The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and photographer Don Hunstein

CBS staff photographer Don Hunstein captured this much-imitated image of Bob Dylan and girlfriend Suze Rotolo in 1963 at the corner of Jones Street and West 4th Street in New York’s West Village. The initial plan for Bob’s second album had been to photograph Dylan and Rotolo inside his nearby apartment, but struggling to get the shot, Hunstein suggested heading out into the freezing snow-blanketed West Village.

Rotolo, recently returned from Italy, was wrapped inside several sweaters and a coat. A nonchalant Dylan, evoking the essence of James Dean, seemed concerned only with his appearance, hands stuffed into his pockets. As literary critic Janet Maslin put it “a photograph that inspired countless young men to hunch their shoulders, look distant, and let the girl do the clinging”. The light was fading fast, leaving Hunstein time to capture only a handful of shots in colour. “Well, I can’t tell you why I did it,” he later recalled, “but I said, ‘Just walk up and down the street’. There wasn’t very much thought to it. It was late afternoon – you can tell that the sun was low behind them. It must have been pretty uncomfortable, out there in the slush.”

Despite flirting with frostbite, Rotolo loved Hunstein’s shot: “It’s one of those cultural markers that influenced the look of album covers precisely because of its casual down-home spontaneity and sensibility.”

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