Jill Furmanovsky Shoots 'A Rising New Star'

By Jill Furmanovsky

Musician Johnny Borrell of Razorlight was the first person to tell me about Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine. He was very impressed with her way back in 2007 and they worked on a few demos together. Johnny invited me to attend a rehearsal at John Henry's rehearsal studio in North London where the two, together with a small backing band, were working on an arrangement for what became "Throwing Bricks."

Florence was a charismatic presence even then. She had that huge voice which filled the room, and as she sang she beat the shit out of a snare drum to illustrate the anger and rage of a song about a woman who builds a man brick by brick and then he becomes stronger than her - an extraordinary song.

 The lighting was nasty - florescent tubes with just a glimmer of daylight through a small window. I took my position to the side of Florence to get a plain background and used the highest shutter speed possible. Her hair was flying and her hands a blur.  Over and over again the four musicians worked on this song and recorded it finally on an old Sony tape recorder.

When I came to edit the shoot I went for the image up top of her in full flow, barely sharp. To make it more powerful I cropped out the drums and the microphone which took the image out of context leaving a simpler image - one that reflects the unleashed raw power of a great rock singer giving it her all. 

Some hours later Florence and Johnny left the studio on Johnny's motor bike. Florence sat on the back, one hand hanging on to Johnny, the other clutching the tape player to her head and swaying dangerously as they rode away.  It is entirely just that she has gone on to become a rising new star.

See more of Jill Furmanovsky's images in Who Shot Rock & Roll, showing at the Annenberg Space for Photography through October 7, 2012. Learn more about Jill on her website, www.rockarchive.com.

Above three images: Florence Welch rehearsing at John Henry's Oct 2007, © Jill Furmanovsky / www.rockarchive.com  - Florence Welch rehearsing at John Henry's Oct 2007