If you have attended a live musical performance at any one of more than a dozen venues around town over the past 15 years, the odds are good that you’ve seen photographer Daniel Coston, a gentle giant of a man at 6’2″ sporting dark curly hair poking out from beneath a straw hat and wearing a toothy, always present smile.
You may have spotted him at the Tremont, the Milestone, Snug Harbor or the Double Door. Maybe it was the McGlohon, Amos’s, the Visulite or the Great Aunt Stella Center.
If you haven’t seen Coston, you’ve most certainly seen his work. His images of American rock, blues and folk musicians have been featured locally in the Charlotte Observer, Charlotte Magazine and The Charlotte Post, and nationally with the likes of Rolling Stone, Playboy and Time Magazine.
In a recently opened photo exhibition at the Charlotte Museum of History, Charlotte can more fully appreciate some of Coston’s most compelling work.
“On the Way to Here: Adventures in Photography, Music and Life” shares Coston’s personal experiences and intimate portraits of such greats as James Taylor, Doc Watson, Johnny Cash, the Avett Brothers, the Kings of Leon, Aretha Franklin, the Beach Boys, the Briarhoppers, Jackson Browne, Maurice Williams and Joe Thompson.
“It is important for the museum to be a place for the community to discover and explore Charlotte’s history and that includes contemporary history,” said Charlotte Museum of History executive director Kay Peninger. “So many people in town know Daniel and his work; it was natural for us to host this show. Asking him to put together an exhibition grew as an extension of his work with us and recognition of the tremendous catalogue he has to share.”
Here through January of 2016, the significant photo assemblage is unlike any other in Charlotte’s recent memory. Impressing with both the breadth of legendary subjects captured, many here in Charlotte, and the visceral connection made by the artist with his subject, are 92 photos in both color and black and white.
“I hope people get a sense of me, my journey and the possibility found in one person, one camera, and where that can take you,” Coston said.
Coston’s experiences have taken him all over the world including shoots in Iceland, England and a very special trip to the Virginia mountaintop venue known as the Carter Family Fold, the performing home of the family of Johnny Cash and his wife, June Carter Cash.
“I had the opportunity in 2003 at the request of the family to photograph there including what turned out to be Johnny Cash’s last public performance,” Coston said.
One special photograph of Cash, on display in the exhibition, ended up being featured in a Time Magazine tribute to the late star that year.
“Whatever happens in your life, it leads you to the present moment,” Coston said. “I hope people can experience those moments in my photos.”
Photos: Michael Solender, Daniel Coston