Photograph by Andrew Kent courtesy of Rock Paper Photo
Mick Jagger, Madonna, Bowie--the history of rock has found a home at Rock Paper Photo, an extraordinary archive of pop culture fine art photography that launched approximately 18 months ago. Co-ounded by Guy Oseary, Madonna's manager, the site is a treasure trove of images, including several rare and previously unseen David Bowie portraits used in this issue. For a short time, Out readers can purchase limited editions of iconic photographs at a special 15% discount (use code Photo15Out until the offer expires April 30). Curious what makes it different, we caught up with Mark Halpern, CEO of RPP, to find out how this extraordinary work from world-renowned photographers came to be available to a wider public than ever before.
They have built a roster of photographers that totals close to 300, but although it's a treasure trove of material, it's more about quality than quantity, according to Halpern. They also cater to both collectors of fine art photography and fans—everyone from Beatles completists to U2 fantatics—who may not have seen their favorites in such a setting until now since magazines only publish a very small number of the shots that were taken (if at all).
For the most part, the musicians have been happy to see the work have a second life. Photographer Andrew Kent, for example, was very close to David Bowie and documented him during the '70s. Soon after, he stopped shooting, and he now resides in Sun Valley, Idaho. When his photos (several of which are featured in Out's April issue) surfaced, RPP reached out to Bowie's management to share the with him. "David said he really enjoyed these," Halpern says. "That's because back then it was different. During the pre-Paris Hilton days there was a bond, a friendship, that's why there are so many unguarded moments. That changed with the paparazzi."
For those who may have bought photo items on the black market, collectors who buy from RPP can feel more secure since they receive a certificate of authenticity and, depending on the edition size, a signature by the artist. That will hopefully help if they decide to one day sell their photography on the secondary market. Basically, however, the experience is a way of owning a piece of history—and maybe even discovering new music after accessing the talent through a beautiful portrait.
As for Halpern, he says it's impossible to choose a single favorite image from the thousands available on the site, but he is a fan and lives with the art on his own walls as well. "I have a large portrait of Debbie Harry mid-kiss with Chris Stein in front of the NYC subway by Roberta Bayley in my living room," Halpern says. "It's a limited edition of 20 cibachrome prints, and to me, it's such a quintessential, beautiful New York moment."
Out readers can purchase limited editions of iconic photographs at a special 15% discount (use code Photo15Out until the offer expires April 30).