Xfinity’s week-long music event, from October 8-14, celebrates the many music choices available on X1, headlined by a week of free access to the subscription-based music service Pandora Premium. In addition to the many streaming music channels, playlists, and free concerts available, customers can also tune their X1 screen saver to an exclusive gallery of concert photographs by noted photographer Jeff Kravitz (go to settings and choose the “Entertainment” option among screen savers). The gallery includes shots of Ariana Grande, Eminem, Aerosmith, Cardi B. and many more stars.
But the real star is the Los Angeles-based Kravitz, whose 6’4” figure and equally large personality is such a familiar presence at concerts and festivals across the country that the stars he shoots often frequently acknowledge him during their shows. “I was shooting Sheryl Crow this year at Bonnaroo,” he says. “She saw me taking pictures, walked right in front of me, and literally sat down on my camera. Then I was backstage after the show and she came up to me and said, ‘Oh my God, you lost so much weight!’”
Kravitz couldn’t believe she noticed. “Wait,” he said to her. “You’re up there on stage and you’re like, ‘Holy shit, Kravitz lost weight!”?” The rocker responded, “You wouldn’t believe the thoughts that run through my head when I’m performing.”
Kravitz has only one thought when he’s at work: get the shot. He estimates that he has photographed between 600 and 1000 concerts, starting with the T.J. Martell Foundation’s Rock and Bowl charity event in 1986. The first major concert he shot was the Amnesty International tour stop in L.A. in 1988. That show featured a superstar lineup of Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Bono, and Tracy Chapman. One of Kravitz’s pictures ended up in Rolling Stone magazine – and his career was off to a rockin’ start.
Kravitz grew up in Atlantic City, the son of local radio legend Pinky Kravitz, who was on the air for more than 57 consecutive years and known as Mr. Atlantic City. My dad was the kind of guy who was at everything going on in town, and his job was to talk about it, to tell people what was going on,” he says. “And I realized I’m always where something is happening, too; I’m telling people about it through my pictures.”
A diehard fan of the Grateful Dead and Phish, Kravitz says he has shot Phish more than any other bands and chronicled the entire careers of Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus. John Mayer is among the many who have requested photos for their personal collections. Prince is his all-time favorite subject, though Kravitz says the Purple One did not like photographers and would have his security usher them out if he spied a camera pointed at him. “Eventually, I realized shooting Prince meant he didn’t want to see your camera,” says Kravitz. “I was hiding when I took my best picture of him.”
For his gallery on the X1 screen saver, Kravitz selected 20 photographs mostly taken this year, ranging from Kendrick Lamar (“he’s one of the most electric performers out there today”) to Jennifer Lopez at the MTV Video Music Awards where she received an Icon award (“she’s a dancer, so you get these incredible action pictures”). A shot of Shawn Mendes, also from the VMAs, is one of his favorites in the X1 collection – and perhaps the most unusual. “Shawn had just finished,” says Kravitz. “He was dripping wet, carrying his guitar off, and kind of looking down. But I saw he was smiling. He knew he’d done a really good job. Though I don’t usually trail – or track – someone after they’ve finished their performance, I saw that it was a magical moment. Right there. And that’s what it’s all about.”