Janette Beckman

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Janette Beckman

Janette Beckman is a British documentary photographer. She lives in New York City.[1]

Beckman describes herself as a documentary photographer.[2] While she produces a lot of work on location (such as the cover of The Police album Zenyatta Mondatta, taken in the middle of a forest in the Netherlands), she is also a studio portrait photographer.

Her work has appeared on records for the major labels, and in magazines including Esquire, Rolling Stone, Glamour, Italian Vogue, The Times, Newsweek, Jalouse,[3] Mojo and others.

Early life[edit]

Beckman was at King Alfred School, in Golders Green in north London, from 1953 to 1967.[1] She spent a year at Saint Martin's School of Art, and then three years at London College of Communication studying photography.[citation needed]

Punk and hip-hop photography[edit]

After initially working for Sounds magazine with Vivien Goldman – her first shoot was with Siouxsie and the Banshees[4] – she had a job shooting for music magazines such as Melody Maker[5] and The Face, with a studio and darkroom in central London. Her primary focus was the UK's burgeoning punk subculture.[6] Beckman moved permanently to New York City in 1982 and continued her career, shooting for her UK clients as well as new ones in the U.S.[7]

After moving to New York, Beckman presented her portfolio to American record companies looking for work shooting album covers, but the gritty feel of her work did not fit the "airbrushed" aesthetic preferred at the time.[8] She was passed on to smaller rap and hip-hop labels, where she photographed acts such as Salt-N-Pepa, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, and the Beastie Boys in their early days.[7] In a 2015 interview with American Photo magazine, she recalled "It is amazing, 30 years later, people going ‘oh you photographed legends.’ I guess I did, but they weren’t legends when I was taking pictures of them.”[8]


In August 2010 Beckman produced an exhibition entitled Archive of Attitude at Arkitip's Project Space, Los Angeles,[9] which included "works from her time in London during the punk era through the hip-hop decade in New York and Los Angeles".[10] Arkitip published a supplement to the show in the form of a broadsheet newspaper full of Beckman's photographs.[11] That same month photographer Jill Furmanovsky chose Beckman's Paul Weller and Pete Townsend as one of her personal favourite music photographs for an article with NME.[12]

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,[13] a joint exhibition of photographs by Beckman and photographer David Corio. In a recording of Beckman working on the streets of Harlem, her photograph of LL Cool J with his boom box[14] is described as hip-hop history, known around the world.[15]

In July 2011, Flavorwire named Beckman one of "10 Rock Photographers You Should Know".[16] In the same month, Beckman launched "Archive Of Attitude", a blog recounting the stories behind the photographs.

In March highlights her current advertising campaign was for Kangol,[17][18] her third lookbook for the music-friendly headwear company.

In the summer of 2012 Beckman joined the faculty at the International Center of Photography in New York City to teach a course on photographing youth culture.[19][20] Beckman took on a new working relationship with the British style magazine Jocks and Nerds for which she later became the New York City editor.[21]

Beckman appeared in the Stüssy/Yo! MTV Raps two-part documentary "We Were All Watching / Part 2, Fashion in the Golden Age of Hip Hop," alongside Bill Adler, Dante Ross, Questlove, and others.[22]

A trip to Caracas in 2013 produced a body of work on Tuki dancers, who combine street styles, pop, house and techno culture.[23] Also in 2013, Ono Arte gallery in Bologna held two exhibitions: Made in the UK and My Generation.[24]

2014 brought a residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska, in conjunction with an exhibition at Carver Savings and Loan Association titled Rebel Culture: Legends of Hip Hop and the Go Hard Boyz (Harlem Bikers).[25][26][27] Beckman’s “Hip Hop Mash Up” was launched in 2014. She teamed up with graffiti artists including Cey Adams, to reinterpret photos from her archive, including Slick Rick, Public Enemy, Run DMC, and Big Daddy Kane.[28] By early 2015 prints had been exhibited at Salon Atelier-Galerie in Paris, France, and at Gansevoort Market, New York City.[29][30] Later in 2015 comes an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, with photographs by Beckman, including the Mash Up, along with two other New York City photographers, Joe Conzo and Martha Cooper: Hip-Hop Revolution presents more than 80 photographs taken between 1977 and 1990.[31] Also in 2015, Beckman curated an exhibition and slideshow of photographs of musicians from across four decades by dozens of photographers for Photoville, a two week exhibition of photography in Brooklyn, NY.[32]

In conjunction with the celebrations in the UK of 40 years since the birth of punk, in 2016, the Punctum Gallery in London’s Chelsea Art College hosted a punk version of the Mash Up, and shoe store Fiorentini + Baker in east London hosted an exhibition of photos of punks from Beckman’s archive.[33] The Photographers' Gallery in London also included photos in their Punk Weekender.[34]

Works were included in Tastemakers & Earthshakers: Notes from Los Angeles Youth Culture, 1943 - 2016 a “multimedia exhibition that traverses eight decades of style, art, and music, and presents vignettes that consider youth culture as a social class, distinct issues associated with young people, principles of social organization, and the emergence of subcultural groups.” It opened in October, 2016, at the Vincent Price Art Museum in East Los Angeles.[35]

Here We Are is Burberry’s exhibition of British social and documentary photography, featuring Beckman, Bill Brandt, Shirley Baker, Jane Bown, Martin Parr, and others, which opened in Clerkenwell in September, 2017.[36] Worn in New York: 68 Sartorial Memoirs of the City, a book by Emily Spivack (Abrams Books, 2017),[37] had "clothing-inspired narratives" and included Beckman's Def Jam jacket.

The Fahey/Klein Gallery held a solo exhibition in October, 2018, that included photographs of hip hop, British punk, and the Mash Up.[38]

Beckman's photographs were included in the “Represent” Exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, May 2018-2019 [39]


Selection of record sleeves[edit]

The Police[edit]



Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five[edit]



  1. ^ a b OA News & Correspondence. Alfredians. Accessed January 2018.
  2. ^ "Acapulco Gold interview". Acapulcogold.com. 8 December 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  3. ^ "Jalouse". Patrimoine.jalougallery.com. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  4. ^ AntiSociety Interview
  5. ^ miles hare (26 May 1979). "''Melody Maker'' Article". Xraymusic.co.uk. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  6. ^ Chu, Christie (2015-04-16). "Hip-Hop's New York Revolution in 10 Photos". artnet News. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  7. ^ a b Graham, Mhairi (2014-06-05). "Janette Beckman & The Legends of Hip Hop". AnOther. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  8. ^ a b Moses, Jeanette D. (2015-04-02). "Photographing the Birth of Hip-Hop". American Photo. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  9. ^ "Project Space". Arkitipintel.com. Archived from the original on 6 April 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  10. ^ "Hype Beast". Hype Beast. 14 August 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  11. ^ "Janette Beckman Newspaper". Arkitip.com. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  12. ^ "NME". NME. UK. 12 August 2010. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  13. ^ "Catch The Beat". Morrisonhotelgallery.com. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  14. ^ Beckman blog
  15. ^ CD Savoia
  16. ^ "Flavorwire". Flavorwire. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  17. ^ "Janette Beckman Q&A". The Daily Telegraph. London. 6 March 2012.
  18. ^ Kangol
  19. ^ ICP[dead link]
  20. ^ janettebeckman.com
  21. ^ http://www.manchesterfashion.com/c/31/1031/photography-qanda-janette-beckman/
  22. ^ Stussy
  23. ^ New Yorker Photobooth
  24. ^ ONE ARTE
  25. ^ http://www.bemiscenter.org/art/exhibitions/janette_beckman.html
  26. ^ "'Queen of Hip Hop Photography' showcases art in North Omaha." KMTV. September 2014
  27. ^ "Janette Beckman keeps it real." The Reader
  28. ^ Complex
  29. ^ Libération
  30. ^ Paper Magazine
  31. ^ Museum of the City of New York
  32. ^ Photoville
  33. ^ i-D
  34. ^ NY Times T Magazine
  35. ^ http://vincentpriceartmuseum.org/exhibitions%EF%80%A2tastemakers&earthshakers.html
  36. ^ The Guardian Art and Design
  37. ^ Abrams and Chronicle
  38. ^ Fahey/Klein Gallery
  39. ^ NMAAHC
  40. ^ Hat and Beard Press
  41. ^ "'The Mash Up' remixes hip-hop photos with graffiti" Fox5 News
  42. ^ Penguin Random House

External links[edit]