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Sticky Fingers: The Lost Session Photographs by Peter Webb

Exhibition dates 16 July to 3 September 2011 Snap Galleries 8 Piccadilly Arcade London SW1Y 6NH t: 0207 493 1152 e:


Sticky Fingers The Lost Session

these incredible lost session images together in a comprehensive gallery exhibition for the first time anywhere in the world, some in sizes up to 6ft wide.

Photographs by Peter Webb

The exhibition opens to the public on Saturday 16 July 2011, and takes over two of the three floors in the gallery. We have worked hard to make sure that there is something for everyone in this exhibition. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have enjoyed putting it together.

An exhibition of unpublished photographs of the Rolling Stones in association with Raj Prem Fine Art Photography

“They knew exactly where they were all the time, and were simply waiting to be found!” Peter Webb, on his lost Sticky Fingers session negatives.

It’s a story that would give any photographer sleepless nights. A classic photo-session for one of the biggest bands on the planet, The Rolling Stones, for the cover of one of their most critically acclaimed albums, Sticky Fingers. Disaster then strikes, as British photographer Peter Webb’s negatives go missing soon after the 1971 shoot. Then, out of nowhere, they are discovered again after almost 40 years. Detailed scanning of the negatives by Peter Webb reveals a collection of previously unpublished photographs of The Rolling Stones, both group shots and solo portraits, in black and white and colour. Sticky Fingers was released 40 years ago, and it is a pleasure, in this anniversary year, to be showing

The narrative that follows in this catalogue takes interested readers through the history of the session, the disappearance and the subsequent rediscovery of Peter’s negatives. Own a Stone Everything in this catalogue is available to purchase in limited editions in a range of sizes. You can view price and size options online at You can also call us at the gallery on +44 (0)207 493 1152 or email at Of course this catalogue is never going to be a substitute for viewing these incredible photographs in the flesh, but it’s as close as we can get for you. Enjoy! Guy White, Director, Snap Galleries Ltd

Snap Galleries 8 Piccadilly Arcade London SW1Y 6NH t: 0207 493 1152 e:


The Glimmer Twins

Seated Stone

Angled Stone

The origins of the Sticky Fingers photo-session After graduating, Peter Webb took an extended trip to New York in the mid sixties. During his stay, Webb’s brother-in-law, Bill Peirce, (himself a NYC based photographer) taught him enough of the rudiments of photography for Webb to blag his way into a job assisting the legendary photographer and director Howard Zieff. It was while he assisted Zieff, that he was entrusted with the construction of an extraordinary 20 foot “walk-in” strobe lighting bank, the concept of which Zieff had conveniently borrowed from his good friend Irving Penn. It was this enormous lighting bank that Peter would later employ himself in the intricate construction of his 1971 session with the Stones. Webb returned from the USA, and subsequently was introduced to the Rolling Stones by David Puttnam, in his previous incarnation as a photographers’ agent in the early 1970’s. Puttnam had seen Peter’s plate camera portraits

and had mistakenly thought they must be the work of Penn or Zieff, little realizing they were produced by a then unknown UK photographer who had assisted Zieff in New York some years before. Puttnam said the band were “looking to do some shots for a forthcoming album”, and that Webb should set up a meeting at their office in town. He duly appeared at the Stones office and was ushered in to meet Jagger, a daunting milestone in itself. Peter explains: “I presented my concept for the session, based around the ‘surrealist’ type of advertising work I was into at the time, heavily influenced by Magritte. I envisaged the band dressed in Victorian boating attire, posed with oars primed in a beautiful wooden rowing boat. However the boat would not be on any river, it would be in a Victorian Photography Studio, with an elegantly painted backdrop of a period Henley, their oars resting on a wooden studio floor.

Snap Galleries 8 Piccadilly Arcade London SW1Y 6NH t: 0207 493 1152 e:


Twelve by five: contact sheet

Alarmingly however, during the course of my presentation, Jagger produced a series of widemouthed yawns and seemingly by way of dismissal suggested I pitch my ideas to Charlie Watts in the next door office, and who was “into Art”. I was duly ushered in to meet Watts, whose monosyllabic responses made Jagger’s seem wholly enthusiastic in comparison.” Webb duly retired to lick his creative wounds, and to consider another option ASAP. He had been hugely impressed by Irving Penn’s classic B/W studio portraits of Haight-Ashbury hippy families and Hell's Angels for Life Magazine some years earlier, and decided he would photograph the band “as they were” on a suitably neutral studio constructed backdrop. Webb continues: “I had also been advised by a photographer friend that the band “were trouble” to photograph and could end up throwing “V” signs etc. to the camera - an attitude I thought I would encourage with a moody distressed grey-

toned backdrop, to capture the brooding streetwise image I presumed the band would like to project.” After many days of extensive testing of lighting and background tones, including the adaption of an extended ‘walk in’ lighting bank similar to the one that he had constructed for Zieff, coupled with the construction of a large hand-painted backdrop, the band finally showed at Webb’s studios, a converted Victorian Riding School and Stables in Park Village East, next to Regent’s Park in central London. “They immediately registered disappointment that they were going to be photographed in their own clothes, and that there was no “idea” anywhere in sight. And far from being “trouble”, the band stood like lost schoolboys on the over-scaled backdrop, and were not only compliant to my instructions in arranging them, but even seemed somewhat camera shy – which was totally unexpected.”

Snap Galleries 8 Piccadilly Arcade London SW1Y 6NH t: 0207 493 1152 e:


Peter Webb’s pencil drawing of the set of the Sticky Fingers shoot, showing the walk in lighting bank on the right and the handpainted back drop behind the Stones

Random Stones

Sideways Stone

Falling Stones Falling Stones, a colour portrait shot by Peter on Kodak Ektachrome 120 transparency film, is one of the most famous photographs from the Sticky Fingers session - and this image, kept separately from the black and whites, has its own unique survival story. At some point in the shoot, Webb asked the Stones to act a little more threateningly, and Mick, Keith and the band duly obliged. Finally things loosened up to a degree, and as a one-off idea he lined up the band shoulder-to-shoulder, like a younger Dad’s Army, and encouraged them to lean sideways. Thankfully the 1,000th second exposure time-captured this one-off event, and the resulting image was “Falling Stones”. Falling Stones survival is thanks to a completely random two frame laboratory exposure ‘clip test’. Peter explains: “I forwarded the bulk of my (relatively few) colour shots from the shoot to the

Stones office, and onwards to my good friend Braun at Andy Warhol’ s Factory. I never saw them again, and as far as I was concerned, these colour images were truly lost and gone forever. However the procedure of taking a random two frame “clip test” from an unprocessed roll (to adjust the processing of the remainder), meant some unnamed and forever heroic lab technician had sliced the obligatory two plus inches from the tail of the exposed roll, a mere half an inch clear of this shot. And so it was saved - but only just!” This clip test was discovered in a file of many such discarded tests from other sessions in sufficient time to be voted one of the Top 100 Rock and Roll Photographs of All Time, by Q Magazine. Developments in modern photographic printing technology mean that this image can be displayed in a staggering six foot wide version in the gallery exhibition.

Snap Galleries 8 Piccadilly Arcade London SW1Y 6NH t: 0207 493 1152 e:


Falling Stones

Alert Stone

Uncapped Stone

Andy Warhol and his Factory designer Craig Braun came up with the Sticky Fingers “Zipper” concept, which relegated Webb’s intended album cover image to a grainy dupe on an inside sleeve. Despite the shoddy reproduction on the sleeve, it is instantly recognisable as a classic Stones group portrait, showing Jagger standing to the left of the frame, yawning, while the other four Stones gather on the right, Bill Wyman scratching his nose. Webb christened the image “ The Big Yawn”. The Big Yawn, shown alongside a contact strip of three negatives, showing its place in the sequence. Note Peter Webb’s excited handwritten confirmation that the original negative of his classic album sleeve image has been found again!!

The Big Yawn

Lost and found In early 1972 Peter entrusted his photographer brother-in-law with the safe keeping of an unmarked folder of negatives, which was, as Peter recalls now, “ essential detail which I had conveniently forgotten, in the excitement of being hired by Ridley Scott to direct commercials, and the dark room became a cutting room overnight.” Webb continues “Bill stored them in the attic along with his own negatives, and only revisited them recently while hunting for negatives of a portrait of Joan Didion he had shot in the early ‘50’s. He called me to say he had found an unmarked bag of negatives amongst his own which “...could be the Rolling Stones” ...

“I made him lock the doors and not let anyone in the house, and then I asked him to look for someone who could be shouting or yawning, standing aside from a group of four, one of whom was scratching his nose. After an anxious half hour, an email popped up, I opened the attachment, and as if in slow motion the group of four were revealed, with Bill Wyman adjusting his nasal passages, and Jagger standing apart from the group with a wide mouthed yawn. Eureka!! The Prodigal Stones had returned to the fold after an absence of almost forty years” Contained in their pristine negative sleeves, were the strip containing the actual album sleeve image, all the best group shots from the session, and also an unexpected further delight: some individual plate camera portraits of Jagger and Richards which had never been seen before.

Snap Galleries 8 Piccadilly Arcade London SW1Y 6NH t: 0207 493 1152 e:


Stone Henge

Laughing Stone

Separate Stone

The Rogues Gallery After the group session was completed, Webb invited the band individually to an upstairs studio set up with a 5x4 Sinar plate camera, whose depth of field was so slight that a wooden rod had to be placed at the back of each band member’s head, so there would not be the slightest movement backwards. After more searching enquiries from the various band members as to the purpose of the portraits – “Passports, is it now mate?” - Webb photographed Jagger in a number of extreme close ups, with and without a stylish Irish cap and a longlapelled paisley shirt, fashionable at the time. In between another serial attack of

yawns, Mick enquired politely, “So… what happened to that great idea about the boat?” Now almost 40 years on, and with the Band still touring, Webb has been persuaded by a younger generation of photographers, musicians and Stones fans alike, that photographing the Stones "as they were" at that exact moment of time, free from any overriding “concept”, was the best idea he never had.

Snap Galleries 8 Piccadilly Arcade London SW1Y 6NH t: 0207 493 1152 e:


Rogue Bill

Rogue Charlie

Rogue Mick T

Rogue Keith

Rogue Mick

Cool Stones

Own a Stone If you would like to own a signed, numbered Peter Webb limited edition photograph, then you’re in luck. All the images shown in this catalogue are available to purchase from: Snap Galleries 8 Piccadilly Arcade London SW1Y 6NH Telephone +44 (0)207 493 1152 email to: web

Sticky Fingers: The Lost Session  

An exhibition of rare and unseen photographs of The Rolling Stones by Peter Webb

Sticky Fingers: The Lost Session  

An exhibition of rare and unseen photographs of The Rolling Stones by Peter Webb