Most music fans have a mental image of Bryan Adams with a guitar in hand rasping out hits like “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” “Cuts Like a Knife” and “Summer of '69.”
About a dozen years ago, the Canadian rock star took up a camera with an eye toward shooting his own album covers and ended up with a second career making his own images as a professional photographer.
A new exhibit at the Oklahoma Contemporary Art Center, formerly City Arts Center, is exposing art lovers to Adams' photos of fellow celebrities from the film, fashion and music worlds.
“If you were to catagorise me, I suppose I'm a portrait photographer that dabbles in fashion,” Adams said in an email sent from his home near London, where his partner, Alicia Grimaldi, recently gave birth to their second daughter, Lula Rosylea.
“I always let people be themselves. Sometimes I have a set which can be useful to play with, or an interesting location, but the best photos I think are the simplest ones.”
Opening Tuesday, “Bryan Adams: Exposed” features 40 images from his first book of the same name, which was released in October. The exhibit includes a mix of color and black-and-white images depicting famous faces from around the world, including the late Amy Winehouse, Victoria Beckham, Mick Jagger, Lindsay Lohan, Pink, Mickey Rourke, Sir Ben Kingsley and Queen Elizabeth II.
“He's really developed as a photographer over the last 10 years and he's now very self-assured, I think, of what he does. And he knows a lot of these people. I think that helps so much because they're at ease when they're with him,” said Oklahoma Contemporary Executive Director Mary Ann Prior.
“They're not haphazard moments — they really are all staged — but the people are relaxed and it doesn't look in any way forced.”
Adams, 53, said the images in the book and exhibit mostly are taken from photo shoots he's done for magazines such as Harper's Bazaar, Esquire and Interview. He also founded and shoots for the German art fashion publication Zoo Magazine.
Sometimes the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter-turned-shutterbug uses elaborate set pieces, like the roomful of mirrors he arranged for Lana Del Rey after her highly scrutinized “Saturday Night Live” performance last year.
“They all seem to happen quite organically; things happen. I can't explain it. I usually have a team of people I work with, all kinds of creatives, from hair and makeup to stylists and art directors,” he said of choosing the right sets and props.
“It's a journey, I love working in the studio and sometimes on location. Candid shots are always being taken, and there is something spontaneous and fun about them ... but my preference is the studio.”