Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"They changed everything"

One of the highlights of my year so far, without a doubt, is getting the opportunity to meet and talk to photographer Denis O'Regan. As the exhibition The Art Of Punk And New Wave proved, he and his equally celebrated colleague and friend Chalkie Davies were right in the thick of the action as the punk movement took off in the late 1970s.

In much the same way, it seems, fellow photographers Janette Beckman and David Corio found themselves (perhaps unwittingly) at the centre of the nascent hip-hop scene on both sides of the Atlantic a few years later, by which time O'Regan had moved on to shooting the New Romantics and increasingly well-established pop and rock stars. Here they talk through a selection of images that capture those early days, all of which are currently on display in the Beat Positive exhibition at the Getty Images Gallery in London.

Beckman's portrait of Run DMC is superb, while - as Corio notes - the attire and awestruck expressions of the predominantly white audience gathered to watch the Rock Steady Crew show at the Venue (which was practically synonymous with punk gigs) in 1982 underline how novel and startling hip-hop culture once was.

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