Legendary music photographer Rob Shanahan will be presenting a new photo exhibit at Q Art Gallery in Marina del Rey on Thursday, August 6. Q Art, which is also the largest online auction house for fine art on the internet, just added Shanahan to their online gallery as well.
Adding to the excitement, six-time Grammy winner Daniel Ho will be performing at the August 6 event.
Ahead of the exhibit, Shanahan’s humor, intellect, and gift for capturing intriguing narratives come across in this wide-ranging interview:
W.E. You have an exciting upcoming gallery exhibit at Q Art Gallery on August 6 – what are you thoughts on this exhibit going in?
R.S. Thrilled to be on the West Side! I can walk there from my house. I’ve been doing shows all over the U.S. since my book VOLUME 1 came out in January 2012. It’s nice to have a permanent place to hang my hat so close to home. Plus, the gallery owner gets it. The printing and framing on the show pieces are phenomenal and unlike any of my other shows.
W.E. What do you attribute as the key to your success in capturing so many wonderful, quintessential moments of rock and pop stars?
R.S. I’m just happy to get the calls that allow me to be in these situations with my camera. On the other hand, I’m always prepared for the unexpected. As an example, I just returned from Nashville where I happened to meet DJ Fontana, Elvis’ drummer from the 50’s and 60’s. He played on all those early amazing Elvis hits and performed in all the live shows! We hit it off immediately. I asked him if he would be up for a photo shoot, and the very next day I was at his house photographing this legend with the original Gretsch drum kit you see in all the old Elvis videos, AND hearing first hand stories of touring and playing with Elvis. The photos are great to have, but hearing the stories and seeing his collection of stuff from the Elvis days is priceless.
W.E. Are there any ways in which you feel your style has evolved over time?
R.S. Sure, I like trying new things and new gear. So although I try and stay true to my style and what I want the final image to be, I’m using different gear to achieve the results. BUT the gear is only good if you know how to use it. I’m a big fan of vintage rock photos, so in a way I try and emulate that look. Like back when I was shooting with my old Nikon film cameras. You really had to know lighting and understand shutter speeds and f-stops to get a good image.
W.E. Once you’ve taken a photo of a musician, do you ever hear the musician’s music differently from then on as a result of the experience? Does the process of photographing inform the act of hearing the music?
R.S. I’m usually pretty familiar with artists music before going in, I’m just hoping I don’t get disappointed when meeting the person behind the music!
W.E. What do you envision as your next project?
R.S. I just wrapped a record cover shoot with a great new artist Ray Goren, who is 16 and shreds on the guitar and is about to explode. The awesome drummer and producer Steve Jordan called me for this project and I had a lot of fun working on it. Jeff Lynne recently called to shoot his new record, and I’m also in the middle of the new DW Drums campaign, so there’s always something going on. As far as my next “project”, we have a few things going on, you’ll be one of the first to hear about it!