George Rodriguez never set out to become a photographer. Photography came to him.
It was 1954. He was at Fremont High School in South Los Angeles, and he needed an elective to meet graduation requirements.
“A friend said, ‘Take photography, it’s easy,’” he recalls, seated in his cluttered downtown Los Angeles studio.
That class set the course of his life. For more than half a century, Rodriguez has made pictures for magazines and record labels and, most importantly, for himself.
He has photographed celebrities — including Jim Morrison playing an early gig at the Whiskey a Go Go in 1966. But he has also covered civil unrest. In 1968, when his day job was...