James Arthur

James Arthur sat on steps in Seaton Carew

montage of images of James Arthur book James Arthur sat on steps in Seaton Carew10th June 2011, I’ve just finished photographing a wedding and I head over to Seaton Carew at 7.30pm to meet up with John McGough and a young lad that he’s been bending my ear about for weeks.  We’d stand and chat at the Crathorne Hall wedding open evening events and John would tell me about this talented young lad who could fall out of bed and go straight into recording a fantastic vocal, I knew if John was impressed then he must be special.  I parked my car on the seafront and wandered over to John, who then introduced me to his talented friend James Arthur. They both helped me with my camera and lighting equipment and the first set of images were taken in front of a run down very textured doorway on the seafront.  People wandered past and anybody that stopped to ask what was going on, I told them it was a very talented singer heading for the big time and his name was Arthur James (I thought this had a better ring to it).  We joked about him changing his stage name and I tried to convince him Arthur James had a more grown up feel to it (what do I know).  James was super keen to get a good set of images from our session to use to promote The James Arthur Project, the band he was working on with John.

Next we decided to use the old Las Vegas amusement arcade, which looked like it had closed down around December 1976, which coincidently was the last time Elvis played the real Las Vegas.  The whole building was covered in a flaky red paint, which worked well with James’s military coat (maybe a nod to Elvis’s role in GI Blues).  James was a natural and was happy to oblige when I asked him to climb on the roof and stand next to the Las Vegas sign.  He disappeared around the back and then reappeared on the roof, my guess was there was an elevator around the back.  I grabbed a few shots and then he dropped down off the roof for a few more shots on the seafront.  My fee for this was a bottle of plonk and a pat on the back.  The rest as they say is history, me and John are still living in Teesside and James is probably livin la vida loca.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a London agent asking if they could use one of the images I’d taken for a book James had written called Back To The Boy and of course I was happy to oblige.  The dreamer in me thought about the book signings I’d obviously be asked along to and me, John and James would drink champagne from a Waterstones mug and talk about the old days (or our 2 hours together).

Just to be serious for a bit, in the book James talks openly about his ongoing battle with mental health issues, hitting rock bottom and picking himself back up, this made me think about something I read a while ago that friendship ignites the part of the brain that makes us feel good.

Thank Goodness For Friends x


  1. Omg Gary thank you so much for this insight. I’m from hartlepool so have spent many a summers day at Seaton carew… I had no idea that these pics were taken there but I will be looking for those steps next time I’m there. I’m gutted to even think that I could’ve been there that same day 🙁
    Where can I find the Las Vegas arcade pics? Xxxxx

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