The days of stadium concerts may feel like a distant memory, but singer-turned-photographer Bryan Adams is recreating the touring lifestyle with the likes of Iggy Pop, Jennifer Hudson and Grimes for this year’s Pirelli calendar.
The 2022 edition of the star-studded calendar, themed “On the Road,” will see the Canadian rock star reimagining backstage moments with a cast of celebrity musicians.
Although the final images will not be unveiled until November, new behind-the-scenes photographs show Rita Ora kicking her legs up in a bathtub and Cher dragging red lipstick across a bright dressing room mirror.
Adams, who has worked as a professional photographer for over a decade, joins a roll call of high-profile names – including Annie Leibovitz and Peter Lindbergh – asked to shoot the annual calendar. Fresh off a photo shoot with rapper Saweetie, he said that being a musician himself put him on “equal ground” with the celebrities being photographed.
“There’s an almost instant understanding when we meet each other, even if we’ve never met each other before – the fact that you’re a musician and I’m a musician,” he told CNN, adding he portrays people “in the best possible light.”
Drawing on his own four-decade experience of touring, Adams will detail the journey from an initial spark of inspiration to arriving at the final show. While he had an overall creative direction on the shoots, he said he drew on the star cast’s talent and energy.
“You know, I can only do so much as a photographer,” he explained. “I can only set the scenario, and after then it’s up to the subject to make it work. And I will say that the more people give, then the better the photographs.”
Although he is best known for hits like “Summer of ’69” and “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” Adams has had his photography displayed at institutions like the Saatchi Gallery, and featured in magazines including British Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. He has published several books of his images, including portraits of Afghanistan war veterans and homeless street vendors.
‘Very sexy, without being overtly sexy’
Adams announced he was shooting the calendar in June, when he posted a voice note to social media saying he was “proud” to be involved with the project. With last year’s calendar canceled due to the pandemic, the 2022 edition was shot in Los Angeles and on the Italian island of Capri over the course of just three days in June and July.
LA’s Palace Theatre and celebrity hangout Chateau Marmont were among the backdrops for stars including Grimes and Normani, while Saweetie took to Hotel La Scalinatella’s sprawling terrace in Italy for a sun-drenched shoot.
First published in 1964 and known for its sensual images of women, the Pirelli calendar has attempted to reinvent itself in the post-#MeToo era. Recent editions have focused on female empowerment and included an increasingly diverse cast of models.
Adams, however, has taken the calendar in another new direction – by including several men.
One of the most striking images shows Iggy Pop entirely covered in silver paint as he restages an after-show celebration. Adams said the 74-year-old was “right into the idea” and received a standing ovation from the crew, setting the tone for the whole shoot. Asian American rapper Bohan Phoenix, meanwhile, is seen smoldering as he stands shirtless in a spotlight.
While Adams isn’t the first photographer to include men in the Pirelli calendar (the late Karl Lagerfeld, for instance, cast model Baptiste Giaocomini to play a nearly nude Apollo in his Greek-themed 2011 calendar), the rock star said he would be “remiss to not include some men in an equal opportunity way.”
“Let’s face it, us men needed to be objectified as much as women (are),” he said, while stating that he doesn’t “follow that old-school way” of sexualizing women through photography.
His images are, instead, intended to be “very sexy, without being overtly sexy.”
“This is the new world,” he added.