Classic Album covers : After The Gold Rush - Neil Young

After the Gold Rush is the third studio album by Neil Young. It was released in August 1970

The unusual ‘solarising’ effect on this image is not necessarily an artistic decision, as the photographer has since admitted that it is an attempt to hide the fact that the photo is actually out of focus.

Joel Bernstein, at the time an 18-year-old photographer, was accompanying Young on a ‘spontaneous’ photoshoot around Greenwich Village, New York. He had taken various images of the big man but hadn’t captured THAT shot. At the corner of Sullivan Street and West 3rd Street, Bernstein spotted an old woman walking in the other direction and instinctively knew she had to be included in the portrait. But, in his haste to get her in the frame, he
got the focus wrong

Accordong to Bernstein, “The photo was not ‘a mistake’. I saw the small, old woman coming towards us down the sidewalk, was intrigued, and wanted to catch her passing Neil. The mistake, to me, was that I had in my haste focused the lens just past the two figures, closer to the fence than to Neil’s face. That was the original reason why I made a small-sized print and solarized it; to help with the apparent sharpness. But the solarization in this case added a somewhat spooky dimension to the image, which Neil took to immediately”

The original photograph was taken at the corner of Sullivan Street and West 3rd Street. It also included Graham Nash

The album’s art direction and design were done by famous art director Gary Burden. Bernstein also helped clear up something that’s been a mystery to many buffs - why some of the smaller bricks above the fence weren’t still there in the cover picture. ”For some reason Gary chose to strip in rows of bricks instead of using those which were there. If you look on the cover, you can clearly see the cut line 3 brick layers above the top of the fence. The small brick is in the layer that has been stripped in, and is probably from higher up the wall than it appears on the cover”

Bernstein said he was ‘shocked’ when Young chose the image for the 1970 album cover

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April 05, 2012

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