‘I think in black and white,’ admits Kevin Westenberg. ‘If I didn’t have to do colour, I probably wouldn’t.’ This is not what you expect to hear from the purveyor of some of the most striking and vividly-coloured photographic portraits of recent years. Then again, Westenberg’s monochrome images are equally powerful. Evidence, certainly, of his versatility and professionalism, but perhaps there is more to it than that.
This apparent contradiction is just one of several associated with this rising talent of contemporary photography. He’s a North American who fell in love with London. His passion for music drew him towards rock photography, but he never yearned to join a band. He’s a consummate technician, but one who has never studied photography and is entirely self-taught. (Instead he spent six years as an architecture student.)
At heart a great portraitist,nevertheless his portfolio can boast peerless live shots, and his images have recently illustrated tour programmes for Coldplay, The Corrs, U2 and Dido.
Having grown up in Vancouver and Seattle, it was during a 6 month Architecture exchange program in Denmark, which he describes as ?a completely transforming experience?, that he had his first meaningful encounters with both photography – he bought his first camera in Copenhagen – and the European music scene. Inspired by punk, he moved to London and tried his hand as a music photographer.
It is twenty years now since his first published work appeared, and his images have graced the covers of countless records – by the likes of Sting, BB King, The Pixies, Tom Jones, Soundgarden, Jane’s Addiction, The Corrs, The Breeders and U2 – and of magazines including Mojo, Rolling Stone, NME,Time Out, Rockin?On Japan, Studio Magazine, X-Ray and The Daily Telegraph.