Bruce Springsteen Photos!


New Jersey native Debra Rothenberg was 18 when she first photographed Bruce Springsteen in concert in 1980. (He was touring behind The River; she paid $30 for two scalped tickets that originally cost $8.50 each.) In the 33 years since, she has taken pictures of The Boss in concert at dozens of shows in the United States and Europe.

Rothenberg, a professional photographer who has shot for publications including Rolling Stone, Time, the New York Daily News and Q Magazine, recently released Bruce Springsteen In Focus: 1980-2012, a coffee table book containing her more than three decades worth of Springsteen images.

Here, in her own words, Rothenberg (whose favorite Springsteen album is Darkness On the Edge of Town, btw), tells the stories behind some of her favorite photos.

See also: Live: Bruce Springsteen Takes Care Of His Own At The Izod Center

Bradley Beach, New Jersey
February 15, 1988

Debra Rothenberg: The cover shot was a day I will never forget. It was three days before my 26th birthday, February, 15 1988. It was Presidents Day, a beautiful day outside, and everyone had it off. I was driving along main street in a town called Bradley Beach. There was a ton of traffic, so we were going really slowly, and I see this beautiful car driving down the street towards me.

I glanced down to look at the license plate and I saw that it was a 1957 Ford, and I looked up at the driver and saw that it was Bruce. I shouted out “Oh my God” and he heard me, and he smiled. I saw the car turn down towards the ocean, and I rushed home to get my camera and called two friends and said “Bruce! Old car! Bradley Beach! By the ocean,” and hung up.

We drove back to Asbury Park parked outside this place called the Wonder Bar, and all of the sudden, I see the car coming down the street. Bruce gets out, starts laughing and says “Hey there! You found me” and I took this photo of him. They were filming the video for “One Step Up” inside the bar. We snuck in and got kicked out three times, and the director said “I admire your perseverance, you can stay, just stay out of the way.” I’ll never forget it. I never left the house without my camera again.

Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, New Jersey
July 2, 1981

This was my very first published picture of Bruce. It was In the September 1981 issue of New Jersey Monthly magazine. I think they were playing “Out In the Street.” I was so excited when I saw it in the magazine. I got paid 75 dollars and never cashed the check because I thought I was never going to get another photo sale.

Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
August 29, 1985

I left for the concert and didn’t check my camera battery, and I got there and my battery was dead. I remember putting my head in my hands, devastated, but the beautiful thing about cameras back then, unlike now, was that you didn’t need a battery for it to work. I knew my settings from shooting so many shows, so I just set it how I thought it should be, shot it, went home that night, went to the dark room that night, developed the film and I saw that picture. I was thrilled, more than thrilled.

Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
August 31, 1985

I ended up walking into a section that was closed off. There was nobody there, and Bruce came over to the side of the stage and he did a double look, and then he smiled that grin. I kept waiting for there to be a tap on my should of someone saying “You can’t be here,” but nobody ever came, and I shot this picture that night.

The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, New Jersey
August 9, 1987

He showed up with the whole band at [legendary Asbury Park club] The Stone Pony, and that picture turned out to be the official postcard at the club.

The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, New Jersey
July 23, 1989

What’s amazing to me about Bruce is that it doesn’t matter if he’s playing in front of 50 people or 50,000 people, he gives his all every time. He could be on a small club stage and he might as well be playing a stadium, with the amount of energy he puts out. This was at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. I remember right before I took this, he looked up and made sure he wasn’t going to go through the ceiling.

Meadowlands, East Rutherford, New Jersey
October 13, 2004
This was in 2004 and a bunch of musicians went out campaigning to get people to vote for John Kerry. This is Jackson Browne, John Fogerty, Eddie Vedder and Bruce.

Rochester, New York
October 31, 2012

I’ve never formally met him, although I’ve had the opportunity and always chose not to. I’ve been in situations where I could have gotten an autograph and had my photo taken with him, but I just wanted to get the pictures.

It looks like he’s having a great time up there. He is incredible. He’s 64 years old and might as well be 30. It’s just amazing.

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