Featuring raunchy party snaps of the stars at play, celebrity photographer Richard Young’s recent book, Nightclubbing, offers a revealing glimpse into VIP areas past and present.
Freddie Mercury gyrating against Samantha Fox; Stella McCartney cupping Tracey Emin’s bosom; Michael Fassbender waltzing Viggo Mortensen – all these moments were captured by celebrity photographer Richard Young and now feature in his photographic party album Nightclubbing.
“I had a vast collection of photographs of people that were animated, dancing and looking good, instead of posing with a champagne glass,” Young reveals. “The time is right for a book to come out with people looking like they’re enjoying themselves.”
Born in Stamford Hill in 1947, Young discovered photography while working in a bookshop on Regent Street. His boss had sent him on a photography job, which he’d botched, and subsequently advised he learn how to use a camera. A chance meeting not long after with John Paul Getty III, post-kidnap, and Young got his first break. “I did some pictures of Paul and his girlfriend, Martine, and they were used the following week – with Paul’s permission – in the Evening Standard.
“It was a six-week period from not knowing how to use a camera to getting
a world exclusive. I thought that was pretty good going!”
Young’s well-documented second break was gatecrashing the 50th birthday party of Richard Burton, hosted by Elizabeth Taylor. He covertly snapped
17 shots – one of which was of Burton and Taylor in a tender embrace – before he was spotted and thrown out, by Taylor herself. “They were the most important 17 pictures I ever took in my whole career because they launched me. The one of them kissing… that was the money shot. On the proceeds of that picture, I bought my own house!
“What I didn’t realise was, that was the beginning of a long friendship with Elizabeth Taylor.”
From the Dalai Lama to Joni Mitchell, anyone who is anyone has been photographed by Young. “If Richard isn’t there, then it’s not really a party,” Kate Moss once quipped. Self-taught and modest, he claims “manners” lie behind his success. “Using the most important words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, the world opens up. People say how much they admire my work and every time that happens, I love it. Because it gives me that added little piece of confidence; it reassures me that for the last 42 years, I’ve been doing the right thing.”
And if he hadn’t been busy doing it, what else would he have done? Young lets out a loud laugh. “I’d like to have been Bob Dylan.” ML
Nightclubbing by Richard Young is published by Photographic Ltd, £70,
and is out now. nightclubbingbook.com