If not for Anton Corbijin, Depeche ModeIt would not be what it is at the level of magic and mystery. After almost 40 years helping to weave the visual imaginary of the band British music video director is one of the shadow members or, as he defines himself, “the guy in the background”.
“To photograph a music star you have to feel on the same plane as them and look them as an equal, directly in the eyes. If you photograph as a fan, it will not work “, comments in a talk with EFE the man who has made artists like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, The Killers …
With permission from U2, with whom he worked on iconic albums such as The Joshua Tree Y Watch out baby, the longest and most prolific relationship of his career was established with the trio of Martin Gore, Dave Gaham and Andrew Fletcher, as shown in the book edited by Taschern Depeche Mode by Anton Corbijin.
“I am very honored, it is incredibly printed and it’s like a big piece of my life that you can put on the table“, he comments before a volume of which only 1,986 copies will be published and that presents more than 500 photographs, some unpublished, from the extensive archives of the photographer and film director.
Corbijin’s career began “by accident” in 1972 because of his “great love of music”. With his father’s camera, he went to a concert and, despite his inexperience, some of the images he captured ended up being published. “I had never dreamed of this”, he assures.
The next 15 years he spent portraying only musical stars increasingly international profile and, above all, as head photographer for the prestigious British magazine NME what, in 1981, he proposed Capture a new music sensation for your cover: Depeche Mode.
“They were very young and I did not have a very positive impression. In fact, their record company asked me several times throughout those years if I would be interested in working with them and I said no “, confesses Corbijin who, as a lover of Echo & The Bunnymen, I did not agree with the pop style that the group had then.
It is difficult to forget, however, that cover. Gaham and company were recording in a studio that was once a church. Took them out where, still dressed like nerds, he made them pose next to a crucified christ. “It’s funny because many of his songs are precisely about sex and religion, but I was not aware of it,” he humorously comments.
Five years later, Depeche Mode had notably evolved into a more provocative style, melancholic and dark and they were looking for a suitable image. Corbijn joined the band to make the video clip A Question of Time and, since then, he became its creative director “de facto”: he deals with graphic design of its covers and scenography, does all his photographs Y has directed 20 of his videos.
“I feel part of Depeche Mode. I am like the guy in the background, insofar as I have focused on them visually, thinking about what we can do and what can always take them forward; only if you look at my checking account you will realize that I am not really one of its members, “he laughs.
In this collector’s edition you can enjoy formal and informal portraits taken in Madrid, Hamburg, the California desert, Prague and Marrakech, as well as a multitude of candid images.
“I like it that my images have meaning beyond musicThat whoever sees them says: ‘I don’t know who the guy is portrayed there, but he conveys something to me.’ For that, I avoid copying something that is already there. It is a trap that is easy to fall into, because I work with well-known people who have already taken a lot of photos. To give something more I usually say that three elements are needed: show a little of yourself, a little of the person and something new“, Explain.
Corbijin’s photographs are often in black and white, at first this was pure pragmatism, but later it became his “ability to get you out of that reality”. They swim between the documentary style so popular in the 70s and the drama, without too much equipment, that generates a feeling of intimacy and take advantage of the possibilities that the environment offers at all times.
“It’s more about answering the question: what can I do here with this guy?” Says Corbijn, who has photographed all the concerts of the tours of Depeche Mode since 1988 (“Although it’s not what I’m most passionate about of my work, “he grants in a final apostille).