I am not ashamed of the fact that I often have an audience in my mind when I take a shot. In this case in the Diamond Belle Saloon in Durango, Colorado, my instincts were that it would appeal more if the frame was busy because my experience with this famous old wild west bar is that it is always something of a gathering place for all those who like a drink. It is how bars should be and is celebrated as such. I want the audience to say; “I wish I was in that bar that night” or even “we need more interesting people in our bar”. This frame sweats and that was always my intent.
Anyone close to my camera had to be characters out of a story book and play to the lore of the wild west. I want to exaggerate not dumb things down as that helps the storyteller. In a staged image such as this, there is no need to ask permission to be creative; in fact, it is a necessary precondition.
Cara Delevingne’s face is so strong and powerful that I knew there was no room for another girl on her same focal plane, but there would be room for a black wolf and then a menacing poker player. The background could then look after itself, but I wanted to pay homage to the saloon girls who are synonymous with the bar.
Cara loves this image - which always matters to me. She is a gift for a photographer and not to fully capitalise on her eyes and her vibe would be a rookie error.