Alex Lake photographs the latest images for Keanes new number one album Strangeland.
Below explained in Alex’s own words the process behind the project.
Shooting the album cover and campaign images for Keane’s recent number one album, Strangeland. I knew where the band were coming from sonically with this record having been in and out of the studio with them for over a year documenting the recording process. We had a couple of false starts getting the narrative right for the visuals and eventually we settled on the photographic route you are all familiar with.
The photos were taken in Bexhill-On-Sea last February on what were a couple of the most relentlessly cold days of the year – my car got stuck in frozen snow on the outskirts of the town and I had to frame shots where drifts of frozen snow on the ground were not visible. I’d been on the beach since 4am doing long exposures of the shifting tide. My hands were so numb through my gloves I couldn’t feel my camera at all. I think it was about -8 degrees and colder still with the high winds. It was brutal. I knew I was getting some interesting shots but the weather was massively distracting and I wasn’t sure I was nailing anything that would work as a cover. I wanted to tell a human story without having anyone in the photo itself. I also just wanted to be indoors and out of the spirit shattering cold. I just couldn’t think but I only had a couple of days left to come up with a cover everyone would like. The pressure was getting slightly monolithic from where I was standing.
At around half five in the morning I saw the lights slowly coming on in the towerblocks and I knew from where I was on the beach looking back up at the horizon that that was my shot. It just felt instant. That was it. I was standing right in front of and in, the next album cover. I didn’t think I could come up with another shot in Bexhill that would encapsulate the album better. I shot it fast as I could knowing the moment – and the light – was going to pass very quickly. I hope it captures some of the isolation, intimacy and otherworldliness I felt on that morning. I hope it gets across the idea of a journey. The uphill climb. Of leaving and returning. Of destination. The original shot is fairly colourless, all pale blues punctuated with yellow light as you’d imagine at that time of day. Additional image grading was done by the album’s splendid designer Rob Cherny (Tourist) to fit the vibe and route of the campaign he’d reached with the band. You can see additional images of the limited edition A4 book featuring my photos that he designed for the album here.
What I like about the image is that it is a genuine story. We didn’t contrive which lights came on or that I was going to frame that shot at all. It was the first time I’d been to that part of the seafront so there is a truth to the original photo that I really love. It is just a portrait of life in that town. I went back on consecutive mornings hoping to get more of the same sort of thing, to provide the band with more options on those and other buildings but of course the lights never came back on that early again, always once the sun was up and in that slip of time between night and day where I got my cover and life feels like it has momentarily paused, it remained dark.