The final session on Monday at TheWrap’s TheGrill conference was a snap: Filmmaker Cameron Crowe discussed a handful iconic music photographs with legendary rock photographers Joel Bernstein and Neal Preston.
Crowe and the two photographers gathered at the Montage Beverly Hills to discuss the ins and outs of a series of 1960s and ’70s pictures of stars like Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Page and Marvin Gaye, recapturing some of the magic that led to those fleeting flashes of serendipity.
The first image they brought up was Bernstein’s shot of late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury gesticulating on stage at London’s Wembley Stadium. The photographer said it was just the third frame he shot that day, but having covered Mercury so many times, he knew what he was apt to do.
“Sometimes all the factors fall into place,” he said.
Preston discussed a photo he took of Eagles’ front man Glenn Frey mingling with some admirers after a concert.
“After the show, he went to sign some autographs and its all these high school girls,” Preston said. “The look on his face says to me, ‘My band is great, I’m getting what I want, I’m going to keep getting what I want, and this is fantastic.'”
Crowe said a lot of Bernstein and Preston’s genius comes from capturing a perspective that concertgoers simply don’t get.
“You guys have specialized so much in the angles you never see as a fan,” he said.
Crowe also said a lot of the images from his 2000 film “Almost Famous” were based on the work of Preston and Bernstein.
The three also brought up a photo Preston took of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page tipping back a fifth of Jack Daniels.
“I notice this bottle start to come up,” Preston said. “It almost reaches full apex. I turn around, one click, and forgot about it.”
Preston said he had no idea it would become one of the “iconic shots” of the 1970s.
“If you keep your eye on the ball and your hand on the bat, at some point the pitcher will throw a curve ball,” he said.
One of the last photos the group discussed was Bernstein’s shot of Bruce Springsteen with an unidentified woman in the background. The photographer said the woman actually reached out years later, and proved it was really her. Bernstein sent her a print.
“She said, ‘I didn’t ruin your shot did I?'” Bernstein said. “I said, ‘No, you made it.'”
At the start of the panel, Crowe received a surprise introduction from veteran entertainment executive and manager Irving Azoff, who produced Crowe’s debut film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”
“Cameron was somebody you knew he was going to be a director as well as writer, because he had great visual work,” Azoff said at the Montage Beverly Hills.
TheGrill 2016 is a two-day event featuring a stunning lineup of thought leaders and disrupters, including famed music manager and Azoff MSG Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff, Showtime CEO David Nevins, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton and FX Networks CEO John Landgraf. Topics that will be discussed include China’s influence on the online ticketing game, the state of television and virtual reality.