Behind the Lens of One of Rock’s Most Iconic Photographers
by Brad Ferrand
A PICTURE IS WORTH a thousand words. Nowhere is this adage more apparent than inside Steve Rapport’s (Mostly) Rock ‘n’ Roll Gallery. Located at 627 Saint Peter Street in the French Quarter, this new gallery from acclaimed British photographer Steve Rapport showcases an outstanding array of photographs of rock and pop icons such as Annie Lennox, David Bowie, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, and Joe Strummer from The Clash. Gallery owner Steve Rapport has photographed some of the most iconic rockstars in his lifetime, and his new gallery shares his stunning images taken during his career. Each image in his gallery has an incredible story that Steve himself is eager to tell.
“I’ve always had a love of photography dating back to my childhood in England,” Rapport says. I got my first camera as a child from my father, though I’d rather not say how he acquired it,” he exclaimed cheekily. Steve grew up in London, and as his passion for photography grew, he found himself drawn to the local British punk rock scene in the early 1980s and their social messages. Steve fondly remembers smuggling his Pentax camera into a show performed by The Clash in 1981 to photograph the band. As soon as he developed the film from that performance, he knew he had a special talent. Steve continued smuggling his camera inside of venues to photograph concerts. Soon, his hobby turned into a paying job. Rapport began shooting musicians all over the world as a freelancer for Rolling Stone, Sounds, Smash Hits, The Guardian, and NME, among other publications. One of Steve’s favorite shoots was photographing The Clash front man Joe Strummer during the 1983 London Marathon. “I remember getting out of my car at the start of the race, and there were 16,000 runners at the starting location, and all of a sudden, I stumbled upon Joe, and
I just started photographing him,” said Steve. “We had met in LA about a year before and bar-hopped all night, and he remembered me,” Steve recalled. Steve was able to drive to different spots along the route to capture several shots of Strummer running in the Marathon. Another memorable shoot was in 1982 when Steve accompanied a small Irish band in a minivan between gigs along a highway in Ireland. After spotting a sunlit barn on the side of the road, Steve asked the driver to pull over and ordered the members of U2 out for an earlymorning photoshoot. The images capture a baby-faced Bono and the members of U2 posing in front of the old roadside barn. These images are some of the many treasures that adorn the walls inside Rapport’s gallery.
Rapport’s status as a premier rock and roll photographer grew, and soon, Steve found himself on music video shoots for The Eurythmics and David Bowie. Steve fondly remembers shooting Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart during the music video shoot for the hit single “Here Comes the Rain Again.” Steve remembers this shoot well because his coat caught on fire while shooting Lennox and Stewart. “I was leaning against a table with all these candles on it, and Dave Stewart casually pointed out that my jacket was on fire in the most leisurely fashion,” Rapport remembers. Steve still has the photo Stewart took of his burned-out jacket that day. One of the most remarkable photographs featured in Rapport’s gallery is a black and white print of Annie Lennox which Steve took inside the Churchill Hotel in London in 1985. Steve recalls Lennox as a passionate, yet shy woman who he would love to reconnect with in the near future. In March 1985, Rapport was personally hired by David Bowie to photograph Bowie during the filming of the “Loving the Alien” music video. The cover of that single features a blue-faced David Bowie which Steve shot while Bowie was standing inside a bathtub on the set. These are just some of the many stories that Steve loves to share with guests of his gallery.
Steve continued working as a photographer until 1992 when he decided to take a long hiatus from photography. Steve moved from England to San Francisco that year, where he worked as a martial arts’ instructor and web developer. His photo archives remained in England, stored in filing cabinets in a friend’s garage in Oxfordshire. The camera kept calling, however. Steve eventually went digital when he purchased a Leica digital camera in 2004. Suddenly, he found his muse again, and the passion was reignited. When he opened a gallery in Pacifica, California, in 2017, Steve’s archived photographs were reunited with him, which he digitally scanned and restored. Then, Nola came calling.
Steve’s journey to New Orleans began with a chance phone call in December 2021 from Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s Ben Jaffe. Ben had seen Steve’s photographs posted on his Instagram page and wanted to purchase a few photos from Steve’s collection including a limited-edition print of The Clash and a print of David Bowie. Steve actually was planning on visiting New Orleans later that March to catch a few concerts, so he and Ben agreed to meet when Steve visited. When Steve arrived in New Orleans, his life changed forever. Jaffe asked Steve to photograph his band, and, >> while doing so, Steve fell in love with the city, its culture, and its music. New Orleans had such a profound impact on Steve that upon his return to California, he promptly put his house on the market and, in June 2022, Steve ultimately moved to New Orleans. Since then, Steve has immersed himself deep into the New Orleans music scene, just as he did in the 1980’s when he photographed U2, Duran Duran, and dozens of other European and American music icons. Now, Steve photographs iconic New Orleans’ artists such as Ivan Neville, John Boutté, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Charlie Gabriel. This “second act” of Steve’s career showcasing his New Orleans’ photographs can be found in his gallery’s courtyard and is aptly named the SemiSecret (Mostly) Jazz Gallery.
Rapport’s gallery opened last fall, and a portion of sales of local artists goes directly back to those artists. When you stroll into Steve’s gallery, chances are you will find Steve spinning a vinyl of The Clash, eager to tell you the story behind each photograph that hangs in his gallery…if he can remember it. His work is a welcomed treasure in the heart of the French Quarter. We are all lucky that Steve’s passion for photography was awoken, and that he decided to listen to the rock and roll in his soul and move down to New Orleans. Oh, the stories he and his photographs can tell!