We can all name a few famous photographers, but what about famous people who happen to also be photographers? You might be surprised to learn that a startling number of celebrity photographers are indeed celebrities themselves.
We’re about to blow your minds, as we’ve rounded up 30 of some of the top names from Hollywood and the music industry who count photography as their main hobby and give new meaning to the term ‘celebrity photographers’.
Are they the world’s best photographers? Probably not, but some of them are indeed quite talented.
1. Leonard Nimoy
Style: Black and white and fine art nudes
Most famous for: “Live long and prosper.” Donning pointy ears and eyebrows as Mr Spock in Star Trek.
Although most people know him as the logical Mr Spock, Nimoy has also made a name for himself as a photographer. His first experience of photography was during his teenage years when the family bathroom in his family’s small Boston apartment was used as a makeshift darkroom.
He then made the logical progression to study photography at UCLA under photographer Robert Heineken, after which he received an ‘artist in residence’ appointment at the American Academy in Rome. Since then his work has been exhibited in numerous museums around the US. His photographic books include The Full Body Project and Shekhina.
From self-portraits, to fine art nudes, to eggs, Nimoy’s photography aims to go where no man has gone before.
See Leonard Nimoy’s photos
2. Bryan Adams
Style: High-profile celebrity photography
Most famous for: ”Summer of ’69,” “Everything I do, I do it for you,” ‘That’ song from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Canadian singer-songwriter Adams’ talents aren’t just limited to music; he is also an actor, producer, and photographer. He has had his photography featured in numerous magazines including British Vogue, L’uomo Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Esquire. He has an impressive string of advertising campaigns to add to his list of photographic commissions, including Guess Jeans, Sand, Converse, Montblanc, Fred Perr, and more.
Along with having a massive string of impressive A-List musicians to add to his photographic portfolio, Adams was also invited to photograph Queen Elizabeth II for her Golden Jubilee. As if that wasn’t enough, he then had the honour of having one of the pictures from the shoot featured on a Canadian postage stamp in 2004 and 2005. One of the pictures is now also on display in London’s National Portrait Gallery.
Needless to say, Adams is good. We could continue to list more of his photographic successes, but we think you get the idea!
See Bryan Adam’s photos
3. Jeff Bridges
Camera: Widelux F8
Style: Documentary-style, behind the movie scenes
Most famous for: “The Dude abides.” His role as The Dude in The Big Lebowski. See also Tron, The Fisher King and much, much more.
With his successful career as an actor and an interest in photography that began during high school, Bridges has brought these two disciplines together by taking behind-the-scenes pictures on film sets since 1980, starting with John Carpenter’s Starman.
Since then Bridges’ continued to shoot in between the scenes on the sets of the films he’s worked on and always with his Widelux F8 camera. In 2003 this collection of pictures was published in his book Pictures: Photographs by Jeff Bridges.
Casual, impromptu, and honest, Bridges’ images show the ‘real’ people behind the movies.
See Jeff Bridges’ photos
4. Moby/Richard Melville Hall
Most famous for: His massively successful sample-based electronic album ‘Play’ released in 1999
The musician’s interest in photography began when he was just ten years old and was given a Nikon F camera by his uncle who was a photographer for the New York Times.
A predominantly black and white photographer who developed his own film in darkrooms, Moby was influenced by photographers such as Irving Penn, Dorothea Lange, and Andre Kertesz.
This passion for the art has remained with him, and in 2011 he released his first photography book entitled ‘Destroyed’, featuring photographs that he has taken while touring with his music. He released an album by the same name in the same year.
See Moby’s photos
5. Henry Winkler
Camera: Sony A100,Nikon D3100
Style: Outdoor photography
Most famous for: “Heeeeey!” The Fonz in American sitcom Happy Days
Although a keen amateur photographer, Winkler admits that he doesn’t understand how to use manual settings on his camera and relies on it being automatic.
However this lack of technical knowledge hasn’t held him back; in 2011 he released a book entitled I’ve Never Met An Idiot On The River: Reflections on Family, Fishing, and Photography, which – although predominantly about fly fishing – features Winkler’s outdoor photography.
See Henry Winkler’s photos
6. Stanley Kubrick
Most famous for: Learning to stop worrying and loving the bomb. Widely regarded as one of the greatest film directors of all time, Kubrick’s films include Dr. Strangelove, Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and more.
From an early age, photography has played a big role in Kubrick’s life. At thirteen he was given a Graflex camera by his father and became the official school photographer at his high school.
He initially worked as a freelance photographer during and after graduation from college. He progressed his photographic career to become full-time staff photographer for Look magazine, becoming the youngest staff photographer in the history of the magazine.
Perhaps his huge success in filmmaking is owed to his talents and experience as a photographer. Without this, would his films have been as visually appealing?
See Stanley Kubrick’s photos
7. Ben Folds
Style: Documentary, traditional
Most famous for: Singer-songwriter for band Ben Folds Five
Although not well known for his photography, Folds has certainly taken some photographs to be proud of. Representing a story of Folds’ life on the road, his portfolio of black and white pictures capture small moments that encapsulate a certain romanticism.
Pictures that he has taken of famous musicians and celebrities, and on stage in front of a huge audience, mingle with small moments in life and more ‘mundane’ scenes.
Yet in spite of their contrasting differences – the ‘big’ with the ‘small’ – they retain a similar feel; that of a nostalgia that pervades throughout the images. Ben Folds’ photos were featured at the National Geographic Live Event, and will undoubtedly be seen in other exhibitions in the future.
See Ben Folds’ photos
8. Matthew Modine
Camera: Large-format Rolleiflex
Style: Documentary-style, behind the movie scenes
Most famous for: His role of Private Joker in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket; he was also pretty awesome in Transporter 2 (just sayin’)
Inspired by Kubrick’s earlier career as a photographer for Look magazine, Modine brought along a large-format Rolleiflex camera while filming on the set of Full Metal Jacket. By the end of filming he had taken hundreds of photographs capturing real-life drama on set.
Those photographs have since been collated into a book called Full Metal Jacket Diary which is also now available as an iPad app.
See Matthew Modine’s photos
9. Brendan Fraser
Style: Lo-fi photojournalism
Most famous for: His role as Rick O’Connell in The Mummy, as well as Crash, The Quiet American and, of course, Encino Man
A fan of lo-fi photography, Fraser has often been known to appear on the set of Scrubs in his guest roles with Polaroids, a folding pack camera, and a Japanese-only Holga model; he even has a dedication in the book ‘Collector’s Guide to Instant Cameras’!
His selection of his photography can be viewed on his website and features three separate sets: The Quiet American, People: Vietnam, and Places: Morocco.
Some black and white photography and some sepia, his photos look as though they have come straight out of the early 20th century; perhaps he was influenced by his role in The Mummy?
See Brendan Fraser’s photos
10. Tyra Banks
Style: Dramatic fashion and beauty photography
Most famous for: Internationally renowned model and host of America’s Next Top Model
Banks made a name for herself in the modelling industry as one of the world’s top models, but she is also comfortable behind the camera as well as in front of it.
Dramatic and eye-catching, Banks’ photography uses light and shadows for impact. She has been known to use materials to cast interesting patterns of shadow on the faces of the models.
Her years of experience working in front the camera as a model will have undoubtedly helped her learn the photographic trade, but as evident in her pictures, she clearly has a natural eye for lighting and composition.
11. Kenny Rogers
Camera: Large-format cameras
Style: Landscape and portraiture
Most famous for: Knowing when to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em, when to walk away and when to run
Rogers might be better known for his country music, but he is also an accomplished landscape photographer. Going further than simply picking up a digital camera and shooting, Rogers began his photographic hobby by developing his own film in his home-based darkroom when shooting photographs for his wife’s and wife’s friends modelling portfolios.
He then went to study with photographer John Sexton, who was once assistant to none other than the great Ansel Adams. But our favourite fact about Kenny Rogers is that he was a judge for Digital Camera magazine’s Photographer of the Year 2011!
See Kenny Rogers’ photos
12. Gina Lollobrigida
Most famous for: Being an iconic sex symbol of the 1950s
As well as being an internationally renowned actress, Lollobrigida became a respected photojournalist by the end of the 1970s.
Salvador Dali, Henry Kissinger, David Cassidy, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn are but a few names she was able to add to her enviable photography portfolio.
On the subject of photography, she has said, “Photography means discovering the world and oneself, filtering reality through your own feelings with creativity and a touch of imagination.”
See Gina Lollobrigida’s photos
13. Helena Christensen
Style: Photojournalism and portraiture
Most famous for: Being one of the world’s first supermodels
Known worldwide as a supermodel, Christensen proves she is not just a pretty face by making a name for herself as a photographer.
Her first solo exhibition, People and Portraits, was held at London’s Proud Central Gallery in 2003.
Since she made the transition from model to photographer, Christensen has taken commissioned portraits of Bono, Marianne Faithful, and Michael Stipe to name a few.
But apart from commissioned portraits of celebrities, Christensen has demonstrated an entirely different style of photography by way of photojournalistic shots depicting the impact of climate change in Peru; a far cry from the glamour of celebrity lifestyles. This series of photographs were exhibited in collaboration with humanitarian charity Oxfam.
See more of Helena Christensen’s photos
14. Michael Stipe
Style: Black and white documentary style
Most famous for: Losing his religion (er, and lead vocalist for rock band REM)
Stipe began taking pictures aged 15 before graduating high school and studying photography along with painting at the University of Georgia.
Although Stipe might be losing his religion, he certainly isn’t losing his passion for photography and continues to take pictures and frequently posts them to his Tumblr blog, Confessions of a Michael Stipe.
In addition to this, Stipe also release a photography book entitled ‘Two Times Intro: On the Road with Patti Smith’, which is the result of his experience as a tour photographer for Smith in 1995. The black and white series of polaroids featured in the book represent an honest portrayal of Smith through Stipe’s eyes.
Modestly, Stipe says of his photography, “Photography for me is like breathing. It’s really, really natural, and really simple. I take really great photographs without putting that much effort into it.”
See Michael Stipe’s photos
15. Dennis Hopper
Style: Black and white documentary style
Most famous for: His role in Rebel Without a Cause and directing and starring in Easy Rider
Hopper first became interested in photography thanks to his friend James Dean, who was said to have encouraged him to pick up a camera. After Dean’s death, Hopper was infamously refused by Hollywood studios and so turned to photography.
Hopper’s emotive photography portrayed scenes of a decadent society and he was soon acknowledged as an up-and-coming photographer. However his photographic career came to an abrupt end when in 1967 he turned his attention to directing movies.
Hopper’s photographic book, Out of the Sixties – published in 1986 – featured his collection of work from between 1960 to 1967. In it he states, “I never made a cent from these photos. They cost me money but kept me alive … They were the only creative outlet I had for these years until Easy Rider. I never carried a camera again.”
16. Viggo Mortensen
Most famous for: One ring to rule them all… His role of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings
Actor, poet, musician, painter, and photographer, Mortensen seems to have conquered almost every available discipline within the arts.
Having dabbled in photography since he was a teenager, he has brought out a string of photographic books including, Recent Forgeries, Un hueco en el sol, Signlangauge, Hole in the Sun, Coincidence of Memory, 45301, and Miyelo.
Mortensen sets himself apart from the average photographer, often scratching or writing on his photographs. He ascertains that the moments he captures in his photography are based on lived experiences.
See Viggo Mortensen’s photos
17. Aaron Eckhart
Most famous for: His role as Harvey Dent in Batman: Dark Knight Returns
Although Eckhart enjoys photography in his spare time, he takes his hobby seriously and has taken a series of pictures for humanitarian medical aid organisation, AmeriCares, for which he took pictures from a tour of medical facilities in the Dominican Republic.
He says, “”Like honest acting, there’s nothing better than an honest picture. And everyone in these photos are all real people and real life—that’s why I cherish these images.
“These images may look sad or grim to some people, but they’re not. When I was there, I saw happiness and hope. I think these images reflect the reality of people’s lives, but what’s captured is all beautiful to me.”
See Aaron Eckhart’s photos
18. Seal (Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel)
Most famous for: ‘We’re never going to survive unless we get a little crazy’. British soul and R&B singer-songwriter
Yes, award winning musician Seal is another celebrity you didn’t know was a photographer. According to his website Seal is a Leica fanatic and has appeared in a video for the camera company about his photography.
As a portrait photographer, one of his favourite subjects to shoot are his children. He believesthat both music and photography express and validate the human experience in complementary ways.
See Seal’s photos
19. Dizzee Rascal / Dylan Kwabena Mills
Style: Documentary and abstract
Most famous for: ‘Bonkers’. English rapper, songwriter, and record producer
Dizzee’s passion for photography has produced a great series of pictures of Britain, from the places that inspired him growing up, to the places that inspire him today.
He says, “Beauty doesn’t have to be about traditionally accepted perceptions; it can be anything from memories to ideas – beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It’s important for everyone to be inspired by what’s around them, so this is a great opportunity to visualise what you see as beautiful about Britain.”
Of course his passion might have been helped to some extent by Microsoft when he was hired to help promote its search engine Bing.com by way of their ‘Your Britain’ campaign.
See Dizzee Rascal’s photos
20. Mick Fleetwood
Most famous for: Drummer and namesake of rock band Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood has had an avid interest in photography for a number of years when he used to photograph his band Fleetwood Mac when they were on tour. The band’s bassist, John McVie, was also a photographer and became Fleetwood’s mentor in the art. The two shared a darkroom in the house they shared together.
Fleetwood’s passion for photography developed and he has since been featured in American Photo magazine’s ‘Photography Rocks’ exhibition, and earlier this year had his photography exhibited at the Mouche Gallery in Beverly Hills.
He says, “The world of nature is something I have always been passionate about and it has been a huge inspiration for my photographs. The camera lens is like a magic window that transports me into a secret world.”
See Mick Fleetwood’s photos
21. Michael Madsen
Style: Gritty pictures of signs
Most famous for: His roles in Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, Sin City, and… Free Willy
Madsen has had his photography featured at exhibitions around the world and had his first photographic book, ‘Signs of Life’, published in 2006. His photography would look quite at home in a Quentin Tarantino film, featuring full-colour pictures of signs from small businesses, hotels, diners, and bars from across the US.
See Michael Madsen’s photos
22. Lenny Kravitz
Most famous for: Award-winning singer-songwriter
Better known for winning the Grammy Award for ‘Best Male Rock Vocal Performance’ four years on the run (1999 to 2002) Kravitz is less famous for his photography. However as an accomplished photographer, Kravitz has in fact had his work featured in Russian Vogue magazine. His portraits feel natural and candid and have a certain ‘fly-on-the-wall’ charm to them.
See Lenny Kravitz’s photos
23. Andy Summers
Style: Black and white documentary
Most famous for: English guitarist for rock band The Police
Summers describes music and photography as being ‘kindred spirits’, and that ‘the photographs he creates are visual counterparts to the music that never leaves his head’.
His three photography books (Desirer Walks The Streets, Throb, and I’ll Be Watching You: Inside The Police 1980-83) all feature his ‘behind-the-scenes’ black and white photography of The Police while they were on tour.
Taken in true documentary style, Summers’ images range from the intimate to the mundane and can be bleak and sometimes even surprising; but they all touchingly ‘real’.
See Andy Summers’ photos
24. Brad Pitt
Most famous for: Hollywood Heartthrob
Pitt’s retro photography made an impact as it featured a completely new angle of one of the world’s most photographed women; his then wife, Angelina Jolie.
Commissioned to take the pictures by W magazine, he was reportedly determined to shoot with Kodak Tech Pan film, which hadn’t been produced for years. How did he get his hands on the film? Well, he’s Brad Pitt.
W magazine’s Photo Editor Nadia Vellam tracked down the film on eBay, and later on from a source in Israel, and had it specially shipped and handed to Pitt in the south of France by a courier.
The results were worth the effort, and feature wonderfully grainy shots that suggest an air of nostalgic romanticism; some are even a little eerie. Pitt clearly has a great eye for photography, and has worked with the natural light in his pictures.
See Brad Pitt’s photos
25. Kyle MacLachlan
Camera: Sony Qualia
Most famous for: His role of Agent Cooper in David Lynch’s surreal TV series Twin Peaks and, er, Showgirls
A keen amateur photographer, the subjects MacLachlan likes to shoot are varied and range from architecture, to travel, to golf, and to creative portrait photography of his pet dogs.
See Kyle MacLachlan’s photos
26. David Byrne
Most famous for: Co-founding American rock band Talking Heads
Not to be confused with another David Byrne recently in the news, the David Byrne followed a successful career in pioneering rock band Talking Heads by pushing the boat out to work in other creative areas such as film, opera, and photography.
Although he has had a keen interest in photography since college, he only became serious about the discipline in recent years, featuring his work in numerous photography magazines and books. His style might be described as documentary photography or abstract still life photography in instances like the image above, but are more about capturing the ‘mundane’ aspects of life and do not often feature people.
See David Byrne’s photos
27. Lou Reed
Style: Landscape photography
Most famous for: Guitarist and vocalist for The Velvet Underground
The rock and roll lifestyle for which Reed is most famous seems strangely juxtaposed against the calm images he creates with his camera. ‘Romanticism’ is his third photographic book, which is a series of black and white landscapes.
Inspiration for the title came from 19th Century Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. Not at all what you’d expect from a rock star!
See Lou Reed’s photos
28. Graham Nash
Style: Black and white documentary
Most famous for: English singer-songwriter and band member of Crosby, Stills & Nash
As well as being a keen photographer since childhood, Nash is also a keen collector of photographs. He acquired more than 1000 prints in 1976 and hired Graham Howe to curate the collection, which then toured museums worldwide before being auctioned through Sothebys in 1990, breaking the world record for the highest grossing sale of a single private collection of photography.
Nash’s black and white photography is lo-fi and sometimes experimental, ranging from candid shots to images that are even a little eerie.
See Graham Nash’s photos
29. Melissa Auf der Maur
Style: Lomo, documentary
Most famous for: Former bass player for American rock bands Hole and Smashing Pumpkins
Auf de Maur is another musician turned behind-the-scenes band photographer. At the time she joined rock band Hole, she was a photography major at Concordia University specialising in self-portraiture. Since then, she has been widely published in magazines such as Nylon, Bust, and American Photo, and her work has been exhibited internationally.
See Melissa Auf der Maur’s photos
30. Linda McCartney
Most famous for: Her vegetarian culinary skills and being married to Paul McCartney
As well as being famous for marrying former Beatles star Paul McCartney and joining his subsequent bands Ram and Wings, McCartney was also known for her vegetarian cookbooks and for her photography.
Her formal training in the art is certainly not extensive, as she only attended two night classes on the subject! Work by Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Edward Weston inspired her to become a photographer, and she turned professional in the mid-1960s.
During her career she photographed many high profile bands and musicians including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, B.B. King, The Doors, The Beach Boys, The Who, The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, and many more, as well as having her work exhibited worldwide.
See Linda McCartney’s photos