Rebels: From Punk To Dior by Janette Beckman – book review

Rebels, From Punk to Dior by Jeanette Beckman

Published by Drago

Out now

This 240-page book takes you on a journey from small clubs in the UK to New York City and back to Kentish Town to shoot for Dior. Review by another photography legend, Kevin Cummins. 

Janette Beckman and I are contemporaries. While I was shooting punk in Manchester, Janette was doing similar in London. Later, I moved to London and Janette moved to New York City.

Beckman’s camera doesn’t just focus on musicians. Lots of the photos feature sub-cultures from the past 40+ years. Because of the rapid change in youth culture, these have become fascinating social documentary photos

Janette and I share a love of the early 20th-century documentary photographer August Sander. Both of us studied him at art school. You can see the influence of Sander on several of her portraits, none more so than one of my favourites, a 1979 shot of British Nigerian twins Chet and Joe Okonkwo – who used to dance on stage with Madness. This echoes a similar well-known photo from 1980 of Paul Weller with Pete Townshend. I’d like to have seen Beckman shoot more work in this style. To me, it’s one of her strengths as a photographer.

Teddy Boys the day when Elvis died, London, 1977 - Janette Beckman
Teddy Boys the day when Elvis died, London, 1977

There’s also a lovely shot of Laurel Aitken in his sitting room in Leicester in 1979, with the Mona Lisa resplendent on the wall above the TV set.

Most of Beckman’s key shots are here: Slick Rick, Stetsasonic, Salt-n-Pepa, Dre, Grandmaster Flash, and an amazing shot of George Clinton.

LL Cool J, Cut Creator, Brian Latture, New York City, 1987 - Janette Beckman
LL Cool J, Cut Creator, Brian Latture, New York City, 1987
Salt-n-Pepa, New York City, 1987 - Janette Beckman
Salt-n-Pepa, New York City, 1987

My only (small) gripe is the number of full-page testimonials from Beckman’s subjects, telling us how great she is. These could have been consigned to a page at the back of the book. We know you’re great Janette. Your book bears testimony to your photography and your wonderful career to date.

If you love your photography served up with lots of attitude, then this book is for you.


You can buy the book here:

Thanks to ACC Books

You can follow Janette Beckman on Instagram and work at her website here:

All words by Kevin Cummins, you can follow Kevin on Twitter and view his photography on his website.


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