In 1970, Ian Berry, freshly returned from a gruelling trip across three continents, found himself in the small Paris flat of French singer and pop-culture icon Serge Gainsbourg – which he shared with his partner, the English singer and actress Jane Birkin. The pair shared a relationship often played out in the public eye, through photographs, but also through music – evidenced not least by the duet ‘Je t’aime… moi non plus’, which would be banned in several countries because of its lyrical content. Berry was not well-acquainted with the work of either celebrity, and suspected that he landed the assignment thanks to a sympathetic Magnum staffer — under the impression that the photographer would appreciate an easy-going job given his recent travels. Berry spent the day with the pair – shopping, eating with them, and at one pivotal point finding himself in their room. “I honestly can’t remember how we ended up in the bedroom, but anyway – they just went on with their life as it were and I followed them around shooting…,” recalls Berry, “They were both terrific… Maybe people just were more relaxed back then.” In spite of being a highly popular image, it is something of an anomaly for a photographer who rarely worked with pop culture figures: “It’s really not the sort of image I normally make. I have never been a singer-actor-type photographer. I mean, I’m the guy who got assigned to go and shoot The Beatles in Jamaica and managed to arrive the day after they left. That’s about my score on photographing personalities…”

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