Barry's Story

Soon enough his photographs of legends, living and dead, would make Barry Feinstein a world-famous photographer. Early on it wasn't too clear what he'd do, aside from taking black and white pictures of whatever intrigued him. When Feinstein was in his late twenties, Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, hired young Feinstein (as a favor to a certain someone) as a production intern. Barry moved to Hollywood and got an apartment on the corner of Fuller and Sunset for $125 a month.


He spent a few months in most every department, learning a little about everything. The name "Harry Cohn" was a golden key and Barry wielded it, along with his Nikon, making calls, knocking on doors, and closing them, discreetly, behind him. In this way Feinstein passed himself off as professional photographer until the day he'd become one.


Feinstein had access to the up-and-coming stars - this was where his bread was buttered. Barry was confident and polite, neither shy nor star-struck, and he had a penchant for the unusual. Fame, per se, didn't impress him much. Which was one reason his camera didn't blink, and why, in years to come, he'd be known for piercing the armor and showing us the human being inside the icon.


Barry didn't "make friends with famous people to get their picture." In fact, I've been mightily disappointed over the years that the vault doesn't include more of his rogue's gallery of friends. Say, a cameo of Sal Mineo who, slight though he was, backed Barry in a fight and became a close friend. Or the genius comedian, Lord Buckley, who called Barry "his triple hipness." Or shots of the original roadtrip across the country in a Rolls with a Bob Dylan whose first record had just been released


No such images exist. "There's a time you don't take pictures," Barry told me a few years ago. The implicit message being: have fun and build trust, so when you finally pick up the camera, your subject lets you in because you've become a friend.


Q&A with Bob Dylan

How did you first meet Barry?

Barry and I met in my manager’s office. Barry was either courting or was already married to Mary Travers from Peter, Paul & Mary. I knew Mary too, and she might have introduced him to me at an earlier date, but I don’t remember.

How did you guys become friends?

We became traveling partners. Barry was on some tours of mine and we also drove a car across the country once.

Did you like Barry’s photography? In what way?

Yeah. I liked Barry’s photos a lot. They reminded me of Robert Frank’s photos... Just in their stark atmosphere. Obviously the subject matter. I liked the angles Barry used in the pictures… the shadows and light, that sort of thing.

But what about you?

But what about me? Well I would have to refer to the academicians too. If they are poems, or if they are not poems… does it really matter? And who would it matter to?

What do you think of them looking back after all these years?

First of all I don’t think what I had written would have been written without seeing the photographs…and secondly…well I don’t know if there is a secondly.

What do you think of the photographs?

Well obviously I thought a great deal of the pictures. I think Barry was an incredibly great photographer as I still do to this present day.