On the B&H Photography Podcast, we’ve hosted several incredible music and concert photographers to talk about their craft and share stories of their iconic photos, of David Bowie, The Beatles, Lauryn Hill, Wu-Tang Clan, KISS, Johnny Cash, and many other influential musicians. Within these conversations are also insights to improve your music photography, whether that be live concert work or portraiture. Check out these five great episodes.
Mick Rock: The Name Says It All
Thanks to a contact made by podcast guest Norman Reedus, we were invited to the home of photographer Mick Rock to discuss his work and career. Rock’s name will be forever linked to the names Bowie, Iggy, Freddie, and Lou. His images of these rock icons are well known, but his work includes a Who’s Who of musicians from Syd Barrett to Lana Del Ray. Our conversation with Rock emphasized the need to “recognize a moment” as he downplayed his technical skills, but we do talk a bit about gear and, when pressed on how he created four decades of incredible music photos, he offers, “I’ve always loved my subjects.” The same can be said about us.
The Ninja: Concert Photography, with Christie Goodwin
We spoke with U.K.-based photographer Christie Goodwin at a time when there was little live music to photograph, but for Goodwin, 2020 was an opportunity to work on other series and organize her extensive archive, making images available as limited-edition prints. In addition to being the tour photographer for Katie Perry, One Direction, Taylor Swift, and other heavy hitters, she is the official photographer of London’s Royal Albert Hall, and we discussed the importance of knowing your venues, of backstage etiquette, and of working with (and against) spotlights. Goodwin keeps her gear and her approach simple, but the work portrays both intimate moments and brilliant spectacle. There’s a reason she’s called “The Ninja.”
A History of Hip-Hop Photography
This may be the best episode we ever recorded and, if you’re a fan of Wu-Tang Clan, Salt ’n’ Pepa, Notorious B.I.G., or Lauryn Hill, there are great backstories on hip-hop album art, so have a listen. There are some good photo lessons to be found here, as well. We welcomed photographers Janette Beckman, Eric Johnson, and Danny Hastings, each of whom would deserve a place in the Hip-Hop Photography Hall of Fame (the HHPHOF), if such a place existed. There are just too many images and stories to summarize, but as mentioned, of our almost three hundred podcast episodes, it’s a standout. On this show we are also joined by author Vikki Tobak to discuss the “Contact High” project, which became an award-winning photography book. Tobak also joined us a year later, along with Fab 5 Freddy, to discuss the making of Gordon Parks' photo “A Great Day in Hip-Hop.”
The Markers of Our Bliss: Lynn Goldsmith and Rock ’n’ Roll
Lynn Goldsmith came on the podcast to discuss her then-new book, KISS: 1977-1980, and we did talk about the book and how a Bob Dylan-loving kid from Detroit ended up palling around with the glam-rock icons, but we also spoke on a range of subjects related to music photography. We touched on the differences between portrait and concert work and the seemingly bygone days when a photographer could hang out with a band or musician and create images that spoke to the artists as performers and as people. Flip side, Goldsmith tells of the short and awkward time she spent making an iconic photo of The Who front man, Roger Daltrey. She’s done it all and we chat about other aspects of her photographic work and what her music and celebrity portraiture shares with her documentary and fine-art work.
’Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: Rock Photography of the 1960s
I left this episode until the end because the work of Jim Marshall and of Elliott Landy is basically the stuff of my rock ’n’ roll dreams. To discuss the incredible output of work made by Jim Marshall, we welcomed Amelia Davis, owner of Jim Marshall LLC, the living archive of the late photographer. Davis recounts her relationship with Marshall and how she came to run this collection and her plans to steward it. It’s hard to minimize the work of Marshall—from Miles Davis to Jimi Hendrix and from Johnny Cash to The Allman Brothers Band, the man had access! We also welcome photographer Elliott Landy, whose photos of Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, and The Band taken in and around Woodstock, New York, in the late 1960s, have come to define a beautiful place and moment in rock history.
During B&H Explora’s Music Appreciation Week, we are publishing a slew of great articles on music making and music photography. Let us know which podcast on music photography is your favorite, in the Comments section, below.