What A Life! It seems apt that photographer Tony Mott should name his most recent exhibition after a Divinyls album. Mott got his first break photographing the Divinyls’ lead singer Chrissy Amphlett at one of the band’s earlier gigs, fortunately positioned front row centre, just above the ice. Within weeks he became Australia’s go-to guy for live and portrait rock’n’pop photography.
“Without Chrissy I wouldn’t have had a career,” says Tony, continuing on the ‘way back when’ tip. “I sort of stalked her with my camera to learn the art of rock photography. What a pleasure and pain that was!”
Thirty-plus years since then, Mott is still considered this country’s most famous chronicler of rock’n’roll, having photographed the best of them, from AC/DC to ZZ Top and every rock artist worth their salt in between.
Tony’s photographs – mostly live action ones but also candid portraits – have appeared in over 700 music magazines and street press including Rolling Stone, Juice, Drum Media, X-Press and of course yours truly, Cream. He has provided photography for more than 450 singles, EPs and albums. And so close is Mott to rock’s inner sanctum that he was invited to shoot four Rolling Stones tours – twice as their official photographer.
What A Life! – the exhibition – is a presentation of Tony Mott’s best work while it also tracks the evolution of the music industry in Australia over the past three decades, focusing too on the impact of digital media on the art of rock photography.
Subjects that decorate the walls of the State Library of NSW include the aforementioned, alongside The Angels, Bjork, David Bowie, Madonna, Midnight Oil, Blondie, U2, Elton John and many, many more.
See it and be blown away by the two degrees of separation of it all. Antonino Tati
‘What A Life! Rock Photography by Tony Mott’ is a free exhibition on at the State Library of NSW, Sydney, from 17 October 2015 to 7 February 2016.
Pictured, from top of story: Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave, Chrissy Amphlett of The Divinyls, Deborah Harry of Blondie, Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones, Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil, Elton John, Madonna, Bjork, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, David Bowie, Bono of U2 – all by Tony Mott, and portrait of the photographer by Graham Jepson.