Whitehot Magazine

Outtake Gallery Gift Guide: Unseen Images

Joni Mitchell by Joel Bernstein. Courtesy of Outtake Gallery.

By CORI HUTCHINSON, December 2021 

With photographs cherry-picked from the archives of prominent photographers of the rock and roll era, notably Andrew Kent, Joel Bernstein, Ken Regan, Michael Grecco, and co-founder Neal Preston, the newly-launched Outtake Gallery seeks to indulge interest from fans and collectors in unseen images of long-admired musicians. Prioritizing rarity over ubiquity, all prints are sold as limited editions in curated batches. 

Preston says, “We created the Outtake Gallery to cater to the true fans of music photography, to uncover various gems hidden for years in file cabinets. Every photographer who is part of the Outtake Gallery has amassed a huge collection of photographs, many of which have never been seen and never offered for sale. As a group we’ve decided the time is right to dig deep and make the fans happy.” Stars from the first release include Billy Idol, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Joni Mitchell, Johnny Cash, Stevie Nicks, and Wendy Williams. 

Freddie Mercury by Neal Preston. Courtesy of Outtake Gallery.

One available print, photographed by Neal Preston, features Stevie Nicks appearing like a veiled dove or a sailboat on Venice Beach in 1981. While other variations of this People Magazine shoot have been widely circulated, as recently as in a 2016 New Yorker article on the resurgent appeal of Stevie Nicks, Outtake’s offering flexes a shrouded and angular portrait, with mystery, glamor, and wind-luck coalescing. Depicting a classical composition similar to The Threatened Swan (c.1650) by Dutch Golden Age painter Jan Asselijn, Preston captures a more discreetly divine version of Nicks here. Also by Preston, Freddie Mercury kneels passionately onstage. Queen: The Neal Preston Photographs, a book published by Reel Art Press compiling over 200 images of the band, offers additional awe for fans of Mercury. 

Stevie Nicks by Ken Regan. Courtesy of Outtake Gallery.

Acclaimed photojournalist Ken Regan’s Stevie Nicks contribution features a high-contrast photograph of the vocalist cheerfully lounging in her pillowy Los Angeles bed in 1977—boots on, of course. This image also emerged as part of a People Magazine shoot, which has been riffed upon by other photographers, and offers a peek into the domestic interior of the musician. Fans of Fleetwood Mac may recall the illustrative legend of the drafting of “Dreams” by Nicks in a secretive bed in Sly Stone’s studio.

Joni Mitchell is pictured candidly in a woodsy scene, earnest and grinning, by Joel Bernstein. Other versions of this photo are included in the gatefold of 1976 Hejira, along with the legendary images of Mitchell ice-skating across a frozen lake dressed as a blackbird, also shot by Bernstein. The cover of Mitchell’s 1972 album, For the Roses, is an inverted, sterner variation of the Outtake Gallery offering. The solitary and natural environment of British Columbia, where the album was written, is suggested in this photograph. Of Mitchell’s headspace during the writing of the album, Sharon O’Connell writes, “She agonised about whether or not her audiences would love her as deeply if they knew what she was really like - in other words, not some supernatural Earth Woman - but was testing their commitment by telling them, in song.” This particular Bernstein image gives levity to balance the severity of the time described.

Billy Idol by Michael Grecco. Courtesy of Outtake Gallery.

Not all outtakes take place offstage. Michael Grecco, among others, contributes a particularly high-energy shot of Billy Idol performing live at The Paradise Club in 1982 Boston, one month after the release of his debut solo album. Fist in the air, gold cross necklace flung into the spotlight, a red-leather-vested Idol purses his face and juts forward in action. With a palette and composition like Evening Star III by Georgia O’Keeffe, Grecco artfully captures a moment of dynamic power. 

Revitalizing interest in a generation of musical icons, Outtake Gallery’s launch comes exactly in time for the new year. Spanning domestic and onstage scenes, these photographs offer favorable variations on the enduring image of beloved musicians. Each print arrives signed and numbered by the photographer, and is available in three sizes. According to Preston, the future will bring further limited-edition images by additional photographers. More information, including full photographer biographies, is available via outtakegallery.com. WM

Cori Hutchinson

Cori Hutchinson is a writer living in Brooklyn.

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