Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Picture This: Rocker Graham Nash captures 50 years of 'Visual Harmony'

by Steve Proffitt with Michelle Lanz | Take Two®

Graham Nash, NYC. "This was taken in my suite at the Plaza Hotel, in New York City. I think it was August of 1974. We were coming to the end of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young reunion tour ... I'm drawing in the bathroom here. I saw myself in that little pull-out mirror for shaving and I knew it was a great image. My girlfriend Calli Cerami was with me. She wasn't a photographer. I said, 'Here's my camera. Hold it up and press halfway down to focus and then press the trigger.' And that's the shot. So although it's a self-portrait because it was what I imagined in my mind, the trigger was pressed by somebody else." Graham Nash

As co-founder of the 1960s rock supergroup Crosby, Stills and Nash, musician Graham Nash has traveled the world, spent his life among legends and has left an indelible mark on music with hits like "Our House" and "Teach Your Children."

But throughout his 50-year career in rock, Nash was almost always taking pictures. A collection of some of his photos, called "Visual Harmony," is currently on view at the Morrison Hotel Gallery at the Sunset Marquis in Los Angeles. 

Nash joined Take Two to talk about his love of photography, how he captures such intimate images, and he explains the stories behind some of his most interesting portraits. 

Interview Highlights:

On how he got into photography at an early age:
"[My father] would take pictures of us. One day he had some photographic equipment on a ledge and he said, 'See this blank piece of paper? I'm going to put it into this colorless liquid, and watch,' I'm waiting, then, oh my God, the picture I saw my father take of us in Belleville Zoo came floating into space and my life has never been the same. It was magic."

The story behind his photo of Dennis Hopper (Slide 2):
"That was taken May 4th, which is my wedding anniversary at the Kentucky Derby, and we had both backed the same horse, War Emblem, which won, and that's the moment that Dennis discovered that the horse won."

On his philosophy as a photographer:
"I like the moment. I'm not one to take picture of puppies with kittens or landscapes. I'm not that kind of a photographer. I love the moment whenever that moment is, and I've been lucky in my life to be witness to many many moments. I like to be invisible as a photographer, I don't like people knowing that they're taking pictures. Having had millions of pictures of myself, I know when a camera is pointing at me, I can feel it. I want to look like James Dean, I want to look cool, and that ruins the moment."

On his photo of Joni Mitchell (Slide 4)
"What she was doing was listening to an acetate of her album, Clouds. As a musician, it's not enough to create and then record and then mix and then master, you have to then check the acetates to make sure there's no clicks and pops. This was in the era of vinyl. She was checking her acetate to make sure that it was perfect for the people that love her music. I was photographing through a hole in the kitchen chair. Once again, I was invisible."

On his photo of Judy Collins and Stephen Stills (Slide 6):
"Judy had a wonderful relationship with Stephen, he wrote many songs about her, of course Sweet Judy Blue Eyes, etc. That was a moment in Sag Harbor in Long Island when we were rehearsing the first Crosby, Stills and Nash record. That was Judy when she came to visit Stephen, she did kiss him gently on the cheek and whispered into his ear something magical, because look at the expression on Stephen's face."

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