Singer/songwriter-turned-shutterbug Bryan Adams isn't sure whether his own celebrity helps put some of his famous subjects at ease.
“It's not something I've ever asked anyone, nor would I,” Adams said in an email interview from his home near London.
But look at the portraits in his “Exposed” exhibit at Oklahoma Contemporary Art Center and it's easy to see the Grammy-winning rock star has a knack for capturing candid, insightful images of fellow celebrities, including the late Amy Winehouse, Victoria Beckham, Mick Jagger, Lindsay Lohan, Kate Moss, Danny Trejo, Pink, Mickey Rourke, Sir Ben Kingsley and Queen Elizabeth II.
Adams' photographs can be likened to iconic images taken by the late, great Herb Ritts, renowned for his innovative and intimate portraits of Madonna, Richard Gere, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Christopher Reeve, among others.
Many of the California artist's photos of famed faces are featured in the new exhibit “Herb Ritts: Beauty and Celebrity” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
“Herb Ritts grew up in Brentwood and was neighbors with Steve McQueen, so he was very familiar and felt comfortable with this idea of celebrity. He saw these as his friends. He didn't see them as anything different than (other people). He was very familiar with celebrity culture,” said Jennifer Klos, associate curator at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
With the rise of gossip blogs and tabloids, people are bombarded by celebrity photos nowadays. But the portraits by Ritts and Adams are a far cry from the paparazzi pics and cellphone snapshots we often see of today's celebrities.
“People are fascinated by celebrity culture. ... But Herb Ritts really predates the very heightened digital photography world,” Klos said. “He was still embracing the traditions of photography that have been respected in the field of art history since the beginning of photography. He had an ability to capture life in a very realistic, quick moment in time.