New PBS Series Puts Rock Photography In Focus

For proof that rock ‘n’ roll and photography are a match made in pop-culture heaven, look no further than this new PBS docuseries.

Titled “Icon: Music Through the Lens,” this six-part series (premiering Friday) corrals dozens of photographers who have spent their careers taking photos of rock’s biggest stars -- from the 1960s (the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones) to the present day (Billie Eilish).

It’s a subject tailor-made for the visual medium of television. Throughout the show, seemingly hundreds of photos are presented that represent the very best of what professional photography can produce.

Many of the images are accompanied by interviews with the photographers who took them -- and, in some cases, the subjects themselves.

It’s a lively and informative series of one-hour documentaries -- each scheduled to air for the next five Friday nights (concluding on Friday, Aug. 13, when episodes five and six will air back-to-back from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern).



The six parts each deal with a specific aspect of rock photography. This week’s premiere, “On Camera,” serves as an introduction to the world of photographers and the special relationships some of them form with the stars they shoot.

Episode two, “On the Road,” covers performance and tour photography. Episode three, “On the Record,” looks at the photography of album jackets. Episode four, “On the Cover,” looks at iconic photos that became famous magazine covers.

Episodes five and six deal with the modern day. Episode Five, titled “On the Wall,” examines the market for iconic rock photos as they have moved from magazine covers and album jackets to the walls of art galleries and museums.

Episode Six, “On the Net,” looks at how rock photography is evolving along with digital technology.

If there is a recurring theme running through the series’ six installments, it is that rock photography, along with the media that showcased it -- album covers, concert posters, magazines and the like -- helped shape the way rock music and its artists are publicly perceived.

“Icon: Music Through the Lens” premieres Friday night (July 16) at 9 Eastern on PBS.

Photo credit: Photo of Jimi Hendrix, courtesy of Baron Wolman.

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