The Man Behind the Most Iconic Portraits of Skaters, Punks, and Rappers

by Rachel Baker on August 30, 2014

If Photo Anthologies are your thing, this may be an excellent book to have. I suspect you don’t have to be of a certain age to really appreciate what the photographer, Glen Friedman, has put together. I also don’t think you need to know who Ice-T or the moguls of hip-hop or punk are or know who’s who in the skateboarding world. It sounds like the take away from this review is that Friedman was able to capture an in-depth look into the lives of his subjects that maybe even surprised the subjects themselves.

The Man Behind the Most Iconic Portraits of Skaters, Punks, and Rappers

In 1986, photographer Glen Friedman made a photo of Ice-T, his ball cap turned to the side, leaning on a chainlink fence in Hollywood. This was long before Ice-T was a big name, a TV star, a mogul married to CoCo Austin. The photo captures an innocence and vulnerability that’s now long gone.

You see the same thing in Friedman’s photo of Tony Hawk, and even in his gripping photo of Public Enemy’s Chuck D. That’s a hallmark of many of the photos Friedman made of hip-hop, punk and skating personalities in the 1970s and 1980s, just as they were cementing their places in American pop culture. The best of these portraits has been compiled in a new photo anthology called My Rules.

The thing that’s most gripping about these portraits is not how young everyone is, but how passionate they are about what they’re doing. Guy Picciotto or Ian MacKaye are possessed of an energy, an intensity so strong they almost jump out of the frame. “This is a time when people really fucking cared,” Friedman says. “Back then it wasn’t about becoming famous, it was about doing something you love.”

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