One of photographer Deborah Feingold’s earliest darkrooms was actually a prison cell. After graduating from Emerson College in the early 1970’s, she was awarded a grant to teach photography to troubled youth in a Boston prison, affirming her belief in the power of the camera as a tool for self-expression and communication and laying the groundwork for a decades-long career photographing the most prominent names in American culture.
Feingold moved to New York City in 1976, where her relationship with a jazz musician inspired her to embrace a spirit of improvisation in her photography and led to her first major assignment: shooting jazz icon Chet Baker for the Artist House record label. Her work with Baker and others on the label caught the attention of Musician magazine, who hired Feingold as their New York liaison. Turning her small apartment into a makeshift studio (this time her shower stall served as the dark room) and freewheeling it on the unpredictable streets of New York, Feingold captured indelible images of some of the most legendary names in music, from B.B. King and James Brown to Bono and Madonna to REM and Pharrell.
Feingold’s unique ability to put her subjects almost immediately at ease engendered the kind of rare moments of honesty and intimacy that became the hallmark of her work, and over the ensuing decades, her photographs would appear in Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek and The New York Times among others, along with countless album and book covers. The portraits in her catalog read like a who’s who of cultural icons: President Barack Obama, Mick Jagger, Bill Gates, Tom Wolfe, Prince, Johnny Depp, George Carlin, and many more.
Her new book, Music, collects some of the most dazzling moments from her sessions with the artists whose work has defined the last 40 years in popular (and stridently unpopular) music, and asserts Feingold as a singular talent with the ability to distill their artistry and humanity down into a single frame.