Featured photographer today is Bill Wyman

Featured photographer today is Bill Wyman

Bill Wyman Interview Exclusive

  • 28 FEBRUARY 2013
  • The Culture Edit

“KEITH was a bit mad that one. He was always slightly off the wall. I caught him doing some very funny things,” said former Rolling Stone bass guitarist Bill Wyman of his famous bandmate, who was one of many subjects he photographed over the last 50 years.

Keith Richards photographed by Bill Wyman

Mick got fed up of my camera. He’d tell me to knock it off and to give it rest. The others never minded, so I focused on them. He lost out in the end. Charlie [Watts] was the really photogenic one, but I got some nice shots of Brian [Jones] too. There’s a really lovely one of Ronnie [Wood] hugging his little daughter. It’s my job to look back at my life, with all these exhibitions now. Of course, there was a lot going on though back then.”

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Mick Jagger photographed by Bill Wyman and reworked by Pam Glew

Wyman’s photography is currently on show at the Rook & Raven gallery in London – juxtaposed with a selection of artists’ interpretations of his work. His love of photography came even before his interest in music, which eventually led to his 57-year-long stint playing with the Stones. His uncle gave him his first camera when he was 11, an item he’d swapped his cigarette ration for during the war. He first started taking pictures of “strange bits and pieces” – mainly local scenery. He still loves wildlife and nature photography.

Keith Richards photographed by Bill Wyman

“I never took pictures of my brothers and sisters – I don’t know why,” he said. “After a while I lost interest in it – buying film was expensive and I couldn’t afford it, but after I’d been in the Stones three years the money started coming in. I was in wonderland – I could photograph how I wanted. If I was high up in a hotel, I’d take pictures of the street, so you could see people’s heads like dots. It was how I filled my time.”

Mick Jagger photographed by Bill Wyman

He became acutely aware of how others framed their shots and is rarely seen in pictures.

“I was with Dylan [Bob] and I thought it might nice to capture it, but I had to ask someone else to take it. I made sure I set it up so that it was exactly how it should be,” he recalled.

Jerry Hall photographed by Bill Wyman and reworked by James Mylne

Although he prefers film, Wyman uses digital now because of his poor eyesight. His attitude towards this more recent medium is much like his feelings about digital vs analogue music.

“It’s very similar,” he said. “With digital music you get that hard, sharp, exact sound. It’s not as warm and it doesn’t have as much humanity to it – it’s exactly the same with digital cameras. I’ve just learnt to take pictures in a different way – I take things off focus to soften it.”

The Rolling Stones photographed by Bill Wyman reworked by Penny & Apple Studios

And his words of advice to aspiring photographers?

“I don’t like taking posed pictures,” he said. “I prefer to keep out the way and get them when they’re not looking. You’re not going to get their character if they’re smiling or posing for you. There’s this picture I took of Charlie Watts were he’s looking straight at the camera pretty bored. Then someone asked him a bit later, ‘What’s it like being in the Rolling Stones?’ And he replied, ‘there’s about five years playing and the other 15 have been about waiting around.’ I think that photo says that.”

Charlie Watts photographed by Bill Wyman

Bill Wyman: Reworked is on display from now until March 31 at the Rook & Raven Gallery, 7 Rathbone Place, London.

Written by Ella Alexander

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