Danny Clinch and Frank Stefanko’s joint exhibit of Bruce Springsteen photography “From Darkness To A Dream” will be exhibiting at the Pelle Unger Gallery in Stockholm, Sweden from May 10th- June 20th. Both Frank and Danny have shot some of the most iconic photos of Bruce- Stefanko shooting the album cover for “Darkness On The Edge of Town” and Danny picking up the mantle and shooting recent albums. We’ve seen the prints of what’s on display and know the material very well- it is a must see, especially if you are a Boss fan.
Photo of the Biters by Jackie Roman/Hell Gate Exclusive- image is copyrighted, not for use without permission
Rarely a day goes by where The Hell Gate isn’t discussing the state & the craft of music photography. We are obviously vested in this very subject, as are the people we work with.
Yesterday we had the pleasure of seeing this in print… A Paul Natkin article The Shrinking World of Music Photography in Elmore ( tagline “Saving Music”) goes through some repeated truths: the rise of publicity & sometimes dumb publicity, the three song rule & the rise of “the contract” & how the bottom has fallen out of anyone ever actually getting paid to shoot a gig. All true, point well made.
But let’s talk about what is music photography, let us offer a couple of thoughts;
What is music photography when most artists we work with would never define themselves as music photographers? They would not define themselves in such singular terms when they understand the landscape (& marketplace) they work in. Great photographers quite often shoot great musicians & frequently produce great, great work. The next week, they shoot great actors, fashion designers & architects. Check out a news stand – Is that Adele or Florence Welch cover from a “music photographer?” – All I know is that its great work.
The people who commission and the artists who seek out that photographer know that too. Lets separate great photography from hagiography & iconography. A great music photograph can be drawn from reportage (Kim Badawi) through to high end portraiture (Danny Clinch).
The volume of print media (yes, print media) covering music has exploded in recent years – As above, the lines have blurred between singular (fashion/design/women’s titles/ general pop culture) worlds. There’s nothing singular about the guys taking advantage of that. Not to say that this democratization hasn’t had an effect on budget. This very pervasiveness (One in 6 Americans use Pandora etc) & an explosion in platforms & digital is, again, a huge opportunity. More artists have an opportunity to be heard & to be seen visually than ever before. Think of one break-out band from recent years & I can pinpoint the 1-3 great photographers who carry the content authority on that band- their “go to” photographer.
The guys at the front at the gig: The world is full of live music material & guess what, the laws of supply & demand apply to photographers as well. If what we produce is produced for a wire, then guess what, it will be subject to wire pricing. If what we produce is no better than wire, then guess what, it will be subject to wire pricing.If that is music photography then I wish it would go away.
One of our favorite music photographers is Danny Clinch. His photos are so natural and candid, as well as being beautifully composed. He shots with film (bless) and a Leica. He also plays a mean harmonica. Fault magazine has a brand new interview with him here. Danny’s also branched out successfully over the past couple of years with film, documenting Ben Harper and doing the DVD for Pearl Jam’s live show in Italy, which is excellent. One of our favorite videos he’s directed is “Lie to Me” for Tom Waits. Tom Waits + Danny Clinch = pure bliss.