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Photographer Stephen Wright's best shot


This shoot really should have gone to a big-name photographer – an Anton Corbijn or a Pennie Smith – but it went to me, a fan using a cheap Nikon with the wrong lens. I'd sent Rough Trade, the Smiths' label, pictures of the band playing, and Morrissey liked them. They asked me to shoot what would become the inside sleeve to The Queen Is Dead.  thesmiths
I barely slept the night before, but the band were all amiable. The setting was Morrissey's idea. He wanted an iconic Manchester location. We also tried Victoria Station but it was too dark, so we ended up at Salford Lads Club in the winter cold. You can see Johnny Marr shivering in some shots.

I like the casual, staggered way they are standing, and they're nicely framed by the arches. But I always say it's the band, not the photo, that is classic. Morrissey has a Mona Lisa expression: it's neither a smile nor a smirk, but he's very much in command. If you look at the body language, you can tell he was king of the pack.

The Queen Is Dead celebrates its 25th anniversary this week and this image is now in the National Portrait Gallery collection – yet it was taken by someone whose darkroom was also his bedroom and whose processing chemicals were kept in old lemonade bottles. I think the cheap equipment, and the fact there was so little light, gave it a grittiness, like a 1950s picture. Morrissey sent a card saying: "A sweeter set of photos were never taken."

Fans come from all over the world to recreate the shot. The round trip from the centre of Manchester is probably £25 by cab, so I've done my bit for taxi-drivers over the years.

The Guardian



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