This Is My Life I’m Talking About
By Danny Lyon

June 8, 2024
1pm at Obscura Gallery


This Is My Life I’m Talking About (Damiani Books, 2024) by Danny Lyon is a picaresque memoir by the legendary photographer and filmmaker, whose work has left an indelible mark on the world of photography. The book recounts Lyon’s life of adventures and tragedies, from his groundbreaking documentation of the Civil Rights Movement, to his role in pioneering the New Journalism Movement and his intimate portrayals of subcultures.

This Is My Life I’m Talking About shares stories about Lyon’s family roots in Russia and his youth in New York City, his beautiful lifelong friendship with the American civil rights hero John Lewis, and his immersion into the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club, upon which his famous photojournalist work The Bikeriders (1968) is based. Throughout, Lyon writes with tremendous feeling and humor, and the book features a selection of unpublished and unseen pictures from his extraordinary life.

“Cal, born in Canada as Arthur Dion, riding with Little Barbara. Cal, a former Hells Angel from San Bernadino, is my best friend in the Outlaws. In my Hyde Park apartment, he narrated many of the stories that became the text of the book. In the film Cal is played by Boyd Holbrook. A housepainter, Cal fell off a ladder and died in the 1980s.” © Photograph Danny Lyon.

“SNCC Chairman John Lewis speaking in Mississippi, 1963. At that time I shared an apartment in Atlanta with John and Sam Shirah.” © Photograph Danny Lyon.

In addition to new memoir Danny Lyon will also be signing books for his book, The Bikeriders (Aperture 2014), first published in 1968 and inspired the feature-length film by Jeff Nichols of the same name debuting this June. The Bikeriders explores firsthand the stories and personalities of the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club. This journal-size volume features original black-and-white photographs and transcribed interviews by Lyon, made from 1963 to 1967, when he was a member of the Outlaws gang. Authentic, personal, and uncompromising, Lyon’s depiction of individuals on the outskirts of society offers a gritty yet humane perspective that subverts more commercialized treatments of Americana. Akin to the documentary style of 1960s-era New Journalism made famous by writers such as Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe, Lyon’s photography is saturation reporting at its finest. The Bikeriders is a touchstone publication of 1960s counterculture, crucially defining the vision of the outlaw biker as found in Easy Rider and countless other movies and photobooks.


About the Author
Danny Lyon was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1942 and raised in Queens. As a student at the University of Chicago he joined the civil rights movement, becoming the first staff photographer for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. He is a photojournalist, writer, and filmmaker. His non-fiction books include The Bikeriders, The Destruction of Lower Manhattan, Conversations with the Dead, Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement, Like a Thief’s Dream and American Blood. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in photography and later in filmmaking. In 1990 he received a Rockefeller Fellowship in filmmaking and in 2011 the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism. In 2016 he had a major retrospective (Message to the Future) at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. In 2023 his exhibition Danny Lyon: Journey West was at the Albuquerque Museum. A feature film of The Bikeriders, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Jeff Nichols and starring Austin Butler, Jody Comer, and Tom Hardy, is due for U.S, release in June 2024.