How did Berry Feinstein affect the art society?

Research paper on the photographer Barry Feinstein and how he affected the art scene of “rock photography” during the 60s and 70s. His background…His influences….compare and contrasting pieces of work…and touching light on his relationships with Bob Dylan and other famous icons. etc. A good research paper on his life of photography.




Barry Feinstein and Art

Photographer Barry Feinstein was born on 4th February 1931 and died on 20th October 2011 in Philadelphia, USA. The celebrated camera operator is prominent for his rock photography effort during the 1950s to 1990s before an accident that adversely affected his career. He married Mary Travers in 1963, and they had a daughter, Alicia, before divorcing in 1967. Later, Feinstein married performer Carol Wyne in 1969 and together bore a son named Alex. However, the couple divorced in 1974 (Dylan & Feinstein, 2008).

Feinstein’s career was more of a chance than a plan since he had no formal training in photography. He discovered his occupation while working at a racetrack in Atlantic in the year 1955. A photo he took by instincts rather than intent revealed a gift of atmosphere and a taste for detail. Life Magazine engaged him for his first job to cover the Miss America pageant during the same year. His career changed when he landed a production job as an assistant at Columbia Pictures in Hollywood (Dylan & Feinstein, 2008). Feinstein’s motivation for photography was highly influenced by his desire to take photos behind the scenes, which is detested by many. His breakthrough came when he became friends with Steve McQueen, who requested him to take a picture for the Look Magazine. Although the results were relaxed but enlightening, his interest was revealing the dramatic moments or expressing the details.

Barry is a famous figure for the high-profile photos of celebrities during the time of his career. The most notable person is Bob Dylan whom Feinstein met through his wife Travers at a coffee shop. Later, Feinstein’s ten-minute photo shoot of Dylan became the most iconic record cover pictures of him. Feinstein’s black and white photos, because of their “angles and stark atmosphere”, impressed Dylan (Dylan & Feinstein, 2008). In 1966, Feinstein joined Dylan and his band for their British tour. Feinstein (2008) explain that the trip turned controversial when Dylan went detached while on stage to an imperious point “dandy in shades and a sharp suit.” The emergence of the photographs from the tour revealed Dylan as a more complex figure who appeared scrawny and fragile with his eyes hidden by his ever-present shade.

Apart from Dylan, Feinstein worked with other celebrities and music bands during his career. Among them is George Harry for whom Barry took a cover photo for his “All Things Must Pass” album in 1970. Others included Steve McQueen from the Look Magazine, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe and The Flying Burrito Bros. According to Vitello (2011), these celebrities loved working with Barry because he was a great photographer.

Despite Feinstein’s amicable relationship with Dylan, he courted some controversies. His interest to capture real life photos, as opposed to standup portrait shoots induced his polemics. Murray, Harrington, and Salewicz (2012) noted some events where he courted heated debates and some leading to broken relationships. Most significantly, he was requested to produce a photo for the Rolling Stone’s album in which he presented a public toilet covered by graffiti. As a result, the image was rejected despite Keith Richard’s claim that it was real and funky. Additionally, he provocatively posed Tina Turner and Ike in the Whiteface while eating watermelons. Feinstein again sparked a controversy when he photographed Marlon Brando as racist demonstrators jeered him.

However, these controversies did not halt his remarkable success in photography (Vitello, 2011). His dexterity to compose shots and ability to get access and deliver those photos greatly influenced his career. He produced Dylan’s one of the most successful cover photos as well as Janis Joplin’s cover photo for Pearl Album. In addition to directing the Cult’s hippy film, he formed a graphic design company named Camouflage with Tom Wilkes. The duo created extraordinary records such as Gp by Gram Parsons as well as eponymously debut album by Eric Clapton. His written work, which included poems and a book also pinpoint his success.

Murray, Harrington, and Salewicz (2012) identify Feinstein’s contribution to rock photography is seen from the work of Dylan’s work of prose poems written in the 1960s. The lyrics reflect the inspiration drawn from Feinstein’s photos and the attic relationship the duo had for more than 40 years. He also influenced rock photography by introducing ideas deviating from the norms by focusing on” real” photo work. Feinstein believed in capturing real moments as opposed to stand-up portraits that presented no life or feeling.

Although Feinstein did photography like others, his ideas contrasted what his counterparts were doing. In his words, he wanted photos that were communicating an idea and more so, he wanted enjoyed capturing real-life moments. Murray, Harrington, and Salewicz (2012) notes that Feinstein work created a world of imagery in Hollywood in 1950s and 1960s that present a timeless viewpoint unrivalled by the digital world of quick-shoot and get-it-there photography. His work was outstanding due to his interest in ‘behind the scenes’ photos and this unusual approach made his clients like him more.










Dylan, B., & Feinstein, B. (2008). Hollywood foto-rhetoric: The lost manuscript. New York: Simon & Schuster

Feinstein, B. (2008). Real moments: Bob Dylan. London: Vision On.

Murray, C., Harrington, R., & Salewicz, C. (2012). Rolling Stones 50 x 20. San Rafael, CA: Insight Editions.

Vitello, P. (2011, October 20). Barry Feinstein, Photographer of Defining Rock Portraits, Dies at 80. Retrieved from

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