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Fleetwood Mac Drummer Takes Photo Exhibit on Tour

Curators’ corner

Fleetwood Mac Drummer Takes Photo Exhibit on Tour

When Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie bought a camera during the band’s ascension to stardom in the 1960s, drummer Mick Fleetwood bought one, too.

“It was like, ‘If he’s got one of those, I’m getting one of those,’ ” Fleetwood told the Arizona Republic.

Fleetwood’s passion for photography was undiscovered, but the interest, or “muscle memory” as he describes it, was there. As a child, Fleetwood’s family traveled around the world while his father, who was in the Royal Air Force, took pictures every step of the way. Fleetwood recalls that they didn’t have a lot of money, “but Dad always had a nice camera” and took the time to capture family moments.

With his new camera, Fleetwood began taking snapshots on the road with Fleetwood Mac, quickly becoming “the annoying family photographer” of the band, as he tells Boulder Weekly.

“I took photos of everything, anywhere and anything, and I still have thousands of shots of everything we did in the band,” he said.

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© Dominique Pandolfi

Fleetwood’s approach to photography slowly developed from rapid fire to a more calculated perspective. He grew from stumbling upon great shots to composing them, and found a passion in photography similar to that which he had for music.

“The creative process behind the photo sucked me in,” he told Boulder Weekly. “I felt I found a way to express myself other than banging on drums.”

More than four decades later, 67-year-old Fleetwood’s professional photography exhibition, Reflections, is touring alongside the legendary rock band he cofounded.

The images aren’t what you’d expect from a rock star; Fleetwood is primarily a still life and nature photographer. His imagery consists of flowers, gardens and tranquil Hawaiian scenery from his home on Maui. He cites Ansel Adams as an influence, and shoots on an old Contax camera that he’s had for more than 20 years. He sometimes shoots digitally, but prefers film.

“Film disallows you to stream off hundreds of shots,” he told Boulder Weekly. “It makes you work a little harder to get it right. I like the drama of that. It begs you to make a commitment. Crash or burn, you don’t find out you got it wrong until you take it home. I’m trying to connect with that old school approach.”

Naturally, Fleetwood compares photography to music:

“It’s a process starting with an idea, going back to the idea, adding to the idea, disregarding it for a while, and then coming back to it,” he said. “So I create my picture by thinking, ‘I like that valley I saw the other week. Now I’m going to go back and try to take a picture of that tree with that hill. Oh, it looks like a painting! No, it doesn’t.’ 

Then I’ll start the process over again. The end result is like music where you end up with a song, then you buff it out and you fix it. Mixing a song is like developing a photo.”

Fleetwood has become a true visual artist, sometimes even applying paint and glaze over his photographs to add dimension and color. His exhibition is visiting stops on Fleetwood Mac’s “On with the Show” tour including Toronto, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix and Fort Lauderdale. According to the Denver Post, prints sell for roughly $2,000-$6,000.

Fleetwood told the New Times Broward-Palm Beach that he knows people may only be paying attention to his photography because of his name, but has been happy with the response.

“There are people that say, ‘Wow! I didn’t realize I’d come in and look at a whole show of mostly very calm, very classy, and very poetic pictures. Frankly, I thought I’d see dogs with their bottoms hanging off chandeliers or something’,” he said. “And that’s kind of nice when they find it’s something else, another side of whatever this creature is. That it’s just me.”

Creativity knows no genre. Enjoy a few of Fleetwood’s images below, and visit his website to follow his cross-medium ventures.

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© Mick Fleetwood

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