In 1965, aged only 18, Gered Mankowitz got a call asking him to photograph the Rolling Stones. His iconic images of the band started Mankowitz on a long, successful career that saw him shoot big names such as Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Kate Bush, Duran Duran, and Oasis
Gered Mankowitz is the son of writer Wolf Mankowitz and psychotherapist Ann Mankowitz.
After joining a number of progressive schools in northern London, he left his unfinished studies. Having displayed a natural‘eye’for photography while on a school trip to Holland and having been inspired to take up photography by the actor Peter Sellers, his photographs were seen by the legendary photographer Tom Blau, who offered Gered an apprenticeship at his famous photo agency, Camera Press Ltd., in London.
Over a period of several months Gered worked in all the various departments that made up Camera Press, finally moving to the studio and going on various assignments in and around London.
In 1962, Gered went to Barbados with his family and began taking photographs professionally, producing a range of work from architectural studies for the island’s top architect to the first Boeing 707 landing at Bridgetown airport for British West Indian Airways.
At the end of 1963 Mankowitz opened his first studio, at 9 Masons Yard in the heart of London’s West End. On one side was the infamous disco“TheScotch of St.James”, hangout of the pop glitterati of the time, and on the other the art gallery“Indica”,partly financed by The Beatles and where John Lennon met Yoko Ono.
Within a few months Gered had already begun to make a name for himself, and he was approached to photograph Marianne Faithful, who had just had a big hit with“AsTears Go By”. Working closely with Marianne he got to know her manager and producer Andrew Loog Oldham, who also managed and produced The Rolling Stones.
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MORE ABOUT GERED MANKOWITZ
From the first experience Gered had working with the Rolling Stones his career path was completely defined.
His first session with them was for the cover of their groundbreaking‘Outof Our Heads’ album, and as a result of this he was asked to accompany them on their record breaking 1965 autumn tour of America. This lasted six weeks and took in 36 cities and Gered photographed the band both on and off stage. After that he continued to work with them as their‘official’photographer, producing photos for numerous albums and for press and publicity use.
Gered found himself at the very epicentre of the swinging Sixties, experiencing first hand an era that was to change the world forever.“Itwas an extraordinary time,” he says,“thoughnone of us realised back then how momentous and influential it all was. There was the feeling that you could do anything; the rule book had been completely thrown out.” One shining example of this principle in action was Gered’s shot for the cover of The Rolling Stones album‘Betweenthe Buttons.’“Iwas confident enough by this time to bring some of my own ideas to the sessions,” he says,“andI’d prepared this homemade filter that I’d smeared with Vaseline, so that when it was held in front of the lens it created a soft focus and a‘druggy’kind of feel."
Through the 60’s, Mankowitz continued in the music world working with Oldham at his famous Immediate label, and with many other major artists including Jimi Hendrix, Free, Traffic, The Yardbirds, The Small Faces and Soft Machine.
In to the 70’s with Slade, Gary Glitter, Suzi Quatro, Sweet, Elton John, Kate Bush, Eurythmics, ABC, Duran Duran and many others.
During this period, Gered also worked in other areas of photography, including advertising, book covers and a brief spell taking‘stills’on movies, including several months in Sardinia with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on the ill-fated movie“Boom”.
In 1982 Gered had a major exhibition of his work at London’s famous Photographers’ Gallery. This was seen by over 16,000 people, a record for the gallery at the time, and it then toured the U.K. for over 2 years. This exhibition was the first in the U.K. to focus on the world of music and was a pathfinder in this genre.
Despite a career that’s lasted for over half a century, and which has seen him scale not just the heights as a music photographer but also have an equally strong separate career as an advertising and editorial photographer, Mankowitz has stuck with one camera brand throughout, the Hasselblad.
“I used that first camera through the Sixties and would no doubt still have it now if it hadn’t been stolen,” he says.“I’mjust not the kind of photographer that’s a gear freak. Likewise, I've only ever used four lenses in my career; I started out with the 50mm, 80mm and 150mm and added the 120mm when it came out. The 50mm has always been my favourite – it’s the one I used to photograph Hendrix, and although it doesn’t distort things in an obvious way, the perspective slightly exaggerates the size of the head in relation to the rest of the body and creates the perfect rock and roll image.”
For over 22 years Gered Mankowitz was based at his North London studio, a converted Victorian chapel, taking prize-winning photos for the advertising industry. He has also been a regular contributor to several major publications, and still works in the music business, photographing bands and singers for album covers and magazines.