Photo Essay—Bob Gruen—Rock and Roll Images


Last week I was fortunate enough to see a BBC documentary on the New York Rock and Roll photographer Bob Gruen.  Bob  is one of the most well-known and respected photographers in rock and roll. He has captured the music scene for over forty years in photographs that have gained worldwide recognition.
Shortly after John Lennon moved to New York in 1971, Bob became John and Yoko’s personal photographer and friend, making photos of their working life as well as private moments. In 1974 he created the iconic images of John Lennon wearing a New York City t-shirt and standing in front of the Statue of Liberty making the peace sign – two of the most popular of Lennon’s images.

As chief photographer for Rock Scene Magazine in the ’70s, Bob specialized in candid, behind the scenes photo features.

In the documentary Bob lamented not achieving the technical skill of studio photographers.  However the artists that he photographed testified to his knack for capturing the emotional climax that set him apart from his peers. Part of his skill was in befriending and accompanying his subjects so that they relaxed and acted more naturally in front of his camera.

In the spring of 2007 FAAP University in Sao Paulo, Brazil presented an exhibition of Bob Gruen’s work. Titled ROCKERS, the exhibition attracted 40,000 visitors.
Bob’s “Sid Vicious with Hot Dog” photo was acquired by The National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1999 for their permanent collection.