The Photography of Jim Marshall

The Photography of Jim Marshall

A youthful Bob Dylan rolling a tire down a New York City street.

The Beatles’ last live concert at Candlestick Park.

Johnny Cash flipping his middle finger to the San Quentin Prison warden.

Jimi Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire during his performance at Monterey Pop Festival.


San Francisco photographer, Jim Marshall (1936-2010) was the pre-eminent music photographer and journalist of the 20th century.

Born in 1936, Marshall grew up in the Fillmore District of San Francisco. At an early age, he fell in love with music and cameras and began photographing with a box camera. He was a fixture in San Francisco’s North Beach coffeehouses and soon was photographing resident musicians throughout the city with a Leica rangefinder. Jim’s big break came after a chance run in with John Coltrane and afterwards went on to shoot jazz greats such as Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, among others.  After spending two years in New York to become established, he returned to San Francisco for good and began shooting for Rolling Stone and Time Magazine.

One of his favorite and most famous subjects, Miles Davis, was also among his most difficult. Marshall had petitioned to photograph the unwilling Davis on several occasions and was rejected each time. Marshall finally won Davis’ respect and friendship after presenting him with a photograph he had taken of Davis’ idol, John Coltrane. The rapport he developed with Miles Davis was repeated with many of the musicians that he photographed over the years. Through the lens of his Leica cameras he was able to capture moments that were unforced with little direction from his subjects, developing for himself a solid reputation and becoming the first choice among some of the greatest musicians of all time.

Jim, who passed away in 2010, dedicated his life to his craft and has been credited with over 500 album covers. He has been published countless times and has many book titles credited to his name, the latest being: The Haight: Love Rock and Revolution, published last year through his estate, owned and operated by longtime assistant and friend, Amelia Davis.

"Jim always attributed his ability to capture the authentic, vulnerable and often insane moments of the musicians he photographed to the unencumbered access he had with them,” says Davis. “He was able to spend time with them on planes, backstage and anywhere else he could manage without time limitations and legions of other people telling him what, where and how many minutes to shoot. That and the pureness that came from the lenses of his beloved Leica cameras.”

It was this access that gave Marshall the rare distinction of having a portrait of at least one Grammy award winning artist for each of the 55 years since the Grammy’s began and in 2014 he was posthumously awarded the Trustees Award from The Recording Academy - a Special Merit Award Grammy that honors contributions to music in areas other than performance. 

Leica Store San Francisco is pleased to present a selection of photographs from Jim Marshall’s  estate, as well as the photographs that make up Jim Marshall’s 55 Years of Grammy Award Winners series.


There will be an opening reception and talk with Amelia Davis on Thursday, August 6, 2015 from 6pm-8pm

RSVP HERE

Jim’s book, The Haight: Love Rock and Revolution will be available for purchase during the exhibition and reception.

More information about Jim Marshall: http://www.jimmarshallphotographyllc.com/

Special thanks to the San Francisco Art Exchange, a San Francisco based gallery which specializes in music photography/art, for their help in making this exhibition possible.


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