Don Hunstein

The American composer and trumpet player Miles Davis left his mark upon the history of 20th century music and jazz. He became a professional musician in 1942 and played until his death in 1991. He worked with the greatest names in jazz from 1940 to 1980 and was astute enough to surround himself with new talent. The musical career led by Miles Davis was accompanied by a political stance in favour of black civil rights and the fight against racism.

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The artist
Don Hunstein

Don Hunstein’s photographs are iconic. After university where he gained a degree in English, Don Hunstein was enlisted to the US Air Force. He was stationed in England to a desk job. This posting allowed him to travel around the whole of Europe. He began to take photographs that he sent to his family. He then purchased a Leica and a collection of photographs by Henri Cartier Bresson inspired him. What was just a hobby became more and more important in his life. He was then transferred to London where he joined a photography club as well as taking evening classes at London’s Central School of Art and Design. He returned to New York in 1954. He then started an apprenticeship in a commercial photography studio. As luck had it, he rapidly made interesting contacts. Thus, he met Deborah Ishlon who worked in the publicity department of Columbia Records. She offered him a job and it did not take long for Don Hunstein’s work to be noticed. He climbed the ranks and became Director of Photography for CBS Records. He became chief photographer at Columbia Records when the aforementioned was at its peak. Directed by Goddard Lieberson at the time, Columbia thought it important to document in photos the cultural history of music of their time. Besides album sleeves and advertising photographs, Don Hunstein photographed recording sessions and intimate personal moments of the musicians. Don Hunstein had the ability to ‘listen’ with his camera. He immediately understood the importance of patience, trust and humility to capture magical moments and immortalise them. He had the ability to set newcomers, as well as established stars, at ease which allowed him to take quintessential portraits which marked the history of music.

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