FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising was honored to host Edward Colver, a pivotal photographer who captured the spirit of the punk rock subculture in California during the late 1970s and early 1980s, as an industry guest during Winter finals week. Colver’s photographs helped to define the punk rock/hardcore era, many of which were printed in magazines and used as album covers for monumental bands such as Black Flag, Dead Kennedy’s, Bad Religion, Wasted Youth, Circle Jerks, and NOFX (… and the list goes on and on).
“You may not know his name, but you know his shots,” described Alternative Press’ Carrie Tucker of Colver’s work. “A young Henry Rollins punching a mirror on the cover of Black Flag’s Damaged: … the Wasted Youth flip shot with bodies flying, mouths screaming, the energy of an era wrapped up in black and white celluloid. Colver was there.”
And indeed, a young Colver was. Living in San Gabriel Valley at the time, Colver would drive to Los Angeles six to seven nights a week to any concert that he caught wind of, he says. He was absorbed in the scene before it was considered a ‘movement,’ knee-deep in mosh pits with screaming, shirtless twenty-somethings, shoving his “cheap” 35mm camera into the jungle of concert-goers, capturing dynamic action shots that reflect the intensity of the scene.
“I was omnipresent, I was out everywhere,” he says. “Back in those days the shows were small, but the bands were good.”
Up until that point, Colver’s background had been in fine art, but he allowed his interest in photography and love for music to merge. His eye for composition and natural talent were made evident after BAM (Bay Area Magazine) printed one of his photographs just three months after he began shooting. Without planning for it, Colver’s hobby had already evolved into a career when he enrolled in his first formal photography classes at UCLA. Colver fondly reminisces upon a moment in his intermediate photography course when the instructor declared, “nobody in here could take these pictures, this comes from an insider,” after reviewing Colver’s work.
Fast forward two decades and Colver is sitting in a classroom at FIDM’s Los Angeles campus as an industry guest in FIDM Instructor Kevin Reagan‘s portfolio and Brand X classes. At age 61 and dressed in all black, he towers at 6’4” and his demeanor still reflects a ‘rock-n-roll’ cool. At the Graphic Design portfolio presentations, Colver shares both positive feedback, as well as critique.
“When students are showing their work, I like to talk about composition and detail,” he says. “If you have a spot of dust or a weird spot– you don’t want someone to focus on this speck in the corner.”
Colver says he enjoys meeting young designers because he likes to encourage them and their creative interests.
“You know, I appreciate people’s interest in what I do. I like to talk to them. There are a lot of people that are inaccessible,” he says.
He even admits, he’ll give his phone number out to aspiring designers/photographers if asked, which is unique since he’s never publicly published his phone number or advertised to solicit work– a testament to the quality of his photographs.
Aspiring designers, also take note: Colver may even personally accept your Facebook friend request as he reviews all requests personally (and doesn’t accept just anyone).
Don’t be mistake Colver’s Facebook presence (which he accesses via his iPhone) as an indication of his approval for modern technology, however. Colver proudly gave up watching television, listening to the radio, and “never goes on the Internet,” either.
“I don’t allow commercials to invade my home,” he says. “The primary reason I stopped watching [T.V.] is they started using R&B and rock and roll in commercials. The moment they started using good songs in commercials is when they lost me.”
Today, Colver focuses his attention primarily on architectural photographs and two collections of series of microphones, as well as a series of recording studios.
“I’ve photographed between two-thirds to three-fourths of the studios of LA,” he says. “It’s kind of an antithesis of the punk stuff I used to do.”
Colver’s photographs have also been featured in several exhibitions including at the Brooklyn Museum’s “Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present,” in New York (an ongoing exhibit), at the Museum Folkwang’s “A Star is Born. Photography and Rock since Elvis,” in Germany, and at Hibblteon Gallery’s “The Eye of the L.A. Punk Scene” in California 2010.
His work is currently on display until March 26 at Subliminal Projects Gallery in Los Angeles in an exhibit called “Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die,” among other artists including Shepard Fairey, Glen E. Friedman, Jenny Lens, Dave Markey, Raymond Pettibon, Jordan Schwartz and Winston Smith.
Don’t miss Edward Colver’s photographs on exhibit until March 26:
SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS GALLERY
1331 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Questions/comments? Email the editor, Mani O’Brien at mo’email@example.com