English version
RICHARD BELLIA
«THE MUSIC IS AGEING WELL»

Photographer: Richard Bellia, Eurockéennes
Photographer Richard Bellia told us an amazing story about two photo shoot with Placebo in 1997, interesting facts about the copyright law in photography and also has explained why he has still preferred to take pictures by a film camera. Many thanks to Richard for finding time to give this interview and photographs from his own archive.
Richard Bellia: For the first time I photographed Placebo at a concert in Paris at a venue called Élysée Montmartre (21April, 1997). And there I photographed them twice. The day before in the office of Virgin, Champs-Élysée, Paris, and the day after in front of the concert venue, before the concert in the afternoon.

For the very first time I photographed them on the Champs-Élysée, in the Virgin records office. It was a very nice light through the window, and the back, in the corridor, the electric lights lit. And I figured out that I could take a photo partially of the day light and partially of the electricity. And I said: 'This is going to look…' And I used an English expression that you, probably, know. It's 'arty-farty'. And I said: 'This is going to look arty-farty'. And Brian thought it was so funny that it was a nickname that he gave me. And when we ever met he called me arty-farty because it was so funny. And now I think we met once more in Switzerland at a festival several years ago.
Photographer: Richard Bellia
Richard Bellia: It was the second time when I met Placebo at the festival in France called Eurockéennes. It's a very important festival in France in July. It was 1997. Technically, I remember very good details about that. I was carrying myself some light equipment and then by accident it all fell down and stopped working on the first day. So on the second day I checked the telephone book and I checked in this regime photographers who made weddings or studio photography. I explained to one of the photographers from a rock magazine that I had this problem, and he said that the magazine had the equipment and they were really happy to help me. I used the equipment that the magazine lent for this day. I think that I know instantly that the photography I was taking would have a very good dynamic because I could see it when I was taking the photo. And also the specific camera I used helped me making adjustments so that is why the sky was very dark at the back. I was very happy to see that the band was lit and the sky at the back was also very blue added to this dynamic of the photo ending.

Anastasiya Lognova: Who did make up this idea with soap bubbles?

Richard Bellia: Because it was for the promotion of the festival. They had to produce bottles of bubbles and they gave them for free to everyone so it was very normal, everyone did it and used them for photos.

Anastasiya Loginova: What can you say about your impressions from work with the band?

Richard Bellia: I would say – very pleasant and clearly well-educated people. Another words – cool and professional.

Anastasiya Loginova: Do you you that Placebo band is very popular in France? And, maybe, you can assume why they're so and still particularly in France? Because when it was the last big tour, the 20thanniversary of the band, I've heard that it was a sold out for a show in Paris. So what do you think about their popularity in France? Maybe, you can assume some reasons.

Richard Bellia: No matter what they do. I think they will still be famous for being a very good rock band from the nineties. So I would imagine that it's a very normal thing for them to celebrate 20 years or 25 years. The music is ageing well. So it makes sense that they keep their fans. Do they make new fans? I don't think so. I don't know. I wouldn't think so. I don't think that the idea is about making new fans rather than playing for their trustful fans they've had for the past 15-20 years. Placebo's been such a great band in the nineties. That's, eventually, what they do. And now they manage to keep their fans. They've been popular, for sure.

Anastasiya Loginova: Do you remember some funny or interesting situations which happened during your meeting with the band and photo shoots? Maybe, you remember something special?

Richard Bellia: Not that I would remember. I knew they were very good friends with a designer called agnés b. And I also have quite a few links with agnés b. I've had myself photo exhibitions with her. I think about 10 already. That's my link with agnés.

Anastasiya Loginova: You've had a big experience in taking pictures of different musicians. Every photo shoot is unique or do you usually have something like a plan for every photo shoot with every person?

Richard Bellia: Again, the answer is I do not have a plan when I go to a photo shoot. I just take the regime what the light gives me and them I work very quickly.

Anastasiya Loginova: Do you like to work with the day light, not artificial?

Richard Bellia: Probably, yes.

Anastasiya Loginova: What do you think about photo shoots of musicians and live shows today? Have they changed over several years?

Richard Bellia: Well. I think that… I'm very surprised to see that the great majority of photographers go to concerts with digital cameras. And I don't think they look so good. And I'm surprised that people don't really realise… I don't understand the fact that for a digital camera people put a lot of money, energy, a lot of time working on their images. And at the end of he day they don't have this work on papers. They usually only have their images on their computers. And this really frustrates me. When you go to their places they don't have these images on their walls – only on their computers and seem to be happy with this.

Anastasiya Loginova: Do you prefer film cameras?

Richard Bellia: Yes. Because at the end you have your photo on paper. And this is your job, this is what you do – for papers. This is what I produce.

Anastasiya Loginova: Did you take pictures of Placebo, Robert Smith and other musicians by a film camera?

Richard Bellia: I only do film. I don't do digital.

Anastasiya Loginova: You've had a big experience in taking pictures of different musicians. Every photo shoot is unique or do you usually have something like a plan for every photo shoot with every person?

Richard Bellia: Again, the answer is I do not have a plan when I go to a photo shoot. I just take the regime what the light gives me and them I work very quickly.

Anastasiya Loginova: Do you like to work with the day light, not artificial?

Richard Bellia: Probably, yes.

Anastasiya Loginova: What do you think about photo shoots of musicians and live shows today? Have they changed over several years?

Richard Bellia: Well. I think that… I'm very surprised to see that the great majority of photographers go to concerts with digital cameras. And I don't think they look so good. And I'm surprised that people don't really realise… I don't understand the fact that for a digital camera people put a lot of money, energy, a lot of time working on their images. And at the end of he day they don't have this work on papers. They usually only have their images on their computers. And this really frustrates me. When you go to their places they don't have these images on their walls – only on their computers and seem to be happy with this.

Anastasiya Loginova: Do you prefer film cameras?

Richard Bellia: Yes. Because at the end you have your photo on paper. And this is your job, this is what you do – for papers. This is what I produce.

Anastasiya Loginova: Did you take pictures of Placebo, Robert Smith and other musicians by a film camera?

Richard Bellia: I only do film. I don't do digital.

Anastasiya Loginova: So, for example, on your websites we can see scans, yes?

Richard Bellia: Absolutely. I scan negatives most of the time. And sometimes I scan photos or I take my telephone and I photograph them. For Instagram, for instance.

Anastasiya Loginova: What's about the authors' rights of photographs? For example, you did a photo shoot. Do you have the right to post these pictures?

Richard Bellia:Yes, because the law regarding photography is very easy to understand. You can only photograph people if they are doing their job, if their job is public. I could take a photo of a politician, an actor or musicians when they are doing their job. When they are at a festival they are doing their job. There I can show my photos as much as I can. The thing that you cannot do in terms of photography is making a business out of these photos. And that, for instance, if I make T-shirts or mugs – whatever. Where I would be making money specifically selling a product with the name Placebo, for instance, or just any band or person. And Placebo would make money out of it. This is just not legal to do this. Again, for example, I have photos of Brian Molko. I photographed him on the street, when he left home on the way to a supermarket. Of course, there I can take photos if he agrees but I would not publish these photos because the guy was not doing his job. It is his private life when he is on the street between his home and a supermarket. This is the difference in the law of photography.

Another example. If somebody made a book about Placebo but without Placebo knowing about it, then they would be very rightly upset. 'Look, some person is making money selling a book with my name, and we haven't got a penny'. On the contrary, if somebody made a book about 90throck and put a photo of Placebo in it, Placebo would not be upset. No, because the book about rock in the 90th. This is a difference between a book when a band would complain, and a book when a band would not complain.

Anastasiya Loginova: As a photographer you post some pictures on your Instagram or Facebook page. And you know that today a lot of fans can upload these images and post them on fan communities or pages. Does it make you upset when a lot of people use photographs from your social media without your permission? Or you think that it is now an ordinary thing?

Richard Bellia: The photos look quality and usually they have a watermark. And this is what fans do – share images.
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