From rock royalty to fashion royalty to the monarchy of the British Isles and yes that means Queen Elizabeth including her progeny; Clive Arrowsmith has left no stone unturned and has endowed us with one of the greatest photographic archives of this generation. His collaborations are nothing short of a who’s who of our lives including Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, George Harrison, Art Garfunkel, Def Leppard, Prince Charles, Michael Caine, Damien Hirst, De Beers, Revlon, Caroline Castigliano, Lexus, and Hasselblad. Not to be overlooked are his contributions to just about any publication that is worth reading whether it be fashion or photography including leading magazines such as British & French Vogue, Harpers, The Sunday Times Colour Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Esquire U.S.A and that’s just a selection.
“Clive Arrowsmith is the Caravaggio of the 21st century. He creates magic and dreams, he is the master of light.” Marcella Martinelli (stylist)
The fact of the matter is that Clive Arrowsmith is both royalty and legend in his own right within the realm of photography. He has the vision of a painter, the eye of a photographer and the skillset to rival any of the greatest talents within his sphere, past or present. He indeed reminds us that photography is categorially an art form.
“Clive Arrowsmith is not a photographer that one can easily describe but it is safe to say that he is part Avedon, Hiro, Mapplethorpe, Ritts, Bourdin, Scavullo, Coffin, and more. His influences are vast, and his output is nothing less than astounding and prodigious” New York Journal of Books November 2015 (Clive Arrowsmith: Fashion, Beauty & Portraits)
The beauty of Mr. Arrowsmith is that he is as gracious and as self-effacing as anyone can be and exudes a warmth and appreciation that is rare in most people let alone an icon of his stature. So, in his own words, here is Clive:
Jeffrey Felner: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner, who would they be and why?
Clive Arrowsmith: My Guests at dinner would be Ava Gardner, (one of the most beautiful women and of all time), Leonard da Vinci, Bob Dylan, Maria Callas, and Fellini, but you have to figure out the why!
JF: Who or what was your favorite subject/assignment and why?
CA: Well, working with the likes of Grace Coddington with make up by Serge Lutens and a team of intuitive talented people who are as excited as I am and yes as desperate as I to capture beautiful images.
JF: Who/what would be your ideal collaboration today and why?
CA: I love working with new edgy stylish designers. I admire the Japanese designers but we have been left some beautiful collections by the likes of Alexander McQueen who did such striking work. I have photographed some of his collections/pieces but there are still pieces I would like to photograph that now reside at the V&A London.
JF: What is in the future for you in terms of work, books or any other news you have and wish to share?
CA: Well I am off to Sweden to a shoot of Lars Wallin’s new collection in conjunction with the new Hasselblad Camera which is amazing. We will shoot at the stunning Artipelag Art Gallery by a lake in near Stockholm with great architecture in a wonderful location and, of course, the northern light. I will cast some great beautiful models /dancers with Lars and then we will begin the shoot a day or so later.
I have just finished photographing a campaign, with various celebs, in support of saving baby pigs from factory farming. Jeremy Irons Vivian Westwood, Dominic West, Helen McCrory and many more have offered themselves for the project and some of the images accompany this interview. I am also working on my next book between shoots “”Rock &Fashion ARROWSMITH” should be out in October 2016,
JF: What was the best advice you ever received and from who and why do you think it was so valuable?
CA: I never received any advice, really, from any other photographers as I was never an assistant; I was a painter that became a photographer. I did meet Irving Penn in London at the Vogue studios when Mr. Penn was doing his flower book. This was our brief exchange as I said to him with great reverence “thank for your work,” he smiled, then said passing me 10×8 film slide back “hold this,” he then took it from me and loaded his camera and said “thank you.” Just as I was the leaving small studio, still star struck, he turned to me and said” Remember you are just an eye.” I thanked Mr. Penn and left feeling elated.
The only other time was when my muse, Ann Schaufuss, was working with Helmut Newton, he asked her “What does Clive think about photography, she replied “Clive thinks photography is ninety nine percent rubbish” and Helmut laughed and said “Tell Clive he is being very optimistic”
JF: What is your advice to any up and coming photographers as well to those who have already begun?
CA: My best advice is to live for your work and devote yourself to it. You will know when the magnificent obsession takes hold and you will start to see glimpses of the final image in your mind thus propelling you forward. The camera is only a copying device so you must to be sure that the photograph you are about to “record” is captivating in every aspect before you begin the dance of capturing it; look at the light falling on your subject, the chiaroscuro, look into the shadows and then as you work the photograph will start to reveal its secret to you.