The Jam's official photographer: 1982 with Twink

The Jam 1982, a richly illustrated oral history of the band's final year by Jam drummer Rick Buckler and Zoë Howe, is out now! It is heavily illustrated with photographs from that rollercoaster year.

A key contributor is Neil 'Twink' Tinning. Twink was the Jam's photographer in 1982. He took the photos from on the cover of The Gift and served as their 'fly on the wall' photographer. 

We had a chat with Twink about his background and experiences in 1982. 



If you would like Twink to do a post about one of his photos in the book in a future blog leave a comment with your suggested photo at the bottom of the post or reply on social media.


How did you get into photography?


My parents couldn't afford to buy me a motocross bike. The next best thing was to take photographs of them. We lived near an army base, which also served as a great place for meets and I would go on Fridays and Saturdays.

My first camera, which my parents bought me for £40, was a Russian Zenit. It was built like a tank. To take good motocross photos you have to be quick, in the moment and creative with focus and perspective - like photographing at a gig.

Around that time I entered a photographic contest put on by Shell, where my father worked. I went in for the children's category, but was chosen as runner-up in the adults category. One of the judges was David English of the Daily Mail, and he gave me a nice quote. It was really encouraging and I started to get some confidence. 

In 1975 and 1976 the punk thing was just starting and I used to go and take photos at gigs at my local venue, the Guilford Civic Hall. I saw lots of different groups, from UFO to Dr Feelgood and the first Police tour.

How did you become the Jam's photographer in 1982?

I met Rick Buckler in 1979 through his twin Pete, who had a band called STATIC that I took photographed. I was living in Woking, where Rick is from, developing photos in a Kodak lab. 

Rick was very interested in photography and so I started to develop his films. We became really good mates and I spent a lot of time around at his place. Bruce Foxton and Paul Weller also wanted to develop their films.

In December 1981 Paul had asked Rick whether he thought I would do an cover shoot for The Gift. Rick rang me up and told me to come up to AIR Studios at Oxford Circus in London to take some pictures. That was the start of my role as the Jam's photographer in 1982, which included taking pictures for fanzines and other publications. I was told by the band that my remit was 'fly on the wall'.

Tell us about shooting the cover of The Gift
Paul Weller thought that the cover could feature them running, inspired by the album track Running on the Spot. At first I wanted to take photos from a pick-up truck driving ahead. But that wasn't feasible, so I took photos of them running on the spot. Whilst scouting locations I found the studio roof. 

I thought the designers would cut around their outlines, so that the background wouldn't matter. Instead they put three bands of colour and things on top, so you can see scaffolding and things behind them! 



They were all interested in the shoot. I remember showing contact strips to Paul that day and he liked how they looked.

What was it like being a 'fly on the wall'?

Once you were in the band's bubble, you got complete access. I would travel on the tour bus and would often share a room with Rick. It was a great honour to have that kind of relationship with the band.

They were great company and a laugh. I only remember overhearing a few really serious conversation between the three of them, and I would walk away because I felt it wasn't right to listen in on that.

The band all loved having their pictures taken and they were very interested in photography, which was really lucky. We even formed a Jam Camera Club. You could spot a member by these little oil button badges that changed colour when you pressed them, which I think we got in Amsterdam.

I was only 21 at the time and had a lot of responsibility. I remember telling the tour bus driver where to stop whilst driving over the Snake Pass in the Peaks so that we could do an impromptu shoot.



Rick was very supportive of my photography and he even put down a deposit for a medium format camera for me. I remember taking photos at a Jam gig in Brixton in early 1982 when there was talk of the National Front turning up to disrupt the gig. Rick looked nervous when he saw me going into the middle of the crowd with the expensive new camera...  so he asked Big Joe, one of the Jam's minders, to accompany me!


How was life on the road? 

The back of the tour bus was the party area, with a stereo and TV. We played a lot of music. Buckler had been given a Sony Pressman, which you could record music onto. Soon everyone had one and we were all making mixtapes.



I remember Paul saying, 'Has anyone got any Clint Eastwood and General Saint?'. After it finished, the next song on that cassette was 'Homeward Bound' by Simon & Garfunkel... I remember Weller saying 'Get that shit off!'

Travelling with the Jam was amazing because the band was so big. Music felt rationed in society at the time and so the big bands became huge. The Jam were very benevolent and loyal towards their fans. They used to let people in during the soundcheck. Even though things got more difficult as the band got bigger - they would find fans in broom cupboards! - they still let people in early. The gigs were phenomenal. There was so much heat, you would see sweat flying off the band.

Can you tell us about the print that is included in the Jam 1982 special edition?

The photo was taken late February 1982 in Hammersmith, London. Someone from Polydor told us that they wanted a new photo for a folder/poster thing for the magazine Number One.

The band were recording at the Red Bus Studios, which was overlooked by these flats which I thought looked great as a backdrop. It would have been very amusing to onlookers with me shouting directions "Paul can you move up one flight, along three spaces, oh Bruce could you move three three, two along, etc. Bearing in mind that at the time these guys had been number one in the UK chart for the last three weeks. 



However, the editor thought that the shot which had the yellow door as the backdrop had more impact. He was right, the poster publication did great numbers.

Thank you to Twink for speaking with us! Leave a comment if you have questions or suggestions.  

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