MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota native makes his living capturing music’s greatest legends, everyone from Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney to Eddie Van Halen and Keith Richards.
In the photography world, Rob Shanahan has become something of an icon himself.
Thursday night in Minneapolis at the Jeune Lune, the music photographer ventured out on the other side of the camera to debut his first book and showcase his lifelong dream.
The Norwood-Young America native is renowned for his signature shots, up close with music’s greatest legends, but Shanahan had long ago envisioned a life behind the lens.
“My folks had a Pentax ME in the house. I picked it up, learned to shoot my own film, and developed it in the bathroom,” he said. Shanahan said he was inspired by the artwork on the record albums he owned growing up.
At Mankato State, the aspiring photographer traded rural landscapes for the Hollywood scene. He said he packed up a van for Los Angeles, and although he didn’t have any contacts, he kept shooting and never gave up.
Shanahan is also a drummer who says he was determined to combine his two passions. The turning point came when he photographed “this little unknown band from San Diego called Blink 182.”
Each frame brought more fame, and today his book, titled “Volume 1: Through the Lens of Music Photographer Rob Shanahan” reveals a near two decades of work, snapshots of Mick Fleetwood, Christina Aguilera, Tommy Lee, Joe Walsh, Sheila E, Lionel Richie, Sarah McLachlan, just to name a few.
Hundreds of portraits later, Shanahan found himself as Ringo Starr’s personal photographer.
“He’s still Ringo the Beatle, but now it’s a little easier for me. He’s now my friend,” said Shanahan. “He’s a really nice guy.”
Ringo wrote the foreword for Shanahan’s book.
Shanahan partially attributes his success to what can’t be seen, crossing that invisible line of trust to gain access to powerful moments in history.
He points to a photo of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, joking around.
“Two guys, with an incredible history, imagine the history of these two, two remaining Beatles,” he said.
Shanahan is also in town to speak to McNally Smith College of Music students, where he’ll reflect on a remarkable chapter that began in Minnesota, where a boy with a camera captured a dream.
“Everyone in my book was some small boy or small girl in some city that had a dream, and they are achieving their dreams. I’m really glad to be there photographing great artists and doing my dream,” said Shanahan.
Shanahan said he someday may release a book just focusing on the photos from his Ringo collection. But in the near future, he would love to photograph the likes of Mick Jagger and Tom Petty.