Tom Sheehan, one of the most celebrated British music photographers, is releasing a career-spanning R.E.M. photography book, R.E.M: Athens GA – R.E.M. In Photographs 1984-2005, out on Nov. 7 via The Flood Gallery. Paste is previewing 10 exclusive images from the book along with captions written by Sheehan.
Sheehan was the chief photographer at the famous, now-defunct Melody Maker, a U.K. music paper touted by its publisher as the world’s first music weekly. Sheehan’s work has been featured in countless other publications like The Guardian, NME, Q Magazine, The Sunday Times and more. Sheehan’s photos have made their way onto album covers by the likes of Radiohead, The Smiths, Coldplay, Oasis and more.
In addition to his new R.E.M. photography book, he’s published three other photography books covering the careers of Paul Weller, The Cure and Manic Street Preachers. R.E.M. was one of Sheehan’s favorite acts to shoot, so it’s fitting that the Athens, Ga., band is the subject of his latest photography book.
Sheehan first met the members of R.E.M. back in 1984, and according to a press release, he was “compelled initially both by their southern strangeness and unique alternative twist on ’60s rock and jangle.” Sheehan recounts, “Our first encounter was all very swift as most of these encounters are. Punk had gone past and there was this whole rush of new American music. It was the thing that we love so much about people redefining what you think about music.”
From 1984-2005, Sheehan captured countless images of the band, and he became enthralled by frontman Michael Stipe’s charisma and presence. ”[Stipe] understands an image,” says Sheehan. “For me, it’s about capturing a band at a point in time. I play only one instrument—the camera.”
Stipe wrote the book’s foreword, commenting, “Tom Sheehan was there to capture it all—these moments comprise a beautiful and fortunate life.”
The 240-page hardcover book, containing many unseen images, is available in deluxe and super deluxe versions, both available via Rough Trade and The Flood Gallery. The deluxe version is limited to 2,000 copies and includes a three-millimeter rigid-board slipcase, while the super deluxe version is limited to 500 copies and includes a bound-in certificate of authenticity signed and numbered by Tom Sheehan, three bonus 5×7-inch photographs in an envelope adhered to the inside cover and a similar slipcase printed on pearlescent paper.
Purchase Sheehan’s new R.E.M. book, along with his three other books, via The Flood Gallery here and scroll through the gallery above to see 10 exclusive images, along with Sheehan’s comments about photographing the band.