Billy Bragg – Tooth & Nail

Portrait of Billy Bragg for his Album Cover - Tooth & Nail
Dog sillouette on a logo in green and blue

Billy Bragg contacted me and asked if I would have a chat about photographing his new album cover.   I’ve known Billy’s music all my life and have always been a fan, so it was a great pleasure to be asked to work on an album cover for him.   He is based in Dorset and not far away from me, so we arranged to meet up and have chat about ideas.

I researched Billy Bragg’s back catalogue and looked at who his influencers were to try to establish a feel for the images that I could produce for him.  Billy Bragg is a very creative person and I knew he would have a strong opinion about the references we would be using to come up with ideas.  I knew he was very interested in American culture and arts, I had a feeling we might have some similar opinions on American photography.

I had just completed a project for an exhibition in London called ‘Not Quite Right’.  I had met a lot of aspiring actors during my time in London, we used to go to the same bars and clubs in Soho.   The more I got to know them the more I sympathised with them, as the actors life can be very tough!  I decided to photograph them for a personal project that turned into an exhibition and then won me my Fellowship to the British Institute of Professional Photographers.  The project was heavily influenced by the amazing work of American Photographer Richard Avedon and his incredible book the American West.

Billy Bragg

I knew the stark and gritty approach was what I wanted for the images I was to produce.  It seemed to convey the subjects vulnerability and sense of isolation.  I decided to take my portfolio of images to show Billy Bragg, to see what he thought of these images as a starting point.  As soon as I started showing him my work, he pulled out a copy of the very book signed by Richard Avedon!  I knew we were on the right tracks . We photographed a session in my studio using a combination of strobe studio lamps with strip light and ring flash.  Plus we also shot outside along the Dorset coastline.

The final images were put into photoshop and given a super real feel by using some HDR (high Dynamic Range techniques.)

It was so great to get a signed final album from Billy Bragg saying – “Andy- thanks for making me look great”

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