“The Man Who Shot the Seventies” is probably an accurate name for the great Mick Rock, a photographer with a portfolio one can only dream to emulate. His iconic shots of rock ‘n roll legends such as Lou Reed, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Sid Vicious, Queen, Blondie, The Ramones and more have secured Rock as one of the most important shooters of the punk rock period, though his intention, as he says in this video, was far from the outcome.
Rock received a “classical english education” and scholarship to Cambridge where he first “picked up a camera and the whole lunacy began,” he recounts in the video. It all started in the summer of ’72 (which is also the year the photographer met Bowie) when he first became inspired by the rock ‘n roll subjects’ natural charisma in front of the lens. And for Rock, that was all he needed.
“Technique was, well… I mean you had to register a picture on film, but beyond that, technique was not so important,” he says. “What was important was getting the damned image and getting the energy.”
In this video we get a behind-the-scenes look at a shoot with model and musician Danielle Parente where Rock recreates some of his shots of the glam punk rocker Debbie Harry. Shooting with a Nikon Df, Rock describes his laid-back style that takes him “from punk to pretty in 10 minutes” and frees him from rigid ideas of what the shoot is going to be. That said, Rock always knows when he’s go something good.
“Do I know when I’ve got the shot? I know when I’ve got the shot, do I know the exact frame? Sometimes I’m moving too fast to be dead sure,” Rock says. “But I know what it smells like.”