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Henry Diltz Wins the Abbey Road Studios Icon Photographer Award

Updated: Sep 30

The NAMM show 2021 showcases legendary music photographer, Henry Diltz.

This week the announcement came through that Henry Diltz won the prestigious Abbey Road Studios Icon Photographer Award. Big congratulations to this legendary music photographer, and helluva nice, kind, and humble guy, for this well deserved achievement! The following video was provided by the Abbey Road Studios Photography Awards: https://youtu.be/ftA9SbF7-oo?si=AZxoNARpgNCRqpxv At the 2021 NAMM show there was a wonderful presentation by this music photographer. The Music Soup team attended, and after his presentaion we interviewed Henry. The following blog has bits of that interview...


The Music Soup team travelled a day early to NAMM just so we can make it to an early speaker presentation by a legendary photographer that has shot many of the iconic album covers of the 60s and 70s. Introducing Henry Diltz, a kind, gentle, well spoken and frequently smiling man.

Henry Diltz gave his presentation to a full room at NAMM at 10am. Pretty impressive as in NAMM world, the 'early morning' hours, (meaning anytime before noon) is the least crowded time of each day. (Music people are not typically early risers). But when we entered the room at 10 am, we were surprised to see the large room so full. I found one seat in the first row to so I planted myself there and hung onto every one of Henrys presentation, whilst he clicked through his slides and told his personal stories of each and every photo he shared. I was mesmerized by both the excellent shots as well as his amusing and interesting stories connected with each photo. We've all seen Henrys' album covers. They range from The Doors, Morrison Hotel to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jimi Hendrix, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Buffalo Springfield, The Lovin Spoonful and so many many more. He was called to be the official photographer at Woodstock as well as The Monterey Pop Festival. His entire presentation was fantastic. I enjoyed every word and image. When his presentation ended I introduced myself and requested an interview. In the first minute that we spoke I could tell this was gonna be good...And a few hours later, after our interview, I found that I was right about this man.



If you haven't heard of Mr Diltz, he has quite an interesting past. He began as a simple folk musician as part of the Modern Folk Quartet. Apart from a guitar, he was the guy that just happened to have a camera as well. Diltz was born in 1938. He may be getting on in years but he is certainly NOT an old man. In fact his demeanor is anything but that of an 84 year old. He has a sparkling glimmer in his eye and warm and welcoming smile upon his lips. I just wanted to hang with him all day...but of course, I had to share, and he had his time planned out with many more interviews that day. We even invited him to join us for dinner. He wasn't able, as his time was booked for the entire day. But if he did have the time, I know he would've joined us and it would've been great.


Henry Diltz began his career by the mere fact that his closest friends were all musicians as was he. His friends consisted of Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Neil Young and David Crosby, amongst other musicians. Whilst he was hanging out with his pals as one of the musicians, apart from owning a guitar, he also had a $20 second hand camera Japanese camera purchased on tour from a thrift shop, when he was with the Modern Folk Quartet. The rapport he had with his musician friends, along with his calm and friendly demeanor, down-to-earth-grin, and frequent laughter, enables him to be 'one of the group of friends' instead of an outsider photographer tagging along to capture photos. This is how he was able to capture the candid shots that convey a rare feeling of trust and intimacy with his subjects. When viewing his photos, one can see that they were shot from within the group, rather than by an outsider. He started capturing images of his pals so he can do a slideshow for them on the weekends for fun.


After the Modern Folk Quartet disbanded, Henry was paid $100 for a photo and from then on, he forged a path as a music photographer. Due to his lovely attitude and the people he already knew, combined with his self taught photography skills, he had a lifelong career in the music business as a photographer rather than what he had originally embarked on, as a folk musician. The natural path of Diltz submerging himself in the world of music, on tours, the road, the gigs, the humor, the social consciousness, and the psychedelia. He was a natural. Henry Diltz is a partner in, and is exclusively published and represented by the Morrison Hotel Gallery. To date, Henry has shot somewhere between eighty and two hundred+ record album covers, and is still working at it today.



Henry made the interview with The Music Soup team and we appreciated every minute. My interview with him took place around noon on Friday, 4 June 2021. He sat with The Music Soup team consisting of myself, and Mike Starkey recording the meeting. Henry only had about 20 minutes for us, although we wished he had longer. TMS was very grateful to get the 20 minutes we got with him. At the end of our time with Henry, he asked if he can take a photo of us, so of course, we obliged. And the interview went like this...

The Music Soup:

What was your lightbulb moment that you knew you wanted to be a music photographer?


Henry Diltz:

Well I was a folk musician with a camera just photographing what was around me and at that time...it was other folk musicians. all my friends. I wasn't really a photographer and then one day I photographed the Buffalo Springfield. And then I got a call from their team saying we like one of your photos can we buy it for $100. I thought OMG, I get paid! I was spending all the musician money on film and processing so $100 back then was a lot of money, and that was magic to me.

The Music Soup:

Who was in the band then?


Henry Diltz:

Neil Young, Stephen Stills, and Richie Furay. Jim Messina didn't join the band till later.


The Music Soup:

What was the first artist you shot?


Henry Diltz:

Buffalo Springfield was the first group. I was taking photos of my friends, Stephen Stills, Mama Cass...I wanted to have slideshows on the weekend for them. I would show my friends the pictures I took of them...then it was starting to be a living ... I kinda fell into it.


The Music Soup:

When someone wants to use your photos ...do you say, just give me photo credit?


Henry Diltz:

Ye well i didn't insist on anything. I'm a big fan of letting the universe decide....you know what I mean? (Big grin and a wink). I'm reading a book right now called, Outrageous Openness. And the whole idea of it is that there is a divine plan if you don't get in the way. You've got to see it and feel it. Don't get in your own way.


The Music Soup:

How would you advise someone that wants to do what you've done, to get in the biz?


Henry Diltz:

Access is very important, I mean if you're only photographing live concerts in clubs etc...there's always someone else taking the same pictures standing next to you. Make friends with the band. Take some shots behind the stage or with a group. Offer to give it to the band for free. Maybe they'll like it and want more.


The Music Soup:

Do you have any advice for someone, on how to get in with the band?


Henry Diltz:

Don't bug anyone, don't have an ego or an attitude. You want to be real easy to get along with. If you're a pain in the ass they wont want to work with you.


The Music Soup:

I know you have to get to another meeting soon. (As his timing minder, Elizabeth was hovering). Thank you so much for meeting with us. I just want to hang with you and chat. Would you like to meet us for dinner tonight? We'd be happy to buy you dinner if you have time?


Henry Diltz:

Maybe. My time is not my own. I don't know where I'll be later but yes, If I see you, and it works. Great, I'd love to. One last thing....Before I go, can you stay here because I want to take a picture of you two.


The Music Soup:

We feel honoured! Henry Diltz wants to take our picture! Cool!...And he did!

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2021



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