BookLife Talks with Julian David Stone
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'No Cameras Allowed'After two of music’s biggest legends died in the same year, Stone went back through a decade of rock ‘n’ roll guerilla photographs to publish No Cameras Allowed: My Career as an Outlaw Rock and Roll Photographer.
What’s the story behind this book?
No Cameras Allowed tells the story, in words and photos, of how beginning as a teenager and entirely by sneaking my equipment into concerts, I amassed an incredible archive of more than 10,000 rock ‘n’ roll photos. Starting by simply stashing a camera in my socks, then taping equipment all over my body, and finally customizing a jacket to hide equipment from security guards, I shot dozens of the 1980s’ greatest acts: David Bowie, Elvis Costello, the Grateful Dead, Joan Jett, the Police, Prince, R.E.M., the Ramones, the Talking Heads, U2, and many, many more. Culled from my never-before-seen archive, the book contains more than 250 of my best photos, along with some of the craziest adventures I had as I evaded oversize roadies, aggressive security, and more than a few drunken fans.
Was publishing a book always the goal?
No. In fact, this all came out of nowhere. All of the photos in the book are at least 30 years old and represent a time in my life that I had closed back in the 1980s. It was only after Prince and David Bowie sadly passed away that the idea started to form. I posted a few photos on social media that I had taken of them back in the 1980s, and suddenly I was inundated with people asking why I had these pictures and how I had come to take them. Most importantly, many people suggested that I put out a book. I liked the idea, and after that, everything came together pretty quickly.
You’re a writer as well as a photographer. Do you prefer one creative pursuit over the other?I love them both, though writing has been where my career energies have gone. My photographic career really ended in the 1980s, when my writing career took off. I spent the ’90s as a screenwriter writing for Disney, MGM, Paramount, and other studios and production companies in Hollywood before transitioning into novels about 15 years ago. With No Cameras Allowed now out in the world, I am close to finishing my next novel. And lately things have come full circle, as my first novel, The Strange Birth, Short life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl is in the process of being turned into a TV series.
What’s your favorite photo from the book?
My all-time favorite photo is a shot of Prince from the Purple Rain tour in 1985. It’s on page 191 of my book and shows him at the absolute peak of his fame—with the number one album, song, and movie in the country—standing majestically like a rock god, one hand on his guitar, the other high above his head, ready to be swung down to pound out a mighty power chord. But because he’s Prince, there is a beautiful pink boa wonderfully flowing along with the action.
What’s been the response toward the book?
The response has been incredible! Well beyond anything I could have dreamed of. I’ve always felt good about my photos, but what has been particularly gratifying is the reaction to the stories of all my adventures outrunning security, roadies, fans, and so on. People love them! In fact, in about half of the interviews I’ve done promoting the book, the interviewer has said, “You know, this would make a great movie!” No argument from me.