Mick Fleetwood might be best known as the co-founder and drummer of Fleetwood Mac, but this month he’ll be in Denver to show off his photography skills with an exhibition called Reflections at the Fascination Street Fine Art gallery. We spoke to Fleetwood in advance of the show…M
Yellow Scene: How long have you been dabbling in photography?
Mick Fleetwood: Probably from about 1968, just after we started Fleetwood Mac in 1967. One of the first things I got when I had a little bit of dosh was a decent camera. That would have been through muscle memory from my father, who was the snapshot taker in the family. I always remembered dad taking loads of pictures. Some families did that and, somewhat sadly, some families didn’t, and they don’t have a whole lot of dialog and memory of who they are and where they came from. We were a family used to dad forcing us to take pictures and stuff – the boring picture taker. Dad, looking back on it, had what one would deem to be a real camera. Muscle memory of that was in there quietly. When I started touring, it seemed a very natural thing to take pictures of whence you were going. I enjoyed it, so I became the family boring photographer that forced everyone to smile all the time. That’s really all it was – taking shots all the time. No art, thoughts of being a photographer or anything – really just making a chronicle of what went on. I got the bug back then and I was quietly inspired to buy a halfway decent camera by John McVie, who actually is a really good photographer who got into developing film and all that other stuff, that I never did. I got a decent camera and then carried on the snapshot tradition. Over 20 years ago, I started trying to be artsy – actually thinking about what I was going to take rather than just taking it. I suddenly realized that the times that I did that, I liked the drama, the poetry and the process that is involved in that. I enjoy taking still life because you can take your time doing it – you’re quite happy that it’s not a race car going 300 miles an hour past you. It happens to be just a lovely tree, and you’re waiting for the sun to look just right. Whenever I did it, I really enjoyed it and I still do. It’s really a private thing, but the fact that I’m showing photographs is fun. All my experience came from thinking it was cool to show pictures in Maui, so when I had the opportunity to do this, I was already quietly enthusiastic. Why the hell not? That’s how I got to where I am.
YS: It’s interesting that you say you take pictures while on tour – is that a good way to fill the downtime?
MF: Most definitely. It’s been great. I have all my cameras with me now, in a road case. When we were back east on this tour, I was hoping that the trees had turned (not to be all artsy-fartsy). It was unbelievable in upstate New York where we were based. Sadly, I didn’t really get what I wanted because I wanted it to be that bright red/orange/yellow image. It goes crazy up there. Straight after we left there, the whole eastern seaboard went into that cold period and it changed after we left. Stuff like that is fun. You win some, you lose some. I have a lot of fun taking pictures on the road that aren’t landscapes. First of all, they’re a chronological keepsake, so that’s fun. We’re touring Europe next year, and I already know that I’m going to Italy to take pictures, do some traveling with my girlfriend. It’s not the be all and end all, but it’s really a fun backdrop. A poetic keepsake that travels with you. It’s my version of trying to paint, knowing I can’t paint. I can’t paint, but I can take a photograph of that mountain. That’s where I’m at.
YS: Do you have any tips for novice photographers?
MF: I think the whole rambling conversation that I’ve had with you would be trying to say one thing – don’t be frightened of not being very good. That will get you into the process, certainly with photography and of course with many other things. Are you enjoying it? If you really like it, open up that door and keep doing it. As you’re doing it, you’ll get better at it and it will keep unfolding. That is the best form of encouragement. If you’re privately enjoying it, don’t worry that it’s not the best thing in the world. That’s not the point.
Mick Fleetwood’s Reflections is at 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 11 at the Fascination St. Fine Art gallery; 315 Detroit St, Denver; 303-333-1566.