In Memory of Don Hunstein

Few artists boast a career as iconic, expansive, and legendary as that of Don Hunstein. For fifty years, he thrilled the public with intimate depictions of the 20th century’s most incredible musicians. Through his work, it becomes instantly evident that Hunstein maintained a very special relationship with his subjects, and these relationships have lasted a lifetime.

Today, Insight Editions honors the extraordinary life of Don Hunstein and reflects on his contributions to the world of music and art.


After moving to New York as a young college graduate, Hunstein earned a job as the staff photographer for Columbia Records, which had quickly become one of the largest record labels by the mid 1950s. His affiliation with Columbia gained him access to the intimate studio recordings of popular musicians like Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan, as well as many classical musicians such as composer Igor Stravinsky, and Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo.

Collected from his personal archives, Hunstein’s photographs provide a unique glimpse into a time when music was evolving at an incredible rate, and iconic musicians were in their heyday. “Hunstein’s archives move from the buttoned-down 1950s to the casual 1960s to the over-the-top 1970s to the stylized 1980s…” (Keeping Time) His photographs not only create a comprehensive overview of the breadth of music in the 20th century, but they help define the cultures of gospel, folk, rock n roll, and jazz for future generations.

As fans of all music genres, we at Insight Editions were lucky enough to work with Don Hunstein in publishing his expansive photography archives. Keeping Time: The Photographs of Don Hunstein places his photos in the context of musical and social change, and adds an untold chapter to the cultural history of the 20th century. Michael Madden, COO of Insight Editions, worked closely with Deeanne Hunstein to curate their favorite images for Keeping Time. He states, “Don had incredibly unique access into these recording sessions, perfectly captured by the photo shoot with Sam Cooke and Muhammad Ali, as well as Barbara Streisand and Aretha Franklin. To me, that screams Don Hunstein. The photos speak to a time when those people weren’t yet giants, but you already knew that they were magical.”

Hunstein’s cultural influence on music and photography is truly unparalleled. Many will recognize his photographs from biographies and biopics on their favorite musicians. Fans of Bob Dylan will note Hunstein’s image of Dylan and Suze Rotolo on the cover of the iconic album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Don Hunstein leaves behind a unique legacy: he helped us understand and get to know our favorite musicians in a way never before achieved. We honor his legacy through art, and we remember him through the words and melodies of our favorite songs.