A beautifully done portrait that stopped me in my tracks and made me meditate on youth culture, the generations, my generation, music, image, attitude, and aging and the passage of time.
Paul Heartfield is a photographer and former magazine publisher based in Bloomsbury in central London, mainly known for portraits of musicians and politicians.
Johnny Rotten (John Lydon) of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd. is now 60 and a U.S. citizen.
I don't know much about Paul H., but I'd think if a person could make a decent living photographing and also do a portrait as great as this one once a year or so, that would be a good thing to be doing with a career.
(Thanks to davesailer and Dave Stewart)
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Featured Comments from:
Kenneth Wajda: "I like this. It's interesting though if that were Johnny Not-So-Bad, we wouldn't even look at it because he's not well known. It's the known factor, the ability to recognize something in a scene that makes it have extra value. So celebrity photographs are always more interesting than non-celebrity photographs. Or at least they get more traction. If you see a picture of a fat old man in a black suit you may not share it but if you see Alfred Hitchcock, you immediately recognize and relate to the photo. I guess it's the old 'If your photos aren't interesting enough, find more interesting subjects.'"
Jeff Markus: "Just finished reading John [Lydon's]'s autobiography, Anger Is an Energy: My Life Uncensored, found it to be a good read. In it he mentions doing a photoshoot with Norman Seeff, for which he had high hopes, but ended up being disappointed with the results. He also mentions how, back in the day, he used to like doing speed. John was moving pretty fast that day.
"Norman's forte is gently coaxing people to be relaxed and natural in front of his camera. He primarily has shot performers, most of them musicians, many of whom are surprisingly (or not) quite camera shy when not in performance mode. Shoots generally would start very low-key, even those that would later get pretty lively.
"John came out of the gate running, literally. No head shots here. He ran in circles around the perimeter of the set, pogoing, bobbing and weaving liked a demented prizefighter. Almost impossible to even keep him in frame. As he ran past camera position he would pull a face or a pose, then go for another circuit.
"After doing this for awhile, John giving no sign of slowing at all, Norman called for a break to try to come up with a plan to cool things down a notch or two, or five or six. As the most junior assistant and gofer, I was told to ask John if he wanted me to get him anything to drink, and to go get it. The studio was coincidently, or not, next door to the best-stocked liquor store on the Sunset strip. When told that the record company would pick up the tab, John ordered Courvoisier. I took everyone else's orders and left.
"When I got back I found that the rest of the crew had left the shooting room, leaving John there alone. We talked while I sipped my beer and he polished off his bottle. I went next door for another one. As he slowed down to earth speed I found him to be quite an intriguing and charming guy, with a seriously wicked Irish sense of humor. I alluded to his friend Sid Vicious, to which he replied 'He weren't my friend!' Why not? 'Because he was an eedjit.' Why do you say that? 'Well now, he's dead, isn't he.'
"Norman has a page of photos from that shoot on his website Normanseeff.com. Worth a look."
Edd Fuller: "I have no idea who 'Johnny Rotten' is so I came at this without the celebrity vibe. To me it looks like a photo of an actor playing a character, not a portrait of a real person. More movie poster than portrait."
Gabe: "Must disagree with K. Wajda—I never saw the caption (below screen edge) before looking at the picture for a minute or two. I wouldn't recognize Johnny Rotten if he bit my ear off. What I saw was a great picture of an old Brit (some faces have national character) looking punkish with a faint smile. It's a great face—full of character and unique charm.
"Although I'm far better at vintage cars, I did photograph a bunch of celebrities, bands, actors, etc. in the '90s. Most, if they saw my camera, automatically assumed a 'crank best 3/4 face, practiced smile,' and the picture looked like every other picture ever taken of that person. When I was at 'zoom tele' distance, and was much less noticed, sometimes real personalities were captured—real smiles as well as frowns. I don't know if this is Johnny's Rotten angry face or not, but it's a fine picture of a unique looking man. Cheers!"