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Interview: Stephen Wright on his photography exhibition
updated 06/07/2004
Stephen Wright - and his son Paul

"I didn't just shoot The Smiths, you know."

So says Stephen Wright who took 'that photo' of The Smiths outside Salford Lads' Club.

Stephen Wright - and his son Paul

He's not wrong... The first exhibition of Stephen's work has opened in Manchester at Tampopo on Albert Square and includes photos not just of His Great Mozness but also legends such as James Brown, George Clinton, Bono, Gregory Isaacs, John Lydon, Prince etc etc. Find out more about the exhibition >>>

A proud father with a five-year-old son Paul, Stephen now lives and works in Reading. The Haçienda days may be behind him now.. but he still has many fond memories of his days in Manchester snapping Mozzer and other music greats.

We asked Stephen Wright about:

Morrissey's bum (photo by Stephen Wright)
Morrissey's bum (photo by Stephen Wright)

Find out more about the exhibition >>>

...The Smiths connection: "I used to go down to the Hacienda and the Apollo and I used to pop pictures down to music papers. It was me with my first camera learning to take pictures. The Smiths played twice at BBC Oxford Rd, before that they played one of their best shows at the Free Trade Hall. I went along there in 1984 with one reel of film ' cos I was skint and starting and climbed into the rigging and took various pictures of them on stage there including one that is in the exhibiton of Morrissey's bum with flowers hanging down the back of his jeans. I sent that to Rough Trade.. and then they rang and asked if would I like to do a session with The Smiths.

...'that photo' outside Salford Lads Club:
"It was a dark day in Salford...we did pictures on both ends of Coronation St [where Salford Lads' Club is in Ordsall] and then we went to the Arndale Centre. I wasn't told: 'we want a picture for a sleeve.' It was: 'will you do a session with the band,' based on the photos I'd sent down.

...the huge interest in 'that photo':
"In all honesty, I had no idea until three months ago that this particular picture was so well thought of. I left Manchester 13 or 14 years ago... I haven't shot a live photo for a dozen years but every now and then someone would say 'are you the Steve Wright that took this?' Either because I'd left Manchester or because I wasn't really involved in doing pop photos any more.. I was out of the loop."

"I think Morrissey looks like Mona Lisa - he's got this kind of 'smirk!' I was just starting as a photographer.. it was me and my first Nikon. But there's something the way they naturally posed, that's quite interesting. Stephen Wright, photographer

..what he thinks of 'that photo':
There was an article in the Guardian in February and they used this picture and they declared it ;the finest ever picture of The Smiths.
"I think Morrissey looks like Mona Lisa - he's got this kind of 'smirk!' There's something about that picture that it all pulls together.. I was just starting as a photographer.. it was me and my first Nikon. But there's something the way they naturally posed, that's quite interesting. I only had two possible lenses to take pictures with and it isn't the right lens to take that picture with... So techically it was shot on the wrong lens!"

...favourite photo of the exhibition:
Gregory Isaacs, 1983 at the Hacienda. He just looks so drugged! Just so stoned.. I'm sure he was! I was in the Haçienda frequently. It never really felt like work...

...other photos in the exhibition:
There's U2 in 1983 at the Manchester Apollo, there's several Smiths ones... It's quite a curious mix that ranges from Miles Davis and James Brown to John Lydon at the Apollo in 1984 and The Smiths.... All of these people were quite enigmatic."

...the fresh interest in his work:
Ironically I've made less money photographing things I loved ie the musicians than if I go and do a corporate event for an agency. The warmth of it is the very idea that someone, somewhere in the world likes those pictures enough.. and then I go into the darkroom and print them and pop them in a box. And I know when I go to the post office.. that somewhere in the world, someone will no doubt buy a frame, bang a nail in and shove it on their wall. And that's the most flattering thing."

In a nutshell:

From Soul Brothers to Salford Lads - the photography of Stephen Wright is @ Tampopo 16 Albert Square, Manchester from from July 6th to September 25th 2004. Mon - Sat 12 noon - 11pm; Sun 12 noon - 10pm.

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