The God of Music Photography

On his Marshall Photo site it says:

Jim Marshall
February 3, 1936—March 24, 2010

We regret to announce that Jim passed away earlier today in New York City—details to follow.

You can read a few more of those details in the New York Times and Rolling Stone, which shows a picture of him at  Woodstock in 1969 with 4 cameras, at least three if not all of them Leicas.

Born in Chicago (he was no relation to me)  I admired both his pictures and his working methods and attitude, and wrote about him in 2005. Here’s an edited version of part of what I wrote then:

His approach is simple, he always chooses to work with available light, the kind of photographer who carries a camera everywhere, with at least one Leica M4 around his neck even when he goes shopping. On assignment he works with at least two, one with a 28mm, the other a standard 50mm. He never changes lenses and if he needs more he carries more cameras. Most of his work is taken on Tri-X, nominally rated at 800ASA, although he works without a meter. The secret of his work is getting to know the subject, getting their trust and then getting his pictures.

He took some of the greatest pictures of jazz musicians as well as the big names of rock and roll, and created a legend through his attitude and behaviour. To his friends he was “grossly unpredictable, fabulously silly, unbelievably opinionated, completely charming, and thoroughly maddening” while others – in particular those who tried to cheat him – viewed him as a dangerous lunatic. To Annie Leibovitz he was “the rock and roll photographer” and I can only say ‘Amen’ to that.

NPR has an article with an audio appreciation of him, as well as a set of some of his best images.  He got them by demanding “all access, no doors to be closed, no conditions” and the people he photographed trusted him. It’s something no one else will ever be able to do, with the industry now hog-tied by lawyers and control freaks.

Marshall was in New York to help organise the opening of a show at the Staley + Wise gallery, Match Prints, which pairs his work with pictures by Timothy White.

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