Musician Dave Stewart, best known as one half of the eighties band Eurythmics, is also an accomplished photographer, who’s been creating portraits of friends like Bjork, Sinead O’Connor and Mick Jagger, for years.
His new photo exhibit, Dave Stewart: Jumpin’ Jack Flash & The Suicide Blonde, opens today at the Morrison Hotel Gallery at the Sunset Marquis.
Stewart told LAist his love of photography goes back to his childhood. “The first time I really fell in love with imagery was my father used to shoot on a little 8mm Kodak Cine camera, films of us when we went on a little holiday. He would put a sheet on the wall and my mum would make new potatoes with mint and butter and salt and we’d invite the neighbors in. We all used to watch this flickering image. Black-and-white, me and my brother running around. It was only later I realized it had a really massive, lasting effect.”
He later used his dad’s own movie camera to make something more than home movies. “Years later—I wish I’d thrown in one of these pictures, actually—Bob Dylan said, ‘Let’s make a little film.’ So I shot one with my dad’s little Cine camera of Bob in a top hat. I remember when I was shooting it, thinking, ‘This is the thing.'”
He ventured into still photography as a necessity in the early days of Eurythmics. “We didn’t really have any money. I don’t think a lot of people actually believed in us. I just said, ‘Fuck it, I’ll do it myself.’ So I learned how to engineer and I learned how to operate a stills camera. I took the photo for our single “Never Gonna Cry Again.” It was just Annie [Lennox], she had this white face mask on and a towel on her head and this African necklace on. I said, ‘Oh, that looks really cool.’ We were in a hotel room. I asked her to roll her eyes back, so you just saw the whites of her eyes. And that was the single cover. And I was like, ‘Ahh. It’s not so mythologically complex.’ That’s the beginning.”
He’s become quite in demand with his musician and actor friends, partly because his approach is so simple. He doesn’t have a studio or any assistants or makeup artists. He does it all himself, mostly at his own home. “They have a terrible time doing photo sessions, a lot of time there’s all these lights and it’s costing a fortune and they don’t like it when they come back.”
Most of the photos in the exhibit—Demi Moore, Mick Jagger and Bjork— were taken at his London apartment, although he now lives in Los Angeles. The one of Former French First Lady Carla Bruni rather surprisingly “smoking a big, fat joint,” was taken in the South of France. “That was a long time ago,” Stewart explained, “before she married [Nicolas] Sarkozy. I think she was only about 23 there.”
His favorite photo in the exhibit is the one of Bjork looking angelic in front of a flowery backdrop he built himself, wearing a shirt that reads “Enjoy Cock.” “It’s all like, sweet and innocent,” he laughs of the juxtapostion. He’s also fond of the contact sheet he printed for his “Bjork in Space” shot, which he refers to as “Bjork in Spaces.”
Morrison Hotel Gallery
Sunset Marquis Hotel
1200 Alta Loma Road
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.