Depeche Mode: Strangers
by Anton Corbijn
Around 1997/1998, I found this photo book in a Tower Records book store outlet in my hometown of Sacramento. I’d recently become an avid photographer after starting a job at Kits Camera (later becoming Ritz Camera), a photo lab & camera store chain. I was already a fan of Depeche Mode’s music.
It was this photo book that inspired me to pursue photography and film. It was a selection of Anton’s personal favorite images. His striking black and white photographs compelled me. The grain, contrast, composition and relation to the subject was astounding. There is a level of comfort and empathy that is special, particularly that the subjects are a band on it’s way to the pinnacle of their career.
He’s used only a Hasselblad and Tri-X film for most of his career. His unique visual style comes from a mastery of the lithographic printing process applied to photography. His color photographs were always reversal/slide film (E-6) cross-processed in color negative chemistry (C-41).
He shot music videos for the entire albums of Music for The Masses and Violator. The videos were placed into a loose film narrative framework. The results were two films, Strange and Strange, Too. Using Super 8 movie film for both, it continued his visual style and voice for the band. These videos inspired me as a filmmaker.
My short films were all shot on black and white 16mm film. My personal film work consisted largely of black and white Super 8 film. My photography has always been black and white focused. However, it is his empathy and connection to his subjects that continue to inspire me.
The level of comfort and access with his subjects, commercial bands, make his photographs and films unique and stand the test of time.
Samples from my upcoming KUSTI series. Shot in a wrestling camp in a small town in Western India.
In celebration of celluloid and the latest news about Kodak, here is my first attempt at filmmaking. When I was a teen I bought an old windup 16mm Bolex from a swap meet at Pardee’s Cameras in Sacramento, CA. I had no idea about metering, all the editing was done by hand and had to project it to watch it.