A former Trail resident who started her career as a rock photographer before capturing country greats, will be recognized for her contribution to Brtish Columbia’s country music scene this month.
Instead of watching the show from behind the lens, Dee Lippingwell will put on her stiletto heels and a splash of colour – always thinking what photographs well – when she is inducted into the B.C. Country Music Hall of Fame on April 23.
The 65-year-old has been snapping shots for about 40 years, a hobby that led to a career during an exciting time in Vancouver’s music scene when legends were first getting their start.
“I don’t think I was ever tired of rock and roll, I love rock and roll,” said the 1963 Crowe grad. “But county music opened my eyes to other music out there.”
With a love for music but no ability to hold a note, she began taking her camera to concerts.
Lippingwell began her professional career in the 1970s after taking amateur shots at Vancouver concerts like Pink Floyd and Trooper.
She then hen convincing the Georgia Straight to give her a few assignments With about 100,000 pictures in her music photo collection, she has since captured everyone from Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson and Tina Turner.
Her first impression of country music was it was too “twangy” and told too many sad break-up stories, but when the lines between country and rock began to cross she started to really like the feel-good music.
She hooked up with the B.C. Country Music Association about 20 years ago and acted as the official photographer at the Merrit Mountain Music Festival for 17 years, witnessing musicians like the Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban move to stardom over night.
Lippingwell says her all-time favourite country singer to capture is Johnny Reid.
“Anyone who can stop me in my tracks and make me cry with emotion, he’s got pretty high marks in my books,” she said.
It’s difficult to choose one from her rock days because “it’s like you have six children and someone asks you which one is your favourite,” but Lippingwell does recall the moment she knew she had an eye for photography.
“I got this feeling in my chest and when I developed the film and saw the picture I went, ‘Oh,”’ she said of capturing Ken Hensley from the English rock band Uriah Heep. “Once I saw that picture I said, ‘This is what it’s all about, capturing a moment that I’d remember forever.’”
The photo of Hensley, “hair flying and wrapped around his guitar,” was used on the front cover of her book “The Best Seat In the House,” published in 1987.
Though Lippingwell was born in Vancouver, she lived in Trail from Grade 3 through to graduation, and her three siblings still call Greater Trail home. Lippingwell moved back to Vancouver at a young age where she was married and had her children.
What surprises her today is that her teenage grandchildren are listening to the music she did when she was in her early 30s. Just like the spandex she’s still rocking, names like Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones are back in style, she laughed.
Nowadays, she’s out of the dark room and hooked up to her computer more, editing her pictures to perfection. And while music still doesn’t pay her bills, she manages to balance mainstream photography – capturing weddings, family portraits and catalogue shots – with her passion to make music memories.