We just had a visit from NYC based photographer Don Hunstein and his wife DeeAnne, who were over in London. Don is a great guy, and took what has become one of our most popular photographs, and one of my personal favourites. Here it is: a beautiful, evocative portrait of Bob Dylan and his (then) squeeze, Suze Rotolo, taken by Don in Manhattan on a freezing cold afternoon in February 1963. This was one of the session photographs Don took for the cover of Dylan’s second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. It is not the actual cover shot – there are subtle differences with the actual cover image, which you can see for yourself if you compare it with your copy of the vinyl or CD. I’m looking at it now, as I type this, while listening to the new mono release of Freewheelin’.
There are so many reasons to love it. Little details make all the difference. Look at how Dylan’s foot seems to come out of the picture: as one astute client put it, you can almost hear the crunch of the snow. It’s wonderfully evocative of early sixties New York, a time, a place, being young, being close to someone. See how the components of the image come together: Bob and Suze curving towards each other trying to keep warm, Bob dead centre, the vanishing point disappearing off into the distance behind him, with the lines of the rooftops, the cars, and the VW van pulling your eyes towards the centre and heightening the sense of perspective. Look at the buildings with their copper-blue tone and the way they blend into the sky, seemingly scorched by the sun. Am I getting a bit carried away here? Yes, probably, but it really is that good – it literally shimmers on the paper.
When you look at it, you can almost picture Don Hunstein, almost 50 years ago (that long), crouching down low to make the shot, encouraging them to walk towards him. Don remembers being backed into a dead end, so traffic coming from behind wasn’t a concern for him. As Don recalls: “I met Bob at his apartment, which was a third floor walk-up on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village. The apartment was rather bleak, but I got a useful set of pictures out of it, including some with his girlfriend Suze. Dylan himself was by then already quite image conscious and self-assured, and he knew how to play to the camera. Then we decided to try the street, but the light was fading so quickly that I was able to shoot only one color roll and a few black + whites.” We are lucky he went outside: if he had just called it a day and headed back uptown, we wouldn’t have this image.
This photograph is made in a limited edition of 50 on 20 x 24 inch paper, with an image measuring 16 x 16 inches.
It is getting towards the business end of the edition, so they won’t be available for too much longer.
If you would like to see one ‘in true life’ (as my daughter would say), come to our Xmas exhibition, where it will be up on show from 18 November 2010.
If you can’t wait, you can order one here.