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December 5, 2013updated 11 Jan 2016 1:09pm

Richard Young’s Diary

By Spear's

Photojournalist and potraitist Richard Young has a gallery in Kensington. He shares a few personal anecdotes from his day


It wasn’t raining, thank goodness. June’s Serpentine Summer Party, held in Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto’s temporary pavilion, brought out the sun and the stars.
All my favourite people were there: L’Wren Scott was hosting and of course she brought along Mick Jagger and the clan. Bianca was partying, too, like the old days: I’ve been photographing Bianca and Mick for nearly 40 years.

June also saw a London Collections: Men fashion show at Lord’s. There were 150 models, all dressed by Savile Row tailors, showing off the best of British tailoring. I came back and decided to do more Pilates and cut out the bagels so that I can look as svelte as the models.


Midsummer night found me at the O2, watching one of my favourite musicians/poets/raconteurs, Leonard Cohen.

I first met Leonard in 1969 when I was working in a clothes shop on the King’s Road called the Squire Shop. Leonard came in one day and I sold him a pair of black gabardine trousers, then we started chatting about music and Eastern philosophers; I mentioned that I couldn’t find any books by Herman Hesse. A few months later, the postman delivered a brown paper package and inside were the books I had been looking for, with a note saying: ‘Best wishes from Leonard Cohen.’

I have seen him in concert many times since he went back on the road after his manager lost Cohen’s fortune while he was off being a Zen Buddhist monk. Although he did look a little frail, he had the audience eating out
of his hand.

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In August, my wife Susan and I went for the second year to Burning Man. ‘The Burn’ is an annual art happening based on ‘radical self-expression and self-reliance’ which takes place in a temporary community in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada.

Everything is totally free (once you’ve bought your ticket) so people give what they have: it could be a cup of coffee, a postcard, a CD, a book, a piece of jewellery or even just a few words of wisdom. The fashion there is insane: think Mad Max on Mars. This year I found my inner Burning Man and wore my utility man-skirt.

It was a photographic extravaganza for me: I managed to shoot three weddings in one week. One I gatecrashed as I was cycling around one afternoon. The second was a dawn wedding on the Playa; we cycled out before dawn broke and some of the group started throwing coloured powder over everyone (think Kumbh Mela).

The third wedding was that same day but at dusk, it was very spontaneous, a very cool New York crowd. I was happy to see my old friend Susan Sarandon; we rode out on the Playa on one of the amazing art-cars and had a magical night. I felt like I was in a Fellini movie.


I had received an invitation from University of the Arts London asking if they could bestow on me an honorary doctorate and honorary fellowship in recognition of my contribution to the field of photography. It was awarded at the university’s graduation ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in July.

Susan, my daughter Hannah and I were invited for a delicious lunch at Skylon with the lovely Frances Corner, the head of the London College of Fashion. Also receiving his honorary doctorate was my old friend Ozwald Boateng, so we had some fun together donning our robes and caps. The purple floppy cap looked absolutely great on Ozwald; I looked more like Henry VIII — on a bad day.

Later that night we had a small gathering of close friends and family at the Library at the Electric in Portobello Road. Gary and Lauren Kemp popped by, along with Ronni Ancona, Harold Tillman, Kelly Hoppen and Stephen and Assia Webster. Our son Sam was the DJ.

I thought that was the best day of my life until 23 July, when my son Danny and his wife gave birth to our first grandson, Tenzin. We though it was going to be the same date as Kate and William, but he hung on in there a little longer. At last — a wonderful new subject to photograph!

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