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Exposed: Classic Photos from Jeff Kravitz (Phish, Pearl Jam, Kurt Cobain and More)
The the son of legendary Atlantic City, N.J. radio talk show host Pinky Kravitz, Jeff Kravitz grew up around celebrities and entertainers from all walks of life. He saw how his father developed a rapport with everyone from Jimmy Hoffa and Sammy Davis Jr. to Helen Keller and Eleanor Roosevelt while he was interviewing them. The young Kravitz took note. “I wanted to make people at ease, make them laugh,” he says. It also helped that, like his father, he wasn’t shy.
By the time he began attending Temple University in Philadelphia, he was already selling pictures of concerts to the local newspapers (the first concert he ever photographed was Kansas in 1977).
His agency, Film Magic, thrived as the “cult of celebrity” became a mainstay of magazines including People and Us. As technology allowed, Kravitz was one of the first to embrace digital photography for his work.
“Digital photography set my world free,” he says. “Creatively, it has allowed me to grow. Before, I didn’t know what I was going to get until I looked at my film the next day. Now, I can make adjustments on the fly. It also gives me the safety of knowing when I have the shot to go experiment.”
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam. VH1 Rock Honors The Who, Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA 7/12/08
It was such a moment for me. It solidified all my training as a photographer. I saw him coiling, it was a pinnacle moment. When I saw that image in the back of my camera, I got chills. I blew up a couple copies and a friend took one to McCready back in Seattle and he autographed one for me. The signature says, “To Jeff- I’ve never been so clear or high. Thanks, Mike McCready.”
Kurt Cobain, MTV’s Live and Loud, Pier 48, Seattle, Wash. 12/13/93
There were six of us in the venue besides the camera crew watching Nirvana rehearse and there were two statues- like those from biology class with their organs all exposed- on the stage from the In Utero album cover. And it was actually in rehearsals that I got the shot because you can walk all around the venue with no people.
The Flaming Lips. Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Manchester, TN 6/11 /2010.
It’s a party in their pit when you’re shooting the Lips. You have to try make photographs with all hell breaking loose around you.
Madonna and Britney Spears MTV Video Music Awards, Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY, 8/23/03
I watched the run through so I saw there was some kind of intimate thing going on between them… everything on TV is planned. I’m one of six photographers that have that moment. That was a hot year for me- I was six feet away from her and I was 15 feet away from Janet Jackson when she popped her boob at the Superbowl.
The Police, Staples Center. Los Angeles, Calif. 6/20/2007
They would tell you, when you went to shoot them, that Sting is going to jump at the end of “Message in a Bottle.” You’re prepared for the Sting jump. I’d shot the jump maybe three times at that point. The band considers this the photo of the reunion, the photo of the tour.
Phish, Coventry, Vt., 8/2/03
A glow stick war is a total expression of the crowd and it usually happens at a peak moment in a song. I’d been studying them my entire time with Phish and they’re very hard to photograph well. The exposure is so long that you can actually see some them land then takeoff and make a second arch. This is one of my top career moments.