Denis Hooper is mainly known as an actor, starring in critically acclaimed films like Rebel Without A Course, Blue Velvet, Easy Rider and Apocolypse Now- he also made a slew of awful ” straight to video” films but let’s be kind and forget about them.
However, Mr Hooper was also a very good photographer who had a knack for capturing moments that summed up the 60s. His pictures told stories, they were photojournalism mixed with the poetry of French new wave cinema.
Hooper was an adventurer and wanted to be in the middle of whatever storm was around. He once said ” “When I was a teenager and moved to California, I realized there were a lot of artists and actors I thought were great–everybody from Van Gogh to W. C. Fields–who basically had the idea that you can’t make discoveries if you sit around waiting for something to happen. You’ve got to get out of there”
Before Easy Rider delivered stardom, Hooper spent much of the 1960s obsessively taking pictures of the counter culter and famous figures of the time. He followed protesters during the civil rights movement, hung out in cafes, walked the streets and took pictures of fellow artists. Regarding artists he claimed ‘The only people that I really found comfortable being photographed were artists. They asked me to photograph them. They wanted to be photographed. And that was cool.’
His street pictures of Los Angeles, are somewhat reminiscent of the work of Lee Friedlander. Hooper said ” LA was Pop…LA was the billboards. LA was the automobile culture. LA was the movie stars and LA was the whole idea of what pop was about – commercial art’
There are a few published collections, of Mr Hoopers work out there, My favourite is Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961-1967