Graham Nash, whose photographs are being displayed at the Morrison Hotel Gallery this month, was in love with photography even before he got into music. "I took a portrait of my mother when I was 11," he says. "That was the moment when I knew that I saw differently. This wasn't just a snapshot of my mother – I captured a person far away in thought. I've wanted to capture people ever since." Nash has been touring the world every since the Hollies broke big 50 years ago, and he usually brought his camera with him. Here are 10 amazing photographs from the past five decades, and the stories behind them.
"That was taken in my suite at the Plaza Hotel, in New York City. I think it was August of 1974. We were coming to the end of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young reunion tour. And with all due respect, it was fucking crazy. There was so many drugs, and it was so chaotic. I needed to find an inner peace within myself, so I started to draw in a book, and I filled it with drawings.
"I'm drawing in the bathroom here. I saw myself in that little pull-out mirror for shaving and I knew it was a great image. My girlfriend Calli Cerami was with me. She wasn't a photographer. I said, 'Here's my camera. Hold it up and press halfway down to focus and then press the trigger.' And that's the shot. So although it's a self-portrait because it was what I imagined in my mind, the trigger was pressed by somebody else."
"That's Neil Young driving home to his ranch at Broken Arrow. We were recording the American Dream album. I'm in the limousine with David [Crosby] and Steven [Stills] behind him. Neil, of course, wasn't in the car with us. It's Neil. He has an English sports car. I think it's called a Jensen. I saw him driving along this lonely road and I thought, 'This is a perfect image of Neil Young.' And even though you can't see Neil, except the back of his head, it is in fact Neil."
"That's Joni listening to Clouds, which was the album that she was making at the time. She was listening to an acetate of her record prior to the release to make sure everything was right. Even though I was living with Joni, I didn't want her to know why I was taking the image. I'm actually shooting through one of those kitchen table chairs that have a hole in the top where you put your hand in to lift the chair. That's why you only see her partial face. My God, isn't she beautiful?"
"The four of us were in Neil's house that he had rented on the beach there in Hawaii. We had been working on an album that was going to be called Human Highway. It had fabulous songs in it which later appeared on David's record and Stephen's records. The last day we were there, I realized that we didn't have any image of that moment. I also thought we might need an album cover, so I borrowed Stephen's Hasselblad, because I wanted it to be a big format. I worked out the exposure in my mind. I set it down in the sand, looked through the viewfinder, composed the picture, had the boys go into the picture, and I knew where I would be standing. I had my friend Harry Harris, who was the builder of my house in San Francisco, press the trigger. There was only one shot."
"This was when Crosby, Stills and Nash were rehearsing the first record. Our friend John Sebastian said, 'We want you to be out of Los Angeles, out of all that scene, just to be private, to rehearse that first record.' So he suggested that we go to Sag Harbor, just outside of New York on Long Island. He rented us a house, and of course Stephen was madly in love with Judy Collins, as she was with him. She said something about something – she was giving him advice. That's the moment when she's kissing him on the cheek, and her right hand is giving him the advice."
"This is during the making of Déja Vu. We're in the Caravan Lodge Motel, and we'd all rented these funky, funky rooms, because it was in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, and it was only two blocks from Wally Heider's studio, which is where we were making the album. Neil had rented a room and had two bush babies living with him, with giant big eyes. And Stephen's room was next door, and I was talking to him one day about the fact that we didn't have an opener for the album, like how 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' was the opener for the first CSN record. We wanted something that will entice the listener to continue listening. And I told Steve, 'We don't have that.' And he goes, 'Yeah, you're right, let me think about that.' And the very next day he came he said, 'Hey, Willy, listen to this . . . ' And he played me 'Carry On.'"
"About three years ago I was in a CVS. I'm standing at the checkout counter, and I realized that they had very carefully put all the candy for children right there at children's height – not at adults' height, but at children's height. I began to think that perhaps we were conditioning our children to consume these tiny, shiny, lovely little candy things, which then prepare them for taking nice, shiny little Viagra pills and Lipitor and all this stuff. And in thinking about that process I composed that picture."
"That's my daughter's boyfriend at that time. His name is Kenny Rodriguez. He's a musician with a band. They are unbelievable, fucking fantastic. They have such incredible energy, it's fabulous. And I took that shot of him, and I fucked around with it in PhotoShop so that I could bring out the energy of his band."
"I was walking down one of the main streets in Boston around 2005 and I saw this shop window. There was that hand-painted sign that said, 'Everybody's work is equally important.' I thought it was such an incredible thing for someone to say and such an incredible thing to show in a shop window. I mean, you're supposed to show the latest styles and 'buy this and buy that' and shit, but this wasn't that. And I thought it was important enough to make the image."
"In 2002, I took my wife to the Kentucky Derby for our anniversary. It was May 4th. Obviously, people knew who I was, and we had great seats. Dennis Hopper was sitting behind us. Now, I'm not a betting man, but I looked through the things and I saw a horse called War Emblem. We were right in the middle of the Afghanistan war, and I thought, 'War Emblem, fuck, I'll put a hundred dollars on that . . . ' Well, the bloody thing won! I won about $2000 for a hundred-dollar bet. Dennis played the same horse. And that's the moment he realized that he won."