The Photographer's Eye

Kirk West is first and foremost a music lover. He has never been able to get enough of the people, places, and things that comprise the life of a touring artist. In search of the richness that musicians and their music bring the world, his travels and life have taken him from his Iowa birthplace to far flung reaches of the globe, camera in hand.

Beginning at age 18 with his first concert shoot of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Kirk went on to build an archive of images taken over more than 40 years, covering a wide range of music icons and cultural phenomena. Over his career, Kirk found himself in some amazing places with amazing and iconic people. Fortunately, he had the relationships, good sense, and personal eye to capture much of it beautifully on film with a sense of both compassion and urgency.

In the fall of 1968, West moved to Chicago to shoot the blues. He made his mark at the legendary joints found on the North and South Sides of the city, from Theresa’s Lounge to the Checkerboard, from Pepper’s to Blues on Halsted, Biddy Mulligan’s and Rosa’s, where he befriended and photographed singular artists including Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Willie Dixon, and many others. West honed his visceral, in-the-moment style, night after night, down in the pit, shooting away. He also made his way to every rock club and concert venue in the Midwest, putting his highly personal touch on thousands of images covering an enormous variety of music styles, personalities, and venues.

Beginning in 1989, Kirk served as Tour Manager for the Allman Brothers Band for over 20 years. During his tenure, Kirk shot 10 Allman Brothers Band LP, CD or DVD covers, as well as over 15 picture sleeves for the group’s records. A renowned archivist, West also directed the critically-acclaimed Please Call Home documentary, which covered the early years of the Allman Brothers Band while living at the Big House in Macon, Georgia.

While lovers of music photography may have seen other images of some of the artists Kirk has captured over the years, his photographs have until now never been seen by anyone other than his close circle of friends. Without exception, these photographs have back stories as rich as the images themselves and are a must for any serious collector.