Joy Division, by Kevin Cummins


To mark the anniversary of Ian Curtis’ death we’re taking a look back at some classic pictures. Last year, music photographer Kevin Cummins released a special edition box set, featuring 20 of his legendary Joy Division images, reproduced as postcards and presented in a hand finished box, made in Manchester. You can purchase the set here.


Kevin Cummins began his career just as Joy Division formed. For their few short years of as a band, Cummins was given closer access to Joy Division than any other photographer was. All of the images in the set, such as this one, reveal their quiet offstage dynamic, their close relationships as bandmates, and the energy of their live shows.


In 2006, the former NME photographer exhibited a selection of his Joy Division photographs at London’s prestigious Paul Stolper Gallery. Cummins also released a book in 2007, titles ‘Juvenes: The Joy Division Photographs of Kevin Cummins’.



This is one of a series of famous pictures taken on Epping Walk Bridge in Manchester 1979.


Cummins told The Quietus that there are few shots of Ian Curtis smiling. He intentionally encouraged the singer not to smile for photographs, telling him “stop smiling, stop messing around, I’ve only got five frames left”.


This photograph, titled ‘Art & Furniture’, was taken in Manchester in January 1979.


This photograph was taken in August 1979, at the Leigh Open Air Pop Festival. A three-day event, Joy Division performed on the last day, along with The Distractions, Echo and The Bunnymen, OMD, A Certain Ratio, Teardrop Explodes, Lori and The Chameleons, Eltifits and Beechwood.



An image of the band practicing in T.J. Davidson’s Rehearsal Rooms on Little Peter Street in Manchester. The photograph was taken on August 19th, 1979.


Cummins told The Observer they were “typical lads but I rarely took pictures of them joking around – that’s not how I wanted them to be perceived. Here, during rehearsals for their Buzzcocks tour, I asked Ian to sit for me where the light was decent. I hung his coat on a nail because the London press referred to Manchester music as ‘grey overcoat music’. I thought it made a nice visual pun.”


This is another image Cummins took at the Leigh Open Air Pop Festival in 1979. His work was also used in filmmaker Grant Gee’s 2007 documentary film ‘Joy Division’.