Scotsman.com has interviewed legendary rock photographer Ross Halfin about his new exhibition, Made of Metal, at Proud Galleries in London, which displays more than 50 of Halfin's images taken over the last 30 years.
"When you photograph a band member or celebrity, 10 per cent is taking the picture, 90 per cent is getting them to take the picture," Halfin told Scotsman.com. "You've got to make it look like you've been there for ten hours instead of ten minutes — and never let them take over. I did the Edge last week for Mojo and he walked in with four people fussing and fawning around him. I said, 'Dave, you're a grown man, I think you can stand there for ten frames, don't you?'"
Does he reckon that good bands always take good pictures? "Yeah, they do — bands with some edge who look dangerous. GUNS N'ROSES looked good in the day. Now Axl looks like a silly old man." Warming to his subject, Halfin confirms the general conception that GUNS N' ROSES/VELVET REVOLVER guitarist Slash is one of the good guys. Halfin also still rates OZZY OSBOURNE and MÖTLEY CRÜE for their adherence to the old school rock show and AEROSMITH's Steven Tyler, AUDIOSLAVE's Chris Cornell and VELVET REVOLVER's Scott Weiland as great rock frontmen. "I mean, he [Weiland] is completely selfish and self-centred, but that's part of the job isn't it really?"
And that's about it for the positives.
"All bands care about two things — money and themselves," he stated. "Band members are not your best friends, that's a fact. I worked with METALLICA for ten years and now I don't talk to them. I fell out with the drummer. Lars [Ulrich] used to sleep on my floor. Now he's one of those people who would shake my hand but he'd be looking over my shoulder for the next person in the room. He really let me down as a friend but that's the nature of this business."
Halfin also has a longstanding working relationship with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. The former he does count as a rock star buddy, but the latter has said of Halfin, "how can such a nasty piece of work take such beautiful pictures?"
Unsurprisingly, the feeling is mutual. "He's one of life's great disappointments as a human being," said Halfin. "Let's put it this way: he's a ten as a rock star but he's a zero as a human being."
Halfin himself is quite the notorious figure on the rock scene and, if the number of "tributes" coerced out of associates and posted on his website are any benchmark, he is more than happy to cultivate his reputation as "an asinine, self-centred, pain in the ass, I'd rather be somewhere else, uptight, egotistical, oompa-loompa coloured, chronically late, shit-bag, trash talking, Goddamn bitter, what band do you play for again?, spawn of Satan, I wish I were in a band, f***head, son of a bitch". A member of SLAYER said that, by the way.
Read more at Scotsman.com.