Debra L. Rothenberg comes from New Jersey; and while her older brothers had been into The Beatles before her, she became infatuated with fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen, The Boss; and in 1980 started a 32 year love affair photographing her hero.
In 1978, aged 15, she bought her first SLR camera and began taking photography class with John Heyn. During the lessons Heyn introduced her to the music of Bruce Springsteen and other local musicians like Southside Johnny. A year later Rothenberg sold her first photograph, a live photo of Southside Johnny which was included on the cover of his live album, Reach Up & Touch The Sky.
A year later Rothenberg took her first photographs of Bruce Springsteen whilst she was still a student at Rochester Institute of Technology, when he played Rochester, New York on 2nd December, 1980 – as part of The River Tour.
In her book Bruce Springsteen In Focus 1980 – 2012 she recounts the concerts and attempts to express her love affair. But the photographs themselves say much more than her words. For this isn’t simply a collection of professional taken publicity shots. These are photos from a fans-eye view. The concert photos capture the energy and excitement of a Bruce Springsteen performance, especially early ones taken from amidst the crowd rather than the safety of a media pit. These photos are not taken for pristine quality but together tell a story.
Live photos from many of his US tours between 1980 and 2012 are collected here from The River Tour 1980, Born In The USA Tour of 1984-1985, The Tunnel Of Love Express 1988 and many others including the 2004 Vote For Change Tour, the acoustic and solo Devil And Dust Tour of 2005 through to 2012’s Wrecking Ball Tour. Concert photos sit alongside local New Jersey impromptu club ‘jams’ at places such as The Stone Pony when Rothenberg would get wind of a ‘Bruce sighting’ and was instructed to stay until the bar closed in order for a chance to get an exclusive. Scattered between live photos are shots of Springsteen greeting fans or being seen out.
For 32 years Debra L. Rothenberg has had what she sees as a dream job, photographing her music hero, Bruce Springsteen as he has played small local New Jersey bars and large sports arenas. From college student to concert photographer, her photos have been published in Rolling Stone, Q, Time and Newsweek, among many others.
Bruce Springsteen In Focus 1980 – 2012 is her unique photographic tribute to one of the most iconic and amazing rock performers of all time; and this wonderful collection of photographs, a true labour of love, is beautifully published on glossy paper in a large scale hardback format that helps to bring the pages alive and does the photographs justice.
Bruce Springsteen In Focus 1980 – 2012 – Photographs by Debra L. Rothenberg is published by Turn The Page Publishing.