Donnie Wahlberg Reveals a New Talent: Photography

As part of Canon's 'Pixma Pro City Senses Pop-Up Gallery,' Wahlberg went around town to capture 'Iconic Boston.' The public exhibit opens Thursday at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter in Southie.

Canon PIXMA PRO City Senses Boston Gallery

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Canon Provided

Donnie Wahlberg undoubtedly has had the singing, dancing, and acting thing down since the ’90s, and though he’s probably the person who put the words “triple threat” on the map, he’s now discovered a new talent to add to his many.

Alongside local photographers Josh Andrus and Scott Nobles, Wahlberg recently tried his hand at photography as part of Canon’s Pixma Pro City Senses Pop-Up Gallery, for which Wahlberg went around town and took photos that illustrate the theme “Iconic Boston.” The exhibit opens to the public on Thursday at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter in Southie.

On Wednesday, Wahlberg sat down with Boston to share details on his new photo skills, why he chose to shoot certain images, and what the digital age has meant for up-and-coming pop stars.

You’ve told other media outlets that you’ve always been into classic photography and grew up admiring legendary rock ’n’ roll photographers. Who specifically, for photographers, did you have in mind?

Lynn Goldsmith—she did a lot of photography for New Kids, she was really spectacular—and Timothy White, I would say, are the two photographers we work with the most. Every time we walked into Lynn Goldsmith’s loft in Manhattan, the pictures were just overwhelming. Pictures that I grew up with on my wall—Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen—here they were. She took them. I would be hypnotized by them just looking at the details, the richness, and the character. I wanted to be in those pictures.

And they shot for New Kids when you were on tour?

Yes, all over the world.

Through the 90s and up until now as well?

Through the ’90s. But we’ve moved on and do other things now. It’s all changed. You used to take a picture and wait for it to get developed before you can see it. Now you can see it right away.

New Kids on the Block is one of the first boy bands pretty much ever. What’s changed for young stars today—perhaps in addition to social media—that you guys didn’t necessarily experience?

In some ways it’s better, in some ways it’s worse; and in some ways it’s harder, in some ways it’s easier. I think for us, when we were kids, a tabloid scandal could destroy your career in one day. But there were fewer tabloids then. Nowadays there are a million ways to get scandalized, vandalized, and embarrassed, but also the news cycle is so much shorter. In 24 hours, people forgive and forget, and your career carries on like nothing happened. Back then you didn’t have that luxury. You didn’t have a thousand paparazzi chasing you everywhere you went.

And what about New Kids?

The good news is that we’re still here, New Kids is still here. We’re still performing and selling out arenas everywhere and touring the world. So we’re getting to take advantage of social media, and leave all the paparazzi craziness to the young kids and their boy bands.

What advice would you give to younger pop stars today?

Be good to your fans. That’s it. Because it doesn’t last forever, and if you shit on your fans…

A final question: Why did you choose to shoot certain areas of Boston in your photos on display here?

I chose my high school. It used to be called Copley Square High, a public high school, and it used to be on Newbury Street, which blows peoples’ minds. They would never suspect that. That’s why I took [the photo] the way it is. It’s sort of hidden, you almost can’t make it out. It’s called Snowden [International School] now. It changed its name after I graduated. People can’t believe that there is a high school on Newbury Street.

The other photo just captures my childhood. We didn’t have a swimming pool and couldn’t afford a swimming pool. We were city kids and we played in city water. That meant a fire hydrant or a fountain or a frog pond somewhere. Or the Christian Science Center where that photo is taken. And it’s a little boy playing with no shirt on in his diaper. To me, that’s my point of view as a four-year-old. My brother Mark walking around with no shirt on with his diaper on, preparing to be a Calvin Klein model at the age of two.


Canon’s Pixma Pro City Senses gallery is now on view at Artists for Humanity EpiCenter, 100 West 2nd St., South Boston. Free admission.