My mum hero-worshipped all the stars of the golden era. You'd have thought that might have influenced me but it didn't. She used to get me to go into London at the weekends to get their autographs, but I never knew who they were. In fact, I've never been star-struck and I think that's because the first job I got was to shoot The Beatles. And the second job I got was to shoot The Rolling Stones. And when you work with people like that when you're young, you just don't get fazed by it.
What struck me most about the people I've shot was their professionalism. That and the fact that most of them were really nice. Of course, there's no reason why they shouldn't be nice. Being famous doesn't make you any different.
When I started out it was a very particular time. I remember sitting with The Beatles in a club at one point early on and we were all talking about what job we'd get when it was all over. The assumption was that it was all going to end. And then you'd find yourself in America with stars the stature of, say, Fred Astaire, and all they wanted to do was talk about The Beatles.
I did enjoy the process of photography, which I fell into almost by accident, but to be honest I was much more interested in jazz drumming. But the more I did photography the further drumming got away because drumming takes up a lot of your time. Photography took over my life. Jazz was going through a bad period at the time and photography seemed to fit hand in glove with everything that was going on [during the 1960s].
There was a guy called Peter Campion who I used to work with when I was at BOAC [the forerunner of British Airways] and he'd bring in these photography annuals. He'd show me pictures and I fell in love with Eugene Smith, the photojournalist, and tried to copy him. But it didn't do me any good because I ended up shooting show business.
I always kept myself separate from the show business world. To me they were just people and thinking that was the only way I could keep it all together. It didn't always work. When I married Faye Dunaway we would hang out with Frank Sinatra and I could feel that I was crossing the line. We'd all go out together and I quickly found that I didn't like being in that limelight, being Mr Dunaway. I wanted to be the photographer, not the person being photographed.
The only person I've ever felt nervous about photographing was the queen [Elizabeth II]. It's usually the other way around, but it was she who put me at ease in five minutes.
It's a cliche to say that photographers hide behind their camera but that's true of me. Frank Sinatra taught me that—to hold back. Ava Gardner wrote a letter of introduction for me and I spent three weeks with him. And yet we barely spoke, though he let me go everywhere with him. And then I realised that was the secret—being allowed in [to someone's company] but not being afraid of them. That's how you get candid shots.
Fame now isn't what it used to be. It feels like you don't get to see that star quality anymore, that raw talent. There are no Paul Newmans, no Robert Mitchums, no John Waynes. The culture has changed. What does fame mean now? It's meaningless.
It's not that stars want to control their pictures these days, it's that their management does. They want to influence the choice of photos, how they're presented—it's a joke. When I shot, say, Raquel Welch, that was really her. She looked like that. There wasn't any digital manipulation like there is now. It's all changed with photography too—all anybody seems to want to shoot is selfies.
I turned 80 recently—unfortunately. I don't like it. I don't know where the last 30 years have gone. No idea at all. Life just accelerated. I had the same experience when I turned 50. Just the fact of it brought on a mid-life crisis. I'd never really thought about age until then and suddenly you realise you're at some half-way point. I went out with Eric Clapton, Bernie Ecclestone and Mickey Rourke to try to celebrate but I was the downer at the party. I was OK after a couple of days. You just forget all about it.
If I was to pass on some advice it would be to keep on working for as long as you can. It keeps you occupied and that's important. It's a 'use it or lose it' mentality.
I always had an eye. But talent alone isn't enough. You need to have so many things going for you. Luck has to be on your side. You need to live in the right times. You realise all that when you're nearing the end of your life. You find yourself living in different times, in a different place, in which what you used to think and how you used to live no longer applies.