Legendary photographer Chris Cuffaro sums up his expansive 40 year career as a photographer and chronicler of our musical and pop culture with a simple clever line: “I have a million stories and the photos to prove it!”
Over the past few decades, he has worked with a diverse array of top musical artists from late pop sensation George Michael and Iggy Pop to groundbreaking bands Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana. Cuffaro’s live and studio images of these musicians and others, including No Doubt, Limp Bizkit, Henry Rollins, Elvis Costello, Fiona Apple, Scott Weiland and Soundgarden, have regularly appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, RayGun, Vibe, Musician as well as on the covers of more than 300 record albums and CDs. His portfolio also includes sports legends (Kobe Bryant, Wayne Gretzky), supermodels, designers and Hollywood stars Sidney Poitier, Johnny Depp, Dustin Hoffman and Vince Vaughn.
This past month, Cuffaro launched a special exhibit called Greatest Hits: Martini Ranch, which ran August 30 through September 7 at Mr. Musichead Gallery in Hollywood. The exhibit featured intimate, behind the scenes photographs celebrating the 30th anniversary of Oscar and Golden Globe winning director James Cameron’s long form music video for “Reach,” starring the late Bill Paxton and Andrew Todd, who collectively formed the progressive new wave band Martini Ranch. The band was signed to Sire Records for its only major release Holy Cow.
The post-apocalyptic feminist western, which presents a Mad Max version of the American West, was produced by Paxton and Tom Huckabee. The All-Star cast includes Kathryn Bigelow, Paul Reiser, Judge Reinhold, Adrian Pasdar, Bud Cort, Mark Rolston, Lance Henricksen, Brian Thompson, Phillip Granger, Jenette Goldstein and Bobbi Brat among others.
The exhibit opened with a Media Preview and VIP reception on August 30 and was open to the public from August 31 through September 7. Special guests in attendance at the opening included Todd and Cameron, who wrote the exhibit foreword. Cuffaro says about Todd’s participation, “Andrew was originally nervous about coming, but at the end, before he said goodbye, he hugged me and thanked me for bringing back memories of a great time in his life.”
The photographer, who had free reign during the two-day “Reach“ shoot, showcased on set portraits, behind-the-scenes photos, proof sheets and never-before-seen images, with more than 80 prints on display.
Of the exhibit, Cuffaro commented, “I have to say this was the music video shoot that gave me the directing bug. Watching James Cameron work was f-ing brilliant. He could do everyone’s job on a set. He was crazy in all the right ways. Bill really made the shoot fun and everyone was really into giving their best.”
Considered to be among the most respected and accomplished entertainment industry photographers, Cuffaro’s catalog has consistently been ahead of the curve, with iconic photos depicting the most relevant musicians, actors, athletes and personalities of the last three decades. He brings a whole new level of emotional depth and human rawness to the art form, while always capturing and magnetizing the moment.
Greatest Hits: Martini Ranch is the latest in an ongoing series of events showcasing Cuffaro’s work. The series has included included large scale multi-media events at the old Tower Records building on Sunset in L.A. and in NYC. In 2018, Cuffaro says, there will be celebrations in Sydney, Australia, Italy and South Africa.