Capturing a Culture looks back at groundbreaking countercultures through the eyes of the photographers who captured their essence and showcased their rebellious spirit.
A 13-part series of 6-minute films – with Glen E. Friedman, Danny Lyon, Janette Beckman, Henry Chalfant and Gavin Watson.

Radical skateboarding captured by Glen E Friedman

In 1975, 14-year-old Glen E. Friedman spends his days crisscrossing the streets of Los Angeles on his skateboard, his Kodak Instamatic dangling from his wrist. From the schoolyards in Dogtown to the empty swimming pools in Beverly Hills, with his band of buddies known as the Z-Boys, he unwittingly photographs the birth and development of the modern skating movement.

Punk rock attitude captured by Glen E Friedman

In the early 1980s, from Los Angeles to New York, in sweat-soaked concert halls, in wild mosh pits amid ear-shattering decibels, Glen E. Friedman captures the new music that perflectly reflects his own life. Aggressive yet keenly aware, hardcore punk becomes the new soundtrack of young people in open revolt.

Conscious rap VS Gangsta rap captured by Glen E Friedman

In the late 1980s, driven on by the Def Jam label, the Hip Hop tsunami washes over America. Public Enemy, Run DMC, the Beastie Boys… all of Rap’s future heavyweights will file in front of Glen’s camera. His mythic photographs and cult album cover shots help craft the movement’s unique esthetic.

The African American Revolution captured by Danny Lyon

In 1962, at 20 years old, Danny Lyon is one of the first people to document the birth of the civil rights movement from the inside. He captures sit-ins and freedom rides, and even does jail time with Martin Luther King. His work is featured in the press and used as propaganda by the movement, helping push forward the emancipation movement that will give rise, 30 years later, to the first Black U.S. president.

Outlaw bikers captured by Danny Lyon

Starting in 1964, a 22-year-old New Yorker named Danny Lyon immerses himself in biker culture, cozying up to America’s first motorcycle gangs. Five years before Easy Rider and three years before Hunter S.Thompson’s Hell’s Angels, Danny Lyon describes the daily life of biker crews who chose to live by their own rules, becoming the antiheroes of the hippie generation.

British rock tribes captured by Janette Beckman

Janette Beckman has built a career out of her encounters with musicians over the course of a lifelong journey through countercultures. This rock loving photographer captured the tumultuous early days of punk rock in England, the Mod revival, the skinhead upheaval, and the Two Tone explosion. She was close with rock groups like The Clash and The Sex Pistols, who wrote the soundtrack of her youth. But Janette Beckman also photographed their fans: hanging out, slam dancing, brawling, expressing their rage and rejecting the Crown’s values and the British social hierarchy of the day.

Hip Hop & Gang Culture captured by Janette Beckman

In the early 1980s, the pioneers of Hip Hop land in England on the first stage of a European tour. Janette Beckman immortalizes their U.K. visit. The following year she is in New York, hanging out with up-and-coming Rap groups like Run DMC and NWA. From the ghettos of the Bronx to the ganglands of Los Angeles, she documents daily life in this new American counterculture.

Subway Art captured by Henry Chalfant

In the early 1970s, New York City is fast becoming one big graffiti canvas. Henry Chalfant rifles through subway cars looking for the best graffiti works, from simple tags to wildly shaped and vividly colored letterings. At the time, he’s the only one who recognizes the artistic value of graffiti, which is being erased as quickly as possible. The history of a new art form is being written and immortalized in his photos.

Graffiti writers captured by Henry Chalfant

After spending months on New York’s subway lines hunting for graffiti paintings that pop up there, Henry Chalfant tracks down the artists behind the images and becomes part of their crew. Being photographed by Henry becomes a badge of honor for graffiti writers, who wake him in the wee hours to say exactly where their newest works have sprung up.

Graffiti Art captured by Henry Chalfant

Graffiti makes its way into art galleries, and once again Henry Chalfant is along for the ride. At the height of the postmodern era, he shares his view of artists who are shifting directions and transforming their art.

Skinhead Identity captured by Gavin Watson

Gavin Watson joined the local skinhead gang in his hometown of Berkhamsted at the tender age of 14. For the next ten years his camera was always in his pocket, as he photographed skinhead culture from the inside, going well beyond the stereotypes. His photographs get behind the shaved heads, the swastikas and the steel-toed boots, unveiling a complex culture with its very own codes, style and attitude that will leave a deep mark on Britain.

Skinhead division captured by Gavin Watson

In the early 1980s, the skinhead movement is upended by a political radicalization that finds its voice in Oi music. The punk movement splits into two camps: one a posturing that grows out of punk provocation, and the other a true political revolt. The split turns skinheads into full-fledged urban monsters.

Ravers captured by Gavin Watson

In the mid 1980s, house music floods over Great Britain and seeps its way into every culture. For Gavin Watson, caught up in the ultra-violent life of the skinhead movement, raves become a way out, a ticket to another way of life.


A documentary series written and directed by Marc-Aurèle Vecchione
With Matthieu Brunel for Glen E. Friedman’s episodes
And with Jean-Marc Barbieux, for Danny Lyon’ s episodes
A Resistance Films production, in association with Arte France – 2016
With the support of CNC.