They Are Photographers Too

Many actors, musicians and other artists have pursued second artistic careers during or after their main career. Many with a passion for creativity that could not be contained within one art form. Actors have pursued painting, sculpture and photography. Photographers have wanted to expand their art to filmmaking. Sculptures want to paint and painters want to sculpt. Artists of all kinds look to expand their vision though various media. It comes with the desire to create. Below are three actors and one musician who went on to express themselves in the art of photography.  dennishopper8_000

Art was not the reason Dennis Hopper first began to photograph. There was another reason. In 1958, the then young rebellious actor was blackballed in Hollywood after working with director Henry Hathaway on From Hell to Texas. Hopper insisted on doing a scene one way while the director demanded something else. It turned into an epic battle of wills that went on for a couple of days. The veteran Hathaway eventually won over the young hotshot. With the film finished, and Hathaway’s influence at the time in the industry, he told Hopper he would never work in this town again! Hopper’s career tanked. He was stuck doing mostly a few TV shows and independent films. That was until 1965 when he made The Sons of Katie Elder,  once again directed by Henry Hathaway. He worked without a problem and was forgiven. He was back.

Ed  Ruscha artwork_images_972_533127_dennis-hopper

Artist Ed Ruscha by Dennis Hopper

During the period Hopper was ostracized he picked up a camera and began to photograph. His work was noticed and he began to build a second career. Works included photographing film actors of the day as well as more abstract works. In 1966, his photos were the cover art for the Ike and Tina Turner hit single, River Deep, Mountain High. Hopper’s photographs were always full frame. He saw it as a training ground for making movies. Hopper also painted and wrote poetry. His work over the years has been exhibited around the world.


Gina Lollbrigida shows off her photography

Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida began a second career as a photojournalist when her film career began to fade away. With her access to many of the top stars of the day she photographed actors like Audrey Hepburn and Paul Newman. She also worked with some of the biggest political figures of the day like Henry Kissinger and even beat every other photojournalist with an interview and photo session of Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. Her work has been exhibited and published in two books.


Mia Farrow by Roddy McDowall

Roddy McDowall was well known around Hollywood for photographing his multitude of famous friends. They included stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Sammy Davis Jr. Katherine Hepburn and Mae West.  His work was published in magazines like Life, Look and Vogue among others. This second career also included the publication of five books of his photography. After his death in 1998, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences named their photo archive after him.

Musician Graham Nash’s interest in photography began as a child of ten. When he began touring with The Hollies, Nash was always photographing while on the road. His work reflects intimate moments with former band members, lovers, other musicians as well as landscapes and other sites that he found a meaningful connection with and wanted to capture. Nash once said, “I don’t see the difference between photography and music. To me, it’s all energy.”

Nash Joni Mitchell

Portrait of Joni Mitchell by Graham Nash

In the 1970’s he began to collect photographs. By the late 70’s his collection was in the thousands, and with the help a curator mounted an exhibit that traveled to more than twelve museums around the world. In 1990, he sold his more than 2,000 print collection through Sotheby’s Auction House. Eye to Eye: Photographs by Graham Nash, a collection of his work was as published in 2004.

There are many other artists who have taken a serious interest in photography including Leonard Nimoy who studied and took classes at UCLA in the 1970’s. He even considered changing his career. Nimoy received much recognition, and some controversy, for his work over the years.  Jeff Bridges, Yul Brynner, Joel Grey, Vigo Mortenson, Mick Fleetwood, Lou Reed and Mathew Modine are a few others. Most recently, Ringo  Starr put together a limited edition book of his photographs, appropriately called Photograph, taken over the years including many behind the scene shots of his fellow  Beatles during those early days. All the money for Ringo’s book is going to charities he and his wife, Barbara Bach, support.

2 comments on “They Are Photographers Too

  1. I am related to two photographers, a sketch artist and a budding animator. I admire their artistry and their skill immensely, but I am not one of them. As a child I hated coloring books and though I appreciate family photos for the memories they hold I do not want to be the one to take them. It is a gift you finer practitioners of the art have – a gift to be cherished.


  2. John Greco says:

    Patricia, I have always admired talented people since I was a kid. I always wished I had the talent the draw. It boggles my mind to see what talented folks can do.


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