Sacha Lecca by Tim Soter

“My parents are both photographers and big fans of music, and my father was in a band in Romania,” Sacha Lecca remembers. He credits them with his initial passion for the arts. “It was the 1970s work by Annie Leibovitz, and the work of Jim Marshall, Danny Clinch, and other greats that caught my eye early on,” he says. “There seemed to be a great trust and intimacy with the artists they were photographing, evident in their work.” To this day, he vividly recalls seeing Dan Winters’s pictures from Seattle following the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 in the pages of Rolling Stone. 

Now, as Deputy Photo Editor at Rolling Stone and a photographer himself, Lecca has dedicated his adult life to telling stories like the ones that captured his imagination as a child. His recent book, The Opposite of Boredom, is a celebration of the atmosphere and energy of live performances, events that took on a new layer of meaning during COVID 19-related cancelations. This year, Lecca also joins the jury for the Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards, where he will be one of our judges for the Series category. In anticipation of our deadline on September 3rd, we asked him a few questions about his work.  

Greta Thunberg by Jack Davison

How did you first land at Rolling Stone, and what have been some of the most exciting moments from your years working there? Anything you’ll never forget?

“Rolling Stone initially brought me on in 2007 to concentrate on the National Affairs section, and on the long-form, non-music features that the magazine is historically known for, and so many of those stories are strongest in my memory. 

“For instance, getting to work on the Kill Team feature (2010) still feels significant; it involved imagery of US soldiers and evidence of war crimes. I made a very eventful, clandestine trip to receive the images and spent weeks researching and verifying what they contained. 

“More recently, our departments’ full team effort on a COVID-related photo essay series (20 photographers in the early days of the pandemic) was an important single-issue project. Another COVID-related essay, on its effect on families and prison populations, and another depicting life in a single barrio in Caracas (both by Natalie Keysaar); and a photo essay by Rahim Fortune on his TX neighborhood were all so gratifying to work on. 

“Portrait sessions with Stacey Abrams, Haim, Greta Thunberg, and Rina Sawayama, and a tour diary of Fontaines DC in Dublin, and a cover shoot I cannot yet name are recent favorite projects. I should also mention the work by my colleagues in the last few years have been inspiring. In my unofficial role as a photographer, I’ve been present for some incredible moments, including being the only photographer backstage with Tina Turner on opening night of the Tina musical on Broadway (you can spot me at the end of the recent HBO documentary). I was also with David Byrne in his dressing room for his Broadway show, and backstage and onstage at countless concerts, big and small.” 

David Byrne spread, Rolling Stone

Does your role as a photographer yourself influence your approach to photo editing? If so, how so? 

“Yes, at some level it gives me insight in what I’m assigning photographers to do, and I hope then to also view the resulting work with greater thoughtfulness in what the photographer has brought to any given session.”

Glove by Sacha Lecca

Can you tell us about your recent book, The Opposite of Boredom

“It all happened when David Carol and Ashly Stohl, co-founders of Peanut Press, approached me to be a part of a portfolio series they were doing; and thus, The Opposite of Boredom was made. We put it together prior to the onset of the pandemic, yet the final rounds of production coincided with lockdown, which made me view those images in a much different way, so a short intro was added to reference that. The loss of experiencing music live and some reading I was doing (Beckett) also inspired the title.” 

Princess Nokia by Sacha Lecca

What will you be looking for in this year’s submissions to the Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards?

“I’m hoping for impactful and thoughtful images that feel personal and well-considered and express the photographer’s vision and point of view.”