Backstage With Paul: CREEM Magazine & Monetary Reality
Paul was on the fast track to fame and fortune after that fateful night with Bonnie Raitt… or so he thought. Turns out that a picture may be worth a thousand words, but not necessarily thousands of dollars…
“After my photography career started, I had to figure out how to make money at it. One night, I was introduced to the art director of Creem Magazine at a concert in Chicago. We traded cards, and he told me to call him on the 15th of the next month to get a list of artists they needed pictures of. So…the morning of the 15th, I called him and left a message. No reply. So I called him four times a day for a week–still no reply, but it showed my obsessive behavior!
The following month, I started again on the 15th and called him another 12 or 15 times! Finally (he must have gotten tired of the pink message slips on his desk), he called me back and gave me a list. I had pictures of two or three of the artists on his list, which I packed up and sent to him. A week later, the magazine came in the mail, and I had a full page color photo of Rick Derringer in it. YIKES!! I am rich (I thought). A week later, the check came in the mail and I found out what the monetary realities of the rock and roll photography world were all about… $35.00 for a full page picture. Oh well, I guess that meant I had to sell a lot of photos. Over the next five years, I averaged about five photos per issue, and shot about 25 covers for the magazine.
My next step was to go to the local 7/11 and buy one each of every magazine on the newsstand. I piled them up next to my desk, took the top one, opened to the staff page and proceeded to bug the editors of Circus, Hit Parader, 16 Magazine, Teen Beat and Rolling Stone, to name just a few, until I had a nice little income from magazine placements.
This also allowed me to meet many of the publicists working in the industry, and they, seeing that I was getting good photographs into a lot of magazines, started giving access to all of their artists. And so my career began…”
About Paul Natkin
Paul Natkin learned photography in the trenches, working with his father, the team photographer of the Chicago Bulls. He shot sports in the Chicago area for five years before he discovered music photography in 1976.
Since then, he has photographed most of the major music stars of the last half of the 20th century, shooting album covers for artists such as Ozzy Osbourne and Johnny Winter and magazine covers for Newsweek (Bruce Springsteen), Ebony (Tina Turner), People (Prince), and music magazines around the world. See his work online at natkin.net.