Jerry Schatzberg’s Iconic Portraits of Bob Dylan

During the 1960s, Jerry Schatzberg captured some of the most iconic and intimate portraits of a generation of celebrated figures. Schatzberg’s portraits are characterised by their narrative quality, combining emotion and understated actions. Schatzberg never gave specific direction to his subjects, giving them free rein to find their own moment, and allow their personality to come through in his shots. He photographed the most notable artists and thinkers of the 1960s, from Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol through to Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa.

His most celebrated portraits are those of Bob Dylan, who he photographed for the cover of his album Blonde on Blonde, released in 1966. Schatzberg first met Dylan during a recording of Highway 61 Revisited. He photographed him several times in the studio, as well as on stage, and in formal studio portrait settings. Eventually, Albert Grossman called Schatzberg and asked him to photograph Dylan for his new album cover. Schatzberg has said of their relationship: “as a photographic subject, Dylan was the best. You just point the camera at him and things happen. We had a good rapport and he was willing to try anything.”

The cover photograph contributed to the album’s success, it being a very intimate portrayal of Dylan. Books have since been published about that particular photoshoot, including Thin Wild Mercury: Touching Dylan’s Edge by Jerry Schatzberg himself.

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