In the mail from Amazon yesterday
Fuck You Heroes: Glenn E. Friedman Photographs 1976-1991
Friedman's childhood was largely spent skating in the legendary West L.A. schoolyards of the area called "DogTown." His friends were beginning to be featured in magazines, but Friedman felt the images failed to capture skating's true essence. Though still in junior high school, he thought he could do better.
In the fall of 1976, Friedman discovered an empty pool, and corralled a few friends into riding it so he could take pictures. He showed the results to a freelance SkateBoarder writer he met at the local schoolyard, who put the eighth-grader in touch with editor. SkateBoarder published the first photos Glen ever submitted as a full-page subscription ad. He soon after became the magazines’ youngest staff member.Several years later Friedman began to shoot the punk shows he was attending. Glen was passionately loyal to his subjects, and relentlessly devoted to winning them exposure. Proto-punks such as Black Flag, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, and others received some of their first national and international media documentation through Friedman's work.
I spent a few hours thumbing through the book last night, looking at each picture again and again. What Friedman captured in his photographs is more than just action, more than just people on a stage. He does with the camera what I always wanted to do.
I consider photography a challenge; to get the camera lens to see something the way my eye sees it, to transfer what my world looks like in a split moment to an image where that world is conveyed so everyone else can see it. I take hundreds of photos a week; the actual times that what I try to accomplish actually happens is miniscule.
That's why I spent so much time looking at Friedman's photos. He nails it every time. He is a master at capturing atmosphere.
With the skateboard pictures from the 70's, Friedman might not have even ealized then what he was capturing. The shots of shirtless skaters in shorts and knee socks, no helmets, no logos, hair flying, truly brings out the essence of what skateboarding was in those days.
And he captured the very same thing with his music photos.
Many of his photographs are recognized as the subjects' definitive portraits. His graphic documents of the movement reveal the science of defiance upon which all are based. Friedman's photos reflect the spirit of progression and angst that defined an era. Not only was he in the right places at an extraordinary number of appropriate times, Friedman has helped define the moment and movements he was caught up in. His process was much more incendiary than it was documentary.
Punk rock and skateboarding had the common threads of aggression and subversiveness and defiance. Friedman had an eye for these things and managed to capture them on film time and again. That sounds a lot easier than it is. It's more than just getting the shot of good vert action, it's capturing the feel behind the climb. It's more than getting a shot of some guy banging away on bass, it's framing Chuck Dukowski, shirt stretched out by sweat, face dripping, the grip of the raw intensity of a gig jumping off the photo at you.
It wasn't just a moment he captured, not even just a culture or a movement. He captured the spirit that embodied both skateboarding and punk rock, the entire essence of what those two things were. For anyone who thinks skateboarding was just about the ride or punk rock was just about the tunes, they need only look at Friedman's photos of each to see what was beneath.