Thing recently had the pleasure of catching up with legendary photographer for the Nirvana Nevermind album shoot – Kirk Weddle. Kirk gives a great insight into the shoot and adds in some interesting anecdotes about working with Kurt Cobain, the joys of shooting a baby in a pool and how it’s best to avoid early morning work with a rock band.
Thing: Where did you learn your craft?
Kirk: I went to Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena CA. Then I assisted other photographers for about 10 years. There are times when I still think I am learning my craft.
Thing: What inspires you?
Kirk: Everything man. A good photographer is always looking for another bit of inspiration. I think good photography provokes an emotion. Ya need the wow factor.
Thing: Could you give us a little background into the Nirvana photo shoot? (When, where etc.)
Kirk: I did two Nirvana shoots. The baby and then a few months later I shot the band. The baby shot was very pure photography. Tiny crew, no client, no agency people. I did some framing with a doll and we dunked the kid in the drink and went bang bang, then pulled him out and did it again. Then he started to cry so we wrapped it and it all took less than a half hour.
Thing: Are there any interesting memories or events that you recall from the photo shoot?
Kirk: The band shoot was a mess, a lot of people involved too many. I was pretty green, this was 1992; I shot them in the morning. Don’t ever shoot a working band in the morning; they really hate that. The weather sucked as did the pool. I dug the images, but they didn’t make me very popular with the label.
Thing: Why do you think the image has become so iconic?
Kirk: It was such a strong concept. A naked baby underwater, unable to breath, risking it all for the mighty dollar.
Thing:What impact did taking that image have on your career and life, especially when nirvana exploded globally?
Kirk: Well for better or worse I am the Nirvana guy. It’s opened a lot of doors for me. Some people love it, most people, but there are a few haters out there.
Thing: What’s your favourite album cover of all time?
Kirk: Well this will sound pretty shitty but my Nervermind album cover is my favourite. I can’t get away from it so I might as well enjoy it. It was my prefect storm. Strong concept, great model, executed well, and it was a great band that got really hot, really fast.
Thing: Who’s your favourite band?
Kirk: Right now I am living in Austin, Texas, and I listen to a lot of Americana bands. I am bored with big events, give me a little road house, a cold Lone Star and James McMurtry and I am happy.
Huge thank-you to Kirk for taking the time out from his hectic schedule to talk to Thing about the Nirvana photo shoot. You can find more of Kirk’s work on his web page www.kirkweddle.com