As I was strolling through the many rooms of the still under construction, Exhibitionism – The Rolling Stones, a show representative came to me and asked if I’d like to interview one of the featured artists. She hinted at a gentleman leaning on a wall with an SLR camera hanging across his belly. “Joseph,” she says, “meet Paul Natkin, one of the premier Rolling Stones photographers and a featured artist here at Exhibitionism!”
Joseph Connors: So, what brings you to this exhibit?
Paul Natkin: I was the Stones tour photographer for 11 years and I’ve got pictures throughout this exhibit in various places!
Joe: Do you still work with them now?
Paul: Whenever they come into town. I used to tour with them, but they don’t really need that now. But, whenever they come to a big city they get a photographer, you know, in that city. So i’m there guy in Chicago.
Joe: So, you live here in Chicago?
Joe: Awesome. So what are you doing nowadays?
Paul: Not a whole lot. I photograph musicians. That’s what I do for a living. Over the years, I’ve photographed, well, the list of bands and musicians I’ve photographed is about 4500 names.
Joe: Not too shabby.
Paul: Every genre you could come up with, and you know, I still do that occasionally but not that often.
Joe: What is your favorite part of the exhibit?
Paul: I think just seeing how they have changed over the years, how they have grown up, so to speak. It’s pretty amazing to see them from 50 years ago and know them today, because they are like totally different people, but they are the same.
Joe: So, when did you start with them?
Paul: 1988. I did, um, Keith Richards’ solo tour. The following year I did the ‘Steel Wheels’ tour. Two years later I did Keith’s 2nd tour and a year later I did the ‘Voodoo Lounge’ tour. And then, ‘Bridges to Babylon’ in ’97 which included their famous show at the Double Door.
Joe: So, that really happened?
Paul: Oh ya, I was there!
Joe: Such a shame they’ve closed it down.
Paul: Yeah, it’s really sad. But that’s a whole story for another day.
Joe: Do you have anything you would like to say to the people of Chicago?
Paul: Um, just come down and see this. It’s pretty spectacular.
Joe: Excellent. Paul, thank you so much for giving your time.
All photos courtesy of Paul Natkin