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Daniel Kramer, Who Photographed Bob Dylan’s Rise, Dies at 91

Daniel Kramer, Who Photographed Bob Dylan’s Rise, Dies at 91


Daniel Kramer, a photojournalist who captured Bob Dylan’s era-tilting transformation from acoustic guitar-strumming folky to electrical prince of rock within the mid-Sixties, and who shot the covers for his landmark albums “Bringing It All Back Home” and “Highway 61 Revisited,” died on April 29 in Melville, N.Y., on Long Island. He was 91.

His loss of life, in a nursing house, was confirmed by his nephew Brian Bereck.

Rolling Stone journal as soon as described Mr. Kramer as “the photographer most intently related to Bob Dylan.” But that designation appeared extremely unbelievable on the outset.

Although Mr. Dylan had already begun his rise to international fame — he launched his third album, “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” in early 1964 — Mr. Kramer knew little about him.

That modified in February 1964, when he watched the 22-year-old Mr. Dylan carry out his rueful ballad “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” on “The Steve Allen Show.” The tune particulars an actual occasion during which a Black girl died after being struck with a cane by a rich white man at a white-tie Baltimore party.

“I hadn’t heard or seen him,” Mr. Kramer stated in a 2012 interview with Time journal. “I didn’t know his identify, however I used to be riveted by the ability of the tune’s message of social outrage and to see Dylan reporting like a journalist by means of his music and lyrics.”

As a younger Brooklynite making an attempt to carve out a profession as a contract photographer, Mr. Kramer determined he needed to organize a photograph shoot with the budding legend. He spent six months dialing the workplace of Mr. Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman. “The workplace all the time stated no,” Mr. Kramer stated in a 2016 interview with the British newspaper The Guardian. Finally, six months later, Mr. Grossman himself took his name. “He simply stated, ‘O.Ok., come as much as Woodstock subsequent Thursday.’”

A one-hour shoot on Aug. 27 became a five-hour shoot, which became a 366-day photographic odyssey during which Mr. Kramer captured uncommon behind-the-scenes photos of Mr. Dylan at house, on tour and in recording periods as he was lighting the fuse that helped spark the countercultural explosion of the Sixties.

Soon Mr. Kramer’s Dylan photos had been popping up in publications all over the world. Mr. Kramer printed two collections, “Bob Dylan” (1967) and “Bob Dylan: A Year and a Day” (2018), which contained practically 200 photographs.

To Dylanologists, 1965 was the yr of the massive bang. In July, the longer term Nobel Prize winner shocked traditionalists on the Newport Folk Festival by ditching his acoustic guitar for a Fender Stratocaster, backed by a completely amplified band.

It was probably the most storied, and dissected, moments in rock historical past. “In most tellings, Dylan represents youth and the longer term, and the individuals who booed had been caught within the dying previous,” Elijah Wald wrote in “Dylan Goes Electric!” (2015). “But there may be one other model, during which the viewers represents youth and hope, and Dylan was shutting himself off behind a wall of electrical noise, locking himself in a citadel of wealth and energy.”

As Mr. Kramer later put it: “Bob didn’t actually need to be Woody Guthrie. He needed to be Elvis Presley.”

The photographer had his personal quibble about this historic second: At a shoot at a Columbia Records studio in New York for the seismic 1965 album “Bringing It All Back Home,” he had already witnessed Mr. Dylan plugging in and forging his personal model of rock ’n’ roll.

“People all the time say that Dylan went electrical at Newport in the summertime of 1965,” he informed Rolling Stone. “Well, to not me he didn’t. I noticed him go electrical that January, when it was nonetheless snowing.”

Mr. Kramer additionally shot the duvet picture for the album. One of essentially the most recognizable in rock historical past, it depicts a dapper Mr. Dylan seated with a cat on his lap in the lounge of Mr. Grossman’s home close to Woodstock, N.Y., surrounded by a jumble of magazines, report albums and a fallout shelter signal, together with his manager’s spouse, Sally Grossman, in a purple gown, staring on from a settee behind him. Mr. Kramer earned a Grammy nomination for the picture.

Mr. Kramer later stated that he took solely 10 pictures that day, and that the ultimate picture was chosen as a result of it was “the one one during which the cat was wanting on the lens.”

He additionally mentioned the round aurora impact overlaying the picture, which lent it psychedelic overtones.

“People suppose I used Vaseline to create that round picture or that it’s a blur,” Mr. Kramer as soon as stated. “That’s not what I did. It’s two totally different footage on one movie. One is moved, and one just isn’t. I needed to simulate a report spinning or the universe of music.”

Later that yr, Mr. Kramer shot the duvet for “Highway 61 Revisited,” an informal candid displaying Mr. Dylan, in a Triumph bikes T-shirt, seated on the stoop of the Manhattan constructing the place his manager lived and flashing a vaguely menacing glare. “He’s virtually difficult me otherwise you or whoever’s it,” Mr. Kramer recalled: “‘What are you gonna do about it, buster?’”

Mr. Kramer was born on May 19, 1932, in Brooklyn, the eldest of three youngsters of Irving Kramer, a dockworker and novice filmmaker, and Ethel (Berland) Kramer, a hospital administrator.

“At an early age I migrated to the digicam,” he stated in a 1995 interview with The New York Times. “By age 14, I had a one-boy present on the junior highschool.

He labored as an assistant to the photographer Philippe Halsman, and to the workforce of Allan and Diane Arbus, along with learning at Brooklyn College and serving within the U.S. Army.

During his yr with Mr. Dylan, Mr. Kramer was granted unmatched entry. In an interview printed by Govinda Gallery in Washington, which mounted an exhibition of his Dylan photographs in 1999, Mr. Kramer recalled a present at Lincoln Center in New York in October 1964, the place the venue’s administration knowledgeable Mr. Kramer that he can be restricted to a glass-enclosed balcony through the efficiency.

“So Bob stated to his manager, ‘You inform them right here that if he can’t do no matter he needs to do, I’m not happening,’” Mr. Kramer recalled.

Away from the stage, he managed to seize Mr. Dylan in uncommon moments of downtime — aiming a cue in an upstate New York pool corridor, taking part in chess in a Woodstock cafe. One of his most well-known pictures from the interval was a black-and-white portrait of Mr. Dylan in sun shades, standing in entrance of the empty bleachers of Forest Hills Stadium in Queens earlier than a live performance on Aug. 28, 1965.

That shoot marked the tip of Mr. Kramer’s run as Mr. Dylan’s de facto home photographer. “I didn’t need individuals to suppose that’s all I did,” he stated.

Shooting portraits of luminaries for a wide range of publications through the years, he maintained his potential to attach with them on an intimate stage. “I’ve had a writing lesson from Norman Mailer, a boxing lesson from Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, and a harmonica lesson from Bob Dylan,” he informed The Times.

Mr. Kramer married Arline Cunningham in 1968. She died in 2016. No fast relations survive.

While he was nicely conscious that he was privileged to function a witness to pop music historical past, Mr. Kramer later stated that the magnitude of what was unfolding earlier than his lens was not all the time so obvious on the time.

“You don’t know somebody’s altering the world,” he stated, “till the world’s been modified.”

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