Think of any recording artist who has gone on tour in the past four decades, and concert photographer Don Lawver
probably has a picture of him or her. The word “any” can be used loosely at times, but in the case of Lawver, “any” means “any.”
He has a collection of over four hundred thousand negatives of his own photography, with subjects ranging from Mick Jagger, Barbra Streisand, and Prince to the Beastie Boys, Nirvana, and 50 Cent. He amassed this vast collection over the course of his career as a concert photographer for his own independent magazine called Southern Musician
His independent spirit means that Lawver, not a media agency, is the sole owner of all of his negatives. Thus, his photos have rarely been seen, and many have never been published or exhibited, giving even die-hard music enthusiasts a fresh glimpse of legendary performers.
For the first time in more than a decade, Lawver is showing the public a preview of his immense collection with a teaser exhibition at Google Fiber Space’s First Friday event. On display will be eight 16-by-20-inch color photographs and a 16-by-30-inch metal print, personally picked by Lawver from his collection, as well as 5 ½-by-8 ½-inch prints of fifty different artists for sale.
The exhibit will also serve as a launch pad for Don’s website, donlawver.com, which will have selections from his vault available for purchase. Attendees can also purchase prints from the website at a discounted rate. The reception runs from six to nine p.m. at 518 W. Jones St. in Raleigh.
Modern concert photography has become something of a muddled genre. Everyone at a show has the power to document the performance from a phone, and photojournalists can take five hundred photos in ten minutes without using up a whole SD card. That’s what makes Lawver’s work so distinct. He amassed his collection using only film and passion, and the love he has for the art comes through in his work.