Andy Summers shared a love for both music and photography from as early as the late 1970s. As the guitarist in one of the biggest bands of the 20th century – The Police – his photography became an extension of his music.
While the band toured the world, Summers documented behind the scenes, giving an intimate, personal and unique point of view that could not be captured by hired press. Much later, after The Police stopped touring and stopped making music as a band, Summers produced with Taschen (2007) “I’ll Be Watching You: Inside The Police 1980-1983.” His first photography book of the band and their travels was “Throb” (William Morrow & Company, 1983), currently out of print. Since the band’s demise, Summers has been productive in both solo music projects and photography, the latter of which has extended his art to numerous exhibitions, magazine essays, photography publications and recently, keynote presentations of his work.
For his exhibition at Leica Los Angeles, Summers presents his global travels through a series of striking black and white portraits. You won’t find any images of music in this project, instead we see people and places and gritty raw realities of people’s lives in many parts of Asia.
I spoke to Andy about his upcoming exhibition in Los Angeles, his use of Leica and his photographic process.
GL: Tell me about your upcoming exhibition at Leica Gallery Los Angeles and what we can expect to see?
AS: I am pleased to be exhibiting at the new Leica gallery in LA, as I have been a Leica photographer for many years now. Therefore, to show in the new and first Leica gallery in LA is a distinct pleasure and seems fitting. All the photos in the show are shot with Leica and will be a selection from around the world in the last few years.
GL: When did your love affair with photography, and in particular Leica, begin?
AS: My true pursuit of photography began in the early eighties. I used a Reflex cameras as I started out but switched to the Leica Rangefinder a couple of years later when introduced to it by Ralph Gibson.
GL: From the images I’ve seen in this exhibition, people feature in many of them. Is this a conscious point of view?
AS: There is no conscious shooting of people; it would depend on the situation and if it ignites something in me.
GL: What is your method in setting up an image? Is it a fleeting visit and taking photographs of what you see, and/or do you enter into dialogue with your subject for background information?
AS: It can be both. The real preparation is the effort that one puts into developing photography skills over the years, or seeing photographic possibilities as part of some larger progression.
GL: Which city, town or country has been your most inspiring place to photograph so far?
AS: The inspiration for a photograph is not tied to one town or city, but rather something could be anywhere that grabs one’s visual imagination.
GL: Which photographers have and still do inspire you?
AS: Ralph Gibson, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Henri Cartier Bresson.
GL: From your upcoming exhibition in Los Angeles, can you choose an image to describe its subject matter and creative process?
AS: I wouldn’t pick out one; rather I would say that they are all facets of the process. First being in a situation that is visually stimulating and that may involve shooting rapidly or waiting for a scene to develop visually, i.e., the shapes become better inside the frame, the light improves or whatever it is that you recognize as more compelling.
GL: What more can we expect to see from your photography in 2014?
AS: No doubt I will travel with my Leica monochromatic and see what comes up…more images from China, probably.
“Andy Summers – Del Mondo” opens at the Leica Gallery Los Angeles with an opening reception on November 9, 2013 from 6pm – 8pm and the exhibition runs to January 4, 2014. Andy Summers will present an artist talk on December 14 at 6pm.
Leica Gallery Los Angeles
8783 Beverly Blvd.
West Hollywood CA 90048
See also: www.andysummers.com
About the interviewer:
Ginger Liu is a contributing editor to Ragazine.CC. You can read more about her in “About Us.”