Friday, December 8, 2017

Henry Diltz

The past few days have been dedicated to posts about rock photographers, from Linda McCartney to Mick Rock. This writer's fave photographer, though, is someone with whom I share a common bond. Readers of Jay and the Americans (which, if you haven't read, you should) know that my father painted those iconic billboards along the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Indeed, my father was a part of the very first rock billboard for The Doors' eponymous debut and worked alongside Diltz. Based on this, and my familiarity with the Laurel Canyon enclave, Diltz has always been my favorite rock photographer. Unlike a plethora of photographers in the genre, Diltz was the master of the color shot and in capturing the L.A. scene in its natural state, often making L.A. look like something out of a Hollywood western. He was the official photographer for Woodstock '69 and developed a close relationship with the musicians he photographed, allowing him to capture the musicians in a more intimate and relaxed manner.

Diltz lived in the Canyon near Stephen Stills in 1967. When Stills invited him to come to a Buffalo Springfield gig in Redondo Beach, Diltz brought his camera along. It was a fortuitous move that would alter the course of his life and career. Diltz was taking photographs of a huge hippy mural outside the venue, when the group wandered out after their soundcheck. He asked them to stand beneath the mural and, without thinking too much about it, made his first portrait of the fledgling Los Angeles music scene. A few weeks later he sold the photograph for $100 to Teen Set magazine and, as he puts it, was "up and running" as a photographer.


Here are some of the more familiar color shots:






Henry Diltz