If the name Glen Friedman doesn’t ring a bell upon utterance, a glance at his photography work will immediately fill you with a rush of familiarity. Gritty, exuberant, and incredibly reflective of an awe-inspiring period of time, Glen’s work did—and continues to—capture the present tense energy that enlivens a city. Especially this city.
Hailing from Los Angeles, he is one of the many cast of characters who helped breed an entire new existence in this city we love to call home. Los Angeles Kush wouldn’t be the cannabis brand it is today without LA, and LA wouldn’t be the city it is today without Glen Friedman.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Beastie Boys. Kidding, of course you’ve heard of them—they were mainstays in hip-hop for decades. Well, Friedman captured iconic images of them before they were even famous. From there, he was introduced to the likes of Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, two names that reach peaks in terms of music industry accomplishments. Taking photos of countless hip-hop artists, reimagining the possibilities for album covers, and tapping into uncharted portrait territory—Friedman’s portfolio is unlike any other.
The pages of Friedman’s monograph, aptly titled “My Rules,” is a peek into the past; a time where rebellion was the lifeblood and centering force for hip-hop, punk, and skateboarding cultures.
Friedman and his crew of creatives that he photographed are billed as some of the biggest names in LA cultural history, and for a good reason. He worked with Fugazi, Beastie Boys, Run-D.M.C., Black Flag, Z-Boys, NWA, Public Enemy—that list can go on for a very long time. While these artists and athletes hailed from different coasts, the larger impact within music and culture is a lasting one. Because these individuals weren’t just members of the flock, they were the originators, the orators, and the spirit of a generation.
A creator and maven of Los Angeles culture, Friedman’s photographs didn’t just capture moments in the LA lexicon—they catapulted and shaped them completely. Even better, his career got kickstarted in a way that is akin to the start of the cannabis business: with a little bit of trouble with the law. Before Glen was photographing hip-hop royalty, he was capturing moments that involved jumping fences, skateboarding in empty pools, and not giving a damn with his ragtag crew of friends. Those friends weren’t just any dudes skateboarding. They were the Z-Boys. You know, the infamous crew of Dogtown and Z-Boys fame. After becoming the youngest staff member for SkateBoarder Magazine, it was as if iconic image after iconic image just came from his rolls of film.
What makes Friedman’s work so intoxicating is how perfectly it encapsulates the quintessential LA lifestyle—especially in that era. He wasn’t just a famous photographer shooting known artists or athletes. He was part of their crew, growing and cultivating a career and artistic lens with these other legends.
As a bonafide artist, Friedman has gone beyond the camera, working as a music producer and guiding the rebellious music and skate culture in a way that goes further than his images. Capturing a cultural movement through a lens is no easy feat. Keeping it alive and operating at the epicenter of it all? That’s legendary. And that’s Glen Friedman.