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REVIEW: An Evening with Michael Putland

REVIEW: An Evening with Michael Putland

Ian Longthorne

REVIEW: An Evening with Michael Putland

It is quite a claim to say that The Rolling Stones frontman saved his life, but from the moment Michael Putland took up the commission to photograph Mick Jagger, and not to quit photography, he never looked back. 

Michael Putland

On Thursday, Michael was at South Hill Park Arts Centre to give an interview with questions from local professional photographer Alex Harvey-Brown.

The Recital room was full with fans, photographers and music lovers.

The interview covered his early career, including shooting Nina Simone in 1967 at the BBC to how he always works with a manual focus Nikon film camera.

Another of his highlights was catching the atmospheric shot of Pete Townshend’s guitar being thrown through the air at the end of a concert. 

Half a century later after first taking on the Rolling Stones commission, Michael Putland has become one of the most established rock and roll photographers, snapping top names such as Eric Clapton, The Who, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Marley, John Lennon, David Bowie and Elton John.

Jetting back and forth across the Atlantic between New York and London, he would develop his own black and white prints and literally drop them onto the desks of the Fleet Street picture editors.

Michael moved to New York in 1977 where he shot one of his most iconic images of Mick Jagger sat between Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. He compared it to a renaissance triptych.

He said: “It was shot in a tiny room, barely room to take the photograph but Mick seemed quite keen to have it taken. He put on a really lovely smile for me.”

Michael recalled that he was also asked to take some happy, smiling pictures of Keith Richards. Keith offered him a cup of tea before admitting he hadn't seen daylight for a couple of years.

Despite encounters with many other rock and roll greats, Michael still sees the Rolling Stones as one of the hardest working bands in the world.

The audience were also able to put their questions to the legendary photographer before viewing Michael's portfolios and enjoying the exhibition.

The exhibition is at South Hill Park Centre for the Arts in the Long Gallery until November 15.

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