Master photographer William “Bill” Lulow characterizes light as the essential element that controls all of his photographs. Form, texture and composition come into play, but it is always light that steals the show. Lulow says, “I bring my lifelong love of photography and my studio lighting expertise to everything I shoot.” He describes his relationship with photography as a great passion, an ongoing love affair with the process of creating beautiful imagery.
His focus is on photographing people. Some famous, some not, some are just being who they are—rock stars, up-and-coming talent, businesspeople, and creatives. Lulow’s images of people exude spark, movement, and rhythm—all of the qualities that make great music. And it’s no wonder. Bill Lulow’s history as a photographer is steeped in the lore of the music world.
Lulow has always had two great loves—music has always been a love that coincided, and at times competed, with his love for photography. Loving music was unavoidable. As a kid growing up in New York City, he walked the streets where musical legends were made. He remembers walking around the corner from his school that was located in Greenwich Village. A bend on Minetta Lane led to a nightclub on Minetta Street called the Fat Black Pussycat, where Bob Dylan went to play music. It’s been said that Dylan wrote Blowin' In The Wind at the Fat Black Pussycat. Other stars played there too, including Richie Havens and Tiny Tim.
Then there was Gerdes Folk City in The Village that had begun as a restaurant before becoming a place to showcase music. Electric Ladyland Studios was on Eighth Street; it’s where Jimi Hendrix and others, including Walter Brown "Brownie" McGhee, Peter Seeger, and The Weavers recorded. Another music hotspot charting the landscape of Lulow’s formative years is the nightclub Max’s Kansas City. Just up from Union Square, Max's Kansas City was a watering hole for musicians, poets, and artists like Andy Warhol, his Velvet Underground crew, and David Bowie. Blondie came years later. So did Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, who used to hang out there. But by the time stars of the 1970s showed up, Bill Lulow had already moved on to Denver.
Before we get to Lulow’s life in Denver, it’s important to mention a few things about his school in Greenwich Village. No ordinary school, The Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School, (LREI), is often considered to be New York City’s first progressive school. Founded in 1921 by reform educator Elisabeth Irwin, who was disenchanted with the NYC public school system, the school soon became a magnet for the city’s progressive-minded elite. During the McCarthy era, the school became a haven for sympathizers of the Communist Party. The school hired talented teachers who could not find work elsewhere because they had been blacklisted.
WILLIAM LULOW – Capturing the Rhythm of Light
by Patricia Vaccarino