“Give a man luck and toss him in the sea”; so goes an old saying that could well describe Esmond Edwards’ route to his career as record producer/photographer. Edwards became an avid photographer while still in high school and his early exposure to jazz via the Harlem community and especially the Apollo Theatre, clearly influenced Esmond’s later decision to specialize in music and photography.
In the mid 1950’s and early in Esmond’s photo career, he “tagged” along with great jazz drummer, Arthur Taylor to a Prestige Records recording session, took a few photos at the session and subsequently showed them to Prestige owner Bob Weinstock. A new career was born! Esmond was soon photographing at most of the Prestige sessions, and the album art designers often used his photos in their cover layouts. Esmond’s continued association with Weinstock and Prestige Records eventually led him to supervising recording sessions and working with legendary recording engineer, Rudy Van Gelder.
Esmond Edwards eventually left Prestige Records, going on to head the jazz divisions at Chess Records (Argo/Cadet), Verve, Columbia and Impulse. Although more time was devoted to heavier recording and administrative duties during this time, his photograph archives remains unparalled. The high quality and very personal style of Esmond’s photographs of John Coltrane and others are still sought after by collectors and are currently used on record company reissue programs.
In addition to his jazz work, Edwards has done freelance photography for the New York Times Sunday magazine sections, and his photographs have appeared in various magazines and anthologies of outstanding record jacket designs.