On one of the first sunny, warm days of the year I found myself down in a dark basement photography studio in Haggerston. Just as well, as working when it’s too hot can slow things down, and this shoot was going to be a busy one. (Also because I am Nordic and prefer working when there’s a bit of a chill – like an igloo.) Lily arrived with a full entourage. A full team to help create three very different looks in one hour. Lily has gone from a soft, innocent and playful image, to a harder, more mature fashionable one, since she made it big just a little over 10 years ago. My shoot was for The Observer New Review, same mother publication as Observer Music used to be under, the publication that helped launch Lily’s career back in the beginning.
The shoot with Lily boarded onto playfulness, but it felt as Lily never let completely go. Maybe she felt restricted by experience and the need to have control of the image which is portrayed, but there were moments when the guard came down and it felt like Lily let go – like a beam of light through the slight opening of a door. She has been through the tabloid mill, something that would make any person cautious. (And why would she roar like a lioness just because I demand it?) The moment she let go however she showed a playful and fun Lily which is what I had hoped for. But the serious and more restrained part of Lily reminded me of working with her dad Keith Allen whom I have photographed a couple of times.
Lily was great in getting into the roles of the outfits she was wearing. Like a chameleon she moved from free flow movements in a back lit, free flowing colourful outfit – to – giving Dizzee Rascal a visual nod by mimicking the bull’s horns when crouching in a corner – to – finally bringing a bit of Punk to the table (or as Tony Bell from The Observer remarked when discussing the results – it’s Keith Flint meets Bjørk).