Tim Cochrane: NME Photographer & T-Shirt Designer



For a lot of Conceptual Art Photography it is perhaps rather difficult to have access to the beautiful and often truly interesting images, other than if you were visiting specific Art/Photographic galleries, however Music and Conceptual Art Photographer Tim Cochrane, known for his NME portraits, decided that he wanted to introduce his photography by creating T-Shirts using his designs by teaming up with Primark to curate an exclusive range.  So, Fault wanted to know more and had a chat with him about his designs, his letter to Tony Blair and being given 2 minutes to photograph The Beastie Boys.


You have a long history of shooting with NME and have photographed  some of music’s renowned  figures, tell us about that period.

Tim Cochrane: I went back and did  the Reading festival for them last month actually, this time it was shooting a film for them not Stills, so a big difference. Well I was living in Sydney working for Sony as their sound engineer, I fell out of love with it mainly because I was working on Pop Idol rubbish. So I came back to the UK and joined NME,I started off with them doing the smaller gigs like Club NME then soon started attending the festivals with them to take photographs, at Glastonbury, Leeds and Reading festivals. Also travelling throughout Europe, to Denmark and Norway, Spain and others shooting iconic artists as part of the NME team, I then began doing portrait work, I had already been working with Retna and P.A, doing tour documentaries. One of the biggest bands I loved shooting was the Beastie Boys and Blurs  Graham Coxon.

Which music shoots have been your favourites over the years and why?

TC: Jarvis Cocker from Pulp, because he knew exactly what he needed to do, he was great at playing to the camera, once we were at a café in Soho, I think it was the Starfish Café, so I went there and the downstairs bit was cornered off, and I said ‘Hi I’m meeting someone down there’ and obviously the manager knew exactly who and so I was expecting a couple of PR people and agents, but I walked downstairs, and saw Jarvis sitting in the corner head down reading his paper with no one there, it was quite bazaar. So we began the shoot and straight away, he knew exactly what he did and didn’t want to do, just so professional. We then went outside he just starts pretending to be a lion or tiger, jumping around like a lunatic , he was fantastic he knew what he needed to do.

The other one was the Beastie Boys, I had been given exactly 2 minutes to take photographs, I was told  I couldn’t use flash and the PR person actually sat there with the stop watch in her hand. I managed to get three different set ups in 20 seconds, it was insane. We got to the end and I started counting down , just to take the piss really. But the band was really good that was the main thing, they were super cool.

A pain in the arse one, would be Pete Doherty, back in his bad days, he was just all over the place. We met a number of times, in the Babyshambles era, he was like a big kid constantly flitty, no attention span, just away somewhere else mentally. It was really hard, but it was just a bad time in his life. It was probably the end of the Kate Moss period.

Also Richard Hawley (Pulp/Arctic Monkeys) was really great to photograph, he had an old English style, very  Statesman esq. I met him upstairs in a pub in Carnaby Street,with Japanese tourists eating their token Fish and Chips, and we just had our photoshoot in the corner on a big Oak table as he held his pocket watch. It was really Victorian actually  with quite grand surroundings. He was really engaging and an interesting person to talk to and I shot a lot of it on Film which is unusual, because I don’t normally have the time, but he was really into it.


Tell us about the T-Shirts you’ve designed for Primark that make available carefully selected photographs from your collection?

TC: I think there is something quite special about having an item of clothing that features an image that you’ve taken, it’s a step beyond being able to have a poster from a magazine, it’s far more personal.  It’s a way for people to appreciate the artistic aspect of the photographs themselves and own the photographs.  I was in Primark and saw a group of people around the mannequin with my T-Shirt on saying how much they loved it, it was super cool to see that, it’s due to be available within Primark in Selfridges too.


What do you love about Photography?

TC: Meeting people, because I hate staying at home with the gaps in between because it’s quite isolated where I am. So meeting the people that I have admiration for, I have a hit list of people that I’d like to take photos of, especially for my next project, that include Politicians, Comedians and David Bailey too. He is iconic and his way of working his concepts were amazing, I’d like to just take one frame and that’s it, that would be a challenge for myself, to do just one frame I may just use Film to do that.

Which other forms of Art have informed your way of working?

TC: Music is a massive one, I was a sound engineer and I came from playing music at an early age, which I’ve recently returned to which is cool, I’ve started writing the music to go with a lot of the films I’m producing which is cool because you don’t have to pay for the license of anyone else’s music, which is a great thing to be able to do. So from playing music, being an engineer, to shooting the music, it’s just been a pattern throughout my life, more so than anything else really. I love Fine Art too.

What are you aiming for with your Film projects?

TC: I think it’s just the ability to introduce more narrative for the Photographs, rather than 5 isolated photos, they are quite short though but more freeing. It’s an extension of the photography, an emotional portrait rather than it being a Film in the traditional sense.

So, which locations and landscapes inspire you?

TC:  I find that I end up becoming blasé to a place, so with my immediate surroundings in the town that I live, I’ll get a psychological block because I know it. Whereas with somewhere new, I find a lot of inspiration from that place because it’s new but it won’t have that same impact if I go again. So for example, with Glastonbury, the first time you go it blows your mind, the second time you go it’s cool and you see a lots of new stuff and the third time you go you know it’s going to be amazing, but even then you see totally different things. You’re ready for it to be that amazing. Equally it’s like New York, I’ve started going to places outside of Manhattan, so not going to anywhere that is on a postcard, so finding suburbs that are size of cities within the UK.


Aside from your personalised  T-Shirt range what else can we expect from you?

TC: I’m collaborating with an illustrator called Ed Fairburn, he illustrates portraits on top of maps of locations, so he’ll use the typography of the map for the bases of where he’ll draw the face. We’ve created a list of about 15 people that we’d like to be a part of this project, so I will shoot the photograph portrait  and Ed will illustrate based on my photograph, on a location. The title is: Roots. The location will be chosen according to the place that is important to the person, so the map will mean something for the person that is part of the project. We’re interested in Politicians, Actors, Comedians… a variety of people. It’s in the infant stages of development. I’ve emailed Tony Blair’s office so we’ll see.

Words by Marcella Karamat

All images by Tim Cochrane