In 1969, a new singing group was performing at a Long Island ice skating rink, a trio, actually – Peter, Paul and Mary. I phoned the local newspaper and asked for a press credential. I was turned down. I called another paper; same story. Then I called a weekly, uh, newspaper, containing mostly supermarket coupons, and they said they’d love to give me a credential — if they had any. Make one up, I was told, which I did, subsequently proceeding to bluff my way into the concert. I had a Mamiya C220 camera by then, and an ancient, beat up Leica 3-C. I loaded both with Tri-X black and white film, and as show time approached I managed to work my way onto one wing of the stage. I had loved Peter, Paul and Mary from the start. Mary Travers was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. That hair, those eyes . . . and her voice was from heaven. The moments approaching her opening note were counting down, and I was trembling. Then, during the sound check, Mary and her partners walked by, and she said, “Who the fuck is doing the sound here? It sounds like shit.” I think I grew up at that moment. I’d heard those words before, just not from a goddess. Looking back, my photos of the concert were of average quality, except for one shot of Mary, alone on a stool. I sent her a copy. Several years later, during one of her TV interviews, there it was, on the sofa behind her head. More than 40 years have passed since then, and I’ve never stopped looking for the negatives.
I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I have great friends all over the world from all walks of life! One of my older friends is Hugh Brodie who is a great musician, singer, writer, and plays one helluva Sax. The hell with rock and roll. The women all love him!
Brodie was dealt a bad hand. His last visit to the hospital the Dr. gave him less than 6 months. That was 18 months ago. The last time we visited Brodie he didn’t look good. Much to my surprise, for his Birthday celebration he not only looked great but sounded great. It may not have been Carnegie Hall but it was fabulous to have been there.
There are many people out there that have been to our photographic retreat and jazz workshops, and you all know the words and music of world class jazzman Hugh Brodie. Brodie’s cousin was Ella Fitzgerald – I guess the apple does not fall far from the tree. Now I’m going to tell you a secret, and you’ve gotta promise me you’re not going to tell a lot of people, but I’ve been to three of Brodie’s eightieth birthday parties. My guess is that Brodie is 90-something. God and nature haven’t been really good to Brodie. He recently had a couple of falls, had some serious back problems, and had heart surgery. Thank God he didn’t get acne! With all that, he’s still one hell of a beautiful human being. To celebrate his recent birthday, some of the greatest jazzmen on the East coast came together to play for Brodie. What they actually did, in my humble opinion, was make him one of the happiest people on the planet. He laughed, he cried, he smiled. He was truly ecstatic. For one moment, I was thoroughly convinced he was going to jump up onto the band stand and start belting out some really great music. It was close but it didn’t happen; there’s no doubt that he was singing and playing inside that beautiful heart and soul. Time for me to put down the No. 2 pencil and let the photos speak for themselves. Harvey, thanks an awful lot
The great John Dominis was one of the greatest sports photographers of our time and one of my idols. After many, many years of having John give me advice, one day he turned out to be Director of Photography at Sports Illustrated. I will share two of his mantras . The first: Anybody who can shoot sports can shoot a flower, they don’t move; a tree, they don’t move; a building, they don’t move. If you can shoot sports you can shoot anything.” Which reminds me of a line from “Dodgeball”: “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” There I go again, trying to do stand up… The second lecture Dominis gave me, and I quote, “If you ever shoot a frame for me with a 15 mm lens, I will blank blank blank.” For purposes of the blog, I’ll leave it out.
What does this have to do with Bobby Kyle? Bobby is a world famous blues player. Every lesson I learned in photographing sports I bring to music. Peak action, sharpness, depth of field- all of these things come together. His new album is totally, absolutely amazing. It’s his heart, soul, and his life. It’s great. In about two months, I’ll put up a sample of the album. But not right now.
I was invited to sit in on a Bobby Kyle studio session. He has an unbelievable new album coming out. I don’t consider myself an expert on music but I’ve been photographing it for quite a while (oops oh yes and listening to it). Bobby has a very distinctive sound. He has reached deep into his heart and soul for this album and it is a major change from everything he has done before. To be quite honest, observing the creative process with another artist is thrilling as well as inspiring. I really had a great time and I learned a whole different aspect of music. It ain’t karaoke. His musical producer, Alan Jax Bowers, is an absolute genius. In the next few days I’ll shoot out some short film footage and give you a little treat. So to all the ships at sea, pick up your camera and go out and make some great photos. Oops! I forgot to mention, Everett Boyd was also there working on his bass parts. Another beautiful and extremely spiritual young man. I love these guys.
To all the ships at sea, approximately two months ago I did a program at B&H Photography called all things in photography are a compromise. The one thing I would like to make perfectly clear; that is not an excuse for me not to do my best. For that matter, it should not be an excuse for anyone to not do their best. Sometimes your best isn’t really up to code. Attached to this blog is a link to a short film on the great, beautiful, Pete Seeger. It was a work in progress and it was never designed to be published in its present format, but given the fact that Pete has moved to the next level of consciousness, please forgive my one-handed blind shooting. No, I did not intentionally cut his head off but the real sin is the microphone was not tweaked as it should have been. Translated: I had no assistant, no sound man, no PA, and no tripod. However, none of those things are an excuse. https://vimeo.com/85390064
To all the ships at sea, there are certain consistencies or better we call them truths in life. For me, one of these truths is to always to seek the advice of the elder of the village. I presume that this has been the way of the world from time immemorial, and here you see Dylan Michael communicating with our dear friend Richie Havens, discussing whether to use a pick or not. I think the conversation progressed to lyrics and Woodstock; I was personally not privileged to the conversation. I made the photo and moved on. There is one thing that never ceases to amaze me; how important photography is in all of our lives. I totally forgot about this photo, but while doing some research on Pete Seeger, I stumbled across Dylan with Richie. Canon F1, Fujichrome, about 1/90, bounce flash, 50mm lens. Pick an aperture; I don’t remember. Sing in peace, Richie. You’re probably sitting on a solid gold stool. Great times of our lives, suspended in photography.
This is extremely difficult for me to write. We have been photographing Richie Haven’s on and off over the years for a long time. We stopped counting the number of concerts a long time ago. Richie on stage was one of the greatest performers of our time. Back stage he was a just a regular guy. The last time he called me he asked permission to use three of my photos in a new book. I will have a follow up blog and a tribute to Richie in a few months. Sing in Peace Brother…
I spoke with a NASA scientist a few years back and we were discussing radio telescopes and he explained to me that a note played or sung will go on for infinity so I know Richie’s music will continue on…
I remember the first time I heard the words, “Photo” and “Hills and Valleys”. It was at TIME magazine end of year party. A great up and coming assistants decided to quit. When I asked him why, he said too many hills, too many valleys. The valleys are just too deep. I’m gonna take a 9-5 job. Suffice it to say, I was totally shocked. He was poised to be a staffer in a few years. Well we all make decisions we have to live with. The last 2 weeks I’ve been in a valley. This morning I went to the gym and watched the sun come up. It was glorious. I closed my eyes and I could still see every bit of that sunrise. My iPhone was playing an angel, Mary Travers. The combination of her voice, my eyes shut tight and that sunrise, I got out of the valley and onto Kilimanjaro. It’s amazing how music and photography really go together. No sooner I said that- I went looking for this Mary Travers photo which will be the first photo in my new book. The problem is I can’t find the negative and I’ve been looking for it for about ten years. I made a litho print and hand colored it…not my strong suit. That’s all I have for you today guys. The moral of this story is take real good care of your originals, make sure they’re put away properly so you’ll be able to retrieve them when you’re getting ready to do your memoirs.
Sometime in 1923 a male child was born in the Island of Jamaica. He went onto being one of the greatest Blues Players of our time. Yesterday in Tampa, Florida Eddie Kirkland was killed in a car crash. Eddie’s gone but the music will go on forever. My dear friend Bobby Kyle introduced me to Eddie several years back, I had an opportunity to not only photograph him but my son Dylan was able to shoot some great HD footage on him – some pretty powerful stuff.
The world has lost another great artist. Our prayers go out to the Kirkland family.