Abbey Road Studios, the world’s most famous recording studio, has announced the inaugural Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards (MPAs) – the first ever awards to celebrate the art of music photography.

The MPAs are in association with Hennessy and will recognise the year’s most unforgettable, unique and unsung music moments and the varied and talented photographers who captured them. The winners will be unveiled and celebrated at an official MPAs ceremony in May 2022 (exact date to be confirmed), which will be hosted at Abbey Road Studios.

In celebration of Abbey Road’s 90th anniversary (which fell in November 2021), the MPAs will honour the images that capture the magic of live music, the creative process, and the exciting music scenes and movements taking place across the world. The awards will recognise photographers at all levels – whether established, emerging or undiscovered – via open-entry categories as well as categories chosen by an esteemed judging panel made up of artists, photographers and influential names across the global photography and music industries.

Over its extensive 90-year history, Abbey Road Studios has served as home to the legends who defined music history and shaped popular culture. The studios have a legacy that extends beyond music, through images that have immortalised artists and producers. This includes perhaps the most iconic album cover in music history – The Beatles walking on a zebra crossing for the cover of Abbey Road. You can discover how the Abbey Road album cover was shot.

Rock legend Mick Jagger, as photographed by Rankin

Rock legend Mick Jagger, as photographed by Rankin

Entry categories

Abbey Road Studios is inviting professional and emerging photographers from all around the world to enter the four open-entry categories titled: Studio, Live, Championing Scenes and the Undiscovered Photographer of the Year. The judging panel will choose one of these entries for the Zeitgeist award. These categories can be entered by photographers at all stages of their career via the official Abbey Road Music Photography Awards website.

Alongside these are four invited category awards, with the nominees and winners chosen by the judging panel – made up of photographers, artists and experts within the music and photography industries. The official MPAs judging panel will nominate, debate and award these categories – each bringing to the table their own creative eye and expertise of the global music and photography industries. The invited categories are: Icon, Portrait, Editorial and Artist at Work.

The judging panel

Helming the inaugural Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards 2022 judging panel is photographer Rankin. Rankin has directed and shot music videos for the likes of Miley Cyrus, Rita Ora and Kelis and has shot portraits of everyone from David Bowie to The Rolling Stones and The Queen.

Rankin revealed, ‘Throughout my career it’s always been really important for me to support emerging and undiscovered talent in photography, so the opportunity to partner with one of music’s biggest and most prestigious brands in Abbey Road Studios for this year’s inaugural Music Photographer Of The Year Awards, is massively exciting. Music photography is an art form that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, so it’s brilliant to celebrate those working in the field with these Awards. What I’m always looking for with photography is a connection with the subject matter and music has been one of my main passions for as long as I can remember, so this is a real thrill.’

Joining Rankin is music photographer and Rockarchive founder Jill Furmanovsky. Her unparalleled 50-year career has seen her photograph many of the biggest names in rock music including Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Blondie, The Police, Led Zeppelin, The Pretenders, Bob Dylan, Oasis and was Abbey Road Studios’ photographer in residence from 2017 to 2018.

Music photographer Jill Furmanovsky at Abbey Road Studios, August 2018. Image: Virgilio Ponce

Music photographer Jill Furmanovsky at Abbey Road Studios, August 2018. Image: Virgilio Ponce

Ground-breaking Ghanaian-American singer, writer and multidisciplinary creative Moses Sumney is also on the panel. Most recently, Moses premiered his feature-length, self-directed performance film Blackalachia at the Perez Art Museum Miami during Art Basel 2021 alongside a special presentation of self-portraits. His first gallery show, a combination of video and photo work, opened at the Nicola Vassell gallery in February 2022.

Moses is joined by Shygirl, a multidisciplinary artist originating from the East London club scene, with a unique vision and style extending beyond the world of music and into high fashion.

US photographer and director Dana Scruggs is also on the MPAs panel. She was the first black person to photograph the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine in its 50-year history, in 2019, and she has shot renowned music stars including Megan Thee Stallion, Janelle Monae, Mariah Carey, Travis Scott and more.

Also on the panel is Rolling Stone’s deputy photo director, and photographer, Sacha Lecca. Sacha has worked with the magazine since 2007. His photography has been featured in Rolling Stone, Huck, Whalebone, Alt Citizen, The Photographic Journal, American Photography 36, and on various album covers.

The Gallagher brothers - Noel (left) and Liam (right), formerly of Oasis. Image: Rankin

The Gallagher brothers – Noel (left) and Liam (right), formerly of Oasis. Image: Rankin

Rounding off the judging panel is Abbey Road Studios’ MD Isabel Garvey, who joined Abbey Road Studios in 2014 and has been instrumental in modernising the studios.

Garvey explained, ‘We are thrilled to launch the first Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards. It’s an important category of photography that hasn’t been officially recognised before and I am honoured to be able to make this happen with the MPAs. Abbey Road’s legacy has not only come from the incredible artists and records made here, but through the iconic imagery that has captured these seminal moments and transported them around the world. I am excited to work with our panel of talented judges to find and celebrate the next generation of image makers across the globe, who are shaping the way we see music.’

Find out more…

To find out more about the awards and how to enter visit: The Abbey Road Music Photography Awards.

Related articles:

How the Abbey Road album cover was shot

Greatest album cover photography: Aladdin Sane by David Bowie

Greatest album photography of all time: Nirvana’s Nevermind

Greatest album photography: Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Greatest album photography: Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin

Greatest album photography: Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones