Photos by Anton Corbijn john-lee-hooker

Anton Corbijn talks!

As I type this, it is the coldest it has ever been in the history of England. Fine, in our history with England. Only something maje could’ve dragged us out of our mostly-cozy apartment … the pleasure of listening to one of our heroes talk about his work and life, perhaps. Someone like … Anton Corbijn! Woah!

Joy Division, shot at Lancaster Gate tube station

Corbijn has been someone whose work we’ve madly admired, ever since we saw his credit line on some Joy Division and New Order photos back when we were young suburbanites and long before we knew each other. Watching a documentary on his work some years ago, I realized that my entire perception of U2 had been shaped by Corbijn’s photos; Depeche Mode too. Much of the of the 80s and 90s, for that matter. What he chose to show of his subjects is pretty much the way they’re defined visually – not a lot of photographers are given that kind of privilege or credit.

Alexander McQueen, in his studio.

William S. Burroughs, at home.

In an hour-long discussion with his pal and former colleague Paul Morley, Corbijn delved into how he came to hold this much clout, albeit in a charming and self-deprecating manner. With sheer glee, we listened as he talked about his childhood, the Dutch landscape, his naive and pig-headed move to London (ahem!), his way with his subjects (in his words, “no kind of way at all, I didn’t speak English”), how he came to make music videos (“my friends asked me to”) and being an artist and film making and more film making. To his admirers, none of this is news. But it was a total pleasure to hear him speak in person, and be the cool and funny and interesting person that we always hope our heroes will be in real life. Tonight was inspiring.

This photo of Corbijn by Chris Buck reminds me of one Corbijn took of Ian Curtis.

And … here is a super sweet movie that we were shown, made years ago with David Lynch and Captain Beefheart – two of Corbijn’s own inspirations. It’s a two-parter:

P.S. Title photo is of John Lee Hooker … HOW wonderful?!
P.P.S. Here is a good article if you want to know more about Corbijn. My favourite part is the bit about the drums and the admission of wanting to ‘be somebody.’

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