Legendary Photog Andy Rosen Unleashes a Flurry of Priceless Old School Punk Photos

Extracted from The Associated Press, January 8, 2006

It's a sign of the times that somebody going by the username Girl from Mars can say "Coooool!!" directly to legendary London punk-rocker photographer Andy Rosen.

Girl from Mars wasn't visiting an upscale gallery in New York or attending a hot-shot photography exhibition in London. She saw them for free, online, on flickr.com

Owned by Yahoo!, flickr is a photo-sharing site where people's digital photos can be organized and viewed by others. It's easy to use and designed for the amateur photographer.

So when the idolized veteran Rosen decided one Sunday to, what the heck, just throw some of his original pictures up on that site, it made quite the statement, and the ripple effect was incredible.

One never-before-seen collection he posted was early photos of the Clash, at a Christmas show they played in 1979 to a crowd of 50. The other included a variety of punk-rock and new wave portraits including Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan, Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes and Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten and Malcolm McLaren, all before they made it huge.

Within minutes of posting last month, Rosen got his first e-mail response. After about 15 minutes, 30 or 40 people had viewed the photos. In less than a week, there were nearly 100,000 views.

Rosen had a successful photography career from 1976 to 1984, completely embedding himself in the early punk-rock scene in London.

He began as the bands were starting up, and by the time the punk-rock scene exploded, he had a real in. He lived with some of the musicians and was friends with some people who became musicians.

But back then you needed money and more than a card reader to see your shots, so a lot of Rosen's film never got processed. It got boxed up and stored at mum and dad's. That includes all the photos he finally uncovered and developed last year, and sat on until now.

But that was like opening Pandora's box. When you possess a collection like those (and this is just the beginning, Rosen says), it's a new challenge as well as a great discovery. You can become overwhelmed with the options.

Rosen's anti-establishment inclinations left over from the punkster days lean him away from wanting to sell them to big corporate stock agencies. Gallery exhibitions, another option for a photographer with a valuable collection, can be exclusive and not reach the real fans. Rosen hasn't had a gallery showing since 1987 and hasn't sold an original since 1988 (to the Hard Rock Cafe).

The longer he waited for the right opportunity to release his latest exclusives, Rosen said, the less he wanted to show them.

"People were always saying, 'You've got to do something with your pictures,' " he said. "Well it's not easy to do something with your pictures. But flickr is so easy."

And so, Rosen flickred away.

Click here to see Andy Rosen's Flickr page.

Source: Associated Press