Dennis Lee Hopper (May 17, 1936 – May 29, 2010) was an American actor, filmmaker and artist. As a young man, Hopper became interested in acting and eventually became a student of the Actors' Studio. He directed and starred in Easy Rider (1969), winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay as co-writer. He later appeared in Hoosiers, garnering him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Credit: Francesco Proietti
But of course, we're not gonna speak about his movie work. Little do we know, Dennis Hopper was as prolific behind a camera as in front of it. Hopper was an acclaimed photographer, a profession he began in the 1960s. Ostracized by the Hollywood film studios due to his reputation for being a "difficult" actor, Hopper eventually turned to photography in the 1960s. He was living in New York in 1961, a young actor and painter. His first wife Brooke Hayward noticed that he would walk the streets framing views with his hands, So She bought him a Nikon F for his 25th birthday. When Hopper resettled in L.A. that same year, he carried the camera everywhere, shooting on the street, from the car, at art happenings, social gatherings at his house and the homes of his friends. It was a relatively slow time in his acting career and he immersed himself in the art community, becoming friends with and photographing the crowd centered around the legendary Ferus Gallery—Craig Kauffman, Billy Al Bengston, Wallace Berman, Edward Kienholz.During this period. It's that time that created the cover art for the Ike & Tina Turner single River Deep – Mountain High (released in 1966).
In 2009, Taschen published a collection of those early photographs. Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961-1967 showcases Hopper's talent in taking portraits; many of the photos are of his celebrity friends like Paul Newman and Andy Warhol. And, although his portfolio is rich with art-world luminaries, he also has photos from all over the U.S. — snapshots of everyday people and life. The book goes for $1000 used on amazon nowadays.