Big Issue Vendor

Bryan Adams’ photography will change how you think about homelessness

Rock star photographer Bryan Adams explains why he wanted to take portraits of Big Issue vendors, as his photography goes on show in London.
Bryan Adams Homeless exhibition at Atlas Gallery. Credit: David Ownes

Bryan Adams: rock star, renowned photographer, great friend of The Big Issue. He has photographed everyone from the Queen to Kate Moss, Amy Winehouse and Mick Jagger, but for a new exhibition in London it is Bryan Adams’ photography of Big Issue vendors that are the focus of attention.

The black and white portraits of vendors, taken from 2011-2017 and released in his 2019 book Homeless, are on display in the UK for the first time. And they are stunning. Striking, moving, questioning portraits of people who are so often overlooked or ignored when selling the magazine – some serious, some thoughtful, some full of joy and laughter, but each telling a story. And as we emerge from lockdown, perhaps with new perspectives on the importance of home, the exhibition could not be more timely.

Bryan Adams joined us via Zoom for a special private view of the exhibition, attended by Big Issue founder John Bird.

Adams said: “This has been such a difficult time for everybody, and particularly homeless people. I’m so proud of the Atlas Gallery for taking it on because the whole point of these portraits is to bring this issue of homelessness to light and make people think about it again. Because so many times we just walk past.”

Adams first worked with The Big Issue in 2011, when guest editor Trudie Styler asked him to photograph vendors.

“I kept thinking it was part of a much bigger story,” he says now. “It needed to be something more. It was something I wanted to spend more time with. So I got in touch with The Big Issue and we organised quite a few shoots to get more vendors to come in and be part of the series.

“I’m really impressed with The Big Issue. It’s such a clever idea and it’s helped so many people. So I was curious to see if I can take it to another dimension, add something to it that had an artistic quality and bring it back to the public. I feel it’s a lasting document to a particular time in history.”

Bryan Adams’ photography exhibition, Homeless, is at the Atlas Gallery, Dorset Street, London until June 12.