Anton Corbijn has found a way of unlocking immediacy. Eschewing elaborate sets, he swoops in on the famous face and starts to shoot. ”I work with one assistant. It’s like a guerrilla outfit,” says Corbijn, on a break from the L.A. set of a Metallica video he’s directing. ”Generally within half an hour I’ve got my picture. Initially, there’s more vulnerability.”
In his new book, Star Trak, an unpolished jag through the ’90s worlds of music, movies, and fashion, those vulnerable moments often turn to melancholy: R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe doubles over a cracked wall. Jon Bon Jovi squints down a dilapidated street. And a somber Frank Sinatra stares into a glass of beer. Corbijn is ”very laid-back and just a little mysterious,” says subject Isabella Rossellini.
He was born in 1955 into a lonely childhood on a sparsely populated Dutch island — and even now, as he meets (and sometimes befriends) the stars, his half-askew viewpoint hasn’t changed. ”Smooth and sexy is boring,” he says. ”My pictures are either not properly lit or not properly balanced, but there’s much more life in imperfection.”