My style was gritty realism
Ken Sharp, the celebrated rock and celebrity photographer credits the gritty realism of his tough upbringing in the Dundee housing scheme for the success of his iconic images. In a career spanning more than 30 years he photographed everyone from Anthony Hopkins to Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton to Johnny Cash and Bjork to David Bowie for all the major magazines including FHM, Q and Rolling Stone.
Ken had wanted to become an architect from the age of 11 but, just before leaving school, and having been accepted on an architectural course he changed his mind and decided to study drawing and painting. On his first day at art college Ken was told that he would need to be able to take photographs as part of his course. At this point he had never taken a picture but ‘ as soon as I saw the picture come up in the chemicals I was hooked.’ His graphic design studies included a photography module under the wing of the internationally acclaimed Joe McKenzie who had a huge influence on his work. Ken subsequently moved to London to study at London’s Royal College of Art.
My style was gritty realism . I did a lot of stuff in black and white. It was gritty, realistic, intense , black and white portraits.
Among Ken’s favourite images was one of Keith Richards in a recording studio service elevator. The Rock and Roll wild man was a delight to work with as were many of the other big names including Paul McCartney, Leonard Cohen and Eric Clapton. “They treat it like a business. They know its PR but these guys were fantastic to work with because they know you’re doing your job, they are doing their job – so lets just get on it with it.