Corrections or additions?
This story by Nicole Plett was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on
December 16, 1998. All rights reserved.
Drama of the Moment & Music
Photography and rock and roll have been a great marriage
for me," says Joe Ryan, whose show "The Music Never
concert images of the Grateful Dead and their final years with Jerry
Garcia, opens at the Starbucks Coffee on Nassau Street this Wednesday,
December 16. Ryan, who is 28 and single, rocketed right from the
program at Mercer County College, to the life of a professional
specializing in rock concerts.
The career path began in 1991 when Ryan, a West-Windsor high graduate,
began following the Dead tours. The following year he took up
as his major at Mercer County College.
"During the summer of 1993 I met with the Dead publicist, Dennis
McNally, to request a photo pass for a Giants Stadium show, not
I’d be taken seriously," says Ryan. "Two weeks later he called
me with the good news that the pass was set aside. Suddenly, from
there, my career as a photographer took off."
With his pass, Ryan had direct access to the stage to intimately
the band in concert. And within months he was being published
by Unbroken Chain magazine with three cover photographs. Next he
his work to Grateful Dead Merchandising, and by 1996 his photographs
of Bob Weir were featured in the group’s official calendar. His best
shots show the musicians utterly and completely engaged in their
Ryan gives a lot of credit to MCCC photography instructor Louis
with whom he studied for three years, for his success. "Lou Draper
pushed me, he inspired me," says Ryan. "He really made me
go for the gold." After a brief stint photographing for
Ryan is now a professional freelancer, earning part of his income
with a regular weekend spot at the Englishtown flea market. At
he’ll sell his prints for $55 to $85.
Through his work with the Dead, Ryan was able to branch out to cover
other bands — all personal favorites — including the Allman
Brothers, James Taylor, Blues Traveler, and Debbie Harry. And since
the demise of the Dead, he has switched his primary focus to guitarist
Bob Weir and his band Ratdog and the group’s Further Festivals.
and bearded, with sandy-colored hair, Ryan looks agile enough to
work the concert stage.
Looking over Ryan’s prints, we ask how he successfully captures the
drama of the moment? "Timing is everything," he explains.
"You have to know the music. You just have to be one with the
music. You have to be there."
— Nicole Plett
Street, 609-279-9204. "The Music Never Stopped," concert
of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, Wednesday, December 16,
through Sunday, January 3. The website for Ryan’s concert work
is at www.gratefuljoe.com.
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