Mitchell Rose

“I didn’t know at the time that my first Rolling Stone Magazine assignment photographing Tom Waits would be one of the most memorable photo sessions of my career. Arriving at the Tropicana Hotel in West Hollywood in 1977 where Tom Waits lived in a little bungalow in the back… a very crowded and congested space. I didn’t know much about Tom at the time but not before too long I knew that this was not going to be easy to pull off. A little nervous to say the least armed with my Nikon F camera and some assorted lenses.”


“I placed Tom in an outdoor lawn chair that really looked a little odd inside the room but after awhile and looking around at all the eclectic furnishings and decor it looked pretty good through the camera. The image that was published in Rolling Stone was my first setup… I couldn’t get any eye contact from Tom so I’m basically lying on the floor shooting up so he would be looking at me. I remember a quote from him early in the shoot “Mitchell you’d be better off taking pictures of landscapes then taking pictures of me”. When I first saw the photo in the magazine I was quite happy about the results.”



“Tom had a very dusty piano in the corner of the room and that image is also one of my favorites. We then left the Tropicana and started driving around Hollywood stopping at certain locations which led to personally my all-time favorite image of Tom with the two kids. What made the photo so appealing here is this tall man dressed all in black and the kids could not care less..they paid no attention to him. Eventually Electra Records cut out the image of Tom and made it a standup poster in the record stores… I also won a contest with this image from Bam Magazine. I eventually got one of the standup posters that was life size… to this day I have no idea what happened to it.”


“After leaving the location with the kids I found a few more stops that were pretty interesting but it was really difficult to beat the first two images. When people come to my studio for a shoot I give them a tour of my work and Tom gets rave reviews… I have two very large framed photos of the lawn chair shot and of course the black and white one with Tom and the kids. Later on I shot Tom with the Patti Smith Group and Iggy Pop.

All of my Tom Waits prints are for sale and I am currently working on a book with about ten Waits images. I’ve been doing Photography for about 40 years and I will never ever forget this experience.”

(Photo credit: Kind permission of Mitchell Rose)

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26 responses to “Mitchell Rose”

  1. Fernando says :

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing all that Mitch

  2. Dr. Barry says :

    Home Run #7!

  3. Mike Durham says :

    These are among my favorite early Tom Waits photographs. Interesting that Mr. Rose had trouble getting eye contact from Tom, that suggests to me he may have been 24/7 in character or perhaps that what we’ve come to see over the years as Tom’s character may not have been as much of an act as it was his true personality. Either way it was an interesting read and I am very happy that Mr. Rose took the time out to speak/email with you about it 🙂 Looking forward to the book, will keep my eye on the release date 🙂

  4. Lydia E. Jarkow says :

    Mitchell……never ceases to amaze what a pro can capture all through the eyes of a camera……U r truly gifted…….thanks for sharing your talent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. raindogintokyo says :

    We have one of those cutouts… framed and wall mounted! Thanks for this.

  6. Marco says :

    Thanks again J!

  7. Betty T says :

    An artist’s eye you have for sure. Capturing moments that people can enjoy forever and when it is an American Icon you reach thousands. Excellent work as always and look forward to the book upon its release.

  8. Brenda B says :

    I love the story behind the photos. Great work, as always! You’re my fav photographer I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

  9. Tovy Vee Theodore says :

    Great work…You never know when the shot of your life will happen…Your the BEST>>>

  10. Leo Posillico says :

    Really great stuff as we say in the old school. The black and white have always been my favorite. Look forward to seeing more on the website.
    Leo Posillico

  11. Chad Ackerman says :

    Thank you for sending this to me Mitch. You are so good at what you do, then and now. It was a pleasure working with you.

  12. Sidiee says :

    Such a wonderful experience Mitchell, Thanks for sharing big brother

  13. Ken Benson says :

    Thank you Mitchell for sharing this with me… i cant wait until the book comes out. your AMAZING!!!

  14. Svetla Stoyanova says :

    Thank u for sharing this with me Mitchell u are an amazing photographer and very intelligent and kind men ,thank u very much for everything!

  15. Delores Ziebarth Schoffman says :

    Mitchell, thank you for sending this to me. Yes I remember well when you got that assignment and the stunning photos you got. Tom is an original…..just like you! Much love.

  16. Jacquie Prebich says :

    Amazing shots.
    You see the artist and his soul.
    These photos tell stories…

  17. Jessica Tripp says :

    Your photos are amazing! Each one tells a story. Thank-you for taking my photos. It’s an honor.

  18. Bobby Simmons says :

    Mitch, once again, thank you for sharing your amazing experiences with us! A true privilege, my friend! Meeting you, seeing your work and learning about your adventurous career has been the HIGHLIGHT of my move!!!

    Bobby J. Simmons

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