Photographers in Focus: Dennis Morris – NOWNESS

As a genre-defining image-maker, Morris has a reputation for being in the right place at the right time. When aged only eleven he took a photo of a PLO leader that would end up in the British newspaper the Daily Mirror. At sixteen, he snapped an image of Bob Marley that would become the reggae artist’s unofficial court portrait. Later stints would see him capturing the likes of the Sex Pistols and Marianne Faithfull. In this candid portrait of the epochal photographer, Morris opens up about his motivations, influences and aesthetics. Born in the London borough of Hackney, Morris was deterred by school career advisors from pursuing photography. However, by age seventeen his images adorned the covers of Time Out and Melody Maker, leading to long periods—and close friendships—with the likes of Sex Pistols’ frontman John Lydon, with whom he scouted Jamaica to sign young reggae artists to Richard Branson’s Virgin Records label.

Music and photography have gone hand-in-hand for Morris since his early years. He originally founded his own punk band and would later, in 1984, set up drum and bass outfit Urban Shakedown, getting signed to Virgin Records and releasing a series of influential singles. His photographic practice continues apace, with shoots for the likes of Bush, Oasis, and The Prodigy, while his pictures have been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide—from KNOWN in Los Angeles to the ICA in London.

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