Real Moments: Bob Dylan by Barry Feinstein
Photographer Barry Feinstein has had a successful career as a photographer. His website lists his work as having appeared in Life, Look, Time, Esquire, Newsweek and many others. He has also shot the album covers for Janis Joplin’s Pearl, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, Barbra Streisand’s Stoney End, and of particular significance, Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A Changin’.
Dylan and Feinstein were friends, which led to Feinstein being hired on as the exclusive photographer during Dylan’s tour of Europe in 1966, his first since going electric, and he was backed by The Band minus Levon Helm. The vast majority of the book’s photos are from this time.
The hardcover book is 12.8” x 10.1”, allowing the photos to be a nice size on the pages. They are all in black and white and being in Europe bring to mind D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary of the 1965 European tour, Don't Look Back. With his style of dress, shaggy hair, and dark sunglasses Dylan stands out as a unique figure wherever he goes, whether working as a musician or just passing time. Most of the shots are taken of Dylan offstage because, as Feinstein explains, “I didn’t really enjoy taking performance pictures... If you want to see a performance, but a ticket.”
While Feinstein gets many good, interesting shots, the images aren’t so compelling that they will transcend and be of any interest to anyone outside of Dylan fans. Outside the album cover, the most familiar shot is likely to be Dylan in Bristol at the Aught Ferry terminal, which was used in 2005 as the cover for both the CD and DVD of Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home.
A few print sheets grace the book, revealing Feinstein in action and his creative process. He provides brief commentary for each shot to give some insight behind it. Elsewhere, he reveals his thoughts about these tours in the documentary Bob Dylan World Tours 1966-1974: Through the Camera of Barry Feinstein.
The last 20 of the 157 pages are of the 1974 American tour with The Band, 40 shows over six weeks. The music was documented on After The Flood. Dylan looks more like the common man in these photos. His clothes aren’t so unique, he has a small beard, and his eyes aren’t hidden behind sunglasses as often. One photo is of Dylan meeting Jimmy Carter. It states it is in Washington, but Feinstein’s notes mention the meeting took place at the governor’s mansion, which should have been Georgia unless Carter had another mansion.
It was the last tour Feinstein ever went on because he believed “it would never be as great as this.” Hard to imagine that if you could get paid to do be a tour photographer, you wouldn’t jump at the chance. If any of Mr. Dylan’s representatives are reading this and have an opening, please drop me a line.
Images from the book can be found at Feinstein’s website.