’89 domande a Brad Elterman – Photographer
Name? Brad Elterman (@bradelterman).
How old are you? 65 years young.
What’s your job? I take photos and have fun.
What did you study? I was in Business school, but I was too busy running around taking photos of The Ramones and The Runaways that I left university.
If you had the chance to document an historical event, which one would it be? Maybe when man landed on the moon. They brought a camera with them, but I should have been there taking photos.
Can you tell us a number form 1 to 89? 7.
Can you give us a definition of art? An extension of yourself that makes you happy and others happy and ask questions. It’s something you can touch, look at and study.
Your favorite style icons? Bryan Ferry, Steve McQueen & Sofia Loren.
If you could speak in world vision for 15 minutes what would you say? I would address the issue of the environment for the next generation. This world has gone mad and the planet is suffering.
If you have the possibility to end the social networks pushing a button, you would push it? Maybe. I worry about the impact of on social media on young and impressionable youth. I am concerned about their feeling of self worth after seeing all of the narcissist “me me me” on social media. How many times can we look at someone sitting in on a beach or in their First Class seat.
And the globalization? Globalization was supposed to be a border and fiscal union and that is fine. It is imperative not lose our roots, culture, art and traditions.
You have photographed so many rock stars that you are practically a legend among rock and roll photographers, Has it ever happened that a rock star was stoned during your photo shoot? Not that I remember and if I did, I would not tell anyone.
Who was the one who got stoned much more? And of what substance? I saw nothing. I see nothing!
Who was the one you dealt with that you felt was the smartest? Miley (Cyrus ndr).
What about the nicest one? Miley.
What is the craziest anecdote you can tell us about your backstage days? One night I was backstage with the legendary Bob Dylan. He was my hero and I could not believe that I was there a teenage kid with a camera speaking with him. He said to me “You look like me”, I said “Yeah. Can I take your photo Bob” and he said “Sure”. I was in heaven. This was 1976. Then as I am taking photos of him he asked if I would take his photo of him with this young new actor named Robert DeNiro, who was downstairs. I did not have a clue who DeNiro was, but within moments he appeared in disbelief and there I was taking this iconic photo. The photo appeared in Rolling Stone and I was on my way. I never saw DeNiro again, but if I ever run into him somewhere, I will remind him of this magical moment.
What is the meaning of life for you as a human being? May I quote the late Joan Didion? What she says here is spot on! “I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave’s a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that’s what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.” Joan Didion. And there you have it.
If you could have a super power what would you choose? Maybe a lunch with Fellini and Sorrentino would be amusing.
How much money would you do porn for? And who would you want to partner with? That’s a loaded question that could get me in trouble.
If you could compose the best band in history who would be in? Keith Moon on drums. Nick Kivlen (Sunflower Bean) on guitar, Jack Bruce on bass and Al Green on Vocals.
When, in your opinion, can you define a person as an artist? Someone who can show authorship in their work. It’s not that easy for a photographer.
Do you think that the relationship between art and drugs is just a cliché? I never got into drugs so I really do not know. I think I got really drunk once and threw up. That was enough for me.
Do you think that only the art market define what can be considered art and what cannot? People are buying art for all the wrong reasons like impressing their next door neighbors and friends. You collect what you enjoy and not what some art advisor tells you that you like. The art market is about making a buck and it’s so ephemeral.
What do you think about Banksy’s experiment to sell his works on the streets for cheap? Do you think that the value of a work, in the eye of an observer, is given from the context in which it was seen? Is he selling his art on the street on the cheap? I had not heard that. Good for him. The value in the the work is your enjoyment.
Do you remember your the first time you photographed a celebrity? Yes, of course. i will never forget that day. It was in 1974 and my mom, who was a painter, told me that I was going to go with her to the Margo Levin Gallery in West Hollywood to an exhibition of an artist named Andy Warhol. Margo was a friend of hers and when we got there my first impression was the crowd of young cool people gathered there to meet Andy. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, I had no idea the essence of coolness or the arts and it really stuck with me. Anyways Margo introduced mom to Andy and he asked her if she was an artist! Mom, always being creative, had brought with her a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup with her and Andy was delighted to sign it. Such a beautiful moment with my mom. She was my best friend.
Do you have any political orientation? I have always been on the left and for the middle class. America was looking rather scary the last few years. I want to live in a multiracial multiethnic society.
Who is in your opinion the best photographer in history? For me, it will always be Helmut Newton. He was a rock star.
Can you give us a list of 5 people you would like to photograph today? Miley, Harry, Sorrentino, JayZ, Sabrina Ferilli.
How about from the past? Elvis, Garbo, Anna Magnani, Sinatra, Bowie.
How the advent of the smartphones and socials media affected the job of professional photographers? It opens up an easy and non threatening way for just about anyone to make great photos.
Having always been in such close contact with the world of rock and roll, have you ever thought of approaching music yourself? One of these days I am going to take up guitar. It’s never too late.
Can you tell us an anecdote behind a photo that you took? One day, a long time ago, I will still in my teens, I cut school to take a photo of David Bowie walking down Fairfax Ave. It changed my life.
What do you like most of Italy? The people.
And what you don’t like? The jet lag.
What’s the city you like the most here? Napoli. It’s so exciting!
What is the night you spent the most money to have fun? Dinner Park Hyatt Tokyo.
What’s your favorite artist? Matisse.
What’s your favorite show business character? Charlie Brown.
If you could live in one historical era, which one would you choose? Today, I only live in the present.
If you could spend a day with an historical figure who would you choose? Maybe Dylan.
Who are the people that inspired you the most? Film Directors. They are the best story tellers.
What do you do for fun? My garden.
What makes a photographer better than another? Working outside of the box.
What was your best shot in your opinion? One day back in 1977 I went to a party at a villa in Beverly Hills when a woman took of her top and started to dance topless. It was a time stamp of the era.
The most liked by people? Same.
Where have you been on vacation when you were young? Mykonos.
What’s the topic you are most expert in? Having fun.
Have you ever been in love? Yes, a few times. I have fond memories.
Where do you live? I live in a bungalow in a secret canyon in Los Angeles.
Which neighbourhood? Bel Air.
Where are you from? San Fernando Valley.
Which languages do you speak? English.
Which are your favorite places in your city? Santa Monica canyon near the sea.
Favorite movies? The Godfather.
Favorite songs? Tamborine Man by Dylan.
Favorite bands? Roxy Music.
Favorite books? To Kill A Mockingbird.
Favorite authors? Scott Fitzgerald.
Favorite artworks? La Dance by Matisse.
The craziest experience you’ve ever had? One time, during the 80’s I was walking down the street in Milano and someone ran out of a shop thinking that I was Lucio Battisti. That was fun!
What do you think about influencers? Next question.
Do you consider yourself an influencer? Nope.
What’s your favorite historical character? MLK.
Can you define yourself with an adjective? Iridescent.
A famous photo that you like? Anything by Helen Levitt from Harlem during the 50’s. So beautiful.
Favorite TV series? Cheers.
If you were an animal which one would you like to be? Dog.
Have you ever had sex with more than one person? Yes.
What time do you usually go to sleep? Midnight.
What time do you usually wake up? 7am.
What’s your favorite city in the world? New York.
Do you have some phobias? Germs.
The smartest person you know? My pal Emilien.
The most beautiful girl you’ve ever met? An ex girlfriend, Teri.
And the man? Leif Garrett.
The most precious material thing you own? My hippie bead necklace.
What do you usually drink at the bar? Aperol Spritz.
An advice you can give to someone that want to do your job? Develop you own unique style.
Best party you’ve been to? Gucci Met Gala party in New York.
What drugs have you done? Aspirin.
What’s your best talent? Hopefully, making people feel comfortable around me.
Your ideal holiday? Capri possibly, but I have not been there.