October 28, 2020

Neal Preston on Rock Photography, Queen, Immortality, and Stevie Nicks’ Closet

Neal Preston is the photographer behind many of the most iconic photos in rock history. He has worked (and toured) with Queen, Led Zeppelin, Whitney Houston, and Bob Dylan to name just a few. His book Neal Preston: Exhilarated and Exhausted is a retrospective of his career. His latest book, Queen: The Neal Preston Photographs, released this week, provides glimpses of life backstage, live performances, and outtakes, accompanied by anecdotes from Preston with forewords by Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor.

NPQueenBob Marley Neal Preston



What you will learn:

  • How he met and became best friends with Camron Crowe, who hired Neal to shoot still photography for films such as Vanilla Sky and Almost Famous; why Neal admires the way Crowe interacts with fans. [0:00-10:15]
  • Why Neal published his book Neal Preston: Exhilarated and Exhausted; how the lights, stage performances, and emotion of Broadway inspired him as a child; what it was like working with Led Zeppelin. [10:15-17:32]
  • Neal’s account of an infamous encounter with John Bonham after a concert; the importance of being invisible when working amongst celebrities; Neal’s thoughts on the business of being a photographer on tour with a band. [17:32-25:54]
  • Why Neal almost went to college but decided against it; what has changed about photography over the years, and how COVID has altered it even more. [25:54-32:40]
  • Why Neal turned down a gig shooting The Rolling Stones on tour. [31:13-32:39]
  • The importance of live performance photography; how Neal’s keen instincts are crucial to his success as a photographer, and how these instincts came in handy during a shoot with Stevie Nicks. [32:40-40:16]
  • The reason Neal mainly shoots in digital; Neal’s insightful answers to listener questions, from photo lens preference to his favorite/most iconic images, including a famous shot of Freddie Mercury. [40:16-49:30]
  • Why Neal dislikes punk, loves English blues bands, and hates The Grateful Dead. [49:30-56:36]
  • Some wild stories involving Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison, and even one where he was fired by Barbra Streisand. [56:36-1:03:26]
  • How photography can transform the mortal to the immortal; and Neal’s recollection of meeting Bryan’s dad, Greg Smith, on tour with the band Heart. [1:03:26-1:14:54]

Resources Related Neal Preston:

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