Although his versatility as a photographer extends to many genres, the following is clear: Neal Preston is one of the most prolific and highly respected photographers in the history of rock-and-roll.
With a career in photography that started in high school and continues to the present, Neal Preston has made a significant contribution to the pop-culture history of his generation.
For years, his photographs have appeared in every conceivable media outlet, on countless covers and pages of world-class magazines and newspapers, to books, television shows, feature films, Broadway show programs and billboards, vinyl, CD and DVD packages, literally everywhere.
With a body of work spanning almost 4 decades, Preston's photographs document many of the music industry’s most important moments. Preston was, and still is, is one of the lucky few allowed inside, behind the velvet rope, touring with superstars and capturing the entire experience on film.
He has worked closely with rock royalty such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Queen, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Madonna, and countless other luminaries.
Although Preston is best known in rock circles as Led Zeppelin’s U.S. tour photographer in the mid-1970’s, his rock-and-roll travels have also included touring Russia with Billy Joel, Europe and Japan with Bruce Springsteen, China with Wham! , South Africa with Whitney Houston, and South America with Queen. In 1985, Preston was chosen as one of the official photographers for the Bob Geldof’s “Live Aid” concert at London’s Wembley Stadium. In 1988 his association with Bruce Springsteen helped land him the job as official tour photographer for Amnesty International’s legendary “Conspiracy of Hope” tour, a 5 week world trek with Sting, Peter Gabriel, and Tracy Chapman appearing along with Springsteen his E-Street Band.
Preston’s photo archive easily contains one of the music industry’s single most extensive collections of photos shot by a single photographer; in fact, he was a key contributor to VH-1’s acclaimed “Behind the Music” documentary series, providing over one thousand still photos used in 50 episodes. Generally considered the top “live concert” photographer of his time, Preston has shot live performance CD and DVD covers for Springsteen, Madonna, Fleetwood Mac, Kiss, and many others.
Neal Preston has done much more than just shoot musicians. In 1980 he began a long relationship with People Magazine and to this day remains the most-assigned photographer in the history of the magazine, with almost 700 shoot days to his credit. In addition to dozens of People covers, he has shot covers of Newsweek, Time, and Rolling Stone with subjects as diverse as Nancy Kerrigan, Richard Nixon, and Marvin Gaye.
A true sports fanatic, Preston has worked at six Olympics, from the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia to the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy. Preston has also photographed many other major sporting events including heavyweight title fights, the World Series, NBA and NFL playoff games, and World Cup soccer matches.
In 1999 Preston became a member of Local 600 (Los Angeles) of the International Cinematographers Guild. He served as both unit and special photographer for the feature films “Almost Famous”, “Vanilla Sky”,and “Elizabethtown” (all directed by his long-time friend Cameron Crowe). Preston also created key materials used in the films “61”, “Singles”, “Laurel Canyon” and “Pick of Destiny”, among others. He has also directed various music projects, including a live performance video for Stevie Nicks and a 90-minute documentary on Alice Cooper.
In May of 2006 Preston exhibited his music photography for the first time ever, at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York City. That successful show was followed by a show in November 2006 at the Morrison’s new Los Angeles location (the gallery currently represents Preston exclusively for exhibition print sales). The November ‘06 show was highlighted by an opening night VIP fundraiser benefiting the Stevie Nicks Soldier’s Angel Foundation. That event, with Ms. Nicks co-hosting, raised over $20,000 from print sales in one evening.
Many of Preston’s music photos have been shown at such varied institutions as the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio . In 2007 his photograph of Freddie Mercury was chosen as part of the permanent photo exhibit at the new Wembley Stadium in London.