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Bryan Guy Adams
Guitarist, singer, composer, and photographer.
1959 11 05
“I think I’m better behind the camera than I am in front.”
Bryan Adams was born to English parents who emigrated to Canada. He spent much of his youth living in Europe and the Middle East due to his father's diplomatic postings for the Canadian government. He was dragged around the world from posting to posting, sometimes going to school. But he was never interested in academics. ”I was the biggest clown in the class and was expelled for being genuinely disinterested and disorderly.
I was into music and had a definite idea of what I wanted to do from a very early age," says Adams, who left school at the age of 15 to concentrate on singing, playing guitar and writing songs.
His interest in photography was born already in the 1960’s, both his parents had a Kodak Instamatic and a Howell super 8 film camera. During the 60’s and 70’s Adams captured his surrounding, everything from concerts, his girlfriend in the bath, to the wall in the parking lot. To capture the memory.
In 1980 he upgraded from his Polaroid SX70 he’d used for quite some time and bought his first Rolleiflex. He fell in love with that camera and many of the photos in his later published book “Exposed” were taken using that camera. For example the one of Amy Winehouse in the Land Rover on the island of Mustique, Morrissey in his hotel suite in Rome, Dustin Hoffman on the beach in Malibu. Using this medium format camera was the turning point for Bryan Adams, “Virtually every photo looked so much more beautiful to me than anything I’d shot before.”
In the 2000’s Adams’ kitchen became his studio where he held his photo sessions for a long time.
Bryan Adams divides his time between music and photography. His editorial work over the years includes German, British and Spanish Vogue, L’uomo Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, Esquire, Interview Magazine, i-D to name a few. His advertising campaigns include brands such as Hugo Boss, Guess Jeans, Sand, Converse, Montblanc, John Richmond, Fred Perry, Escada, as well as Jaguar and Opel cars. Adams has released four books of photography:
American Women (2004),
Exposed (2012) The book is a retrospective of Adams photography and features portraits of friends and colleagues in the entertainment, fashion and art industries.
Wounded – The Legacy of War (2013) The book presents portraits of young British soldiers who have suffered life-changing injury in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Untitled (2016), Bryan Adams visited the Island of Mustique in the West indies. His work in this book are of abstract black and white patterns in the sand.
For his fashion photography, Adams has received two Lead Awards in Germany, first in 2006 and later in 2012.
Moreover, Bryan Adams co-founded Zoo Magazine, a Berlin fashion plus art journal, that features works of some very good fashion photographers, such as Donald McPherson, Terry Richardson, Hedi Slimane, Karl Lagerfeld, Nobuyoshi Araki, and David LaChapelle. The magazine’s head office is in Germany. Adams shoots photos for the magazine on a regular basis.
For the past 12 years, musician Bryan Adams has sharpened his skills as a professional photographer by capturing intimate images of friends and colleagues in the entertainment, fashion and art industries. Here are a few short stories around some of his shots.
On a 2005 morning in Rome, Morrissey was prepping for a photo shoot with Adams when the photographer caught him out on a balcony, deep in a moment of contemplation. "At the time, I was shooting with a Rolleiflex camera, which is really quiet," Adams explains. "I don't know if he knew I was starting. I saw [the moment] and it was there. It seemed like a beautiful picture.”
A close friend and frequent photography subject of Adams, Amy Winehouse visited him and his family over Christmas 2007 on the private Caribbean island of Mustique. One day was spent teaching Winehouse how to drive. "Luckily, the Land Rover had a hand brake," Adams says with a chuckle. "The concept of braking wasn't something that Amy could quite grasp.”
"Mick is the greatest frontman of all time," Adams says, reflecting on his 2008 photo session in New York with the 69-year-old Rolling Stones singer. "There's nobody better. He wants you to capture him. There's never a moment of resistance. A lot of people in the music business could learn from him.”
Only days after her much-scrutinized performance on Saturday Night Live, Lana Del Rey stepped into a room full of mirrors that Adams had constructed for her at his London residence. He hoped the set would show "something so beautiful being reflected so many times." As he explains, "Del Rey was quite upset by the criticism people had poured on her, but it was soon washed away when my baby walked in the room.”
Adams has photographed his peers from the music industry, such as Mick Jagger, The Who, Shania Twain, Ray Charles, Arcade Fire, Rod Stewart, Take That, Robert Plant, Sarah McLachlan, Billy Idol, Celine Dion, Amy Winehouse, Lindsay Lohan, Bryan Ferry, Die Antwoord, Lenny Kravitz, Lana Del Rey, Morrissey, Peter Gabriel, Annie Lennox and many more.
In the 1990’s Bryan Adams tried out all the cameras he could find. His trusty Rolleiflex got lots of use, a Leica M6, a Mamiya RZ, He even bought a big old wooden Deardorff 10x8 to figure out the science of large format film.
”When I had the privilege of photographing HM The Queen in 2001, I brought the Deardorff along thinking it was clever to get a good 10x8 shot. But with only 6 minutes allowed for the sitting (it takes about 1 minute just to load that camera) I think I got three plates. My best shot came from a Contax camera in my pocket, but the Deardorff did at least get a royal remark, ”We haven’t seen one of those for a while” she said and smiled. “That was the smile I captured!” Bryan Adams’ work has been exhibited in many galleries and museums, including Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum 1999 and 2004, London’s Saatchi Gallery, and Montreal’s McCord Museum in 2000, Germany’s Photokina 2001 and 2006, London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts 2004, London’s Canada House 2005, Italy’s Tempio Di Adriano 2006, Austria’s Leica Gallery 2006, Saatchi Gallery, London 2009, NRW-Forum, Düsseldorf, Germany 2013,
Westlicht Gallery, Vienna, Austria, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Canada 2015,
Fotografiska, Stockholm, Sweden 2016, Werkhallen, Bonn, Germany 2017, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto 2017, The Photogallery, Halmstad, Sweden 2018, and many more.
The Bryan Adams Foundation was set up in 2006 by Bryan Adams shortly after the tsunami struck southern Asia. The Foundation aims to improve the quality of people’s lives around the world by providing financial grants to support specific projects that are committed to bettering the lives of other people.
The Foundation seeks to protect the most vulnerable or disadvantaged individuals in society. It aims particularly to advance education and learning opportunities for children and young people worldwide, believing that an education is the best gift that a child can be given. The Foundation’s area of support is, however, broad and far-reaching, enabling grants to be given to all sorts of fields around the world, particularly to do with education and children in need.
"I don't give back in order to get slapped on the back," explains Adams. "I give back because my music has given my name the ability to help others."
Adams signed a recording contract with A&M records in 1978. He was 18. With each release he toured extensively and broke North America on his third album, 1983's Cuts Like A Knife. His next album, 1984's Reckless, was even bigger, earning the distinction of being the first album by a Canadian artist to earn a Diamond certification for sales of 1 million copies domestically.
In '85, Adams co-wrote the Canadian and Ethiopian famine relief song, Tears Are Not Enough, which was sung by a who's who of Canadian artists under the name Northern Lights for Africa.
It raised more than $3 million. That July, he opened Live Aid in Philadelphia, a global telethon that also raised over $250 million towards Ethiopian famine relief.
In 2005, Adams performed in Barrie, ON, for the multi-continent Live 8 concert, televised worldwide in support of Make Poverty History and Global Call for Action Against Poverty. He also appeared on the Canada for Asia concert telethon in Toronto to raise money for the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
last udated 2023.02.22
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