Lou Reed, founder of the great Velvet Underground and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is a man who mastered his art with a guitar in his hand.
However, there’s a side to Lou Reed that is less publicised. A slower, more serene artist who put down the guitar and, instead, picked up the camera. With the words of Andy Warhol still ringing in his ears having watched his good friend photograph incessantly during the infamous factory years, Reed himself used the camera to find new inspiration.
Building his archive of pictures from the ’60s right up until he passed away in 2013, Reed released three books of photographs to wide acclaim. The last of the three, 2009s Romanticism, showed a side to Reed only his inner circle had seen close up.
“I like to reinvent the wheel. I like to discover something for myself as opposed to being told it,” Reed once said in an interview with the Independent when the book was first released. “Wim Wenders, there’s something he showed me that I found useful. Billy Linich, he also called himself Billy Name, was at Warhol’s factory, his pictures were very high contrast. And there were things that Andy Warhol would do. And Larry Clark, I still remember when I first saw “Tulsa”,” he added while discussing his photography influences.
“The response is emotional. That’s all I want; they are taken with emotion and put together with emotion, equal emotion,” he continued.
It was digital photography that ticked every box for Reed who, despite the appearance of his work, never touched Photoshop when releasing his images. The silvery addition on the result comes after hundreds of attempts at one frame, using the light to portray a scene and create a vast element of mysticism. “They are very three-dimensional images. I have them up on my wall. The silvery translucent quality, that makes me crazy. I really love it,” Reed once explained.
All images tend to be in the wilderness and only once does a human appear, that of his wife Laurie Anderson who takes her place later in the book: “These are pictures from around the world dedicated to my love & passion for my wife, Laurie Anderson,” Reed said.
“It is instinct tempered with technique. I have been photographing a long time. All my life, I was scouring around with it, playing with it. All my life I had wished for something; it turned out to be digital.”
Continuing, Reed said: “I could take the picture 100 times. I got it with the light the right way, not just one or two shots. I loved it. I am not using photoshop. Everything is in the camera and that’s because it’s digital.”
Here’s an example of the images that appeared in Lou Reed’s third book Romanticism and provided via Adamson Gallery:
(All images in this article have been sourced via the Adamson Gallery)