We spoke with the incredible Brad Elterman about his carreer and growing up in the 1970's Los Angeles music scene.
You got your first photograph published of Bob Dylan for Sounds magazine in 1974 at the age of 16. Would you say this was the moment that launched your career?
I would not say that it was the event that launched by career, but it was a jolt out of the blue which gave me the drive to keep submitting photos to magazines. I did get paid a few bucks but they did not give me a photo credit. Funny how I remember these details. That was 1974.
You have captured some of the most candid and intimate moments of such inspiring artists and musicians over the years, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Joan Jett, Debbie Harry, the Ramones and many others. Did you have a muse or preferred subject?
Joan Jett was the ultimate muse for a teenage photographer. She was so cool with this amazing walk. She was so good at accessorizing her leather jacket and jeans. The best part was that the camera adored Joan. We were both rather shy and that may have been an important part of the equitation.
It was quite a lively time in the L.A. music scene in the 1970’s and the Sunset Strip in the was your backdrop. It spawned legendary places like the Rainbow, the Roxy and The Whisky A Go-Go. The parties must have been incredible. Is there one that stands out?
The Rainbow was loaded with rockstars. When The Rainbow closed at 2am, the scene would spill out to the parking lot. Everyone played at the Whisky A Go-Go. The best party was for The Faces ( Rod Stewart ) at The Greenhouse. Rod’s publicist Tony Toon invited me. Sitting at one table was Bob Dylan, Cher, Greg Allman, Joni Mitchell, Paul and Linda McCartney. Jimmy Page and Bryan Ferry were walking around there too!
Could you feel a different energy, an excitement in the air with so much emerging talent at the time?
Sure. It was a real high. There were so many British bands coming to L.A. They were all very happy to have their photo taken. Sometimes, but was set up with the record company or you would just show up at the hotel and make some photos by with swimming pool. It was also exciting to actually get paid from all of these cool rock magazines from all over the world. There was Music Life and Rock Show in Japan, Bravo mag in Germany, Pop Foto in Holland and dozens in the UK. It became a business and a career. paid from all of these cool rock magazines from all over the world. There was Music Life and Rock Show in Japan, Bravo mag in Germany, Pop Foto in Holland and dozens in the UK. It became a business and a career.
Is there anyone now that excites you as much as it did back then?
Sunflower Bean & Rex Orange County to name a few.
You have been published in countless magazines, Vogue, Purple, Dazed, Interview, Circus, People and Rolling Stone, to name a few. You have also published 3 books, Like It Was Yesterday, The Photographs of Brad Elterman and Dog Dance. With capturing so many significant moments in time throughout your career, is there a photo you are most proud of?
The most emotional photo for me is my shot of Bob Dylan and Robert DeNiro. Dylan was like a god and he never went out and he certainly never wanted to have his photo taken. Dylan was really sweet to me and he even said that I looked like him, which I did. DeNiro had never met him before and he was over the moon too. It was my first photo published in a new magazine called PEOPLE and that really put me on the map.
I only wish that I had gotten a Selfie of me with Bob!
How has your photography style changed from the 70’s to today?
NONE. When I get an assignment, I am always told to shoot it just like I did in 1977.
Did you ever think your photographs would be so iconic 40 years later?
We would like to thank the wonderful Brad Elterman for chatting with us!