Adams picked up his first six-string during the “Summer of ’69”, but he was only bitten by the photography bug in the 1990s. After starting out taking pictures of family members and friends, he began creating his own album covers and eventually moved on to portraits of other famous musicians including Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson.
His photograph of the Queen Elizabeth’s golden jubilee in 2002 was later even selected to appear on a stamp in his native Canada. He also helped fund the glossy German magazine Zoo, for which he still occasionally shoots.
“It is very easy to write songs, but it is also very difficult to write good songs,” the 53-year-old told reporters at the press opening of his new exhibition the NRW Forum in Düsseldorf on Friday. “I think it’s the same with photography. It is quite easy to take pictures, however it is difficult and demanding to take great photographs.”
The show highlights work from Adams’ new book “Exposed”, which includes 150 portraits taken over the past 12 years. But alongside slick pics of celebrities like Victoria Beckham, Adams has also photographed British servicemen wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He recalled how one of his subjects, an 18-year-old soldier, agreed to come to the studio accompanied by his father despite his horrendous war injuries. “The boy lost both his arms and legs on duty away from home, but his spirit was still very much intact,” Adams said.
“His father, however, became deeply emotional during the shoot. It was an experience which I will never forget.”
Adams also reflected upon his time spent with the late Amy Winehouse, whom he photographed on six different occasions.
“I think she trusted me. The photographs really show her having fun on set. They portray her as she really was,” he said. “Some time after the shoot, Amy called me, asking me to send some of the pictures to her husband who was in prison. I think I was closer to her than many people.”
The musician-turned-photographer also had kind words for his Rhineland hosts, lamenting that he wouldn’t be around for long.
“Unfortunately, I won’t have time to experience the Karneval here,” Adams said, referring to the festivities kicking off this week. “I’ve been coming to Germany for 35 years, and it is kind of like a second home to me.”
The Bryan Adams exhibition “Exposed” will be shown at the NRW Forum from February 2nd to May 22nd before touring museums around the world.