Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tori Amos

Tori Amos, Toronto, January 1995

BY THE MID-NINETIES I OCCASIONALLY HAD THE NEED OF AN ASSISTANT. It felt a bit decadent, after years of being a one man band, to hire someone to lug my gear, load my film backs and drive me to shoots, but it was necessary, and actually something you could invoice for in expenses. I went through a few assistants before I ended up meeting Rod Orchard.

It wasn't the first time I'd encountered Rod, though. You'll glimpse him in one of my shots of the crowd at a Corrosion of Conformity show in 1986, looking over his camera while he shoots the band. My friend Chris gave me his name when I was looking for someone to help me, and Rod ended up being my regular assistant for most of the '90s - at jobs like this one, shooting Tori Amos for the cover of NOW magazine.

Tori Amos, Toronto, January 1995

It looks like a studio shot, but it isn't. I can't remember the precise location, but it was a big enough space for Rod and I to set up almost the whole of my studio lighting gear, right down to my posing stool, in front of a big rented muslin backdrop. Amos was between her second and third record at the time, and a big enough artist that her record company handlers had a list of rules for me ahead of the shoot, most of which I've forgotten.

Tori Amos, Toronto, January 1995

Shooting Tori Amos in 1995 meant walking a fine line between what a photographer might have wanted to get and the limits of what she was prepared to do in front of a camera. I do remember that loading in and setting up took far longer than the shoot itself. I know that I'd been warned against trying to get anything that resembled cheesecake; thankfully that's never been much like anything I've ever done. I shot two rolls of cross-processed colour and two of black and white, and at the time I remember liking the shot at the bottom for the way it referred to Amos' sidesaddle straddle of her piano bench in concert.

I ended up staying friends with Rod long after I no longer had the need - or the budget - for an assistant, and he even ended up shooting my wedding. He's working on a book collecting his hardcore and metal concert and portrait photography - you might want to check it out and throw a few bucks at him.

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