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Interview: Fin Costello (photographer)


Photographer Fin Costello, he of Kiss 'Alive' cover photo fame and more. He has photographed many, many rock & film stars over the years.

How did you become involved in the music business?

I was doing a lot of Magazine and Newspaper work in 1971 having just left college. I took some pictures of Argent at the Roundhouse and they wound up on an album cover which had the hit "Hold your head up" on it. This in turn got me work with Deep Purple/Humble Pie and Uriah Heep. From there I got to work on Sounds/NME and Melody Maker.

What are you currently up to (e.g. projects)?

From Cradle of Filth/A.F.I(for magazines) to Aled Jones/Status Quo(CD Covers) by way of Kiss (VH1 ultimate albums series) and Japan (re-packaging).

Which of the bands you have worked with were you most proud of to see gain success? And any bands you worked with that you felt were criminally underrated?

A. Rush and Bauhaus. B. Blow Monkeys and Throwing Muses

How did you end-up producing the cover shot for Kiss 'Alive'?

I went to a show at the Beacon Theatre(NY) with Peter Corriston who had designed 'Dressed to Kill' and couldn't believe what I was seeing. So I shot a few rolls of film and took them to the manager (Bill Aucoin) the next day. The band saw the 'Uriah Heep Live' cover in my book and asked me to do something similar for them.

How do you come-up photo shoot ideas? You've have worked with many artists including Twisted Sister, Rush, etc. How much input do the band have?

In most cases I get into a discussion with the band themselves and then come up with the ideas and present them to the band.(Ossy Osbourne) with Rush I worked with Hugh Syme who comes up with the ideas and we produced the finished thing together(Permanent Waves). generally I am left to my own devices.

Any hints/tips for people keen to start out in music photography? How did you get your first break?

From where I am now I wouldn't be able to have a view that a beginner would have. in the first place you have to be good at it then it's often a case of taking the right picture at the right time and getting a good contact (a manager or a magazine editor) who will afford you the exposure so that your name gets noticed. I think it's very much harder now than it was in the '70's. But in the end it's about good pictures - the blaggers get spotted very quickly.

What has been the highlight of your career so far? Anything else you still want to achieve?

Tour photographer on The Stones 'Exile on Main Street' tour. I'm still enjoying doing it and as long as I can keep developing new ways of working I will be quite happy. I still get a buzz when I see a picture I'm pleased with in print. The bands come and go so in the end it's about the pictures that last (Aerosmith for instance).

What has been your most embarrassing moment?

Shooting for 3 days on the road with Rush and loosing the film in a lab accident. Having to call the band and tell Geddy was very embarrassing. They were very understanding and I went and did it again and we remained friends.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

A photographer called W. Eugene Smith who worked for 'Life' in the '40's and '50's. I still feel his influence in the reportage stuff I do. The 'noir' movies of the '50's for the studio lighting and atmosphere.


Interview © 2003 Jason Ritchie

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