Bob Dylan’s Photographers Share Their Favorite Stories

The iconic musician was infamously suspicious of journalists and photographers

Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan. (Michael Ochs Archives/ Getty)
Michael Ochs Archives

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Being invited to photograph Bob Dylan in the 1960s was akin to having a backstage pass to one of the most fascinating cultural figures of the century.

Just ask the filmmaker and photographer Jerry Schatzberg. He met Dylan in 1965 and has since released a collection of work dedicated to the iconic songwriter in a book called Dylan By Schatzberg. Stereogum spoke with Schatzberg and four other photographers who shot Dylan during his first great period.

Schatzberg said he was introduced to the legend via rock writer Al Aronowitz. “Hey, next time you see Dylan, tell him I’d like to photograph him,” Schatzberg remembered asking. The next day, he received a call inviting him to stop by the studio where Dylan was recording Highway 61 Revisited.

“As soon as I came in, he immediately wanted me to hear what he was recording,” Schatzberg, who is now 91, told Stereogum. The following year, Schatzberg was asked by Dylan’s manager if he would like to photograph the musician for an upcoming album cover. He said yes, of course.

“They were good photographs, but they weren’t special,” Schatzberg said about the first few shots. The pair went out into the February cold to mix it up, resulting in a series of blurry pictures due to Schatzberg’s uncontrollably shaking hands.

“I liked them a lot, but I figured the record company would never use a blurred picture in those days,” he said. “[But] when Bob saw them, he immediately went to that one and said, ‘That’s the one I like. Send that.’ And that was great. Because usually what Bobby wants, Bobby gets.”

Which was true when Columbia Records agreed and allowed the blurred portrait of Dylan to be the cover of his double-LP opus, Blonde On Blonde.

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