Bruce Springsteen: A Photographic Journey

The below was published in Backstreets on September 28, 2015 – written by our Board member- Kevin Farrell.

At the bottom of the article is the photographer’s discussion at the opening event on September 27, 2015.

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September 28, 2015 LOOKING THROUGH SOME PHOTOGRAPHS… Rechnitz Hall, on the campus of Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey, was packed with fans from both near and far on Sunday, September 27,  for the opening of the photography exhibit Bruce Springsteen: A Photographic Journey. This traveling exhibition, curated by the GRAMMY Museum, features 45 images of Bruce taken by noted Springsteen photographers Danny Clinch, Ed Gallucci, Eric Meola, Barry Schneier, Pamela Springsteen and Frank Stefanko.

Bruce fans, as well as photography fans, filled the DiMattio Gallery to see some of the most famous photos of Bruce, including Barry Schneier’s photo from the Harvard Square Theatre show, Eric Meola’s Born to Run cover shot, and Frank Stefanko’s Corvette Winter. The photos span a time frame of over 40 years, from Ed Gallucci’s shots in a Bradley Beach, NJ bungalow in the early ’70s through Danny Clinch’s most recent work with Bruce.

As fans stopped to intently look at each photo, some attendees clearly had favorites.

Annie Heininger from Philadelphia, PA, loves Stefanko’s work. “He captures the inner spirit of Bruce, and from a woman’s perspective, he’s the one who best captures Bruce’s luscious lips!”

Lisa Magliano from Long Beach Island, NJ, appreciates “the way Eric Meola titles his photos in such a poetic manner. The titles help connect me even further to the image.”

Wayne Villante was a big fan of Ed Gallucci’s work. “Ed captures the innocence of Bruce in those early shots. In Ed’s pictures, Bruce looks like a kid in a candy store as the world is opening up to him. The photos are so real and pure.”

Of Danny Clinch’s photos, Laura Maimone of Howell, NJ, said “There is a depth of character and a sense of familiarity captured in Danny’s photos. I look at them and can feel the intensity of the moment. The ordinary becomes something significant and leaves an impression” [above: Outlaw Pete illustrator Frank Caruso in front of Clinch’s photographs].

Melanie Paggioli, Executive Director of The Friends of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection, had this to say about Barry Schneier’s work: “In one photo, Barry flawlessly communicated Bruce’s intensity while playing the piano for a small crowd. Even though the photo was taken 40 years ago and the crowds are a lot larger now, that look of intensity has not really changed. In a number of Barry’s works, he was able to capture the energy and movement of Bruce and the band performing perfectly. Overall, this exhibit is a definite must-see.”

The photographers (minus Pam Springsteen, who was unable to attend) graciously mingled with the crowd, talking with fans about their photographs and signing books and records.

The event also featured a panel discussion moderated by Bob Santelli, Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum [above, with Monmouth University’s Eileen Chapman]. A similar discussion was held in April 2014 in Tulsa, OK, at the Woody Guthrie Center with the same group of photographers. Bob said the goal of the exhibit was to show the different sides of Bruce — “the behind-the-scenes and hidden side of Bruce Springsteen” — as captured over a long time frame by different photographers.

The one-hour discussion covered a range of topics. All of the photographers agreed that Bruce was very photogenic and was as much of a perfectionist when it came to photo sessions as he is with his music. As Danny Clinch said of Springsteen: “As a student of rock ‘n’ roll, he has a sense of what he wants. A great photo requires that the subject give something back and Bruce is a great collaborator.”

Frank Stefanko [above] told a great story about Patti Smith and Bruce. While he was working with Patti, Frank told her that she should listen to this guy because someday he will be great. Patti eventually mentioned this to Bruce, and Frank subsequently received a signed copy of Greetings From Asbury Park in the mail with the inscription “To Frank, my biggest fan.”

The photographers also discussed the photos that they choose for the exhibit. Eric Meola talked about the impact of the song Streets of Fire and specifically the line “in the darkness, I hear someone calling my name.” He choose photos that captured the turmoil that Bruce was going through during that time.

The group also discussed the importance of capturing on film what Bruce was writing about at the time of their photo sessions — or, at times, of not doing so. During the Nebraska sessions, Frank presented Bruce with a number of images of a literal mansion on the hill. Bruce declined them, saying he did not want one image to represent the song. Rather he wanted each listener to have their own individual perception of what that image should be.

Danny Clinch talked about working with Bruce on album covers, and how a photo is chosen. He sends Bruce many possibilities, and very often Bruce chooses “adventurous” shots — Clinch gave The Rising cover as an example.

The photographers also discussed their favorite photos. Ed Gallucci likes a shot of Bruce in Bradley Beach sitting at a kitchen table with a bowl of vegetables in front of him [above]. While Corvette Winter is Frank’s best-selling image, he prefers a photo of Bruce in front of Frank’s Barbershop in Haddonfield, NJ. “There is so much symbolism — a church missal, a surfboard — in that photo that most people do not see,” Stefanko said.

Many attendees, as well as the photographers, had high praise for Monmouth University for being such a gracious host, for the gallery itself and the job the University did in exhibiting the photographs. “Everything was top-boat,” Stefanko told us.

In addition to the photographs, the exhibit features video interviews with each of the photographers, produced by the GRAMMY Museum. The exhibit runs through December 22, 2015, and is open to the public from 9am to 5pm. – September 28, 2015 – Kevin Farrell reporting.