A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Friday, March 27, 2009

From the late 70s until the beginning of the 90s I worked with Les Wiseman in contributing photographs to his Vancouver Magazine rock column In One Ear. This was the era of the all powerful record label rep and we had to deal with them to get access to the likes of Joan Jet and The Police. While I photographed many concerts the bulk of the pictures that ended up with In One Ear where either back stage photographs or posed sessions with the musicians in their hotel rooms, usually right after Wisman's interview.

In those years I wrestled with the idea of taking original concert photographs. It soon became evident that no matter how much I tried my pictures looked liked everybody else's. If the other person did not have front stage access and I did, then my pictures were "good" only because they were so.

It was in the mid 80s that Wiseman and I traveled to New York City to try to get magazine work. I wrote about that here. We both called Rolling Stone for interviews. I talked to the art director. She asked me on the phone, "Do you have concert photographs?" I immediately answered, "No. I have back stage and hotel room photos." On the strength of my answer she gave me a coveted interview that went for naught as our only rocker of fame at the time was Red Rider. Rolling Stone was not interested in Red Rider. At Esquire Adam Moss told Wiseman, "You have a great portfolio. In Canada you have a prime minister called Joe Clark. We are not interested in him." And that was the end of our hopes for work in New York.

I never forgot my lesson about concert photographs and the difficulty of making them original. Through the years I have developed a style which is dependant on a one-on-one relationship in my studio with my subject. I like to be very close so I never used long focus lenses. This relationship is impossible at a concert.

Last night at the concert featuring Art Bergmann at Richards on Richards several persons either shouted into my ear (it was loud last night), "Where is your camera?" or they gesticulated with their hands to imitate the firing of a camera. I could not really explain and didn't.

What you see above is a photograph of Art Bergmann, sometime in the 80s at Gary Taylor's Rock Room. I remember that the bass player was the Modernettes' Mary Jo Kopechne. I don't remember the circumstances as to why she was the bass player. In those days my attempt to rock concert originality was to use an extremely slow shutter and a flash at the same time. I believe that the noise and the excitement of a concert rarely is transfered on to a photographic image. The photo on the right is of Art Bergmann in the late 80s taken in my style.


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Mary Jo, A Polaroid & Art Bergmann Plays Hawaii

Hope And Glory On An Almost Perfect Sunday

A Polaroid On My Fridge

Jay Leno & Gilligan's Island

A Death In Venice

The Death Of William Shakespeare

Sister Icee & German Fruit Juice Bears

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