Front Row Center with Concert Photographer Larry Hulst

Mar 7, 2017

Photographer Larry Hulst, whose photographs of rock and roll icons are currently on display at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, never imagined that his pictures would one day be hanging in an art museum.

"It's been a mind blower -- overwhelming to me," ​he explains.  

Hulst began his photography career taking pictures of his favorite musicians at concerts in the late 60s. He was living in Sacramento after serving a tour in Vietnam, and he began making regular weekend pilgrimages to San Francisco to catch his favorite bands at The Fillmore West and Winterland.

In the 50 years since he began taking concert photos, Hulst has snapped pictures of everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Nicks to David Bowie.

"[The shows] would be around two dollars," recalls Hulst, "and each band would play twice."

At first photography was a just hobby for Hulst, a way of creating "mementos" of his life. But eventually it became more than that. He got a job as a photographer for the federal government, and earned his living taking pictures of military personnel and activities at various bases, including the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Away from his day job, he continued to attend concerts as often as he could, and honed his ability to capture performers on stage. 

"It was a weird dichotomy," says Hulst. "I'd just do the job for eight hours and then I would leave, and then I would be myself."

In the 50 years since he began taking concert photos, he's toted his camera to thousands of shows across the country, and snapped pictures of everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Nicks to David Bowie. Now, a collection of those photos are on display at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, in an exhibit called Front Row Center. 

For the March episode of Air Check, Hulst -- who is now retired and living in Colorado Springs -- joined Jake Brownell in the studio to talk about his love of music and to tell the stories behind some of the photos in the show.

Listen to the full interview in the player above.