Christopher Makos reawakens his era-defining early punk photography in White Trash Uncut.

Christopher Makos reawakens his era-defining early punk photography in White Trash Uncut.

What is punk? Over the last four decades the label has been applied so widely it’s been stretched almost to breaking point.

Christopher Makos released White Trash in 1977, right at the moment this refreshing new movement was bursting out of London and New York. The book was the first major photographic document of the NYC scene, helping reveal who was punk and what punk looked like – all while the paint was still drying on the word punk.

With White Trash Uncut, Makos has reawakened his original work and republished the book with the benefit of four decades hindsight – adding a number of significant people to the already packed roster of icons included in the original publication.

Although Makos will maintain that all he was doing was shooting the people around him, as he has done throughout his career, he clearly had an eye for spotting cultural pioneers as he later introduced Andy Warhol to the work of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Here, Christopher Makos explains how his past has become part of his present and how living in the moment allowed him to capture an era-defining subcultural artefact.

What attracts you to punk?
I have no attraction to punk, I have attraction to people and the way they live their lives. Punk was a moment defined by the moment in the 70’s, by music, fashion, culture.

Did you have any sense that the people you photographed in the 1970s would become such huge icons today?
I always live in the moment, so the idea of huge icons, doesn’t really resonant with me. I photograph people, whether they are huge stars, or a person on the street. They are all special to me.

How did it feel to revisit White Trash after so many years?
I realised that my photographs have the same importance as they did then. My style is that of democratising people, and it still holds true. It was a great pleasure to revisit the past, and to realise it has become part of my present.

Is punk still relevant today? If so, what are the most valuable things to learn from the punk of the 70s?
Good music, good fashion and interesting lifestyle is always relevant. Good style never is outdated. Good lasts forever. That is the lesson that other people need to learn, I have always known it.

White Trash Uncut by Christopher Makos is out now, published by Glitterati Incorporated.