A person full of contrasts: world-famous in his own right as a musician and composer, Bryan Adams has built up a formidable reputation for himself over the past decades as a photographer of international relevance.
Bryan Adams owes his meteoric rise in the world of photography to his rare talent for capturing a timeless elegance and subtle depths in his thought-provoking images. His work to date has won him prestigious awards and captured the imagination of gallery-goers around the world. It speaks to us of beauty and desire, but also of world-weariness and rebellion. The palpable sense of trust is perhaps only made possible by the fellow star and friend behind the camera.
Music and photography aside, you might find him riding the waves on his paddleboard on the Grenadine Island of Mustique, his adopted home. For him, awareness of sustainability and nature is far more than a passing trend. This is why from an early age, Bryan Adams has led a vegan and forward-looking lifestyle.
Inspired by his nature and infectious enthusiasm, 63Magazine takes great pleasure in exclusively presenting the following interview.
When you’re taking photographs of famous people, what do you focus on?
I think a good photo is simply something you remember, whether it’s a famous person or not.
What surprised you when you took pictures of the Queen and Amy Winehouse?
I worked with Amy many times. It was always fun and different with her. She was intrinsically shy and unsure. I remember one time she didn’t want to wear a silver Armani dress, but I convinced her she’d look great in it and I think it became quite an iconic shot of her.
With Her Majesty’s portrait, I was commissioned by Camera Press to represent Canada for the Commonwealth of photographers for her Golden Jubilee. All of the photographers were given five minutes with her. I showed up with my Deardorff 10×8 portrait camera and Her Majesty remarked that she’d not seen one of those for a long time. I believe it broke the ice and gave me a few extra minutes as a result.
Music and pictures are universal. There is no language barrier. Is that a key element of your work?
To be honest, I don’t analyze my work like that. I just get on with making things as good as I can and I don’t do things by halves. For example, I don’t have a hobby.
How does the rock star influence the photographer – and vice versa?
Having two sides of creativity is a good thing. When I’m getting too deep into one, the other one is there to give perspective. It’s just how things have worked out.
What comes first when you are writing songs? Words or music?
Sometimes they come at the same time. It’s interesting, so many times it’s a mumble that turns into a chorus or a verse. Words sometimes just come out when you are jamming.
You like to work with other artists. Can you please describe what was special about your collaboration with Ed Sheeran?
Working with Ed was quick and easy, we exchanged a few e-mails and the song was done. We didn’t actually sit in a room together. That is the way it is with most songs and mixing these days, ideas are always exchanged on e-mail.
When did you discover your ambition to become an artist?
I was interested in music when I was about 8 or 9 and when I was about 14, I discovered singing while walking to school. It was a Stevie Wonder song. From then on, all I wanted was to be in a band. I started to work nights as a dishwasher but I wanted to work nights as a musician.
The palpable sense of trust is perhaps only made possible by the fellow star and friend behind the camera.
Can you please share with us which are the top three things for your individual fulfillment?
Family, creativity, and an iced espresso.
Apart from the style of music you produce yourself, what music do you listen to?
Lately, all I’ve been listening to is music that I’m making. I’ve not had time to listen to other records.
When do you feel most authentic?
I always feel authentic, especially when I’m in the bath.
You are a great songwriter; what is your source of inspiration?
It’s the idea of creating something from nothing. The same principle applies to photos. I love organizing a team, which is how most photo shoots end up.
How did you manage to shake off your influences and walk your own path?
I think no matter how influenced you are by what you listen to, your voice becomes the signature of the music. I didn’t really know I could sing, I was just busking it. Today, when people say “I can recognize your voice,” I’m always surprised, but pleasantly surprised.
If your life was an album, what would the title be?
Shine a Light!
Photography | Bryan Adams
Interview | Claudia Schwarz
Text | Anke Degenhard (Bryan Adams is represented by Anke Degenhard [Crossover] worldwide in fine art photography.)