A leading music photographer, Robert Alford has had his work featured in Creem, Rolling Stone and People magazines and on television, album covers and liner notes. The extensive list of musicians he has photographed reads like a "who's who" of popular music, from AC/DC to ZZ Top. In this interview, Alford shares the story of his trip to Mexico with ZZ Top singer and guitarist Billy Gibbons, and the misadventures they shared along the way all to get the perfect photo. Robert Alford's photos are the subject of Just Can't Get Enough, an exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland,Ohio.
I’ve been asked to write about some of my images on display in the Rock Hall’s ACL exhibit. It is a pleasure to do so; photographing performing musicians, it appears, has become my life’s work, and I have a lot to say. This is my 32nd year as ACL’s official staff photographer, and the performers I’ve seen are many, the types of music various and varied.
But always, to my way of seeing, the task is the same: to convey the spirit that motivates the performing artist; to slice away the extraneous and come up with an image that conveys as much as possible of what the experience was like, who the performer was, and what the energy and essence were like, on our stage, during the performance. All of this with one final image, rendered into two dimensions of height and breadth, and unlike video, without the benefit of time and moving images. Oh, and most importantly, to come up with a good likeness that the artist and his management will approve of.
This is how I approach my job: first, Music is the sound the Muses make. My belief is that there’s ...