September ninth, of 2009 (09.09.09) was a big day for Beatles fans. It was the release of the re-mastered Beatles boxed set, it was the release date for The Beatles Rock Band, and it was the day that my friend Craig Sumsky and I journeyed to the Big Apple.
Now this wasn’t any unplanned trip, we were going to New York City with a purpose; to meet one of the greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll photographers of all time, the legendary Bob Gruen. If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Gruen, a simple Google search will reveal him as the significant photographer that he is, especially in the rock scene of the 70’s and 80’s This guy worked with artists like John Lennon, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Sex Pistols and The Clash just to name a few.
Meeting Mr. Gruen was an absolute pleasure. A genuinely nice guy who was both gracious and warm. I have to admit that taking a photograph or portrait of someone who is a celebrity can be intimidating, and then add to it that this person is a photographer as well, that’s some serious pressure! In the end Bob gave me some great images. I have to admit the preconceived notions I had for this photo shoot weren’t so great, but it all turned out better than I expected. You have to have some idea going in for any project. What I find to my advantage is just being open and honest about my intentions, motives and sharing the I have vision with my subjects. Let them have the power by making them feel comfortable and establishing trust.
Photographers have great power with their camera, and with that power comes great responsibility. When a photographer snaps the shutter he is taking something, literally. The Native Americans believed that if you took their photograph it would capture their soul, and in some ways it does. Great photographs (portraits) are a combination of trust, respect and willingness of the subject to give you something of themselves. As a photographer, I always remember that as I photograph my subjects.
And how is it that this meeting with Bob Gruen came to happen? Well, the credit for that would have to go to my friend Craig Sumsky from Cutting Edge Entertainment. Craig has been on a mission, or one might say an independent study of all things Beatles for a little over a year now, and I made sure to tell him that whatever he was doing, to count me in. Craig’s a go-getter, and if you know him (and he doesn’t let too many people “in” as they say), he’s a bit of an inspiration. When Craig told folks his idea about meeting Bob Gruen (who was John and Yoko Lennon’s personal photographer), most people said would never happen. Well… they were wrong. Not only did Bob let us come up for an interview, but he also signed the many copies (that we lugged around N.Y.C.) of his new book “John Lennon The New York Years”, as well as giving me great opportunities for portraits.
For more about our meeting, check out the Cutting Edge Entertainment blog post about our journey – 09.09.09 in New York City – and be sure to check out Bob Gruen’s website as well at www.BobGruen.com. And last, but certainly not least, if you are a John Lennon fan, be sure to grab a copy of Bob’s book, “John Lennon:The New York Years”. It’s really a great book.
Thank you Craig, and thank you Bob for an experience I won’t soon forget.