Exposed: Lisa Law

February 16, 2021
Exposed: Lisa Law

Lisa Law began her photography career in the 1960s. At the time, she with her manager Albert Grossman.” was working in the music industry as the assistant to Kingston Trio manager Frank Werber. Her position gave her a unique perspective on the emerging rock scene and a number of her images, including her shots at Woodstock, have since attained iconic status. She presents a number of these photos throughout her documentary film Flashing on the Sixties, as well as in a book of the same name. To see more from her archives, please visit:

“Otis Redding was one of the most dynamic singers I have ever had the pleasure of photographing. This image was shot at the Whisky A Go-Go on the Sunset strip in 1966. A group of us, including Bob Dylan, went to see him. He had the most spectacular moves! In fact, he had so many that I could hardly catch him in focus. (I never use a strobe when I was shoot a musician or a group.) At this one moment, he stood still, and I was able to get this joyful shot of him. Atlantic Records used it for promotion. The next time I saw him was at the Monterey Pop Festival, where I did not get to photograph him. I missed most of the show because I was taking care of a new puppy in our tepee. His death was a huge loss for all of us.”

“Janis Joplin was one of the best singers of our generation—she was captivating! I was lucky to get to know her during 1967 when she was performing in San Francisco and later at the Monterey Pop Festival, where she brought the house down. In 1970, she came to New Mexico to do a cigar commercial and visited my husband Tom and I at our home in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. She said to me: ‘Help me, help me, Lisa. I need a mountain man.  I’m tired of these city men.’ She found that man at our home in Truchas. This photo was taken of her and our friend Tommy Masters (who is not the mountain man in question) the next morning. He visited with her before she flew back to New York with her manager Albert Grossman.”

“‘The First Tipi at Woodstock’ was taken while my husband Tom was putting up the medical tepee when we first arrived at Bethel Woods for Woodstock. One of Yasgur’s cows was very interested in what he was doing on her field, which made for a perfect photograph—the last frame of black-and-white film I used before changing to color. I was also documenting the festival with a Super 8 camera and the footage has been featured in over 50 films.”

“Dennis Hopper was an actor, director, screenwriter, photographer, painter, father and grandfather.  I am amazed by all he accomplished in his lifetime.  We first met in LA in 1965 at ‘The Castle’ (our home for a time) and later was able to photograph him while he was directing.  This photo was taken of him at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house in Taos, N.M., while editing The Last Movie, which he had just directed in Cusco, Peru. Because we lived so close to Taos, I was able to capture some special moments in his life and career. He is featured in my movie and my book of photos, Flashing on the Sixties. He told me that this was one of his favorite shots of himself. He is definitely an icon of the ‘60s and changed the face of filmmaking with Easy Rider. He permitted me to use footage from three of his films in my documentary, and when I screened it for him, he jumped up from his chair and exclaimed, ‘You are a genius!’  That made me feel pretty good!”

“‘Mushroom Lady’ is one of my favorite images. I took the original shot in Huautla de Jimenez, Oaxaca, Mexico, in 1966 while visiting the Mazatecan Indians to partake in their magic mushrooms. Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert were already experimenting with mushrooms during that time and a lot of us hippies took the trek to the mountains to see what it was all about. I took this photo of an elder woman, which later became a popular poster in Haight Ashbury, with the help of my artist friend Steve Samuels. Many people in the Haight used it to meditate. I have used it to bring good luck to friends and family, and it is always a part of my exhibitions.”

“The Beatles played one of their first concerts in the U.S. at the Cow Palace in San Francisco in 1965. I was working for Frank Werber, the manager of the Kingston Trio at the time, and was given a backstage pass to the early concert, which allowed me to be in front of the stage. Luckily, I managed to get a few good shots. The audience was screaming so loud that we could barely hear the band. John Lennon became one of my heroes. It was devastating when he was shot on Dec. 8, 1980—a day that is seared into my memory. His song ‘Imagine’ is still one of my favorites.”

“In 1966, Bob Dylan rented a room from us at the Castle in LA just before he went on his European tour, the same year Blonde on Blonde was released. He had a room on the second floor where he set up his typewriter and could be heard typing into the night. I cooked for him, gave him massages and took some pretty special photos of him. I have always felt honored to have known him and will always appreciate the musical gifts he has given our generation. I hope he is remembered for many generations to come.”

“Wavy Gravy is a saint. Not only did he make history announcing, ‘What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000’ at Woodstock and then fed some 200,000 attendees free food with the help of his Hog Farm commune and volunteers, but he also helped the crowd feel at home sitting in a field of mud. He is part of the group of philanthropists who founded the nonprofit Seva Foundation. With co-directors Larry Brilliant, Ram Dass, and staff and volunteers worldwide, have restored the eyesight of over 3 million people.

“I’ve known Wavy since 1965 when he migrated from New York to California and married his beautiful partner Bonnie Jean Beecher, a.k.a Jahanara. He is one of my best friends and a person I shall admire till the end of my life for all the good that he has done for humankind. A beautiful film about him, Saint Misbehavin’, will bring tears to your eyes as it has mine. Along with Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Dr. John, Kate Wolf, Odetta, Peter Rowan, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and many more musicians, he has raised enough money to make a difference with many Native American causes. He and Jahanara created Camp Winnarainbow, which still thrives today in Laytonville, Calif., north of San Francisco. Camp Winnarainbow teaches circus and life skills to children from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.  I have had the pleasure of photographing Wavy’s many faces throughout the years and volunteered to photograph many of his fundraising concerts. Some of my photos depict him playing live at the Smithsonian, and every time I exhibit, his images and his artwork are represented. Life is good knowing Wavy Gravy.”

Peter, Paul & Mary, Berkeley, CA, 1965

“Peter, Paul & Mary were important voices in protesting the Vietnam War in the ‘60s, and also one of my favorite groups in the ‘70s and ‘80s. I first met them in Berkeley at a concert and went backstage to greet them, which is where I met my husband, Tom Law, who was their road manager. Peter and I have remained friends for all these years and he is championing tolerance and civility in schools. ‘We Shall Overcome’ became the anthem that moved generations and helped solidify their commitment to efforts like the Civil Rights Movement and the Peace Movement. Peter, Paul & Mary also popularized ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ by Bob Dylan, which they also sang at the historic March on Washington, an event Peter Yarrow helped produce.” 

“‘The Road Hog’ is one of my most popular photographs, used for book and album covers, collected in the Smithsonian and shown in all of my exhibits. The photograph was taken during the 4th of July Parade in El Rito, N.M. Wavy Gravy and the Hog Farm paraded down the main street of the small village. This was the time we ran Pigasus—a pig—for president. The image is known for depicting the ‘60s in all its glory. It is also the cover of my book, Flashing on the Sixties, and my documentary of the same name.”