London's Hamiltons Gallery on Tuesday March 4 opened its doors to the media for an intimate photographic exhibition of George Michael on his orchestral European tour, Symphonica, the album of which is set to be released on March 17 through Virgin EMI/Universal. Still images, color and monochrome, littered the wall of the space, taken by his long-term collaborator, photographer Caroline True. The Symphonica Exhibition, celebrating the release of George Michael's brand new album, next was open to the public from Wednesday March 5 until Friday March 7.

George Michael previously teamed up with Hamiltons in 1996 for the release of his album Older

Speaking at the exhibition's opening, Caroline True said it began with an innocent request from George Michael for photographs of him that quickly snowballed.

Caroline True interviewed by Reuters Television
"I've worked with George for a long, long time and he asked me to take some pictures of him."  True told Reuters Television.

"I took a lot of pictures and I drove a lot of people insane with my clicking," she said, describing the tour.

"There are lots of ballads, and I got told to shut up a lot, as I was taking pictures while the ballads were, and I had to basically learn, well you kind of just do, but I got to know every single note, so I knew that any time the music came to any type of crescendo was when I could go click, click, click, click, click and make a lot of noise," she said.

True said this exhibition showcased the results of many more taken photographs. "Probably about 60,000," she said. "At the end of every evening, I'd download about 2,500 pictures from the show, and it was very obvious to me. I actually knew when I took the ones that worked, and I kind of knew where they were, so I knew where to look for them," she added.

Hamiltons Gallery is one of the world's leading galleries specialising
 in the modern masters of photography

Caroline True has known George Michael since the early nineties. She worked with him at Virgin Records where she was Creative Director, and post that, she worked with him on the videos and photo shoots for his album, 'Patience'. True also produced the documentary film about George Michael's life called 'A Different Story'.

Last year, she told BOE Magazine: "The event that was the catalyst to me becoming a photographer happened in 2007, just before the start of George Michael’s 25 live tour. He owns the piano on which John Lennon composed the song Imagine. It’s a small upright steinway (not the white grand piano that appeared in the Imagine video). George had the piano shipped to America and asked me to organise and oversee a project that we called The Lennon Piano Peace Project. I took the piano all over America in the back of a van to places where acts of extreme violence and natural disasters had taken place, to put the piano in-situ in those places for one day, to send a message of peace. He gave me a camera to take with me to document it all...I had no idea how to work a DSLR but had every idea of what I wanted the images to look like. Osmosis came into play...I realised on this tour what a wealth of knowledge I had accumulated in 25 years and knew that I had to learn how to do it myself. So I took two years out and taught myself every aspect of how to take, light and post process still images."

Photographer Caroline True poses next to her pictures of 'Symphonica'

True has worked extensively for George Michael throughout her career and was his photographer of choice for the 2011/12 Symphonica tour, which saw George Michael performing alongside a full symphony orchestra in the most stunning locations around Europe. George says of her talent, ‘Caroline has the exact thing you need, she sees the moment, and then makes it look even better.’

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George Michael: Symphonica Tour, Hamiltons Gallery - exhibition review

The unpredictable superstar is back in sight: George Michael, lithe and photographed during his 2012 Symphonica tour of Europe. Photographer Caroline True has worked with the singer since she switched from producing music videos in 2007. Here, Michael croons, dances and interacts with fans as he celebrates the Symphonica album.

Sixteen of True’s colour and black-and-white prints are now on display to the public. Several of them were taken on stage and backstage in Europe’s vast arenas and intimate opera houses and True also captures the intense atmosphere of Michael’s recording sessions. Her close-ups reveal emotional expressions, especially when he sings seated like Sinatra on a stool. But the album’s cover shows a relaxed, joyful man in a carefully-lit setting among the gilded chairs in the Prague Opera House auditorium.

During the soundcheck there, True shot from a distance, exploiting the different lighting among the shadowy seats, the illuminated orchestra pit and the spotlight on the singer. In several situations, she highlights the female cellist and the string sections, perhaps emphasising George Michael’s fulfilled desire to sing with an orchestra.

At Earls Court, the purple-suited singer stands out against a Battlestar Galactica backdrop, a gift to any rock photographer. But the most surprising image is a scoop: displayed in Hamilton’s window, it shows Michael standing on the roof of the Palais Garnier, a location previously exclusive to Grace Kelly.

By Sue Steward / The London Evening Standard

Exclusive Photographs Of George Michael on display at Hamiltons Gallery, London