An Incomplete Biography—
Chatting with the Original Street Photographer
Ricky Powell Celebrates 50th Birthday with Solo Exhibition
Ricky Powell Turns 50 and He’s Funnier Than Ever
Former Def Jam House Photographer has Solo Show at Milk Studios
Ricky Celebrates 50 Years with a Solo Show and Reception at Miss Lily’s
The Couch Sessions
LIVE: Ricky Powell Solo Exhibit
A Recap of Ricky Powell’s 50th Birthday
- Oh Snap!: The Rap Photography of Ricky Powell
- The Rickford Files: Classic New York Photographs
- Frozade Moments: Classic Street Photography of Ricky Powell
- Public Access: Ricky Powell Photographs 1985-2005
- The Apollo Theater
- Capitol Records
- Weiden + Kennedy
Born and raised in New York City, Ricky Powell is a legendary photographer who specializes in the environmental portrait. He graduated with an AA in Liberal Arts from LaGuardia Community College and a B.S. in Physical Education from Hunter College. Though Powell initially rose to fame because of his relationship with the Beastie Boys, he is well-known for his intimate photographs that have been featured in The New York Times, The New York Post, The Daily News, The Village Voice, TIME, Newsweek, VIBE, The Source, Rolling Stone, and more.
Powell’s photographs focus on the organic New Yorker. His photographs simltaneously convey intimacy and detachment, as they provide a unique lense through which the viewer can analyze the mundane. Powell considers the relationship between the photographer and the photograph to be “a chemical connection of some sort”. The connection between Powell and his camera is only further stimulated by Greenwich Village, where he currently resides. As the intrinsic qualities of the photograph have changed since Powell began capturing his moments, so have the subjects; he is now more likely to “photograph strangers in his Greenwich Village neighborhood than multiplatinum hip-hop acts and Downtown art stars”.
Rappin’ With The Rickster—
“Ricky Powell, aka the Rickster, has seen a lot of history. he has worked variously as a busboy, bike messenger…Frozade vender, substitute teacher, columnist, cable television host, comic, and dog walker. But he is best known as a wisecracking, self-described ‘playground rat’ who used his beat-up Minolta and party crashing skills to become a nightlife fixture and a chronicler of the then-exploding world of hip hop.”
“Life has been good and Ricky’s photos offer the best that life offers: the pleasure of being some place at the right time and having the souvenir for tomorrow.”
Rappin’ with the RicksterCirca 1990 - 1996
For two decades, Ricky Powell has prowled the streets of his native New York, toured the world with hip hop’s biggest acts, and full-on crashed celebrity-studded parties on both coasts. Equipped with only his wits and an instamatic camera, Powell elbowed his way into the center of the scene with no shame. “It’s for public access,” Powell could be heard, pleading for an interview with a pizza shop owner on his cult cable TV show, “Rappin’ with the Rickster.”
Powell knows access is everything, and he delivers. Through his career, Ricky Powell captured photographs of actors, musicians, performers, and artists that inspired him including Run DMC, Public Enemy, Rakim, Slick Rick, Eazy E, Method Man, LL Cool J, Fab 5 Freddy, Steven Tyler, Nina Hagen, John Bloodclot, John Lee Hooker, LeRoy Neiman, Martha Graham, Elizabeth Taylor, Calvin Klein, Barbara Walters, Grace Jones, Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Cindy Crawford, Dondi, Doze Green, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol, as well as everyday people Powell spotted on the street.
Ricky Powell has collaborated with some of the world’s most notable brands on products spanning the lifestyle and entertainment industries. Most recently, Ricky was commissioned by PONY to design a limited edition 40th Anniversary sneaker and by Pepsi to shoot an ad campaign. In addition, Ricky has designed limited edition headphones for WESC and photo directed campaign photo shoots for XLARGE.
- PONY, INC.
- The Good Life