Nov 9, 2017
With great thanks to Vikki Tobak and the Contact High Project, we welcome three photographers to our studio who are responsible for some of the most iconic images from the history of hip-hop. Janette Beckman, Eric Johnson, and Danny Hastings join us to tell the stories behind their photos of Run-DMC, Wu Tang Clan, Lauryn Hill, and many others. We also speak about issues important to photographers, from on-set technique, to artistic collaboration and influence, to gear, to networking and, of course, licensing of images. For us, this was a highly anticipated recording and it did not disappoint. Whether you are a hip-hop fan interested in behind-the-scenes stories or a photographer looking for insight, join us for this incredible conversation.
Janette Beckman began her career at the dawn of punk rock in the U.K., photographing The Clash, Sex Pistols, and Boy George, as well as three Police album covers. Moving to New York in 1982, she was drawn to the underground hip-hop scene and photographed pioneers such as Run DMC, Slick Rick, Salt’n’Pepa, Grandmaster Flash, and Big Daddy Kane. She has published four books and currently has an exhibition of silkscreen prints at 212 Arts in New York.
Eric Johnson has created iconic hip-hop images of Notorious B.I.G, Lauryn Hill, Dipset, Li’l Wayne, and newer artists like G Herbo and Cakes da Killa. His work stretches across music genres to include Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, and Maxwell and, for the past decade, he has helmed Upstairs at Eric’s, a loft space in Manhattan that is equal parts studio, gallery, disco, lounge, and design studio.
Danny Hastings has shot 150 album covers and directed more than 40 music videos. Listed in Complex Magazine as one of the rap photographers every rap fan should know, his most notable album covers include Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Big Pun’s Capital Punishment, Nas’s IA, as well as album art for Raekwon, Eminem, and Jeru the Damaja. Hastings is now directing his second feature film.
Vikki Tobak is a journalist, correspondent, and former CNN producer who currently writes and produces for Complex, Mass Appeal, and The FADER. She is the author of Contact High: Hip-Hop Photography + Visual Culture, an upcoming book from Penguin/Random House.
More from the B&H Photography Podcast
Guests: Janette Beckman, Eric Johnson, Danny Hastings, Vikki Tobak