Glen E. Friedman on documenting a counterculture generation in photos

Acclaimed punk. hip hop and skateboard photographer Glen E. Friedman talks to Tom Power about new and reissued collections of his work.
At the age of 14, Glen E. Friedman photographed three different but linked youth movements that changed our culture: teenage skateboarders in the '70s, and the hardcore punk and hip hop movements that exploded in its wake. (Brett Ratner)

Photographer Glen E. Friedman has taken some of the most iconic photos in skateboarding, punk rock and hip hop. Known for capturing the raw energy of a counterculture generation in its prime, his photography helped shape the way people view punk music and redefined the sport of skateboarding.

Friedman started skating after hours in West L.A. school yards that became notoriously known as Dogtown. He was only in junior high when he decided that he could do a better job capturing the true art and freedom of skateboarding than most seasoned sports photographers published in Skateboarder magazine could. The 14-year-old rallied his friends together for a shoot in an empty swimming pool and submitted his photos to the magazine, which were published as a full page ad. Friedman was soon hired by the publication and became its youngest staff member.

Through his photography, Friedman illustrated what youth culture valued at the time: to build outside the mainstream. He would go to punk shows where he was inspired to use his photography as a way to give bands like Black Flag, Bad Brains and hip hop acts like Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys the exposure they deserved to reach wider audiences.

Friedman joined q's Tom Power to talk about the iconic images featured in two newly reissued photography books as well as an upcoming book. 

Dogtown: The Legend of the Z-Boys is a collection of unpublished photos from Friedman's archives, taken around the time he got his start at Skateboarder magazine, with text and photos by Skateboarder editor C.R. Stecyk III. Keep Your Eyes Open is a book of Friedman's photos of the influential post-punk band Fugazi. The newly updated and expanded versions of both of these books are out now.

Friedman's latest book, featuring photos of the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC, is called Together Forever, and it hits bookshelves this September.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation with Glen E. Friedman.

— Produced by ​Chris Trowbridge

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