Gered Mankowitz Shares Insight on Photographing The Rolling Stones, His New Book and Offers Advice for Future Photographers

The Rolling Stones Primrose Hill London 1966 © Gered Mankowitz

Gered Mankowitz‘s photography catalog reads like a who’s who of the music industry. With names that include The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Free, Traffic, The Yardbirds, The Small Faces, Soft Machine, Slade, Gary Glitter, Suzi Quatro, Sweet, Elton John, Kate Bush, Eurythmics, ABC, Duran Duran, Marianne Faithfull and the list goes on, it’s safe to say we were quite eager to learn more about this legendary photographer.

Before getting to the interview, let’s go back to early 1965 when…

Manager and producer Andrew Loog Oldham asked Gered to photograph The Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts). In their first session, the album cover for “Out of Our Heads” (U.S. title was “December’s Children”) came to be. From there, Gered was brought on to tour with the Stones on their 9 week, 48 city US tour, where he got to photograph the musicians on and off the stage and worked as their “official” photographer until 1967, which marked the end of the Stones’ time with Oldham.

Keith Richards & Mick Jagger with Nona Hendryx backstage USA 1965 © Gered Mankowitz
Keith Richards & Mick Jagger with Nona Hendryx backstage USA 1965 © Gered Mankowitz

Fast forward to 2016, Gered is set to tap into this Stones archive for a new London exhibition and new limited edition book.

Photo: gered mankowitz
Photo: Gered Mankowitz

MalenDyer: Although your work is predominately music photography, you have lensed various categories, from music to fashion, why do you believe it is your music photographs (specifically rock) that seem to stand out the most?
Gered Mankowitz: I have actually focused my professional energy into music photography since I started around 1963 with Chad & Jeremy and The John Barry Seven. I was fortunate enough to work with some outstanding musicians who entrusted me with their image and whose music has spanned decades, taking my photography with them.

MD: Did you always want to be a photographer?
GM: I wanted to be a photographer from around the age of 13 and was introduced to the Hasselblad camera by the comedy actor Peter Sellers who was a business associate of my father.

“Learn your craft, take a lot of photographs and be passionate.”

MD: What do you find most rewarding about being a photographer?
GM: I get paid!

MD: What advice do you have for someone who wants to become a photographer?
GM: Learn your craft, take a lot of photographs and be passionate.

MD: As you began your photography career at an early age, do you think someone could replicate that path today?
GM: I think that anybody at almost any age can demonstrate an interest in photography, however, I believe it would be incredibly difficult to set yourself up and earn a living with a camera in your late teens like I did back in the day.

The Rolling Stones Caged Ormond Yard London 1965© Gered Mankowitz
The Rolling Stones Caged Ormond Yard London 1965© Gered Mankowitz

MD: As for the upcoming London Exhibition, Off The Hook: The Rolling Stones, and the Limited Edition Book, Backstage: The Rolling Stones, what do you hope the audience and readers take away?
GM: I hope that they will feel a little closer to their musical idols and will enjoy an intimate and moving visual experience.

Mick Jagger & Keith Richards backstage USA 1965 © Gered Mankowitz
Mick Jagger & Keith Richards backstage USA 1965 © Gered Mankowitz

MD: Which image is one of your favorite from the Exhibit and Book?
GM: We have worked so hard on curating this exhibition and in creating the book that it is really difficult to isolate a single image. However, I have always loved the Caged portrait from the first session in 1965, as it feels to me to have captured the zeitgeist of the time perfectly. A national newspaper had branded the band as “wild animals” who should be caged, only a week before the session.

The Rolling Stones on stage in the USA 1965 © Gered Mankowitz
The Rolling Stones on stage in the USA 1965 © Gered Mankowitz

In the book, I am particularly fond of the previously unseen shots of Mick attempting to put on a pair of giant sweatpants that had been discarded in the dressing room, together with a collection of jockstraps. For me, that captures an aspect of touring in those days that hadn’t really been recorded previously.

“Meeting and photographing the very beautiful Marianne Faithfull in 1964 was a standout.”

MD: Lastly, out of all of the photographs you have taken, do you have a moment that stands out among them all?
GM: Wow, that is another tricky question because in a career of over 50 years, I have had so many extraordinary moments. I will try to come up with a couple. Meeting and photographing the very beautiful Marianne Faithfull in 1964 was a standout, and through her, I met the Stones. Photographing the Stones in the early morning after an all-night recording session for the “Between the Buttons” sleeve was also a fabulous and pivotal moment in my career!

Cross, 2015 © Gered Mankowitz
Cross, 2015 © Gered Mankowitz

Connect with Gered:
mankowitz.com

Visit the London Exhibition:
Snap Galleries
Off The Hook: The Rolling Stones by Gered Mankowitz with photography from the archives and includes images from 1965-67, with iconic material and previously unpublished images.
Runs from 1 April to 28 May

Shop the Interview:
Snap Galleries – Backstage: The Rolling Stones by Gered Mankowitz – Pre-Order
Published in June 2016, by Ormond Yard Press
Available for Pre-Order with Signed Limited Editions Currently Available