In “Flash,” Lenny Kravitz captures the essence of what it’s like to be a rock star who’s constantly in the public eye. The result is an intense exploration of the photographer and his subject. This thrilling collection documents Kravitz’s world tours, offering a rare record of the nomadic musical life. After premiering at Leica Gallery Los Angeles, Flash by Lenny Kravitz is coming to Leica Gallery Wetzlar and will be open to the public June 24 – August 2015.
Q: Tell us about your first experience with a camera.
A: My first experience with a camera was when I was probably about six or seven years old. My father had a Leicaflex that he brought back from Vietnam. He was over there being a correspondent. I used to see this camera on the shelf. I was attracted to its design. I used to hold it and, you know, push the button. I just thought it was cool to play with and look at. So that was my first experience with a camera.
Later on, my father gave me that camera when I was about 18. I would take it around with me but I hadn’t really learned how to use a manual camera – I didn’t really understand the fundamentals. So I ended up learning from photographer friends of mine. Since I was being shot so much I asked a lot of questions and that’s how I eventually learned how to use the camera.
Q: What inspires you?
A: It’s all about life. It’s all about the moments that you’re given. We’re all given our own point-of-view, we’re all given our own moments, so I’m just inspired by what I naturally come across. Or I’ve learned to be. You can always look at somebody else’s work and think “man I wish I’d done that” but it’s all about your individual life and what you’re given. So I shoot what I come across. I find it to be very interesting and beautiful and I learn from it. I’m appreciative.
Q: How did the “Flash” exhibition and book come about?
A: The idea about this exhibition really came from Jean-Baptiste Mondino who of course is an amazing photographer and innovator and also a really close family friend. I was showing him different photos that I had taken and he zeroed in on this collection and thought that it should be my first exhibition. He said it had never been done before. I was so glad that Leica approached me and I am very grateful for all that I have been given.
Q: What’s it like having your very first exhibition at the Leica Gallery?
A: It’s a wonderful thing when you can have new experiences and you can do things you’ve never done as you continue on your journey. It means a lot to me. It’s about growth, it’s about new experiences and that’s a big part of life.
Q: What equipment did you use to take these photos?
A: All of these photos were shot with the M8 and the M9. The thing I love about the M-System is the way it works, the quality, the lenses of course, and the fact that I can have a film vibe and yet be digital. I had considered shooting film the whole time, but being on tour and travelling the world the way I do it wasn’t going to work.
Q: What’s your favorite image from “Flash”?
A: I would have to say, if I had to choose one, there’s one where I’m in Cannes and there’s a guy in the center of the photograph with a bald head and his camera held up. There’s a cast of characters surrounding him. It seems very Fellini to me. It’s definitely one of my favorites.
Q: What was it like turning the camera back on the people shooting you?
A: I don’t think people expected me to shoot back. All of these photographs are of me living my life and going places – walking the streets. I decided to turn it into an exercise and change the dynamic of the dance so I turned the cameras back on them. In most cases people just kept on shooting; they weren’t even phased by it.
Q: Tell us about what inspired the design of the Leica MP Correspondent for Kravitz Design.
A: The inspiration came from my father’s camera. I thought about the different things I could do with the camera – the luxury, all of the different skins – and I thought that all of that had been done. There are so many beautiful upscale Leicas that have been designed and I just thought that it would be nice to pay tribute to my father and his camera that was worn. So I decided to do that, to have the brass come through, to have it worn where the hands would be. Not too much, there’s still a lot of room for people to add to that with their own use and experiences. But just that it would feel like this camera had been somewhere, that it had travelled, and that it would just feel comfortable. So that’s what I did. It was about my father.
I always like things that are worn, that are used, that have been in the action. Whether it’s a guitar, a camera, a pair of boots, a bag, I just like things that have experienced life.
Q: How did the name of the camera come about?
A: My father was a correspondent in Vietnam. He was a journalist at NBC News alongside the greats like Peter Arnett. It was named after him.
Q: What’s next for your photography?
A: Well I’m just going to keep shooting what I see and what I feel. I have many different styles. It won’t be anything like this. It will be something completely different. Life will decide what that is.
Thank you for your time, Lenny!
– Leica Internet Team