Danny Clinch loves music. He listens to it, plays it, photographs it, and films it. Through his passion, Danny has established himself as one of the premier photographers across the entire music scene. He has shot and filmed a wide range of artists, from Johnny Cash to Tupac Shakur, from Bjork to Bruce Springsteen. Danny Clinch maintains a thriving commercial career. His work has appeared on hundreds of album covers and in publications like Vanity Fair, Spin, Rolling Stone, GQ, Esquire, and more. Clinch has presented his work in numerous galleries and published four books, Discovery Inn, When the Iron Bird Flies, Still Moving, and Motor Drive.
As a director, Clinch has received three Grammy Award nominations. He has directed music videos for artists like Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Dave Matthews, among others. Danny plays harmonica in the Tangiers Blues Band and will occasionally put down his harp in the middle of the set, pick up his Leica, and begin photographing his band members. During times like these, Danny Clinch is a very happy man. He will be exhibiting his work “Wide Open” at the Leica Gallery in Los Angeles from March 2nd to April 1st 2017 with an artist reception on March 2nd, 6 – 9 pm.
What camera and equipment do you use? Specifically, Leica equipment.
I use a variety of cameras, from plastic Holgas and Dianas to a medium format Hasselblad and everything in between. The camera I always have with me these days is the Leica M, though I also often use an M4p and an M6.
How would you describe your photography?
The moment is most important to me and everything else follows. Whether I am shooting a portrait in the studio or on location, I am looking for a time when the guard is down. This comes from my love of the document and the idea that honesty comes out of a captured moment.
Are you a full-time photographer or would you describe yourself as a serious enthusiast?
I make my living as a photographer and director. I love what I do so much that it’s a blurred line between work and pleasure.
When did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression, and art form, a profession?
As a kid I always loved to create. I was always drawing and loved my art classes at school. As I got older and began to think about my future and career options, I began to realize how cool it would be to take photographs for a living. So this all started very early for me.
Did you have any formal education in photography, with a mentor, or were you self-taught. Was there a photographer or type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
I went to a community college first and then went to New England School of Photography in Boston. NESOP was a great fit for me because it was entirely photography studies, rather than requiring me to fill my time with other subjects I wasn’t interested in. I am a big fan of the photograph as a document and love Robert Frank and Danny Lyon. As a lover of music, I always was drawn Jim Marshall as well as Annie Leibowitz’s early work, so that’s where my head was at. Early on, I decided to do a photographic workshop at the Ansel Adams Gallery Workshops in Yosemite where I met Annie Leibowitz. I ended up with an internship at her studio, which turned into a one year position as her photo assistant.
How did you first become interested in Leica?
I first became interested in Leica when I worked for Annie Leibowitz. It was then that I started to pay attention to what Leicas have to offer, specifically craftsmanship, lens quality, and the quiet low-key vibe. I then worked with Mary Ellen Mark and saw how she was using a Leica. It was then that I decided to save my money and buy an M6.
What approach do you take with your photography or what does photography mean to you?
I am photographing constantly, whether it’s for an assignment, my family, walking the streets, or hanging with friends who are musicians. I love the document and the moment. When photographing musicians, I feel honored to document the people who are creating the musical soundtrack to our lives. Music gets you through the hard times and celebrates the good times, and that is really important to me.