The Rhoads Capture Father John Misty for Rolling Stone
Sarah and Chris Rhoads, of We Are The Rhoads, are huge music buffs as it is, so when Rolling Stone got in contact with them to shoot Josh Tillman of Father John Misty, they were excited to take on the project. A handful of his latest albums are in their vinyl rotation, and his unique sound is what has spoken to them. “His music has a folky, unique, psychedelic vibe, which we tend to gravitate to,” explains Sarah Rhoads. “It’s its own thing, which is really cool. His music has this sort of introspective intellectualism about it that's intriguing, and when you meet him he’s kind of exactly like that.” The Rhoads invited Josh up to their house to hang out and drink some coffee, shooting around their property and nearby Griffith Park.
One of the most striking elements of their shoot with Josh is the solemn depth of the energy behind the images. That stillness is inherent to Josh, and his sensibilities. But that doesn’t mean that he and The Rhoads didn’t have any fun in their time together. Shooting in Los Angeles means that they attracted a little bit of attention, and Josh’s handling of the rubberneckers gave everyone a chuckle. “His personality type is the kind to go with it. So he would wave and introduce himself as Christian Bale,” says Chris laughing. “I think as much as he can be goofy, at the end of the day he’s actually quite intellectual, and a serious person.” By showing all aspects of himself to The Rhoads, they were able to reflect the full personality of the musician, pulling from all sides.
That dichotomy is reflected most elegantly in the photo where Josh is leaning his forehead against a tree. “I asked him to hug the tree… and that’s what he did. So it’s perfect, I feel like,” says Sarah. It’s a moment that started off with a silly request that opened a window into a part of Josh you may not see otherwise. “For us, the most successful photoshoots are the ones where we can really get a strong portrait where we capture the heart and essence of who somebody is, and they’re vulnerable enough. I really feel like you can see into who he is.”
A part of fame is remaining a half step away from vulnerability, keeping a distance between the self and the image. But it’s the photographer’s job to close that distance, which is what Chris and Sarah are always working towards. “I feel like the performer is kind of a mask that he sometimes wears, which I guess we all kind of do,” says Chris. “So building enough trust and comfort where he can relax and actually be himself. I think that’s what you see there.”