Alnwick, Camera Club

Alnwick Town Centre
Alnwick Town Centre

Iconic images

Professional photographer Steve Emberton took his audience back to the pop music scene of the 1970s, when he spoke to members of Alnwick and District Camera Club.

Steve, who has been running the Harbour Gallery at Amble for the last year, was born in Idaho, USA. Having joined the US Airforce in the 1960s, he was posted to England and enjoyed it so much that he eventually settled here.

It was in the 1970s that he decided to take up photography as a profession and gave himself a trial year to see if he could make a success of it. His lucky break came when a friend suggested he photograph a band at a local pub and his work was seen by a PR company.

This led to one of his pictures featuring in Melody Maker, and eventually to his becoming a staff photographer for the Record Mirror.

His achievements are quite remarkable, given that he is entirely self-taught and initially worked from a darkroom improvised in his bedroom.

This was the period of punk and glam rock, and Steve’s pictures have appeared throughout the world.

In 2004, one of his iconic photographs of Sid Vicious, of the Sex Pistols, and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen was selected by Rolling Stone Magazine for its 50th Anniversary of Rock, 50 Greatest Portraits issue.

Although he sometimes worked in colour, most of Steve’s finest pictures are in black and white. Often he was working in poor lighting conditions and the atmospheric, grainy images resulting somehow capture a feeling of the period.

Throughout his talk, Steve showed a series of projected images of his work, covering a staggering range of pictures of musicians and celebrities of the punk era.

He has recently begun digitising his archive of 1970s’ music pictures, many of which have never been seen before, so that he can make them available for publications or limited edition prints.

His strongest word of advice to club members was to be ruthless in weeding out unsuccessful pictures from their own digital files.

As he said, you are only as good as your worst picture.