JOE ALPER


JOE ALPER

JOE ALPER (1925-1968)
 

Joe Alper’s images of folk, jazz and blues greats have been published on countless record covers, magazines and books. Musicians appreciated his talent in not standing in the way of the audience with his imposing height (7/50!), or shooting in time with the music, or even avoiding to shoot during the most delicate music passages of a live performance (the 35mm Minoltas that Joe loved and used were quite noisy at the time).
Black and white images shot exclusively in available light, the intimacy of many photographs due to Joe’s admiration for his subjects and their art, captured in moments of intense emotion and copious sweat, his darkroom technique and his use of unconventional print sizes – everything confirms Alper’s greatness as an artist photographer. If you own folk, jazz or blues records from the Sixties, you quite likely already own a piece of his work. 
He shot countless record covers for prestigious labels such as Impulse!, Vanguard, Mercury, Riverside, RCA-Victor and ABC-Paramount. His photos have been published in magazines like “Down Beat”, “Cavalier”, “Cash Box”, “Jazz Magazine”, “US Camera”, “New York Times” and “National Observer”.
In just ten years, from 1958 to 1968, Alper shot over 80.000 negatives. About 30.000 cover the greatest jazz and folk artists of his time. An equally important part of his archive has been devoted to the civil rights movement, which he documented both as active member and as collaborator of the SNCC Freedom Singers. Many of these images are featured in the book and film Eyes On The Prize
His career ended prematurely when he died at only 43, after having just established a photo dept at SUNY, the University of Albany. Joe Alper also has taught photography at the Nova Gallery in Sarasota Springs, at YWCA in Schenectady, at the Union College, and has been an art lecturer and consultant at State Univerity in Albany. In 1962 he also won the International Jazz Photo Competition in Poland. 


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