*By: Christi Shingara*
Danny Clinch is one of my favorite photographers and has shot a plethora of musical greats from Bob Dylan and Tupac Shakur to Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash, not to mention some of my favorite rock bands, Pearl Jam and Radiohead. He began his career as an intern for the famed photographer Annie Leibowitz and has established himself as one of the most prominent photographers of popular music.
Having dabbled in live rock photography myself, I can attest to the fact that while it is an adrenaline rush being in a live performance setting watching musicians do what they do best, it certainly isn’t easy. Dark lighting and constant movement on stage can be a difficult environment for any photographer. And you surely must know how to use your equipment or other challenges come into play. Clinch has perfected this type of photography, and every time I see his photos, I am amazed at the images he captures.
During my time living in New York City, I had the opportunity to meet Clinch during one of his photography exhibits at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in Soho. It was truly a memorable moment in my life. He was extremely down to earth and gracious and thanked me for being an admirer of his work. Clinch is such a master at his craft because he understands the music and the artists due to the fact that he is a musician himself. He conveys the true emotions of his subjects no matter if they were live on stage or in a studio setting.
For a long time, I wanted to visit his gallery, Transparent Clinch Gallery located in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and a few months ago, I finally did just that. Upon entering the gallery, I found myself surrounded by Clinch’s photography from every angle. A friendly woman named Tina, who oversees the gallery, greeted me at the door and provided a tour. One of the most memorable images was an incredible wall length photo of Eddie Vedder leaping on stage that was plastered on the glass windows along with equally large photos of Radiohead, Keith Richards and Foo Fighters. There was plenty of merchandise to select from including a few of his books, tote bags, posters and a vast vinyl collection.
The sleek lobby area was adorned with trendy furniture, which felt like the neighborhood living room. Towards the back of the gallery were even more captivating photos of Bruce Springsteen, Green Day, Patti Smith, and many more musical greats. Also, occupying the space was a small stage equipped with a drum kit and a few amps, where on a regular basis the gallery transforms into a live music venue. If you are a lover of rock photography or just happen to be in the Asbury Park area, I highly recommend a visit to Clinch’s gallery.
Aside from his stunning photography, Clinch is also a film director and has directed films for both Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen and is co-founder of the Sea.Hear.Now music/art festival held yearly in Asbury Park. I had the chance to attend the festival this year with my aunt (who is also an avid music lover) after it was postponed in 2020 due to COVID. The line-up included Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Patti Smith, Billy Idol and Group Love to name a few. The festival spanned over two days in mid-September and the weather was perfect. There were three stages and the main stage was positioned right on the beach, which made the experience even more momentous. Of course, I had to see Pearl Jam, which didn’t disappoint. They ended up playing for nearly three hours and Clinch got up on stage to perform the harmonica parts of the popular Pearl Jam track, “Red Mosquito.”
Among other things to do at the festival were surfing sessions, yoga classes and a pop-up art gallery with artwork by Eddie Vedder, Group Love, Jeff Ament and many others. Not only was the event well organized, but there was an infectious, positive energy and unity that circulated among the crowd. My guess is that people were happy to see live music again and be amongst fellow concert-goers. The festival will definitely be on my list of must-see events in the future.
In closing, Danny Clinch is a true master at his craft and his love for music and the process is represented in his amazing and unobtrusive style of photography.