You don’t have to be a full-time professional to enjoy the creative process of photography. We previously wrote about Celebrities Who Are Serious About Photography, and this year brings another crop of celebrities who love their cameras (and yes, they are often using Leica and Rolleiflex for what it’s worth)…
On his website, Motley Crue co-founder and bassist, Nikki Sixx says “I’m a Recovering addict. Camera’s [sic] are my new drug.” As anyone with Gear Acquisition Syndrome can attest, cameras can be a terrible addiction, and Sixx didn’t do himself any favors by picking Leica as his camera system of choice regularly using the M240 and Monochrom.
While attending USC for a few years, Randy Johnson actually majored in photojournalism and shot for The Daily Trojan. Of course, the Big Unit then became a Major League pitcher, but his love of photography never left him. After his retirement, Johnson pursued his photography with zeal shooting a variety of subjects from music to sports to travel.
Believe it or not, country music star Kenny Roger’s first photo book “America” was published five years before he opened his first chicken restaurant. Rogers studied photography with fine art photographer John Sexton, who was an assistant to Ansel Adams. And if I were a gambler, I’d bet on Rogers’ photography – it’s really fantastic!
Photography is often about access, and actor Roddy McDowall had no shortage of that in his long and storied career. McDowall’s interest in photography started as a teenager, and his seriousness in the craft only increased throughout his lifetime with images appearing in numerous publications include LIFE, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and more. McDowall published a series of four photo books entitled Double Exposure.
Guitarist Andy Summers might not have the same level of fame and acclaim as his Police bandmate Sting, but Sting ain’t no photographer. Summers has published a number of books that are reflections of his life on the road as a traveling musician.
Academy Award winner Jessica Lange took to photography as a way to document her kids, but soon found a passion. Her work led to the publication of “50 Photographs” – a series of tritone black and white images. Lange was also the recipient of the George Eastman House Honors.
English actor David Suchet might be well-known for his portrayal of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, but Suchet has a love of photography that was inspired by his maternal grandfather, James “Jimmy” Jarché – a successful Fleet Street photographer. Jimmy gave Suchet his first camera, a Leica M3, and taught him how to see the world.
Before he was tumbling down the dunes of White Sands National Monument for Ryan McGinley, before his sudden divorce, Brad Pitt was taking black and white photos of Angelina Jolie. These images were commissioned by W Magazine, and Pitt used a Littman 45 Single camera that Jolie gave him. Although Pitt never professed to being a professional photographer in any capacity, the images are surprisingly good – especially considering he was using large format film, and not spraying and praying with digital.
The star of The Dark Knight and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has been tinkering with on-set photography for several decades. Like Jeff Bridges, Oldman has gravitated towards the Widelux F6B camera, and had his first exhibition of photography in 2016.
Musician Ben Folds says, “Photography and music are different forms of expression with the same impulse for me. And it is about telling stories.” Folds still shoots a lot of film using a Leica M3 and Rolleiflex, and does a bunch of his own developing and printing. He even has a website for his photography.
It’s unsurprising that a movie director would have an interest in and be good at photography. In 2014, the Twin Peaks director David Lynch published a book filled with brooding images of factories around England, Poland and other abandoned wastelands. But save your pence, the book is out of print and used books are going for nearly $200.
While she is best known for her roles in movies like Annie Hall, Manhattan and Father of the Bride, Diane Keaton is also an author and photographer. In 1980, Knopf published her book “Reservations,” which featured a series of photos of hotel lobbies taken with her Rolleiflex. In 2014, Keaton told The New York Times that books by photographers like Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand created a fantasy in her head. “This is it: Purchase every photography book ever published. I know, I know — ridiculous. But so what? My mission is to buy an old warehouse I can transform into a massive library of image-driven books and open it to the public.”