Don Lawver Photography


Tales from Don Lawver's career as a concert photographer.

My Story, and the beginning of the collection


My name is Don Lawver and I was born February 17th , 1961 in Miami, Florida. At the age of 5 my father stuck a baseball glove in my hand and signed me up in a baseball league. It was the starts of many years of sports for me leading to state baseball and football championships. I was a pitcher and a quarterback. This even led to me representing the USA during the Bicentennial and flying on a chartered plane with a baseball team to South America where I met U.S. Diplomats and rogue Presidents like Nicaragua’s Antonio Somoza. I idolized Roberto Clemente and was later even sought out by scouts late in high school. But my life had a dual side that would eventually turn in another direction being raised in a house with four other siblings. I had multiple musical influences. We went to church often and my mother sung in the choir. We had an old Phillips console stereo where music flowed everywhere. From my mother’s Johnny Cash to my sister’s Sonny and Cher. In my brother’s car I was schooled in the art of rock. Sounds congressing in my ears from Pink Floyd to Lynrd Skynrd on the 8 track in my brother’s 1963 Mercury. My brother, 4 years older than me, took me to my first concert: Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, and Kiss. My Aunt took me to see Elvis Presley.

My life seemed to change forever at the age of 15 when I took advantage of my mother’s divorce when I was living alone with her and I begged her relentlessly to allow me to take a Greyhound bus to Tampa Stadium to see the world’s greatest rock band, Led Zeppelin.

Although there was a severe thunderstorm and a riot which included the use of tear gas, I was able to get against the stage in a general admission show and then 9 songs later the concert was canceled.

Being raised in the church and respecting God I believed that that day I had met the equivalent of musical gods. My soul was transformed forever. I became obsessed with music. I bought every album I could. My bedroom walls were wallpapered with the posters that accompanied Cream and Hit Parade magazines. I started going to every concert that I could. Going from pocket cameras to 35 mm I had to have photos of every concert. Meanwhile, I grew my hair long and joined a rock band and decided I wanted to be a rock star. I could sing but unfortunately I sucked at playing the drums so I guess I started to live vicariously through the lens creating photographs of stars which filed my rock star void.

Photographing on and off in the 70’s while getting occasional passes and going to concerts where in the old days you could walk into concerts with a 35 mm and go right up to the stage without security confiscating your camera. As things began to change and MTV and other things began you started to need a photo pass so I started a ragtag magazine of about 40 pages per issue which was distributed locally. I utilized it to get my photo passes which would place me right in the pit. This was a turning point. Having an interest in all music, I used it to photograph every type of music that I could. I was now obsessed. I used the corner store which had newspapers ranging from USA Today to the New York Times to other publications to find concert tour dates and then I used the profits from advertisements in my magazine and the sale of my photos at flea markets to travel to venues throughout the U.S. and Europe photographing various musicians. My collection began to accumulate and I formed a photo agency and worked on the side for a PR Firm, the local newspaper, and various music publications. My foot was now in the door and everything started to grow more expansive. There was no turning back now. If success takes perseverance and all dreams have expectations, I started to possess both. By the time I got over 500 artists I felt extremely fortunate but at the same time cursed. What do I do now? Where do I go from here?

More to come as we unravel the adventure. 


Don Lawver