The first celebrity Patrick McMullan ever snapped was of future President Richard Nixon at the Walt Whitman Shopping Mall on Long Island in 1966 when the budding photographer was only 11 years old. “The Secret Service people saw me there with a camera and brought me right up to his car. I took his picture and shook his hand, but when I had the film developed, that photo, the last picture in the roll, was clipped off,” remembers the famed nightlife photog. “That was devastating to me.”

McMullan seems to have recovered rather resiliently from that first disappointment. At this stage in his thirty-year career, he's shot pretty much every famous person on Earth outside of the current Pope, the Dali Lama, and the Royal Family. “I think it could be a good excuse to get them all in a room together,” says the photographer from inside Salomon Contemporary in Chelsea, which is hosting a new exhibit titled Pictures from the Patrick McMullan Collection.

The show came about after the gallery’s owner, James Salomon, visited McMullan’s apartment with his son Matias to have their portrait taken. “I went wild over what I saw hanging on the walls,” says Salomon, who’s known McMullan for almost fifteen years. “I thought it could be a rare, insightful glimpse into his world. Such an ensemble we thought would make a great gallery show."

The exhibit, which will run until July 31st, features a sprinkling of Patrick’s own work, but mostly includes over 200 images from other famous photographers and artists, as well as items McMullan has purchased, traded, bartered or found throughout his fabulous life. In fact, McMullan is still adding to the exhibit as we speak. “They kept saying, ‘We have enough stuff!’ but I keep bringing in more,” McMullan says. “I see blank space on a gallery wall and in my mind it’s Manifest Destiny!”

The photographer was gracious enough to spend a recent afternoon walking us through a selection of works from the likes of David LaChapelle, Steven Klein, Harry Benson, Mary Ellen Mark, Bruce Weber, and more. Take a look at photos from the show and read McMullan's recollections, below.

Patrick McMullan Show

Patrick McMullan Show

Patrick McMullan Show

Patrick McMullan Show

Patrick McMullan Show

Patrick McMullan Show

Patrick McMullan Show

Patrick McMullan Show

Patrick McMullan Show

Patrick McMullan Show

Patrick McMullan Show

Patrick McMullan Show

Patrick McMullan Show