Inspiration

For those who love photography involving music and the musicians who create it, some of the resources that have inspired and continue to inspire me include:

Museum Exhibits

Who Shot Rock and Roll
If you can find it, Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 – Present is a terrific museum exhibit.  I had the pleasure of seeing it at the Annenberg Center for Photography in Los Angeles and it is a tremendous chronicle of rock and roll and the musicians responsible for making it what it is today.

Who Shot Rock & Roll is an exhibition of rock and roll photography that focuses on the photographers and their intimate relationships with musicians.  It shows the way that the photographers not only chronicled the evolution of rock music and musicians, but also influenced that evolution.  Who Shot Rock & Roll is organized by the Brooklyn Museum with guest curator Gail Buckland and, like a good band, tours extensively.

Books

Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955-Present
What’s a good tour without merch.  This is the book that accompanies the museum exhibit of the same name.  Great photographs and stories.  Available at Amazon here.

Rock Seen
Bob Gruen is probably the first name to come to mind when thinking about images of the golden years of rock and roll photography. In Rock Seen, Gruen publishes some of his favorite and/or best known images and shares some of the stories behind them.  Gruen’s photographs are amazing and set the bar for capturing the emotion and vibrancy of the moment that I try to achieve when I shoot concert and live music. Available at Amazon here.

American Music
While Annie Leibovitz’s portraits of celebrities and royalty are famous, many people don’t know that she got her start in music.  Leibovitz spent almost 15 years as a principal photographer for Rolling Stone Magazine and produced many of the classic portraits that not only captured the image of the rock stars she photographed, but seemed to capture their very essence as well.  Those rock posters many of us had on our dorm walls, we may not have known it at the time but many of them were shot by Leibovitz.  Available at Amazon here.

Jim Marshall: Proof
You want iconic rock photography, you got it.  Jim Marshall has captured as many iconic moments as any photographer in music – and he has the Grammy (Trustees Award) to prove it.  Jim Marshall’s photography proves that being there, in the moment, is critical. Proof is an interesting book because Marshall shares his actual proof sheets – essentially the whole roll of film – from which the single iconic image that we all know was ultimately chosen.  Along with the proof sheets, Marshall discusses why he chose one image over another and what he is looking for in the ideal image. Available at Amazon here.

Rock Gods: Forty Years of Rock Photography
While the front man usually gets all the glory, Robert Knight seemed to focus as much (or more) on the guitarist than the singer.  This book chronicles all the great classic guitarists with the type of imagery composition, lighting and structure that all of us strive to create.  Available at Amazon here.

Rock and Roll, Rock and Roll Stories, Springsteen: Access All Areas
Lynn Goldsmith has been there, done that and has the photographs (and probably the t-shirts) to prove it.   One of my very favorite photos ever is of a young Bruce Springsteen and Clarence Clemons on stage together that you can find a copy of here.  I feel like I’ve used the word “iconic” too many times already, but that’s really the best word, again, to describe Goldsmith’s work.  Goldsmith has published multiple books, each as good as the one before it.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Greg