Rock Photographer Naomi Petersen Archives & Earned Lifetime Rights – Billboard

ByDavid M. Conte

May 25, 2022

Record and film producer Ash Avildsenthrough his company Sumerian Comics, acquired the publishing rights to the famous rock photographer’s photographic archive Naomi Peterson as well as the rights to his life story for future film and literary projects.

Petersen’s images of the Los Angeles rock scene and images of punk, thrash and hard rock acts, including Henry Rollins of Black Flag, Ian Mackaye of Minor Threat, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Axl Rose of Guns N ‘ Roses and photos of Bad Brains, Circle Jerks, Descendents and The Minutemen served as a visual palette for an entire generation of rock fans around the world.

A Japanese-American from Los Angeles, Petersen was just 18 when she started working as a resident photographer for independent label SST Records. From 1982 to 1994, she captured unique images of groups such as Sonic Youth, Fugazi and Pantera. After moving from LA to Washington, DC in 1989, Naomi began documenting powerful artists performing at the legendary 9:30 Club in Washington DC. In 1994 Petersen quit photography and disappeared from public life, returning briefly three years later to take his last known images. In 2003, she died of liver failure at the age of 38.

Nirvana
Naomi Peterson

Avildsen, whose Sumerian Records music label includes Circa Survive, Black Veil Brides, Smashing Pumpkins, Poppy and Jonathan Davis on its roster, is a longtime fan and admirer of Petersen’s work, describing her archive as “timeless and iconic”. and “a true gift to all music and photography lovers everywhere. His personal story as an artistic underdog is inspiring and powerful which I am honored to help share,” he says.

Ryan Anthony MengeSumerian’s VP of Creative, adds, “I have always been overwhelmed by all of Naomi’s work and her dynamic shooting style, but after learning more about her personal story and quiet battles against sanity, I think Naomi Petersen will resonate more with current generations than she ever has before.

Last year Petersen’s photos were featured in Dave Grohl’s documentary What motivates us, which documented the early touring careers of U2, Metallica, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters. His work has also been included in a high profile collaboration with a street artist Shepard Fairey.

Pantera, Naomi Peterson

Pantera
Naomi Peterson

The acquisition and development of the archive was made possible by Punk Life Naomi, the estate of Naomi Petersen, as well as her brother Chris Peterson and writer and producer Sean E. DeMott runtime style entertainment

“When I walked into the home of Chris Petersen (Naomi’s brother) in Northern California and looked into an archival time capsule, I saw a chilling glimpse of Naomi’s incredible journey and I I developed an instant engagement for her story to be told,” says DeMott. “Ash, Ryan and the Sumerian Comics team are the ultimate partners in coming to show the good life of Naomi Petersen to the world.”

Future plans for Naomi’s story and archives will be announced soon.