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Danny Clinch: Behind the Lens

Behind-the-scenes tales of iconic photo shoots with Bob Dylan, Tupac and more

Danny Clinch, Photographer, Behind the Lens, Photography

Courtesy of Danny Clinch

Danny Clinch has taken countless photos of musicians over the past three decades, so picking 16 images to represent his entire career was no easy task. "I thought to myself, 'Who do I have relationships with and who do I love musically?'" says Clinch. "I tried to mix young, old, men and women. I love shooting live shows, but I avoided live shots here. These photographs offer a little inside look that a lot of people don't get to see." 

Danny Clinch, Photographer, Behind the Lens, Photography

Danny Clinch

Lucinda Williams

"I just love Lucinda Williams. She is one of my favorite people," Clinch gushes. "She's super cool and she's one of those people that does things in their own way. I just admire that so much. We've done quite a few photo sessions together. This one for was for her Little Honey record in 2008. I rented this old car for this one. I love cars and motorcycles. They're great props and it gives people something to do, keeps them comfortable. Lucinda is photogenic, though she doesn't believe it. She just gets nervous doing photo shoots. We get along real well and I keep a sort of relaxed set. This was in downtown Los Angeles."

Danny Clinch, The Black Keys, Photographer, Behind the Lens, Photography

Danny Clinch

The Black Keys

"The Black Keys were shot for a little magazine called Rolling Stone," Clinch jokes. "They wanted me to go down to Akron. This is right before the band left for Nashville. I went out to Dan's studio and we hung out there for quite some time waiting for Pat. He showed up and the plan was to do something in the studio and go out and get some lunch in town. They were saying, 'You guys just follow me.' Pat was following in his car. They get out and Dan's in an SUV and we're jumping in our minivan and Pat jumps into this little MG. I'm like, 'Wait a minute. Dan, you guys need to ride together in that car.' They did and I followed them in my minivan hanging out the side door, shooting them as we drove to lunch."

Danny Clinch, Photographer, Behind the Lens, Photography

Danny Clinch

Roger Waters

"This is at rehearsals for The Wall," Clinch explains. "I was shooting him for Rolling Stone. They sent me out to rehearsals in Long Island and then production rehearsals at the Meadowlands. We went out there and they said, 'OK, Roger is really busy. We can give you couple of minutes at the most to shoot a portrait.' I kind of picked a spot with the inflatable in the back. I waited and waited and waited. He literally sat there long enough to be like, 'OK, we're good.' I shot the shit of that, as fast as I could. I think it's a classic considering what he's done and where he's taken The Wall."

Danny Clinch, Foo Fighters, Photographer, Behind the Lens, Photography

Danny Clinch

Foo Fighters

"I really like this photo," Clinch says. "For me, it's a great example of what life experiences I get out of photography being a big music fan. These guys trust me to be back there. I'm not always trying to chat everyone up. I try to be invisible and feel the vibe. I think anyone that sees this photograph and is a fan of music, and especially the Foo Fighters, they'd give their left arm to be there while they're working on a tune and figuring out the set list."

Tupac Shakur

Danny Clinch

Tupac Shakur

"This is 1993," Clinch remembers. "Rolling Stone calls and gives me this photo shoot. I was told it was going to run a quarter page. It was one of my first RS assignments and in my mind I said, 'I'm going to shoot this as a Rolling Stone cover in my mind.' I was just dreaming.

"Tupac showed up and was very cool. I've done a lot of hip-hop. A lot of the musicians would come with sometimes 20 people, but at least five or six people would come to your studio and make themselves comfortable. Tupac showed up with one guy and they came up to my studio. He was really professional and he was very excited to be photographed for Rolling Stone. He understood the magnitude of that since it's not just a hip-hop magazine. It's the gold standard. He was really into it.

"At one point he was changing up his clothes so we'd have some options. I saw his tattoos and said, 'Hey, can I get a couple without your shirt on?' He said, 'Sure.' I shot a couple like that. The shoot wasn't really that long. I felt like we got it. We shot there and on the roof of my studio. Then three years later, the inevitable happened and it actually ran on the cover of Rolling Stone.

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