Monday, May 14, 2012
Legends never die: BRAD ELTERMAN
Earlier on in the semester, I wrote a blog piece on the interview I conducted with living legend and constant source of inspiration, Brad Elterman. Brad's work has predominantly focussed on music and pop culture photography throughout his career, however I would describe him as a prominent and talented photo-journalist as his images never fail to tell a story, capture a moment, and occasionally, capture an entire movement. Brad is one of my 'heroes', career wise, because of his willingness to go above and beyond any expectations to get the perfect photo; and also because of his ability to communicate with his subjects on a level that guarantees an intimacy in the final images which is rarely found in music photography, particularly regarding photoshoots featuring contemporary pop acts.
Here are some of my favourite images of Brad's, and why:
Completely different from his usual work, I love this image because it manages to show emotion even though the main focus of the image is her nudity, and her eyes are hidden behind the mask. Brad has such a unique ability to capture the perfect moment in his candid imagery & music journalism, which carries through to his more posed, modern shots.
Brad Elterman orchestrated the iconic kiss between John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John; many people believe that they were in character during this photograph, however I see them as being somewhat stilted in their emotion - Travolta's eyes are open, he doesn't look at Newton-John with the adoration Danny had for Sandy... This is so important to me in this photograph because it shows the actors rather than the characters, and seems to tell their stories more than any red carpet shot ever could. This is one of my favourite things about Brad's photography in general.
Photo journalism, to me, is all about capturing the truth; honesty is more powerful than the obviously aesthetically pleasing - Brad's work inspires me because it doesn't necessarily look for the beautiful, but for the raw. This is what I would like to capture within my own work.
Debbie Harry is effortlessly cool. Brad worked with her regularly & established a relationship with her, which enabled him to truly capture her personality throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s - he saw a star, knew what her impact on pop culture would be, and took every opportunity to showcase the sparkle he saw within her.
When I interviewed Brad, he told me that his favourite icons to photograph were the Runaways, which becomes increasingly obvious as you flip through his portfolio; the intimacy between Brad and the girls is obvious even to those who don't know the background, which is something I would love to be able to achieve. I learnt portrait photography by photographing my friends, which I feel is highly important in understanding the true connection that can occur between photographer and subject - Brad's unique ability to become fast, lifelong friends with his subjects is something I admire and would like to imitate.
Many of Brad's images of the Runaways are particularly light-hearted (see below!) and showcase the girls' fun, spunky, effervescent personalities & capture the whole movement of their musical sensation by showing in a few frames their huge, bold selves - however what I love about the above image of Jett, is how, in a moment of thought, Brad has managed to photograph a completely different side of the charismatic rock goddess many fans ended up being grateful for.
This shows me to always have a camera ready, even when the opportunity for a snapshot doesn't immediately present itself.
True candids are my favourite images. You can just hear Cherie saying, 'Ayyyyeeee!' as Brad presses the shutter on his camera, here!
This image screams 'sleaze' to me, which I love. I find that a lot of music/journalism photographers try to only showcase the pure, attractive side of music; or they go to the other extreme and attempt to capture only rock bottom to prove some kind of point, particularly in the punk movement - once again, however, Elterman just captures the moment. They're sweaty, they're messing around, they know the image is being taken but they don't seem to care - such an honest portrayal of youth within rock n' roll.