My name is Michael Lavine and I am a portrait photographer living in NYC. I was born in California in 1963 and after bouncing around a bit, I landed in Denver, Colorado where I grew up as a relatively normal child with a hippy single mom in the seventies. I started making photographs at an early age and by high school I was the head yearbook photographer. When I was 18 yrs old, I bought a 1965 green Chevy Impala and drove to Washington State where I attended Evergreen State University and studied photography.  During 1983, using a 1958 Leica and tri-x, I made a series of photographs documenting a group of street punks hanging around the University District in Seattle. Abrams is slated to publish this body of work in fall 09. 

I moved to NYC in 1985 to attend Parsons school of Design and soon after I took an internship with the fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo.  After convincing Scavullo to donate hundreds of used color seamless rolls left over from past Cosmo cover tries to the Parsons photo department, I started experimenting with extreme color studio photography including cross processing and lots of gels.  I had some friends that were in bands and really, before I knew it and without much planning I became a Rock & Roll photographer. I developed a wild, in your face and very loud style that seemed to fit perfectly within the rise of the alternative music scene. For years I mainly photographed album covers for cool bands, including Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, Pavement, and Dinosaur Jr. and in the fall of 1996 I published a book of photographs titled “Noise from the Underground” with Simon & Schuster.  Because of all the Rock photography I crossed over and started shooting a lot of hip-hop artists, doing album covers for Puffy, Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, The Wu Tang and Notorious B.I.G. Along the way, I started to make art photographs for Team Gallery in Chelsea. Over the course of 5 years I had 3 shows. The last one was in 2000, showing photographs from a series of portraits with over 50 different emerging artists including Elizabeth Peyton, Karen Kilimnick and John Currin.

As the music industry started to implode, I decided to shift gears with my photography and proceeded to shed my old style, my agent, my gallery and my 5th Ave studio. I moved my wife and two daughters to Soho and began a long process of reinvention.  I refined my lighting techniques and took command of the post production side of things, acquiring a drum scanner, profiler, digital back and all the other goodies required to deliver a beautiful final image. For the last several years I have largely been working editorially, redefining my visual style into a more classic look, yet retaining my iconic and graphic sensibility. My new list of regular magazine clients now includes Vogue, Esquire, Town and Country, Outside, People, Lucky, and Bust.  

2 Responses to “BIO”

  1. Paul Gunby says:

    As a fellow high school shooter with you in Denver, I was impressed even then by your level of craftsmanship. You were the kid who went the extra mile, developing prints, or waiting for the shot. It’s a pleasure to see your great body of work and count you as a friend. Love the Cranston video.
    And as always, Have a great summer Dude! ;-) Paul

  2. Theo says:

    Hi Michael,

    I read a post about your Grunge photo book on Flavorwire and I found your book very interesting. I was as kid that Nirvana inspired me so much that I ended up becoming a musician myself.
    If you want you can check the post here!


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