TAKE THAT: boy band

Photography by Katie O’Neill

Words by Harry Potts


Take That were formed in Manchester in 1990 by musical impresario Nigel Martin Smith, with the band being built around the young singer/songwriter Gary Barlow from Cheshire.  Auditions took place in Manchester and other surrounding cities, with Jason Orange from Manchester; Mark Owen from Oldham; Robbie Williams from Stoke on Trent and Howard Donald from Manchester completing the line up. Eight studio albums and 27 years later, the band (now a 3-piece) are still selling out tours and boast one of the most loyal fan-bases in the business.

Take That-5
Take That in Manchester 2017
Take That in the early 90s (Tim Roney/Getty Images)

We hoped to photograph Take That for the project around the time of their record breaking, eight sell out dates at the Manchester Arena in May 2017, but the subsequent terror attack meant the band had to cancel their final three dates. Consequently, later in the year, Take That’s manager Jonathan Wild offered one of our students the opportunity to photograph the band on the red carpet at the opening of the Take That musical ‘The Band’ at the Manchester Opera House.

Year 2 student Katie O’Neill enthusiastically stepped up to the press pack challenge. With newspaper and press agency photographers to the left and right and a marauding mob of screaming fans to the rear. Katie more than held her own in a fiercely competitive environment.

Take That-Katie
Katie in the ‘rough and tumble’ of the press pack


Red Carpet
L-r. Show director & actor Jack Ryder; Hollyoaks actresses Amanda Clapham & Sophie Porley;  TV presenter Graham Norton & actress Melanie Hill.


Student reflection: Katie O’Neill

“Photographing Take That on the red carpet , was a totally new experience for me. The atmosphere was very competitive with the press and freelance photographers in front and to the sides of me and the fans to the rear. Most of the evening was spent fighting to keep my spot, whilst trying to get good photos. I enjoyed the experience and the atmosphere, it allowed me an insight into a different area of photography – one that’s more competitive than others. I wouldn’t hesitate to do something like this again.”


Take That-3
Take That on the red carpet with singer and musical collaborator Lulu
© All images – The Manchester College (unless otherwise stated)


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