Sad news: The last of the label photographers has died

Sad news: The last of the label photographers has died


norman lebrecht

March 22, 2017

In a corner of the CBS studios on East 30th, known as ‘the Church’, sat a man of unusual quietude. Don Hunstein could sit all day observing the musicians before he got his camera out.

His stillness drew artists to him like a magnet. His unerring eye took pictures of unequalled intimacy. Some became iconic on the covers of bestselling records.



Bob Dylan trusted him. So did Glenn Gould. And Mohammad Ali. And Godard Lieberson, the label boss.


Don died at home on Saturday morning, aged 88, after a long illness.


I got to know him when he gave his pictures for representation to Lebrecht Music&Arts and was struck by his profound humility. No matter how famous his pictures became, he was never the story.

It was always the art first, then the artist. Never the ego.

Our thoughts are with DeeAnn. May Don rest in peace.

photos (c) Estate of Don Hunstein/Lebrecht Music&Arts

An account of his life can be read here.


  • NYMike says:

    CBS’ 30th St. chief classical engineer Fred Plaut also took photos during sessions, some of which became LP covers.

  • Larry says:

    A great talent! Fortunately, for all, we will always remember him thanks to an amazing body of which work which he created. I haven’t seen Dee Ann in many years – she was running a small artist management firm in NY City for a number of years. She is a lovely lady.

    • Paula Gadigian says:

      Don was a lovely gentleman whose sensitivity was expressed in his photographs of artists. It took one to truly know one, and
      Don was their mirror. He was a very special
      and dear person and I was very honored to know him and call him a friend. His wife DeeAnne was amazing took care of him through-out a very long illness. Through his
      timeless vision, he will live forever, and in
      the hearts of those who love him.

  • John Gingrich says:

    We have many happy memories of a lovely man and a fine artist.

  • Nicholas B MacNutt says:

    I stopped what I was doing to come in here and say good bye. I sometimes check to see if Bob Dylan is in the news and found this. I sense that he was deeply loved by those who knew him. May he always find his way home and if not may he film where he ended up so I can take notes.

  • Amos says:

    The Sony CD re-issues of Szell-era CO recordings were accompanied by liner note booklets containing interviews with principal players conducted by long-time Associate conductor Michael Charry and “candid” photos taken by Mr. Hunstein. Both added immeasurable enjoyment to the listening experience. Mr. Hunstein’s photo of Dr. Szell and principal oboe Marc Lifschey engaging in a animated conversation, while a startled Eldon Gatwood looks on, begs for the accompanying dialogue and his photo of the conductor watching Leon Fleisher at the piano (during a break in a recording session of the Brahms D minor concerto) captured Szell looking at the pianist with what might be described as parental/professional pride. I wish Sony would compile and release more of the photos from classical orchestra sessions!

  • Helene Kamioner says:

    Certainly Christian Steiner fits into the category of “Labeled” Photographers