Sara Cummings welcomes summer of 2014 at Villa Le Reve.
Brad Elterman is a renowned photographer with a career spanning over four decades. He is known widely for his candid photographs of rock ‘n’ roll musicians from the 1970s, including but certainly not limited to The Runaways, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson and Blondie. Decades later, Brad is once again active behind the camera, shooting photos of emerging bands and fashion labels.
How old were you when you got your start as a photographer?
16 years young.
How old are you now?
In my 50s! I used to be the youngest kid in the room, and today I am practically the oldest, but I do not give a shit. I am having too much fun to care!
Three favorite bands to shoot:
Sunflower Bean, Cherry Glazerr and The Runaways.
Three favorite up-and-coming photographers:
I like Ryan Foerster, Remy Holwich and Sandy Kim.
Three influential artists:
Henri Matisse, Helmut Newton and Ron Galella.
What inspires you about the music scene and the people involved in it?
The embracement of fashion with cool young bands is part of it of course. I like the fact that these bands are so young, full of promise and dreams. That is so refreshing to me. No attitude. They have respect for me and my past work and that is really something special for me. It just puts a smile on my face.
What do you think has changed in the culture of our youth, specifically in the music/arts scene, in the duration of your creative career? What do you think has stayed the same?
The youth today seems a bit different. Back when I was a kid everyone was trying to get into dental school and thinking long term. Today the youth really want to live for the moment. It is definitely gonna be much tougher for today’s young generation, unless they have parental support. I have been in and out of the photo biz over the decades. When it got boring, I did other things and traveled. Nothing has stayed the same. It’s a whole new world out there, and I find that so refreshing.
1980 Leif Garrett and his then 17 year old girlfriend Nicolette Sheridan pose in Leif’s backyard.
Boogie Nights at Brad’s House
1980: One of the fringe benefits of being a photographer covering the scene back in the eighties was that you got to meet some really beautiful girls. Well, I had a steady stream of beautiful young girls coming to my pad. During this period, I rented a house on Canton Drive in Studio City. It was just over the hill from Mulholland Drive. I could be at The Starwood or Art’s Deli in a flash.
I think I paid about $1,200 a month for this amazing party house. There was an incredible pool and space in the living room to set up a photo studio. I had wild relationships with several Playboy Playmates; but for the most part, I was fairly low key. I did toss a few incredible parties. At one party, my friend Kim Folwey got two girls to make out on my living room floor in front of a hundred invited and uninvited guests. It is interesting that even to this day I sometimes meet people who were at that party and ask me when I am going to throw another one. That was like three decades ago! I am sure that these wild pool parties still happen today on some level, but I think there was more freedom back in the eighties.I used the pool for photo shoots as much as possible. Friends and models would come over and I kept my camera close by.
The topless girl floating in my pool is Kari Klark. I met Kari through my friend and fellow photographer, Julian Wasser. She was an actress and model and she loved being photographed. On warm summer days, Kari would come over, peel off her clothes, jump in the pool and smile for my camera!
KISS and Brooke Shields1977, Joan Jett Hollywood Blvd
LOS ANGELES – JANUARY 01, 1978: Olivia Newton John and John Travolta at the Grease party at Paramount Studios circa 1978 in Los Angeles, California.
Tyler The Creator outside Jason Nocito book signing of “Pud” at Family Books in Los Angeles.
The New York band Sunflower Bean in Venice, CA.
story / Tiffany Tso
photos / Courtesy of the Brad Elterman archives