Celebrated Living magazine surveys the remarkable career of Matthew Rolston, from Hollywood photographer and director to A-list creative director

Matthew Rolston‘s accomplishments as a photographer, director, and now creative director range far and wide, and many of the highlights are captured in a profile of Rolston by Celebrated Living magazine. Below, excerpts from “Behind the Lens,” by writer Ed Leibowitz:

 

Left: Matthew Rolston's 2006 portrait of Christina Aguilera. Right: Rolston, as photographed by Davis Factor.

Left: Matthew Rolston’s 2006 portrait of Christina Aguilera. Right: Rolston, as photographed by Davis Factor.

 

Rolston has photographed generations of music and movie stars ranging from Angelina Jolie to Jay Z for clients including
Vanity Fair, Vogue and Rolling Stone magazines. Along with colleagues Greg Gorman and fellow Angeleno Herb Ritts, he shattered the glass ceiling that had shut out L.A.-based photographers from the New York magazine world from the dawn of the 20th century.

 

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Left: Michael Jackson. Right: Daniel Craig. Photos by Matthew Rolston.

 

He was an early bender of celebrity gender, photographing Drew Barrymore as a pugnacious young tough guy of the 1950s.
He ventured into the grotesque, as when he shot Michael Jackson’s sister Janet in a gleaming bondage-and-discipline head restraint, or Jack Nicholson touching his tongue to a hand drenched in blood. He dressed a platinum-blond Christina Aguilera in a sexy two-piece sailor suit and perched her on the wing of a vintage fighter jet, where she gleamed as a reincarnation of the World War II pinup girl. He shot actress Kirsten Dunst in the style of Jean Harlow as photographed by MGM photographer George Hurrell in the 1930s, Madonna as a Morocco-era Marlene Dietrich, and reached far deeper into history to shoot Salma Hayek as Queen Elizabeth I.

 

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Left page: Taylor Swift. Right page, clockwise from left: Angelina Jolia, Lily Collins, and Emma Roberts. All photos by Matthew Rolston.

 

…Over the next few decades, he became a dominant force on MTV and VH1 and then on the internet, conceiving music videos for the likes of David Bowie, Beyoncé, Lenny Kravitz and Miley Cyrus. He shot major magazine campaigns for a number of alcohol and spirit brands, and conceived print and video shoots for L’Oréal, Revlon and other cosmetic companies.

In 2010, he was asked by lifestyle, hotel and restaurant impresario Sam Nazarian to remake a Hollywood condo building (that had failed to open) into a hip hotel. “Sam told me, ‘I don’t have a name or a concept yet, and I’m planning to open in six months. I’m hoping you can make me a place that’s like walking into one of your videos.’”

 

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Interior views of Hollywood’s Redbury hotel, for which Rolston was creative director. Photos by Skott Snider.

 

He could, and he did. The Redbury hotel was the first of several of Rolston’s acclaimed hotel collaborations as creative director. Rolston has also taken the mantle of teacher this year, giving a class at his alma mater, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, named “The Power of Pleasure.”

“The power of pleasure is very much my life philosophy,” Rolston tells Leibowitz. “If you can direct it to the good and not to the selfish—if you can give people pleasure and give yourself pleasure from creating the work—then you’ve found a wonderful
way to live.”

Read the complete interview online here.

 

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