I have an old maxim where I tell my friends who try to 'show off' that I’m not that impressed when they claim that they 'had dinner with Tom Cruise, Madonna or Brad Pitt’ etc. I always say, it’s only truly impressive when Tom, Madonna, or Brad say they ‘had dinner with you’!
And thus it is with ‘paparazzi’ photographers – the fact that they meet some of the world’s biggest stars might give them some stock – but what sets Richard apart from the throng is that the stars actually all know him! Not to be said lightly but he truly is both a pioneer and legend in his own time!
I first met Richard Young in the early 90s. The PR guru, Liz Brewer, was escorting one of her many illustrious clients, in this case Adnan Khashoggi, to a remote theatre in Camden where his beautiful daughter Nabila was performing in a one-man play. Where the elite of the world go so does Richard Young - camera in hand! Capturing a glimpse of their lives and creating a living portfolio of the world’s elite on film – both candid and uncontrived.
A career that has spanned almost 40 years began through a fortuitous accident when he was given a Nikon camera to take photographs which would illustrate a book by Welsh author John Cowper-Powys. Later and, again very fortuitously, Richard met the grandson of the oil magnate and America’s richest man, John Paul Getty.
Infamously, Getty’s grandson, Paul Getty Jr had been kidnapped by the 'Ndrangheta in Rome. Upon his release and back in London – Getty, who was missing an ear thanks to the kidnappers, was in incredibly high demand by the world’s press for an interview of his ordeal. Paul asked Richard to take pictures of him and his girlfriend around London and the subsequent photos were sold to the Evening Standard newspaper. Thus Richard’s lifetime passion and glittering career came into fruition.
Richard’s work has appeared in almost all of the world’s media and in 2013 his ‘Freddie Mercury at home’ portrait was inducted into the National Portrait Gallery. Numerous exhibitions, several best-selling books and an international reputation have cemented Richard’s status as the world’s pre-eminent celebrity photographer.
Quite frankly, when we’re asked to attend an event and Richard is not present with his camera, we quickly realise that, sadly, we’re not at the best party in town!
And so today, almost 25 years later, we are sitting in his wonderful gallery on Holland Street in exclusive Kensington and reminiscing about his illustrious career. Richard is joined by his lovely wife Susan who has the very unenviable task of running the empire behind the scenes and managing and cataloguing his literally thousands upon thousands of photographs. As Richard tells stories of various people and events he has shot, it truly is hard to concentrate on what he is saying. I try to focus but my attention is continually drawn away by the incredible framed photographs that grace the walls of the gallery. Princess Diana in the Royal carriage, Mick Jagger puffing on a cigarette, Freddie Mercury on stage at Wembley, Princess Margaret at Annabel’s, or Jack Nicholson with Faye Dunaway – everywhere I look is an iconic image that captures history, a fleeting moment that may seem innocuous but thanks to the skill of the photographer – capturing both the mood and scene – it becomes an iconic piece that will live on for ever!
This selection of images is from a feature in our magazine, ‘Stars in their Cars’ and is just a minuscule selection from his truly amazing archives which span many decades. All these pictures and so many more are available to purchase on www.richardyounggallery.co.uk