Photographer Scarlet Page’s Resonators captures everyone from Paul McCartney to her famous Led Zeppelin father
- Credit: Archant
As the daughter of one of the most influential guitarists to ever grace these shores, Scarlet Page is aware that when she became a photographer, certain doors would open themselves more readily to her in the entertainment world.
That’s not to say she hasn’t had to work hard and, as someone who’s made her career taking pictures of musical royalty, even pinning her subjects down to a time and place can be the biggest challenge of all. In her new exhibition, she’s photographed everyone from Paul McCartney to Johnny Marr, but having grown up among artists, she rarely gets star struck.
Unless, that is, she comes across Simon Le Bon.
“It’s strange. I was commissioned once to photograph David Bowie, but the one really that did get me the most nervous was Duran Duran. While I was waiting to shoot them, I kept having to go to the loo every two minutes. I think that the groups who were with you in your teenage years, they’re the ones who matter to you the most.”
Those adolescent years, Page says, are when you truly begin to develop and grow into who you are, so it is fitting that Resonators, which is now running at Crouch End’s Arthouse, was originally devised as a project to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
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An exhibition showcasing portraits of rock guitarists from across the generations, it is the result of a year’s work by Page which is still not finished. Last Thursday, the 43-year-old was at the Hammersmith Apollo to photograph Jack White and she’s also been swotting up on Viv Albertine’s autobiography ahead of their upcoming session.
“Some of the people that I did shoot for this I had met before – Kelly Jones, Justin Hawkins, John Frusciante, Slash – but there were a lot I hadn’t and, for those ones, I really had to start from scratch.
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“It did feel like each one was a mini adventure. They were all really accommodating, but for me, the problem was often working out where you’re going – like visiting Wilco Johnson at Canvey Island.
“I met up with him – he lives just outside Canvey now – and we went back and walked along the seawall, where it was really windy and freezing cold. He was just such a character, telling stories that would warm your heart and pull you in – I could listen to him all night. That just happened; it was quite a magical day and it was the first shoot of the whole project.”
When it came to deciding a theme for the exhibition, guitarists were an obvious choice. Scarlet Page never professionally photographed her father, the legendary Led Zeppelin shredder Jimmy Page, until she was 15 years into her career, but his influence – alongside her mother Charlotte Martin – has always been present since the start.
“I’ve often thought about it and wondered why it happened. My mum was a model before I was born, so obviously the visual side of that is quite important and my dad, again, was very visual.
“I’ve always loved music, but not played it myself, and been more creative and arty. I went to art college and did a foundation course, where you do bits of everything, so I did photography. I loved how I could replicate what I was seeing whereas my paintings were all a bit too controlled.”
Growing up, her father’s legendary status allowed Page to attend countless gigs. Even though they were in retrospect “not very exciting ones, not very cool”, they did allow her to meet childhood heroes like Abba, Adam Ant and Wham!
Later, after graduating from college, this was taken to the next level when she got her big break going on tour with two of her favourite bands of the time, Smashing Pumpkins and the Beastie Boys, as they travelled to Lollapalooza. Once there, she was introduced to The Verve, who were “very stoned”, and holed up in their tour van as their set had been rained off. One of the pictures she took during this meeting ended up on their album artwork and her career blossomed from there.
Despite having entry to the music industry’s inner circle, its hedonist allure has never appealed to Page: “I’m so not rock and roll – I’ve never taken any drugs. Now that I’m a mum I like beer o’clock; five o’clock and it’s time for a glass of wine, but that’s about it.”
Is that a reaction to her father’s notorious lifestyle back in the day? “Well, probably. I think if your parents are really square, you can’t wait to start smoking and taking drugs. But I couldn’t really compete, could I?
“So I thought I’d rebel and go completely the other way. It probably goes in waves; soon you’ll be getting all these straight edges giving birth to children who end up going completely off the rails.”
Although she doesn’t live in London, Page often travels down to London to visit her father and the pair retain a close relationship. Married and with two children herself now, are there any signs that the entertainment world might soon have to brace itself for a third generation of the Page dynasty?
“It’s a bit of a worry – my little girl just sings the whole time! She uses her bunk bed as a stage and starts hanging off it as she’s singing. She could be the next crazy one, the crazy singer and I’ll just be there taking her picture.”
Resonators is at Crouch End’s Arthouse until August 6. For details, visit arthousecrouchend.co.uk.