Picture That: Pioneers of RockStar Photography

Jimi Hendrix at the Fillmore West, Feb 1968. Courtesy of Rosalind Modica

Once upon a time, long before we all flooded stadiums with smartphone backlights and trolled social media with nosebleed vantage points of a show that we were all at, there were RockStar photographers. Considering that we have all accepted that we are in the age of happy-snappies flooding our feeds, it’s not hard to image that most of us may have completely forgotten a time when photographers existed as an esteemed entity of a music possee. Here, we have collected a handful of iconic photographers that transcended the art of capturing moments in musical history.

Jonathan Mannion

Notorious BIG. © Jonathan Mannion
Notorious BIG. © Jonathan Mannion

As far as 90’s hip hop music goes, Mannion has done it all; considered today a legend of hip hop photography, he is responsible for hundred’s of classic album covers from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill to Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt. However, it is his majestic shots of the grimy underground hip hop scenes in the early to mid 90’s, from unimagineable angles, that captured our attention.

Anton Corbijn

Joshua Tree. U2 © Anton Corbijn
Joshua Tree. U2 © Anton Corbijn

Starting out in the 70’s as a photographer working with Tom Waits and others, Anton later moved to music videos and then to feature films. He did a lot of work with U2 in the 80’s and captured most of the landscape inspired shots for Joshua Tree. Corbijn is arguably the most famous name on this list.

Janette Beckman

Run DMC in Hollis Queens © Janette Beckman
Run DMC in Hollis Queens © Janette Beckman

As a street photographer from London, Beckman’s career was blossoming in New York as hip hop was gaining momentum. She was enthralled by the culture and was completely engulfed in it. Looking for freelance work, she was commissioned by a record label to do a shoot for Run DMC. The rest is history. Beckman has very casually captured some of the most iconic acts in the genre. These images still stand out as defining moments of the culture’s early days.

Mick Rock

Queen photoshoot © Mick Rock
Queen photoshoot © Mick Rock

Yes, he is responsible for this epic top-lit shot of Queen in 1973. This image inspired countless subtexts in rock and roll and for this alone he should be hailed as an artistic genius. However, Rock was also a proponent of the 70’s glam rock and he captured casual moments with David Bowie and other glam rock legends of the time.

Scaramouche, Scaramouche
can you do the fandango?!

Pennie Smith
Ok…this last image is generally considered the greatest rock and roll image of all time. So, If you don’t know about it yet, we’re going to be snobbish and leave you hanging… … …

But, this article is done, so perhaps you should go and find out about it (and her).

London Calling. The Clash © Pennie Smith
London Calling. The Clash © Pennie Smith