Fifty years ago, half a million people gathered at Woodstock to celebrate peace and love. Photographer Henry Diltz was the official photographer of the historic event. He took thousands of photos at the festival, and to this day people ask him to use his images. In this marvelous short film, you can hear Diltz’s story and watch the iconic festival through his lens.
The video was directed by Scott Hanson and produced by Keeper. Keep in mind that there’s some nudity and weed because, well, it’s about Woodstock after all.
Diltz says that he became the official Woodstock photographer thanks to Chip Monck, a lighting director who was working at the festival. He recommended him to the organizers, who sent him $500 and an airplane ticket. Diltz flew there, not knowing what to expect. But, it was “like a summer camp,” as he explains in the video. He arrived two weeks before the festival, hanging out with people and taking photos of everything that was going on.
During the festival itself, Diltz photographed the bands and the crowd, doing all he could to get the best shots. He was lucky to have an all-access pass, so he could even reach the spots other photographers couldn’t. When The Who were playing, he says that he was so close to them that he barely managed to capture them with his widest lens.
After the festival was over, Diltz says that he doesn’t believe he was paid anything. However, he adds that it might be a good thing because he got to keep all the photos. “I would much rather have the pictures than the pay,” he adds. And while I’m in most cases not into working for free, in this case, I can totally understand it. If I got to photograph so many of my favorite bands at the most iconic festival ever, I believe I’d also choose photos over money.