Tate Modern in central London is hosting Elton John’s vast collection of photographers’ work.
The collection lives in John’s 18,000 square foot home in Atlanta, wall to wall and top to bottom. He only needed this much space to hang ‘the love of his life’ in art… photography. Not his own, but the work of many masters through time. These photographers told stories of fashion, lifestyle and social discourse. I won’t mention any names, I don’t want to dismiss the importance of any one artist in the collection or Elton’s fascination and appreciation of their work. What I will mention is who made the pictures above and at his bedside. Above you will find Man Ray in noir et blanc. To the right of his bed is the work of Irving Penn who photographed Elton John in a series of experimental portraiture, a quirky set which offers a distorted view of Sir Elton and adored by the subject in them.
"That's what photographs do ... they're like reading a book. Your imagination comes alive and you wonder what was going on when the photograph was taken" _elton john
The video below caught my attention for this article after researching Elton John. Previously, I was thrilled to photograph Sir Elton in concert. You see, in an age when photographers shooting for publication are often forced to sign contracts to give away the images to management of a performance upon request. Or, finding out at the last minute you will have to capture the essence of the show from hundreds of yards away (soundstage). I need the intimate moment of capture you only see when you are several feet away (in the pit). I nearly cried when told we would be photographing Elton from the stage front and did not require a contract. For me, this was an act of grace, courtesy and gratitude from a genuine superstar, void of diva mentality or disrespect for the professionals covering the show. The most special part of this experience was how he would turn and really connect with us as he played his heart out. And when the song was over, despite a sold out arena, he stood up and gave us a bow, yes us. Something was so special in his gestures and I did not realize why until I viewed this piece. I feel honored to have photographed this lovely person. I would love so much to make a portrait of Elton John one day. Hopefully, the universe will hear me… in appreciation.
You can see The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection until May 7, 2017
Some photographs I captured at the Wonderful Crazy Night show of Elton John … and so it was. My editor and I danced like fools once I found my seat (there was a wall behind us). An incredible evening. One to remember.
Follow my ‘Live Performance’ Images on Behance via Collections
-article by Lori Patrick