to pin down one image as so many have deeper stories or meaning to me, but I am very proud of winning portrait of Britain in 2020 with a portrait of five-year-old Esme. It was particularly important to me as during lockdown I created this project Buddy to keep me sane. To have an image acknowledged in this way at such a time was just wonderful.
I know you have travelled the world shooting bands. How has the lack of gigs and promotional activity impacted your life during the pandemic?
Scarlet Page: As tough as the new way of life has been, it has also had some real positives. I photographed a livestream of Tame Impala from the comfort of my kitchen! I have done a few remote shoots, which are fun and challenging too sometimes! I have been lucky to indulge some time in my archival print sales, which saw me through ’no shoots’ Covid. I am now really busy again in a very positive way, which is just great.
You sell prints of your images. What has been the most popular shot and why do you think that is?
Scarlet Page: John Frusciante and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers are real favourites, as is Keith Richards.
Tell us about your jewellery brand, Love Scarlet. We are loving everything! What inspires these creations and when did you learn the craft?
Scarlet Page: Aww, I love to create and have always enjoyed spending time making things for pals, not just spending money. About 10 years ago I started learning silversmithing. Since then I’ve sent pieces all over the world and have made a 10 piece collection for the National Trust. It’s a hobby that grew!
Finally, tell us about your work with f22 and its mission to help women fulfil their ambitions of becoming professional photographers? What is the landscape like right now for female photographers?
Scarlet Page: f22 is a wonderfully supportive group of women photographers. I have really enjoyed exploring these rooms over the last 18 months. The AOP (Association of Photographers) is a wonderful group for students too. Photographers can be quite solitary, so it is just great to be able to talk the same language with others. I am also part of an agency called Female Perspective, an incredible group of female photographers that are crushing it!