Last week I thanked our good friend Paul Natkin for providing me some awesome pictures for My 5 Favorite Music Venues in Chicago blog post. “Who is he?” you ask? Well, if you’re a fan of music, and a fan of photography, Paul Natkin is a name you must know. Not only has Paul shot almost all of our endorsers for us, he has shot some of the most iconic concert photographs since he started his career back in the mid 1970’s. Not to mention many a magazine, book and album cover for various publications and labels. He is truly a living legend. It was an honor to be able to visit his exhibit Shutter To Think: The Rock and Roll Lens of Paul Natkin at the Chicago Cultural Center, which celebrates his life’s work, with the man himself.
I won’t get into his extraordinary work and life history here since it would go on forever (for that visit the exhibit or www.natkin.net) but, if you ever get a chance to meet him, you will find that he is full of incredible stories. To this day, one of my favorite work trips of all time was when he and I drove to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to shoot a show. Initially, I was not looking forward to driving 3 hours there and 3 hours back after the show just to get some photos, but from the moment he jumped in the Shure mobile for both trips, he went on and on with such amazing stories like the time he was contacted by Prince’s manager and got invited to Prince’s birthday at First Avenue in Minneapolis and discovering upon his arrival, that he was the only photographer invited. He also told me tales of when he went on the road with none other than the Rolling Stones and the time when he met and hung out with Bob Marley at the Chicago Theater and so on. Needless to say, time flew by, and hearing of his adventures made it such an enjoyable trip. It’s not often you get to hear stories like that first hand. That is why when my wife and I were able to get Grandma to babysit this past Sunday morning – to get some adult time in – we decided to check out his exhibit. Of course we asked him if he could join us. Luckily, he obliged.
After picking him up and having lunch, we took in the exhibit from beginning to end. As we went along, we asked him questions about some of the pictures, but for the most part everything you need to know was masterfully recounted by exhibit narrator and Chicago Sun-Times staff writer Dave Hoekstra, or by Paul himself via a prerecorded interview shown on screens attached to most of the pictures. The various interviews, in which Paul describes how the pictures came to be, begin after you press the lens on each video screen. Although he didn’t say much, as he is very humble about his work, being there with him and watching him get the “Rockstar” attention (typically bestowed on his subjects on the other side of his lens) from people who were enjoying the exhibit then realizing that the man they were watching on the screens was right there, made us feel lucky not only to know him, but to also call him our friend.
Paul, congratulations on your exhibit… Again, we are truly honored you joined us.
Shutter To Think: The Rock and Roll Lens of Paul Natkin runs through January 4, 2014, so go check it out before it ends…
Chicago Cultural Center
Garland Gallery, 1st Floor
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602