Great photographs—whether shot by Ansel Adams or your Aunt Anna—capture a moment in time that people familiar with the moment, the subject or the place can relate to for years to come. And even if you don’t have any familiarity with what’s in the picture, the good ones always relate an emotion, a texture or some other sense.
I’m a big fan of great photography, so I was quite happy to invite Charles Gatewood to be my guest today.
Gatewood, who began work as a professional in the counterculture days of the 1960s, is not your grandmother’s shutterbug—not unless grandma was partial to being photographed in the nude, practiced S&M, bondage, discipline, dominance and submission. Fast-forward to the ‘90s and he specialized in photographing modern primitives, erotic tattooing, extreme body piercing and blood sports. In recent years, he’s into messy girls—I don’t even know what that is, frankly—goths and vampires, radical pagans, Burning Man and much more.
CHARLES GATEWOOD podcast excerpt: “A few weeks before I shot Dylan, Martin Luther King was in town. They said, ‘Go to the press conference and take pictures.’ I almost fainted because Martin Luther King was one of my heroes! It was my first assignment. And I blew the assignment! I wasn’t able to get up close and take the pictures I wanted to take… When I heard Dylan was coming to town, I begged the boss for a crack at it… I got to go as back-up camera; the second guy.”
Today, however, Gatewood is being celebrated for a subject he shot one April day in 1966. That was the day he spent shooting one of the most revered photographs of singer and songwriter Bob Dylan. “Bob Dylan with Cigarette” is one of Gatewood’s most famous photos and now it is part of a limited edition, handmade photo book he calls A Complete Unknown. Prices for the book range from $1,000 to $3,000.
You can order the book or view the complete Dylan photo gallery online for free while I speak with Gatewood: danadanadana.com/gatewood.