On View: MoPOP Museum of Pop Culture | Seattle Through 2023



  • An inside look at the work of hip-hop photographers told through their most intimate diaries—their contact sheets.

    Featuring rare outtakes from over 100 photoshoots alongside interviews and essays from industry legends, Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop takes readers on a chronological journey from old-school to alternative hip-hop and from analog to digital photography. The ultimate companion for music and photography enthusiasts, Contact High is the definitive history of hip-hop’s early days, celebrating the artists that shaped the iconic album covers, t-shirts and posters beloved by hip-hop fans today.


    With essays from Fab 5 Freddy, Young Guru, DJ Premier, RZA, Michael Gonzales, Bill Adler, Rhea Combs ( photo curator, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture) and more!




    Contact High spotlights the legendary photographers who have played critical roles in bringing hip-hop culture imagery onto the global stage. Photographers share their era-defining stories and iconic images -- what legendary street photographer Henri Cartier Bresson called ‘The Decisive Moment’. A rare glimpse into the creative process and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the imagery that shaped hip-hop and music visual culture. Getting access to the original and unedited contact sheets, we see the ‘big picture’ visual legacy being created. Contact sheets let you look directly through the photographer's lens and observe all of the other shots taken during these legendary moments.


    Hip-Hop has always been about self-definition especially when it comes to visuals and style. For artists, that one iconic pose or press shot or album cover would play a major role in shaping them into icons by any means necessary -- skills, style, swagger, bravado and visuals. Today, the way we digest and create cultural imagery has radically changed. Today's visual landscape is haphazardly shaped from every direction. The contact sheets reveal how photographers’ shaped the evolution of a visual cultural phenomenon.

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