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‘She seemed shy. Then suddenly this wild brute came out’- my 10 years shooting Kate Bush

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The disintegrating spacesuit, the Kabuki makeup, the Joan Collins shoulderpads photographer Guido Harari remembers chronicling the pop stars many guises

Any other star, says Guido Harari, would have gone crazy. Theyd have probably thrown me out. It was 1am one night in 1989 and the Italian had been photographing Kate Bush non-stop for 15 hours. We hadnt eaten. We werent actually talking. Just shoot, costume change, more makeup, shoot, costume change, more makeup, shoot. You worked in silence? Yes. It was like we had telepathic communication.

Bush had asked Harari to do the official photo shoot for her new album The Sensual World. And then, in the early hours, Harari had a bright idea. I supposed she looked like the figurehead of a ship. So I would build her looking as though she was swimming towards the camera underwater.

Harari decided to create this image by shooting Bush in a Romeo Gigli dress in front of a rented painted backdrop that looked like a Pollock painting. Then he would ask her to step out of the shoot, rewind the film on his Hasselblad camera and shoot the backdrop again, building it look like she was a swimming through a submarine world of drips and blobs.

Kate Kate Bush on a trampoline in 1993. Photograph: Guido Harari

And then he had another idea. Why not have two images of Kate Bush on the same frame? And then I guessed: why merely two Kates? Why not three Kates all swimming in the water? She had to stand truly still so she wouldnt go out of focus because I was utilizing a wide aperture, so there was no depth of field. She had to walk out of the shoot, then back in, stand very still, and do the same again. I knew it was going to be great but it was going to take time and patience and you dont get either often from famous people when youre photographing them.

Isnt that when her PR minder should have intervened and said: Guido, enough already? Well yes! But there was no minder. She was never part of what she called the machine. As we chat, Harari presents me shootings from his new volume The Kate Inside, which documents his 10 years photographing the British pop star. It demonstrates her wearing a T-shirt that says: I am a prima donna. My God, he says. Ive worked with some real prima donnas , not to mention any names. She wasnt one of them. Indeed, there is a transcript of her handwritten thank you note which says: Youve built me look great.

Harari has induced his name over the years with disarmingly odd images of musicians. Leonard Cohen asleep on a little table before a huge painting; Tom Waits strutting in an improbably voluminous cape; Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed in a moment of tenderness, her snuggling nose disappearing into his open shirt. Harari was a Kate Bush fan from the first time he heard her first single, Wuthering Heights, on the radio in 1978. She was a pioneer, especially in Britain where no solo female artist had had a number one-selling album until she came along. And you had the sense that, despite her wistful manner, she had balls of steel.

The photographer first gratified her in 1982 in Milan, when she was promoting her album The Dreaming. In the book he describes his first impressions: Beautiful golden eyes, pouty lips, a big mane of hennaed hair. Bush and her dancers had just come from a TV studio. She was wearing what looked like decaying astronaut gear, he recalls. I had my equipment with me, so I asked them to improvise. What astounded me was how she switched. She seemed to be this shy girl then suddenly this wild beast came out.

In Milan, Harari indicated her proofs for a new volume he was making aboutLindsay Kemp. The choreographer had developed the teenage Kate Bush in the mid-1 970 s, becoming a mentor to her, as he had been for David Bowie. So my volume was like a calling card presenting her that I understood where she was coming from artistically.

Choreographer Choreographer Lindsay Kemp, with Kate Bush in curlers, during the course of its filming of The Line, The Cross and the Curve. Photograph: Guido Harari

Three years later, Bush called, asking if he would do the official shoot for her album Hounds of Love. I went to meet her at her parents farmhouse in Kent. She had built a 48 -track studio. One thing that really struck me was that there was no glass between the control room and where the musicians recorded. It was a place of stillnes and retreat from the rocknroll world. She had no desire to go to parties or be famous. Instead, she had her family around her. Her parent was her director and her brother had taken photos for her previous albums.

For the Hounds of Love shoot, Bush told Harari that she would bring clothes that would be brown, blue and gold. Nothing else! No other clues! So I got some backdrops I supposed would go with those colours, and at 8am she turned up at the studio with her makeup woman and a few outfits and we went to work.

Most of the photographs in Hararis book have never been considered before. There are lots of outtakes. What would happen is, at the end of the day, Id have hundreds of rolls of film which Id edit and then send to Kate. Shed send, say, four images to the record company. What nobody has find until now is the progress through the working day shoot. They actually devote a sense of her. The way shes goofy one minute and then posing the next.

After doing the photography for Hounds of Love and The Sensual World, in 1993 Harari was asked to be the stills photographer for her 50 -minute film The Line, The Cross and the Curve starring Miranda Richardson, Lindsay Kemp and Bush, and showcasing anthems from Bushs album The Red Shoes. It was a great invitation because I could be a fly on the wall. No fancy set ups, simply me recording what was happening. Hes especially proud of his shoot of Bush asleep on set in her curlers with Kemp posing behind her head. I know she was disappointed in the film, she maybe thought it was a flop – not commercially but for her. So the photos was ever published.

That shoot marked the end of their collaboration, but there could have been another chapter. In 1998, Bush phoned Harari and would like to know whether he would photograph her with guitarist Danny McIntosh and their newborn son, Bertie. I said, No. This is a private moment, keep it as it is.

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