Keepin’ it Snappy – No Cameras Allowed

A picture paints a thousand words, which is just as well coz I don’t actually like reading. An odd thing to say for an English graduate, but there we go. Anyway, enough of my personal hang-ups and seeing as brevity is the soul of wit, according to Polonius in Hamlet, I’m gonna try and keep it snappy.

Keep it snappy because it’s about photographs. Geddit? Like holidays snaps… snappy… photographs… whatevs…

There’s nothing I like more than staring at long-haired men in Lycra, except for staring at long-haired women in Lycra, and this book is no exception. It is manly men in Lycra though.

And what a genuine joy it is. No Cameras Allowed: My Career as an Outlaw Rock and Roll Photographer tells the story, in words and photos, of how Julian David Stone, entirely by sneaking his equipment into concerts, amassed an incredible archive of over ten thousand rock and roll photos. Starting by simply stashing a camera in his socks, then taping equipment all over his body, to finally customizing a jacket to hide equipment from security guards, he shot dozens of the greatest acts: Prince, U2, the Police, David Bowie, R.E.M., the Ramones, Elvis Costello, the Talking Heads, the Grateful Dead, Joan Jett, and many, many more – all from the unique vantage point of the audience, capturing exactly what the fans were seeing and the way the band meant the show to be seen. Julian David Stone’s No Cameras Allowed features a plethora of his undercover rock photography from 1981 to 1987

As someone who knows nothing about photography, I’m clearly the perfect person to review this book, and I can say with absolute uncertainty Julian captures a real sense of authenticity and rock’n’roll magic with this collection.

Stone considered himself a failed musician even before he finished the fourth grade after which he transposed his love of playing music to photographing music. His passion for rock’n’roll and the people who live it shines through.

From R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe in the early days looking contradictorily plain and ordinary, to David Bowie looking his everyday extraordinary. For me, the beauty of the images lies in their subtle imperfections, images that might not have made the front cover of a magazine, not selling the artists in their most absolute glamourous states – rather displaying artists at work, highlighting the graft that got them where they are or were.

I really have to stress that I’ve got no idea what I’m talking about, but there is a wonderful cinematic quality to many of the shots. I have nothing whatsoever to back up that thought, take my word for it.

Further to that, I feel Julian’s work, at its best, brings these faraway, untouchable icons very much home to the living room couch. You might not want Bono on your couch, I understand that. But who could resist Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel revealing his cucumber in foil on your couch? Quite.

The star of Julian’s show must be the possibly incomparable Prince for whom begs the question: did he ever take a bad photo? Certainly not here, each and every one an aesthetic masterpiece. But what would I know…


No Cameras Allowed: My Career as an Outlaw Rock and Roll Photographer by Julian Stone

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Jim is a qualified Newspaper Journalist and has a degree in English Literature and Language, but really just writes for his own enjoyment and exploration. Jim has played guitar various bands including Clearlake and The Miserable Rich.

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