PBS Acquires ‘Icon: Music Through The Lens’ Series




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FilmRise announced that PBS acquired U.S. domestic distribution rights to the original series Icon: Music Through The Lens. PBS will present each of the six one-hour long episodes weekly as part of their summer prime-time lineup. The series takes viewers on a journey through the world of the history of music photography and the stories and fascinating lives of those who documented popular music in images. From the early days of darkroom film developing to the changing digital landscape of today’s world, the series poses the question of what makes an image iconic and what foes the future hold for music photography?

Viewers can watch PBS by tuning into their local station with an antenna. PBS is also available to stream on YouTube TV.


One: On Camera: What defines an iconic image? This question provides the central theme as we are introduced to some of music photography’s greatest names.

Two: On the Road: From the embryonic days of the modern music business, live music photography has provided visually striking imagery. First-hand recollections and eye-opening stories from the early trailblazers, and those still devoted to capturing the magic of live gigs, paint a vivid picture of life on the tour bus and in the photo pit.

Three: On the Record: The evolution of record sleeve photography, from its roots in jazz and early rock’n’roll through to the highly stylized concepts and imagery of modern-day music genres, is discussed by art directors, musicians, and of course, the photographers responsible for some of the most iconic record sleeves.

Four: On the Cover: Music magazines played a pivotal role in elevating music photography to iconic status. Journalists, musicians, and publicists, among others, join music photographers who shot some of the most memorable front covers, telling the uncensored and often never-before-heard stories behind iconic photographs of some of the world’s best-known artists.

Five: On the Wall: Music photography’s transition from niche pastime to highly collectible, and often highly valuable, art is examined through conversations with gallerists, literary publishers, art experts, and the photographers whose bodies of work have earned global prestige––and, in some cases, hang on the walls of the world’s most revered museums. Tracing the journey from the early days of low-paid assignments through expensive coffee table books and high-value prints of artists, this episode takes an in-depth look at the sometimes complex relationship between art and commerce in the world of music photography.

Six: On the Net: Where does music photography sit in the contemporary pop culture landscape? The seismic switch from analog to digital photography is discussed alongside the rise and all-prevailing influence of social media platforms such as Instagram. Luminaries reflect on how music photography got to where it is today and how it is coping with the changes it is undergoing

Header Photo by Terry O’Neill

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