Rock and roll photographer Dee Lippingwell.

Rock and roll photographer Dee Lippingwell.

Aiming for the stars

Surrey photographer launches new book of classic rock images.

For more than 40 years, Dee Lippingwell has been shooting her way to the top.

The Surrey-based photographer has published her second book, First Three Songs… No Flash, a title based on the instructions given to all concert photographers before a show begins.

“I’m not sure where that initially came from,” said the slightly built, extremely energetic photographer. “It was probably some diva who didn’t want a photo of herself with her make-up running.”

The book – a follow-up to her first book, Best seat in the house, published in 1987 – chronicles Lippingwell’s life as a rock-and-roll photographer, documenting her years photographing and touring with many of the iconic acts of the last four decades. The book features many one-on-one personal stories and pictures from photo sessions with many of the stars.

From her first introduction to photography with her grandfather’s Brownie camera when she was five years old, Lippingwell has always had an eye for timing and capturing the moment others seemed to miss.

Her vocation began in earnest high in the “nose bleed” section of the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver in 1973 with the band Pink Floyd performing one of their memorable shows.

“There really wasn’t much security back in those days, and I just put my camera under my jacket and walked in,” said Lippingwell. But the 300-mm telephoto lens she had borrowed proved to be too big to handle so she decided to try and get as close to the stage as possible.

“Because it was festival seating I was able to get right up to the stage and I got some amazing shots.”

A few weeks later she happened to notice a photo display in the window of A&A records on Broadway in Vancouver with black-and-white photos from the same Pink Floyd show.

Lippingwell approached the manager of the store with her photographs and within minutes the display had been replaced with her far superior images. That’s when her career really began to take off.

Over the years, Lippingwell has toured with numerous acts, including Heart, Prism, The Headpins, Chilliwack, Trooper, and ZZ Top, with her photos appearing in magazines, calendars and exhibitions around the world, with a few even hanging in the homes of some of the performers.

Throughout her four decades as a professional photographer, Lippingwell has shot virtually all of the most influential rock-and-roll artists of her generation, but like so many of the performers she photographed, she found that often the work she loved didn’t pay the bills. So she found herself photographing weddings and family portraits to supplement her income and put food on the table.

“Often people think if you’re an artist you’re rich. Well, you are if you’re Sting or Rod Stewart or Tina Turner, but many of the artists I’ve photographed throughout my career have been struggling as much as I have,” she said. “When I first started I would make $5 for every photo published. I might go to five shows in one week and two photos would get published, that’s $10 and no money for gas or film, nothing.

“I can’t sing or play an instrument, so the next best thing is to take pictures of what I see and feel on the stage,” said Lippingwell, “and hopefully people can connect with these photos.”

When pressed for her favourite, she just can’t choose.

“I love them all.”

An official public launch of her book will take place at the Fanclub on Granville Street in Vancouver this Sunday (March 3).

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