Kevin Cummins was born within crying distance of Maine Road in Withington Hospital on 14 July 1953. His first Manchester City game was a 3-1 victory over Leicester on 19 August 1961. Since then he has followed City over land and sea (and Stretford) for over 40 years. The rest of his time is spent earning a living as one of the world’s most venerated music and portrait photographers. After studying photography for four years in Salford, Kevin embarked on a career that was to encompass a wide range of photographic work. The burgeoning punk scene in Manchester dominated his early work and he quickly became one of the premier documentary photographers of the era.
He then started working with Manchester’s prestigious Royal Exchange Theatre and was soon in demand by major theatre companies across the UK, most notably: The Royal Opera House, The Royal Northern Ballet, The Liverpool Playhouse and The Oxford Playhouse. Kevin was instrumental in establishing City Life, Manchester’s ‘what’s on’ guide and was a founding contributor to The Face, the influential style magazine, where he won Magazine Cover of the Year with an image of New Order. In 1986 Kevin was commissioned by Wigan Heritage Centre to photograph contemporary life in Wigan – an important period for the town due to the widespread closure of Britain’s coal mines. These photographs formed a major part of the Wigan Pier heritage tour for 15 years.
Since moving to London in 1987, Kevin has contributed to many major UK publications, including: The Times, The Observer, Esquire, Maxim, Elle, Vogue, Mojo, Q, FourFourTwo, Sleaze Nation and The Big Issue. He spent 10 years as the chief photographer for New Musical Express – the world’s biggest selling rock weekly – where his award-winning pictures were a major contributing factor in the rise of the ‘Madchester’ and Cool Britannia scenes. His work can be seen gracing many record sleeves and book jackets and he regularly contributes to publications worldwide.
In 1999 The National Portrait Gallery chose three of Kevin’s photographs for their Icons of Pop exhibition. Kevin’s first monograph: The Smiths and Beyond was published to critical acclaim by Vision On in March 2002. Kevin is a major contributing photographer to Rock X-Posed, a Kodak sponsored US touring exhibition of the best Rock ‘n’ Roll photos in the world. The pictures are to take up permanent residence in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio. Later that year, Kevin approached Manchester City Football Club with a view to recording their last season at Maine Road – their home for 80 years – before they moved to a brand new stadium.
The result is We’re not really here (the title is taken from a fans’ song). The book was published in August 2003 in two editions: a regular soft back – which sold out within three months of publication, and a collectors edition, containing autographs of City idols past and present and a limited edition photograph. The award-winning team at Farrow Design designed the book which was subsequently nominated for the Citibank photography prize as well as reaching #1 in the Sportspages best-sellers chart.
2003: Both NME and Q chose a large proportion of Kevin’s photographs for their 50 best Rock and Roll images of all time. For the NME 50th anniversary, Liam Gallagher and Richard Ashcroft each chose two of Kevin’s NME cover photographs as the best iconic rock and roll images and most defining moments of their generation. In 2004 celebrated British artist, Scott King, produced a frieze based on Kevin’s iconic images of Ian Curtis. In 2005 Sir Peter Blake produced a screenprint based on one of Kevin’s photos of Ian Curtis In 2006 Kevin finally exhibited a selection of his Joy Division photographs – at London’s prestigious Paul Stolper Gallery. Paul Stolper also published a limited edition portfolio of the works, to much acclaim.
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