In the early 1970s, Chris Stein was a student at the School of Visual Arts in New York, spending his off-hours photographing the pre-Giuliani Big Apple of garbage strikes, murder, muggings, and a Midtown more S&M than M&M (see this Facebook page for some of that). That was also the NYC of the Warhol’s Factory and the Velvet Underground, CBGB and the Ramones, Max’s Kansas City and the New York Dolls. Et cetera. There Stein met a young singer/model/waitress named Deborah Harry, and–true to the spirit of the time and place–together played in a series of bands, the last of which, Blondie, made them quite a bit famous.
To mark the Blondie’s 40th anniversary (40th!), Stein and Rizzoli have published Chris Stein/Negative: Me, Blondie, and the Advent of Punk, a collection of Stein’s photographs of the band, the scene, and–most frequently–Debbie Harry. Enjoy this excerpt from her introduction to the book, as well as a few of the images.
Chris Stein/Negative is a selection for Amazon.com’s Best Books of 2014 in Entertainment.
Excerpt from "Voyeur," Deborah Harry’s Introduction to Chris Stein/Negative
We started working together, Chris and I, in 1973. I sort of got used to seeing him with a camera, always taking pictures, so when he started shooting me, it wasn’t much of a shock really. After all, we were in the same group, the Stillettoes, and Chris had a casual ease with a camera that belied how well he knew his f-stops. I never felt comfortable in front of a camera and never liked seeing photos of myself. Chris’s sense of humor and easy, relaxed personality made me feel relaxed, too, and eventually, I started to like being shot by him, which has led to his photos of me being seen worldwide. There was an easy trust that I felt standing in front of his camera. I’ve watched him suggest to total strangers, without even actually speaking, that he’d like to take their pictures, and so I know he must have made them feel the same way. All of the experiences I had with Chris as his subject in those early days gave me a confidence that made it possible for me to do photo sessions with some of the world’s most famous photographers. Because of our personal relationship, I think, Chris’s pictures of me are the most real and unguarded and ultimately revealing.
Those days, and the nights at CBGB, were full of characters, and you will meet some of them in the following pages. I remember when we set up the enlarger in our apartment on West 17th Street. The kitchen was really large, and after developing the film, Chris would print then hang the photos under the skylight after a substantial amount of muttering and cursing. I’m sure some of the shots included in this book are from those same negatives. And I am sure you will enjoy seeing Chris’s photos and reading his comments about them—along with all his stories about the scene and the characters that have filled the frames of his camera lens.
Images from Chris Stein/Negative: Me, Blondie, and the Advent of Punk
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