He Sets The Scene: Claire Meadows Meets Gered Mankowitz, An After Nyne 19 Exclusive

Gered Mankowitz is Mr Music Photography. No two ways about it. His portfolio reads like a who’s who then and now, and there was really no-one better equipped to helm the front cover of After Nyne’s first Music Issue.

To meet him is to be in the company of a seasoned sage, but one who is still excited and still pushing forward to innovate, encapsulate greatness and each time make it greater.

Take the Jimi Hendrix image on the front cover. Mankowitz explains

Jimi Solar Psychedelic Purple is one of a series of new interpretations of this Classic image that I have produced for my most recent Lenticular print. The inspiration for this treatment came from seeing the Hindu festival Rangwali Holi – where a great deal of paint is thrown about! I have been producing Lenticular prints for over 15 years now and try to come up with one or two new ones per year.

 Do remember that Mankowitz took the original image.

Exclusively for After Nyne Gered Mankowitz has delved into his archive to take us behind the scenes of some of his most famous works. He’s also taken us into his mind for a Nine Minute Q&A to talk about the past, present and the future.

What inspired your career on photography?

 My father knew Tom Blau of Camera Press Ltd., one of London’s leading photo agencies, who generously offered me an apprenticeship at the company, having seen some photographs I had taken of Delft cathedral while on a school holiday. He taught me the fundamentals of exposure, composition and focus and introduced me to all aspects of Camera Press, from mixing chemicals in the loo to printing and studio lighting. Possibly, most important of all, he gave me access to one of the greatest libraries of 20th century photography in the World which I spent hours studying. He also sent me out on simple assignments for the agency and encouraged me to believe I could be a photographer – I was 15

What was your first professional engagement and what did it teach you?

I suppose the first important assignment I got was to photograph the Bristol Old Vic production of the American musical Fiorello. I spent a few days in Bristol with the company and hoped that my photos might be used as the front of house display. As it happened the show was very well received and transferred to the Piccadilly Theatre in London making me the youngest photographer ever to have a West End front of house. I learnt that I wanted to be in showbiz!

What has been your favourite project?

Honestly, that is an impossible question! I have been in the business for over 55 years and have had numerous wonderful experiences in music, advertising and editorial photography, and I really couldn’t choose a single moment over another. Overall, I would say that it has been fun and continues to stimulate and entertain me.

What do you look for in a subject?

 I am a commercial photographer primarily, and have tried to be as artistic and creative as the projects allowed me to be. I embraced the majority of my assignments and always found something positive to focus on, even with the dullest band, the dreariest product or the most egotistic celebrity – we always had fun!

Tell us about your most recent project with Christian Furr.

My collaboration with Christian is the most rewarding and stimulating project I have been involved in for many years. We set out to combine our different skillsets in such a way that the viewer really has no idea where I end and Christian begins. I have enjoyed working with him so much and the results have been so well received that I hope we will be able to continue working on our exhibition 45RPM, developing it over the next year or so.

What has been your most challenging project?

 In recent years my collaboration with Christian has been the most challenging, however, looking back I think that dealing with Glam Rock was quite a challenge, but also produced one of the most productive periods in my career.

What advice would you give to young photographers starting out in the business?

 Learn the fundamentals, believe in yourself, work hard, whatever the project do your best, be self-critical and self-aware, have fun and if you aren’t then try to work out why! Oh, and remember, assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups!!

What have you got planned for 2018?

 My exhibition with Christian is taking up a lot of this coming year with a planned show in Dublin in the summer and hopefully a London venue in November. I also have a solo show in Gothenburg opening in April, and a new granddaughter due in March, plus a trip to the Canadian Rockies in September, it should be a quiet year!

To take a trip through Gered’s archive, download your copy of After Nyne 19 by clicking here

IMAGE: The Rolling Stones by Gered Mankowitz