The David Levine Interview

Since he entered the world of photography, David Levine has created many iconic images of stars - past and present.  Mel & Kim, Boy George, Siouxsie Sioux, Kylie Minogue, The Cure and Steve Strange are but a small sample of  David's many subjects, and his talent for truly capturing the spirit and character of the artists he shoots has made him a much sought after and respected artist in his own 




David, what sparked your love for photography?


I wanted to be a photographer ever since I was very young, probably about six years old. My uncle was a keen photographer and I think that’s possibly where I first got my interest from. My interest became much stronger when I was at school and took part in one of the photography days in my art classes. The first time I saw a black and white print develop I was truly hooked.


You shot the sisters in 1987, at the height of their fame, and your sessions produced a series of images that captured their youth and playfulness as much as their beauty.  How many sessions did you guys produce? 


I did three sessions with Mel and Kim, they were always full of fun to work with. The day was always easy and there were never any complications relating to the shoots. They moved really well in front of camera and they looked good, always spot-on with their styling. I'm pretty sure everything we shot was used for, either magazines or newspapers. 


How hands-on were the girls when it came to their own image and how their image was projected?


They were very much involved as any good act is. They had input into all aspects of their career, and they were a pleasure to work with. We were always on the same wavelength which really helps so, yeah, they had a big input. They were the leaders of their style and their projected image.


Prior to your first session, were you aware of Mel & Kim’s music and image?


Everybody knew who Mel and Kim were. They were on the radio all the time, their pictures were in magazines, they were on Top Of The Pops. They were a big act. I was certainly very excited when I got the call to do my first session with them.


Being famed for capturing the characters of your subjects in your photographs, your pairing with Mel & Kim was destined to produce some wonderful results.  Like Mel & Kim themselves, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted your photographs of the sisters to portray?


I wanted my pictures to capture their personalities, their fresh excitement and their vibrancy. They were just really very lovely girls and I think I certainly made that come across in my pictures. The girls' energy, excitement and vibrancy was always very positive. They always had ideas and I had my input and we always worked well together as a team. We made some great pictures between us.



Some of your iconic shots of Mel & Kim, which until now were unpublished, have finally been released as part of your debut photography book, 'David Levine Exposed 1977 – 1987'.  Why did you decide to produce a book of your work and how did you decided what shots to use?

People have been asking me whether I was going to produce a book for years and it has always been something I've had in mind. The final selection of images in the book was based on two things - obviously popularity and success of an image at the time but also images that maybe people had never seen or of bands that people may never have heard of but, for various reasons, have significance in the development of my work and career.


You originally captured your images on film.  How did you feel about embracing the digital movement?


I was very excited about the development of digital photography, unlike a lot of photographers. I started using it immediately and I have been shooting digitally now since 1999.  Since starting work on my book, I have realised just how much of my work is missing due to film never being returned by record companies, bands and magazines. Had digital photography been available from the beginning of my career I would have had an exact record of everything I shot.


How did you feel about one of your shots being used on the 12” picture disc for That’s The Way it Is?


Until I saw this question, I was never aware that my picture was used on the 12" picture disk though that's not unusual unfortunately! Still to this day I’m finding my work used on many different products and, sadly for me, usually without payment.



That is sad however, in producing your own book of amazing portraits, you have finally been able to bring the focus back to your stunning body of work.  Looking back, what are your lasting memories of working with Mel & Kim or any fun stories from the shoots you could share?


It was a very sad time when the sessions ended for reasons we know about but Mel & Kim were always happy, always full of love and life and they were funny.  Are there any fun stories from my shoots with the sisters? ...Yes, but I'm not telling!







Check out David's brand new book:





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