Clive Arrowsmith snaps pictures of film directors Cheng Wen-tang (鄭文堂) and Wu Mi-sen (吳米森) standing in the middle of a Taipei photo studio forming a “T” with their hands. The shutter on the high-end Hasselblad camera clicks with each shot, the captured images showing up instantly on a large computer monitor in the corner of the room.
The renowned London-based fashion photographer spent a week in Taiwan in May to take pictures for a Free Tibet awareness campaign organized by Guts United, Taiwan, which culminates with a concert today in Taipei. Arrowsmith was also the photographer for the “T for Tibet” campaign during last year’s Summer Olympics
“To have Clive ... be the official photographer of all the campaign ... it means a lot,” says the organizer of Free Tibet, Freddy Lim (林昶佐), also the front man of the death metal band, Chthonic (閃靈). Having the same photographer for both, Lim says, links the drive for Tibetan freedom in Taiwan with the larger global effort.
Some of the other celebrities photographed by Arrowsmith for Free Tibet are singer-actress Enno Cheng (鄭宜農), writer Wu Yin-ning (吳音寧), SET-TV news chief editor and anchor Chen Ya-lin (陳雅琳), folk singer Panai (巴奈), and Chthonic, Aphasia (阿飛西雅), Kook (庫克), LTK Commune (濁水溪公社) and FireEx (滅火器).
Arrowsmith’s photos for the campaign have since been posted around Taipei, with a large Free Tibet poster featuring Lim and his bandmate and wife Doris Yeh (葉湘怡) displayed at the Vieshow Cinema Square in Xinyi. The images have been broadcast on platform monitors at Taipei’s MRT stations.
Arrowsmith is one of the few photographers who take portraits of the Dalai Lama in an official capacity. He’s also taken portraits of countless other celebrities over the past three decades. A longtime photographer for British Vogue magazine, he shot the Pirelli calendars for 1991 and 1992. A quick flip through a draft of his soon-to-be published book is like going through a who’s who of the entertainment world.
WHAT: The 50th Spring: Tibet Freedom Concert (第50個春天—西藏自由音樂會)
WHEN: Today from 1:30pm to 9:40pm
WHERE: Parking lot, A8 Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Xinyi Department Store (信義新光三越A8旁廣場停車場), 12 Songgao Rd, Taipei City (台北市松高路12號)
ON THE NET: www.freetibet.tw
1:30pm Kook (庫克)
2:10pm Enno (鄭宜農)
2:50pm 13 (恕)
4:15pm Aphasia (阿飛西雅)
5:10pm FireEx (滅火器)
6pm Panai (巴奈)
6:40pm Message to the people of Taiwan from the Dalai Lama
6:55pm Dog G (大支)
7:55pm Chthonic (閃靈)
8:55pm LTK Commune (濁水溪公社)
Just a sampling shows actors Michael
Caine and Helena Bonham Carter, musicians George Harrison and David Bowie, writers Hunter S. Thompson and Roald Dahl, naturalist David Attenborough and cooking show host Nigella Lawson.
Behind each of the photographs, Arrowsmith has a story to tell that illuminates the lives and personalities of his subjects.
He detailed the time he was commissioned to snap Prince Charles for his 50th birthday. Arrowsmith remembers putting on a lot of cologne because he was very nervous, causing Prince Charles to say to him, “That cologne you’re wearing ... isn’t it what old Italian playboys wear?” He said they had a laugh over that.
And the time he took a portrait of a smiling Yoko Ono in London. Arrowsmith said when he first started shooting she was just standing still. To loosen her up, he asked her to sing a song. She started singing The Beatles’ When I’m Sixty-Four because, she told him, she turned 64 that year.
Or the time he took a photo of Liv Tyler wearing a diamond necklace for DeBeers. Arrowsmith says the company paid her in diamonds for the shoot.
Arrowsmith counts many of his celebrity subjects as his friends. He regularly plays guitar with Richard Gere and Paul McCartney calls him “Spike.”
At the photo shoot in Taipei, it’s clear Arrowsmith is efficient. He doesn’t take long with each subject. Arrowsmith says it’s all about capturing a moment when the picture, the person and the camera all gel together. He says it’s also about trying to put the subject at ease because if a photographer imposes his or her will on someone, “you can see the stress in their face.”