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Brian Rasic: The Life of Brian

By Published: November 10, 2010
BR: There was no intention to move to London. I got here, and I stayed. It took years for me to accept that I live here. I guess it's normal. The first few years, I was a visitor, and later on it became my home. That was my life—the way it went. Once being here with all the concerts by people that I loved, I had to find the way to get into it. Photography was the way. I loved music and taking pictures, so combining it became my business. It took some time, of course, but I was stubborn and never gave up. After all, it was a joy.

From left: Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Pete Townshend

AAJ: Photographers are often told that they need to develop a personal style to set them apart. What would you say sets you apart?

BR: Difficult to answer that. I only know to see and do as I do. It's for the others to say how good it is. I guess I must be doing something right, as I lived off of my work the past 30 years here in London.

AAJ: What motivates and inspires your work?

BR: I like to say that I am "lens objective," that I capture what is given: different people, different pictures. But I give my best in whatever I do.

AAJ: Of your photographs, what were some of your personal favorite projects, and why?

BR: At the end, it is a dream come true when you work with your childhood heroes, and I have been privileged to work with the likes of The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, David Gilmour and Paul McCartney, among others. They all put their trust in me, and I am proud of that. For instance, when The Rolling Stones played their biggest ever gig at Copacabana Beach in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, I was their official snapper. Around two million people were there. Needless to say that it was my biggest gig, too!

When it comes to David Bowie, I worked several times with him, and that was cool. David Gilmour hired me to cover his famous gigs in London's Royal Albert Hall, and my pics are at the DVD from that event. Same with the Stones. I met and took pictures of Ringo, George and Paul. Did Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
1915 - 1998
, too. I was there for the Live 8 gig in London, and did a few more memorable concerts in my career.

AAJ: What would your dream assignment be?

BR: Comes to the living. I've been there and done it. And some great ones that are not with us anymore, too. I wish I could turn the clock back and do John Lennon
John Lennon
John Lennon
1940 - 1980
, Elvis, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
1942 - 1970
guitar, electric
, and Janis Joplin.

AAJ: You shoot a lot of celebrity portraits. With their tightly controlled images, is it hard to get them to do something interesting?

BR: It is, I guess, as it's all controlled. And most of them know what they are doing, anyway. Especially these days, it's hard to get almost anything.

AAJ: Is there anyone whom you're recently photographed that particularly impressed or surprised you?

BR: The last person I can think of was David Gilmour. He's one of the nicest people I have met—such a normal and down-to-earth guy. Lovely person.

AAJ: Would you agree that the publicity photos and cover art are at the forefront of how people visually perceive the music?

BR: Those pictures are there to sell the product, and they of course play a big role. But I wouldn't always count that they show what's in there and compare them with music.

AAJ: When shooting The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, or Bowie, do you listen to the music before? Who decides on the style and the locations? How important is the music in the process, if it is at all?

BR: As I love music, [there's] no need to listen to it before I do my work. I see those people visually; even live, I think that most of the times I can't even hear the music. I'm in my bubble, searching and waiting for that shot. Big artists are totally in control of things. Most of the time, I only execute their wishes. The reason why is that I am mainly a press photographer. Only sometimes I am part of the creation of the image.

AAJ: Any anecdotes to share?

BR: There is an anecdote that I have to tell about The Stones. At the time when Keith fell from the palm tree, there was a lot of panic going on. First it was serious, big news, then they made fun out of it. The truth is that Keith was seriously injured. Once when he recovered, the postponed European tour was back with the start in Milan instead of Barcelona. I was shooting the show for them. I remember Keith kind of being happy to be back on the stage. Afterwards, when they were looking at my work, they were saying that you can see that on his face in my pictures.

During the show, as I was trying to get the best view, at some points I was kind of climbing on the side of that catwalk that was going out from the stage, to get a better view. All of a sudden, a security guy asked me to get down and stop shooting. I was confused. It took only a minute for him to explain that the word was that Mick was concerned about me. He told them, I guess between the numbers, that he didn't want me to "do the Keith" on the first night. Mick was kind of taking care of me. Cool.

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