Remembering Chris Cornell by Justin Borucki

Having worked with Chris Cornell a few times, I was incredibly saddened by the unexpected news of his recent passing.

As soon as I heard, I went through my archives and found some of the beautiful portraits I shot in 2009 and 2012 that had never been printed.

Everyone always talked about what a kind and sweet man Chris was, and it was absolutely true. The first time we got together, my wife Rebekah and my stepson Calvin were both on the set with us. We talked a lot about family, music, and about how he couldn’t wait to take his daughters to see the stage production of Dora the Explorer later on that day.

When we had our second shoot, it was with Soundgarden at the historic Moore Theater in Seattle. We didn’t have a lot of time, so I was in a bit of a rush to complete the shoot. The guys were gracious and friendly enough to invite me out for dinner afterward.
I turned them down because I had to return my rental equipment and I really regret that now – I should have just left everything there and gone anyway, but how can you know it’s your last chance?

I’m just glad I got to work with such a talented and kind musician.

NYC 2009

NYC 2009

Incredibly honored, almost beyond words, that my portrait of Chris was chosen from the countless images of him taken over the years to be displayed for family and friends at his memorial service.

Incredibly honored, almost beyond words, that my portrait of Chris was chosen from the countless images of him taken over the years to be displayed for family and friends at his memorial service.

Back stage at Seattle's historic Moore Theater, 2012

Back stage at Seattle's historic Moore Theater, 2012

When Words Fail, Art Wins by Justin Borucki

Roosevelt Ave, Jackson Heights, Queens, NY

When it comes to photography, to me it’s always been about passion. In my case it’s passion for life and for music. I have been so blessed over the years to be able to document so much of the music industry. However, before I ever became a music photographer, I wanted to be an artist.

I had visions of traveling around and photographing street life. Several years ago I discovered a hand-crafted photography process called Wet Plate Collodion – the technique dates back to the 19th century and the entire concept gripped me and brought a new level of excitement to an art form I already loved. I am obsessed with it and it brought me back to the days of being a teenager in the dark room for the first time all over again.

Through this process I am not just a photographer, I am an artist. I still love my commercial and editorial work of course, but working with Wet Plate has opened up a whole new world of creativity for me and it makes me eager to see what I can learn next.

In this particular shoot, I met a couple of guys on the street named Singh and Eddie. Despite the fact that Singh spoke very little English and I couldn’t follow most of what Eddie was yammering on about, we bonded over the images we created together that day. Art really does transcend language.

Behind the scenes photos by Smitty from Nightcap Studios.

A Time & Place

Photo by Smitty 

It's hard to make to make these images in the field without a second set of hands. 

I'm actively collecting images from assistants and passersby for a special project... stay tuned for that.

Tommy Stinson, Hudson NY 2016 by Justin Borucki

One of the coolest things I can experience as a photographer is being welcomed into the homes of legendary musicians. RollingStone.com gave me the chance to do just that with Tommy Stinson. You might have heard of him—he played with The Replacements and a little band called Guns ‘n’ Roses. 

Tommy’s home was filled with rock ‘n’ roll treasures, including a great deal of The Replacements memorabilia that he had recently gathered for a charity auction. It was like my own personal sneak peek of the auction. 

Another sneak peek was when I got to hear him rehearsing a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Angie” that he was working on for a performance later that evening. Getting to enjoy a private at-home preview was definitely a huge highlight for me and it was an honor to work with him.

Throw Back: Murdering Motherfuckers With Ice-T 2014 by Justin Borucki

You know it’s going to be an interesting day when you pick up the phone on a conference call and the first thing you hear is Ice-T yelling, “I wanna murder motherfuckers!” at you.

That was the pre-cursor to heading to Brooklyn to shoot the cover and publicity shots for the 2014 album for Ice-T’s band Body Count. Considering the album was called “Manslaughter” his request makes sense. 

I had worked with Ice-T before and he is extremely passionate about his band and their music. After he had laid out his “I wanna murder motherfuckers” concept, I told him we should give it a good ol’ grindhouse treatment to really fit what he was looking for. A little of his idea, a little of my idea, but we were clearly on the same creative page. I created a mock-up, and the art director did an amazing job bringing it to life – check out the before and after:

Fun Fact: several of the actors who appeared on the album cover have also appeared on “Law & Order: SVU” with Ice-T too. Looks like good things happen around Ice – even if he IS “murdering motherfuckers.”

Metal Hammer cover shoot with Mastodon by Justin Borucki

Back in February of this year, I hopped over to Atlanta to grab some shots of Mastodon in their fantastic new rehearsal space, Ember City.

Brent Hinds has the best prankster sense of humor so it wasn’t much of a shock when he walked in with his pit bull, a green “fez” hat, glasses that would have made Elton John envious, and tons of heavy gold chains à la Mr. T. It was absolutely amazing but since it wasn’t quite the look Metal Hammer magazine had in mind for a cover shoot, I did gently talk him into changing.

Once the official shoot was wrapped I got to indulge in one of the best parts of my job – I kept snapping while the band started jamming out on one of their brand new songs. It’s always such an honor to witness artists in the process of creating.

I’m sure a lot of Atlanta bands will really enjoy the opportunity to rent out the rehearsal space too.