When Bryan Adams (Kingston, Canada, 62 years old) presented his creative proposal for the Pirelli calendar, he had his fingers crossed behind his back to conjure good luck. “I never thought I would achieve it, for me it is an honor”, he grants in a virtual meeting with journalists at the official presentation of his almanac for 2022. He does it by videoconference, from the room in which he has been confined since his arrival in Milan last week when he tested positive for coronavirus at the airport. Singer, guitarist, composer and, for some years now, photographer, the artist did not need many amulets to succeed. His resume and his proposal was enough for him: “I wanted it to be a tribute to music, to all the musicians who have not been able to touring for almost two years, and at the same time I thought that Pirelli also has a lot to do with the road. So I titled it On the road (on the road) ”, he says huddled on a sofa, but without losing his rocker spirit, wearing a black leather jacket.
The Adams project took shape several months later than agreed; His images were to illustrate the 2021 calendar, postponed by the pandemic. The photo shoots, however, were dispatched in a few days, between Los Angeles (California), Capri (Italy) and Canada. At the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, at whose doors the singer Rita Ora poses; at the Italian hotel Scalinatella, where rapper Sweetie registers her arrival, or behind the scenes with Cher or Iggy Pop. “Being a musician implies having many moments of reflection, moments in which you are alone, with yourself. You often see yourself rapt, looking for the sale. When you go on tour there is a lot of glamor, but in the end you play for two hours and then you have another 22 hours of loneliness ”. The singer-songwriter St. Vincent stars in the month of January and on the cover, at the express wish of the photographer: “You have captured what my life is like. A dream, but a bizarre dream ”. She shows up with a haircut bob blond, his tongue out and, above it, a pick with the logo of the tire brand. It is the favorite of the author of Run To You: “I think the cover image will be remembered as one of the most iconic in calendar history. And little more than that I can ask ”.
It should not be easy to seek new angles from which to portray characters that have already been immortalized thousands of times, by the best lenses, and be relevant. Bryan Adams draws on the empathy that comes from being one more in the world of music: “I think that among musicians there is an automatic understanding. There is an unwritten language by which we communicate very well and understand each other. I wanted to portray them in that moment of reflection. Each one has their individual style, my job is to observe how they create that personality and to be prepared with the camera ”. 12 musicians that cover the months of 2022, and that end with the photographer himself, self-portrayed for the month of December. “I would have preferred not to, but we were running out of time and we were missing a character, so I went down to the garage and took some shots, especially in the foreground,” says the singer, who also could not refuse to compose a song to celebrate the launch. Like the calendar, it’s called On The Road: “They asked me for it and, having the title, I composed it in one day.”
The 150-year-old collaboration with the brand marks yet another milestone in Adams’ career as a photographer, which began almost by chance, as a hobby. “I did my first professional photoshoot when I was 38 years old. And from there, I don’t really know how, the phone started ringing ”. Personalities from all walks of life have passed through the lens of his camera. From Queen Elizabeth II of England, who posed for him on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee, to Mick Jagger, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Pamela Anderson or Amy Winehouse. He has published in magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar O Vanity Fair and he has exhibited his work in institutions such as the London gallery Saatchi or Fotografiska in Stockholm.
The new edition of the almanac takes up a story that began in 1964 and that has featured the best photographers of each generation. Names like Richard Avedon, Patrick Demarchelier, Tim Walker, Paolo Roversi, Herb Ritts or Peter Lindbergh, the only one who repeated three times in office. Precisely three are only the women who have been placed behind the camera; Sarah Moon (1972), Joyce Tenneson (1989) and Annie Leibovitz (in the years 2000 and 2016). The music that Adams now claims was already present in its origins in the sixties, when the British branch of the Pirelli company wanted to differentiate itself from the competition and hired the photographer Robert Freeman, precisely famous for his portraits of The Beatles, to immortalize the first edition.