Janette Beckman

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Janette Beckman

Janette Beckman is an English documentary photographer born in London and living and working in New York.


Beckman started her career photographing the punk scene in England and New York in the 70s and 80s and has continued without pause. Attending King Alfred School in Hampstead, an alternative establishment "where the emphasis, both academically and socially, is on discovering and maximising the potential of each child"[1] she discovered art, and upon leaving at 17 she spent a year at St Martins School of Art, and then three years at London College of Communication studying photography.

Beckman was very prolific from the beginning of her career; she was widely published and continues to photograph new bands and other subjects. Meeting like-minded and similarly-backgrounded Vivien Goldman led to a long-term friendship and productive working relationship.

After an initial gig working for Sounds Magazine with Goldman - her first shoot was with Siouxsie and the Banshees[2] - she soon had a job shooting for music magazines such as Melody Maker[3] and The Face, with a studio and darkroom in central London. Beckman moved permanently to New York in 1982 and continued her career, shooting for her UK clients as well as new ones in the US. Beckman's work has appeared on records for the major labels, and in magazines including Esquire, Rolling Stone,[4] Glamour, Italian Vogue, The Times, Newsweek, Jalouse,[5] Mojo and others. Beckman says "The bands and the fans – I loved the music and the styles."[6]

Beckman describes herself as a documentary photographer.[6] While she produces a lot of work on location, including the cover for Police album Zenyatta Mondatta (taken in the middle of a forest in the Netherlands), she is also a studio portrait photographer.

In August 2010 Beckman produced a new exhibition entitled "Archive of Attitude" at Arkitip's Project Space, Los Angeles,[7] which included artefacts from Def Jam[8] and which garnered a lot of press coverage. [9][10][11][12][13][14] Arkitip published a special supplement to the show in the form of a limited edition broadsheet newspaper full of Janette's photographs.[15] That same month photographer Jill Furmanovsky chose Janette's Paul Weller and Pete Townsend as one of her personal favourite music photographs for an article with NME.[16]

In March 2011 the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York City opened an exhibition at their Bowery location titled "Catch the Beat: The Roots of Punk and Hip Hop",[17] a joint exhibition of photographs by Beckman and photographer David Corio. In a related interview for It's Nice That[18] blog, she talks about the original publications she shot for and how she came to be in New York documenting Hip Hop; and in an article in Interview Magazine[19] about the images in the show she says "I'm sort of the antithesis of Annie Leibovitz." In an interview [20] with the Miami New Times, in conjunction with an exhibition of her work during Art Basel Miami, Beckman describes her aesthetic. She also explained how she made a controversial photograph of N.W.A in front of a police car, a story which is also the opening of a behind-the-scenes video interview with fashion website Byronesque. In a recording of Beckman working on the streets of Harlem, her photograph of LL Cool J with his boom box[21] is described as hip-hop history, known around the world.[22]

In July 2011, Flavorwire named Janette Beckman one of "10 Rock Photographers You Should Know"[23] In the same month, Beckman launched "Archive Of Attitude", a blog recounting the stories behind the photographs.

An interview with Beckman by the UK's Daily Telegraph[24] in March 2012 highlights her current advertising campaign for Kangol,[25] her third lookbook for the music-friendly headwear company. Kangol's biography calls Beckman "a respected veteran photographer of music and youth culture."[26] New York Magazine's interview in 2013, which came in conjunction with the Metropolitan Museum of New York's Punk exhibition, addresses her history photographing the punk scene.[27]

In the summer of 2012 Beckman joined the faculty at the International Center of Photography in New York to teach a course on photographing youth culture.[28][29] In an interview with the Manchester Fashion Network, Beckman talks about the course, as well as recent assignments including a new working relationship with the British style magazine Jocks and Nerds for which she later became the New York editor.

Beckman's appearance in the Stüssy/Yo! MTV Raps two-part documentary "We Were All Watching / Part 2, Fashion in the Golden Age of Hip Hop," cemented her authority on the subject as she appears alongside Bill Adler, Dante Ross, Questlove, and other experts.[30]

A trip to Caracas in 2013 produced a body of work on Tuki dancers, who combine street styles, pop, house and techno culture.[31] Also in 2013, ONO ARTE gallery in Bologna held two exhibitions: "Made in the UK" and "My Generation."[32]

2014 brought a residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska, in conjunction with an exhibition at Carver Bank titled “Rebel Culture: Legends of Hip Hop and the Go Hard Boyz (Harlem Bikers).” [33][34] Beckman also launched a new body of work in the summer of 2014; her photographs of 80s hip hop musicians and other 80s icons were reworked by various graffiti artists, including Cey Adams. By early 2015 prints had been exhibited at Salon Atelier-Galerie in Paris, France, and at Gansevoort Market, New York.[35][36] Later in 2015 comes an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, with photographs by Beckman along with two other New York photographers, Joe Conzo and Martha Cooper: "Hip-Hop Revolution presents more than 80 photographs taken between 1977 and 1990."[37]

Extensive interviews published in 2014 include Huck Magazine: "Rebel Cultures: Hip hop, punk & gang life by Janette Beckman"; Flatt Magazine: "Attitude Never Dies"; and Jay Z's lifestyle blog Life + Times: "Respect the Shooter."

Janette is the niece of Morris Beckman.


Two books, both published by PowerHouse demonstrate the diversity in style and subjects she has achieved over the years.

"Made in the UK: The Music of Attitude"[edit]

Made in the UK; The Music of Attitude was published in 2005 and has images of, and stories about, a variety of bands and cultures, from 1977–1983: rockabillies, punks, mods, and dub artists; Elvis Costello, Sex Pistols, The Ramones. It also has a foreword by the British designer Paul Smith, and an essay by Vivien Goldman.

"The Breaks: Stylin' and Profilin'"[edit]

The Breaks: Stylin' and Profilin', published in 2007, is made up of images of rap and hip hop stars from 1982–1990 including Afrika Bambaataa, Run DMC, Slick Rick, Salt-n-Pepa and Grandmaster Flash.

"El Hoyo Maravilla"[edit]

In 2011 Dashwood Books published previously unseen photographs in El Hoyo Maravilla. The book is a limited edition printing of Beckman's black and white photographs from the 1980s of one of East LA's Hispanic gangs, reviewed on La Journal de la Photographie.


Also published, now out of print, is "Rap: Portraits and Lyrics of a Generation of Black Rockers," with text by Bill Adler. This book was published by St. Martin's Press in America and by Omnibus Press in England in 1991.[38]

Selection of record sleeves[edit]

The Police[edit]



Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five[edit]


Other work[edit]

Beckman has also photographed: Campaigns for SAGE;[39] M.I.A. for a Converse billboard; Yao Ming for Nickelodeon Magazine; Madeleine Albright for Glamour and Drag Queens for Vodafone

In 2013 she collaborated with Ben Sherman and the Teenage Cancer Trust on a unique limited edition T-shirt range. It included an image of The Islington Twins, from 1979, one of Beckman's most identifiable photographs of street style.[40][41]

She shoots kids, authors, sports personalities and celebrities as well as a variety of personal work.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Chris Bull – chris[at]c-bull.co.uk – King Alfred School. "King Alfred School". Kingalfred.org.uk. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  2. ^ AntiSociety Interview
  3. ^ miles hare (26 May 1979). "''Melody Maker'' Article". Xraymusic.co.uk. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  4. ^ "Rolling Stone Cover". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  5. ^ "Jalouse". Patrimoine.jalougallery.com. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Acapulco Gold interview". Acapulcogold.com. 8 December 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  7. ^ "Project Space". Arkitipintel.com. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "Hayabusa Lifestyle". Hayabusa.bz. 19 August 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  9. ^ Rosen, Miss (27 August 2010). "Miss Rosen interview". Missrosen.wordpress.com. Archived from the original on 2 February 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "Freshness Magazine". Freshnessmag.com. 29 July 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "The Look". Rockpopfashion.com. 16 August 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  12. ^ "Favorpill". Flavorpill.com. 12 August 2010. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  13. ^ "Fresh N Good". Fresh N Good. 5 September 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  14. ^ "Hype Beast". Hype Beast. 14 August 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "Janette Beckman Newspaper". Arkitip.com. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "NME". NME. UK. 12 August 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  17. ^ "Catch The Beat". Morrisonhotelgallery.com. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  18. ^ "It's Nice That". Itsnicethat.com. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  19. ^ "Interview Magazine". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  20. ^ Miami New Times
  21. ^ Beckman blog
  22. ^ CD Savoia
  23. ^ "Flavorwire". Flavorwire. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  24. ^ "Janette Beckman Q&A". The Daily Telegraph. London. 6 March 2012. 
  25. ^ Kangol
  26. ^ Kangol
  27. ^ [1] New York Magazine
  28. ^ ICP
  29. ^ janettebeckman.com
  30. ^ Stussy
  31. ^ New Yorker Photobooth
  32. ^ ONE ARTE
  33. ^ "'Queen of Hip Hop Photography' showcases art in North Omaha." KMTV. September 2014
  34. ^ "Janette Beckman keeps it real." The Reader
  35. ^ Libération
  36. ^ Paper Magazine
  37. ^ Museum of the City of New York
  38. ^ Amazon
  39. ^ "SAGE campaign". Sageusa.org. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  40. ^ Teenage Cancer Trust
  41. ^ New York Magazine