Iconic music photographer Jill Furmanovsky visits students

Jill Furmanovsky- news story image

The School of Visual Communication recently had the privilege of hosting a truly iconic guest speaker, the internationally renowned music photographer Jill Furmanovsky.  Jill’s influential photography spans decades, from her early beginnings documenting rock stars in the 70s to the present day, where her images of musicians still exhibit and win awards even now.

In her talk, Jill recounted stories from her career and early life to students and staff. Charting her interest in photography as a teenage music fan, she explained how she initially began creating images by opportunistically photographing her friends with the Beatles outside Abbey Road Studios. While studying her Textiles degree in London, she realised her skill for photography this led spectacularly to her becoming the in-house photographer at the Rainbow, one of the most iconic and important music venues of the 70s. She talked about her relationship with Pink Floyd and how she accompanied them on their legendary Dark Side of the Moon tour, as well as what it was like to work in the industry in the 70s and 80s with the technical limitations of the time.

And for a roll call of some of the greats Jill has captured with her lens; Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hyde, Led Zeppelin, The Jacksons, The Who, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Miles Davis, Kate Bush, Amy Winehouse (pictured) and the Rolling Stones to name a few, all of which she showcased her images for during the talk. She even recounted how she ended up taking Stevie Wonder to the toilet and why she didn’t want to show Bob Marley’s spliff in her photo! 

Who would have thought that this softly spoken woman found it necessary to wear a mac when photographing punk gigs, to guard against their tendency to spit on her! She claims that she wasn’t offended - it was “just what they did!”

Her humility and no-nonsense approach coupled with an underlying determination to succeed in her passion provided an inspiration to the audience.

For the remainder of the afternoon Jill Furmanovsky carried out portfolio reviews with BA (Hons) Photography students in a once in a lifetime opportunity to receive advice from arguably the finest music photographer this country has ever produced.

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