From the beginning of time, when anything happened in life, the possibility existed that someone was there to document it. From the early cave drawings to digital cameras of today, civilization, including its culture has been documented in various forms. This documentation has been a means of preserving our history and culture for future generations.
In the 20th century, photography became a prime means of documentation. As culture became more interesting to the masses, photographers gravitated to it to document it. It was exciting and interesting (and a lot safer than documenting wars).
In the 1950’s, music photography started to become an acceptable form of journalism, and a group of photographers, most prominent among them Jim Marshall, Henry Diltz and David Gahr, began establishing the standards for the art form. Given unlimited access to musicians from all genres, they started creating bodies of work which will never be equaled. From live concert photography to formal and informal offstage work, they set a standard that is still the mark that any photographer today should strive for.
The most obvious thread that runs through all of their work (and many other photographers’ work of that era) was their unlimited access to the subject. All of them were allowed to shoot anything they needed to shoot, from whatever vantage point they deemed necessary. They all have told stories about inviting major stars to their houses for informal photo shoots, or going to the stars’ houses. They roamed the backstage areas of venues they were working in with total access. Their work was a collaboration with the artist, as they both realized that what the photographer was doing was helping the artist.
Some of the most striking images of that era were taken by these photographers, and many others like them on both sides of the Atlantic.
To better understand these years, please check out the Morrison Hotel Gallery, which was founded by Henry Diltz and a few partners to display the work of the best of the best from that era onward.
Next chapter: The 1970’s and 1980’s- Things start to change.