To me there's all these fast moments in time, that hopefully lead to a better understanding of purpose.
Nordic Light Festival 2011 was one. I managed to talk Albert Watson into a quick shoot with me. And I met a another big hero:
Whilst sitting with festival-chiefstress Anne-Lise Flavik, she suddenly hollered "Bjorn, you gotta say hi to Gered". A gentleman and his beautiful wife walked by us. As my mind syruped its way to the conclusion this guy had to be Gered Mankowitz, legend photographer and probably one of my earliest sources of inspiration, I was on my feet and politely asked his wife to grab my iPhone and shoot me with Gered. Possibly before even saying hello or introducing myself. Seriously, who ever met a hero and kept his cool? And then later, I stalked him down for this Q&A for Blender 8.
Be sure to visit his site, and get some of those prints for your own collection: mankowitz.com
We're superexcited to bring you the Gered Mankowitz Q&A for Blender 8, so here it is:
Probably being your most iconic shot (Jimi Hendrix), did you ever imagine the success of this shoot, at the time?
To be honest it was just “another” shoot at the time! Obviously Jimi was a really special person and had fantastic charisma and was delightful to work with, but Hey Joe was only just released and although I realised that Jimi was an extraordinary musician he hadn’t actually had a hit and there was no way of knowing what was to come!
Judging by your images, he seemed like an easygoing guy. What was your impression of the man that incredibly soon would be legend?
He was very easy to get along with at this point (February 1967) and seemed happy and excited with what was going on around him. He was very modest, quiet & humble and not in any way the crazy rock guitarist he was on stage. He had terrific presence in the studio and was easy and fun to photograph.
As much as the Hendrix-shots are staged and well lit, I really like your Stones-pictures the most. Much ado to their classic reportage-likeness. But probably also due to the fact I'm a huge Stones-fan, in fact. Did you dictate the shoots here? Did they claim the right to be feted rockstars, or were you able to work freely?
With the Stones I had complete freedom and was treated as one of the band. There were certain aspects of life on the road that they didn’t want me photographing and I respected that completely and didn’t feel in the least bit restricted. Personal privacy still meant something in those days and I had no desire to photograph them in compromising situations!
I felt very much part of the team, which is how I liked it.
Do you shoot much lately?
My commercial career started to fade away about 10 years ago and interest in my archive increased to such a point that I “retired” and concentrated entirely on the archive about 5 years ago.
If you do, what is your preferred subject matter?
I am shooting purely for myself now and this year have begun to produce the first truly new work which I am showing with a gallery in London this autumn. I am working on a series of images about decay and also a series about our area of Cornwall where we live in the South West of the UK.
There's no doubt, having Gered Mankowitz doing their promoshots, it would probably make their credo skyrocket. Do you still shoot rockstars in the making?
Actually I do still have an agent for music photography but nobody seems remotely interested in me and I am so busy with everything else that I don’t really miss it in any way whatsoever.
Still with this rock thing, any artist out there you'd love to take on for a few hours in the studio?
Not really – I have finished with that part of my life – I did it for the best part of 45 years and I am not really interested anymore. Anyway, it is a youth oriented business and I really struggle to relate to most of what is going on in contemporary music.
Your sweet wife shot a picture of you and me. With my iPhone. Will that original be worth a million in a hundred years, for my own kids to enjoy, and do you both use the iPhone regularly for photos, or did you kill your hobby? As I did..
We don’t have iPhones actually! I use a Canon G10 for snaps and I have an old Hasselblad H2D that I am using for my projects. I haven’t shot film for years. Photography was never a hobby, always a business!
All images © Gered Mankowitz (Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Oasis)