TO MOST, THE NAME BRYAN ADAMS conjures 80’s rock, songs like “Cuts Like a Knife” and “Summer of ‘69” reminiscent of an era of stonewashed jeans and feathered hair. The native Canadian rocker quit school when he was a teenager to hit the road as a musician-for-hire, and over the years has been awarded 18 Juno Awards, a Grammy, and multiple Oscar nominations. What most of us do not know about Bryan Adams, however, is that over the past decade, he has quietly established himself as a brilliant photographer.
Starting in the late ‘90s Adams began shooting self-portraits for album artwork. Shortly thereafter he widened his range to include friends, other musicians, actors and models. Eventually he had a portfolio so substantial that a retrospective was born. Exposed is its title, implying both the function of camera film as well as what it is that a portrait reveals about its subject. The book also ‘exposes’ the secret that Adams is a remarkably accomplished photographer. It’s no surprise that he’s accumulated reams of accolades for his work, including two Lead Awards.
The book, whose pages contain stunning portraits of celebrities like the ever-brooding Sir Ben Kingsley, a pouty Lindsay Lohan and Mick Jagger in mid-leap, is releasing September 15th. I caught up with Adams in London for a one-on-one chat about this momentous new body of work and what it all means to him. Here’s what he had to say.
Indira Cesarine: How did you get into photography?
BA: Experimenting and documenting my work on the road. Ultimately doing portraits of friends.
IC: How long have you been shooting?
BA: I started seriously going for it at the end of the 90’s but there was lots of messing around before that. In the late 80’s I bought a Rolleiflex camera which sort of changed everything about photos for me. However, even then it never really occurred to me that I could manage both things. I’ve worked it out now…
IC: How do you manage your music career with your busy shooting schedule?
BA: I only tour for a week a month, the rest of the time is creative time or at home. I feel like I spend more time prepping my shoots than actually working on them.
IC: What inspires you on set?
BA: Usually my team, and I’m normally quite prepared for my shoots and have a fairly good idea what I want to do. After that it’s up to the inspiration of the moment and what is in front of you.
IC: If you could be anyone in your book “Exposed” who would it be?
BA: Perhaps Sean Penn, we got on very well. He’s intense and mischievous – a good combo.
IC: Why the title “Exposed”?
BA: This is my first book of photographs, and aside from presenting myself to the world as a photographer, I’m also revealing my subjects. Not to mention it is a synonym in photography.
IC: Do you prefer shooting actors, musicians or models?
BA: I don’t mind, I love people. At the moment I’m doing a book on injured soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.
IC: Do unusual things ever happen on set?
BA: Well if there were really unusual things going on on set, it could only be a good thing. Who wants normal?
IC: Have you ever fallen in love while taking a photo?
BA: Wow, yes, but I’ve never done anything about it.
IC: If you could only take one more photo for the rest of your life who would it be of?
BA: Probably of Bunny, my daughter.
IC: How do you cast your subjects?
BA: I just keep an eye open, and I’ve got lots of ideas to work with other artists, but creating shoots takes time to put together as I was saying. So much about fashion and art has to do with good styling.
I prefer to let the photos speak for themselves, only because I think the moments with your subjects are private. I will tell you that it’s a privilege to have had to chance to work with such brilliant people, they made it easy.
Published by Steidl, Exposed is available for purchase online and at bookstores globally from September 2012.