​flash! lenny kravitz turns the camera on the paparazzi

Looks like the rock star/actor/interior designer is actually a damn good photographer too.

by Francesca Dunn
09 April 2015, 12:44pm

Marking a new chapter in rock photography, Lenny Kravitz has compiled a book of his own career-spanning work. Documenting world tours and celebrity culture, the images present an often-unseen reality of fame; a sea of paparazzi with their lenses poised filling the black and white shots.

Having grown up fascinated by cameras, Lenny had a habit of playing with the magical devices like toys rather than taking photographs. As an adult in the spotlight however, he found his camera a useful defense mechanism when it came to the press and fans. As they raised their documentary weapons to him, he would do the same in return, leaving the subjects confused and amused. Discovering this new love, Kravitz spoke with his friend and acclaimed photographer Jean-Baptiste who taught him the basics and prompted a more considered approach. Capturing his day-to-day life with his Leica ever since, Flash studies the photographer as a subject and comes with striking results. Intrigued, i-D caught up with the inimitable Lenny Kravitz to discuss good advice, his most treasured photograph, and why Leicas are sexy.

Do you remember what it was about cameras that first interested you as a child?
I was attracted to them because of their design. They looked like these magical devises and they were overwhelming because of all the buttons and switches.

When did it dawn on you to point the camera back at people?
I turned the camera back on people when I accepted the fact that those were the moments I was given at that time.

And what is the typical reaction of the subjects? Is it always positive?
Normally the people are a bit confused at first but then they just keep on shooting. They seem to find it amusing.

Did you ever see the action as a sort of defense against their intrusion?
Absolutely. It was a defensive move at first but then it became an exercise.

Do you have a favorite image from the collection?
I'm not very good with favorites. Certain shots speak to me at different times.

Why Leica?
Because they make incredible gear, have an amazing history and they are sexy.

You use Instagram quite a lot - how do you decide whether to shoot something on your phone or your camera?
Normally if I shoot it is on my phone because I don't have the time to develop it.

How do you stay calm enough to take a good photo when you're being hounded by paparazzi?
I learned to stay calm and focused when I realized that I was serious about capturing these moments. Then it became fun and was no longer a pain in the ass.

How does shooting strangers compare to shooting loved ones?
When shooting loved ones I am not on the move and take the amount of time needed to capture something interesting and beautiful.

Which is your most treasured photograph?
A photograph of my mother taken by my father in the mid sixties. It is a beautiful black and white portrait taken on a Leica.

And what is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
My grandfather always encouraged me to be authentic to who I was created to be.

Flash is published by teNeues and is available now.


Text Francesca Dunn
All images © 2014 Lenny Kravitz

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