07 September 2013 Guardian
U2 were recording some demos at my house in France in 2010 and allowed me to take some photographs of them. It was a hot, close summer: one of those ones where you just cannot breathe. I knew it was a great opportunity, but I didn’t want to be in their faces too much – as a recording artist myself, I know how annoying it can be when someone is sitting in the corner clicking away with their camera when you’re trying to work. So I just popped in for 20 minutes now and again and took a few shots.
One afternoon, everybody except Bono had cleared out of the studio. I was lazing about on the floor and, as I looked up, I saw Bono with the photograph of Dad in the background. I thought: “That’s what I’ve been looking for.” And so I took the shot.
This is one of the pictures that changed my way of thinking as a photographer. It’s a piece of history in many respects. I call it Someone to Look Up To. It’s a truly appropriate title as far as I’m concerned: Bono is a huge John Lennon fan, and I’m a huge fan of both of them, of course. The picture of Dad was taken by Astrid Kirchherr in Hamburg, when he was about 17 years old. He has a pensive look – he’s not giving too much away, but the mind is ticking. And I think the same goes for the emotion on Bono’s face: it’s almost identical, like a later version of Dad in many respects. Bono has become one of the best in the world at what he does; I’m happy I was able to capture him in such a reflective mood.
Photography and music are working in parallel for me right now. I love the music, but regardless of how I am interviewed by most people, it always comes back to Dad and the Beatles, which is understandable but a little frustrating.
The only recollection I have of Dad taking any photos was when he would muck around with the Polaroids, more for fun than anything else. I guess that inspired me, but I only got serious when I met and worked with [celebrity photographer] Timothy White. What excites me about photography is that you never know what kind of project is going to come knocking. It’s always challenging and it’s always different, whether it’s U2 or Princess Charlene of Monaco 10 minutes before her wedding.
Photography is the thing that makes me happiest, no question about it.
Born: Liverpool, 1963.
High point: My first exhibition in 2010 because I was accepted as a photographer, as a visual artist outside the music industry.
Low point: There are “panic stations” after every project – I always think the shots I’ve taken are awful. But when I get back to my editing desk, I’m able to find the look and feel of the whole session.
Influences: On the rock’n’roll side of things Henry Diltz, Mick Rock, Timothy White. Ansel Adams for landscapes.
Top tip: I’ve always stuck with my instincts on things, I think it serves you well. I just try to be as honest and as truthful in what I do as is humanly possible.