Friday, October 21, 2011

Dignity never been photographed: Barry Feinstein

Beautiful Melodies telling you Terrible Things vol. Cameras make you Ghosts

"Some people see things - others can't. Barry Feinstein has an eye. Exactly where or when he developed his talent is irrelevant. We are the lucky ones as a result.
~Bobby Neuwirth~

"I liked Barry's photos a lot...just their stark atmosphere. Obviously the subject matter. I liked the angles...the shadows and light."
~Bob Dylan~

"He knew I would make him look interesting - and he was interesting. I knew I was in the presence of genius."
~Barry Feinstein on his iconic 1966 photos of Bob Dylan~

Feinstein as photographed by Bob Dylan

Barry Feinstein, a legendary photographer of both rock n roll and Hollywood, has died at the age of 80. Nothing really more to say (though I'll still say it), the man's work and accolades speak for themselves. He photographed album covers for Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, George Harrison, as well as taking photos of them and the Band, Eric Clapton, Miles Davis and more. His dirty graffiti spewed bathroom photography for the Rolling Stones 1968 album (my favorite Stones album) Beggars Banquet found it's way into heavy controversy at the time. Probably most notably, he's known for his collaborations with, you may have guessed it, Bob Dylan. From his work on the Times they are a-Changin' cover and beyond. Truthfully, if you jus do a google search, or look just skin deep at Dylan photos or albums like Live 1966 or Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home, you'll get to know his work of Dylan before any other photographers, I know I did. He photographed iconic shots of Bob Dylan's controversial 1966 electric world tour, his deep connection with Dylan also led to Dylan writing prose poems during this same period for some Hollywood pictures Feinstein had taken. These pictures and poems can, finally, be found (it only took 40 years for them to be released) in the book 'Hollywood Foto-Rhetoric: the lost manuscript.' Feinstein also photographed Dylan's 1974 comeback tour with the Band, worked in Hollywood and Washington finding the likes of Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Judy Garland, Richard Nixon and plenty of other icons in his lens. Every heard of the 1968 film You are What you Eat, well if you have, it was directed by Feinstein.

For me, personally, Feinstein's photography impacted my greatly at a younger age as a man who's rock n roll (and life, really) tastes were still being molded. His death brings me back years, to a different person, remembering now when that mid-60's Dylan was my favorite, when the Rolling Stones were my favorite band before I discovered the Replacements. I'll never forget how I felt the first time I saw a birdsnest hair Dylan in front of that LSD sign or walking in London with a bunch of young kids. When my friends and I would discuss Dylan, those were the pictures we would see in our heads of him as we did, they were ones we would talk about if we discussed him past his music, they are still the image we have engraved of him in our memory - the power of a great photograph. Seeing an album cover like Pearl or Beggars Banquet for the first time, they strike you similarly in a way a run of the mill photo or album cover just can't. When I first got into artists like Dylan, I remember first being most struck by his mid 60's photos of the troubadour, as I said, they seem to be the most known and accessible. They are truly iconic in framing, lighting and Dylan's look. Even now, having moved past that period, I still look back at those photos and am still truly struck, no wonder I so easily got into the artist past his albums, Feinstein's work made it easy, he made him cool, touchable, immortal. I still occasionally find my way to the Feinstein/Dylan tour '66 book 'Real Moments' and get struck by the photos just as much as I did when I first saw them as a teenager. I also remember studying in great detail the cover for Beggars Banquet (something you just can't do on mp3 downloads) and seeing it for the piece of artwork it truly was and still is.

A true artist of his craft, rest in peace Barry, and much love and prayers to your family. Here are some of my favorites of Barry's work...

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