Arts & Entertainment

Tony Mott – What A Life!

Midnight Oil. Photo: Tony Mott

Tony Mott is a legendary figure in the music photography world thanks to his iconic snaps which have captured everyone including The Rolling Stones, Midnight Oil, Chrissy Amphlett, The Divinyls, U2, Rihanna and Taylor Swift. 

City Hub spoke with Mott last week about the drastically different world for photographers now and some of his favourite pictures from the exhibition.

In regards to the world of photography, the rise of digital photography had the most dramatic impact on Mott’s career, on two different fronts.

Initially, Mott pushed back against making the switch to digital, something which he looks back on as case of “old dog new tricks” and slight stubbornness. When he finally did make the switch though Mott was astounded by the efficiency digital afforded him.

“In the early days of just film you’d shoot three rolls of film and only get 10-20 frames that were usable, and hopefully of those, a percentage would be really good,” Mott explained, “with digital though it was amazing, instead of getting 10 percent back you got 90 percent.”

With that though there was a slight downside, “it made the art form less skilful and meant essentially everyone is a photographer with their iPhones now.” This meant that a once thriving market place for photos also diminished.

“At the height of music magazines I had 180 magazines on my books that I could potentially sell to, of those 170 don’t exist anymore,” said Mott.

In regards to the upcoming What A Life exhibition Mott said the curation process afforded him an opportunity to look back on an extensive career that he never viewed as a job because it was such a pleasure.

“When I was on tour with The Rolling Stones I would think to myself, ‘I wonder how much I would pay them for this privilege’ but instead they were paying me.”

One of Mott’s favourite pictures from the exhibition is his photograph of Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett “purely because it captures a rare moment in time.”

Until Feb 24. Casula Powerhouse, 1 Powerhouse Road, Casula. FREE. Info:

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