musicians get photographed all the time, it seems as if we never have enough images of the music scene. and of course, our culture brought a few of those pictures to iconic status, i've had a few of the negatives in my hands over the years. i'm thinking about bob gruen's john lennon nyc shirt picture, i wasn't entirely relaxed when i first printed it, but i'm used to it by now. still, i feel the power this image has as i put the neg in my enlarger and print it, and i listen to john lennon or the beatles while in the darkroom, it puts me in the mood. of course, bob gruen has many well-known pictures, and he still brings me negs sometimes that i still haven't seen. there is also mick rock's lou reed transformer picture, the one that looks like a drawing, a bit out of focus. when i first saw the strip of film i couldn't see the image, mick laughed because it is a well exposed sharp negative shot live. the trick is in the printing, and after having the album cover on my wall as a teenager i felt i was let in on a secret.
i also had the chance to print many danny clinch images of bruce springsteen, lynn goldsmith's rolling stones, keith green's dee dee ramone project, michael halsband's ben harper album cover, art kane's great day in harlem, jacques lowe's jazz greats, fred mcdarragh's and jerry shatzberg's bob dylan, kate simon's iggy pop, bert stern's louie armstrong, bruce weber's chet baker, al wertheimer's elvis, yelena yumchuk's smashing pumpkins (wonderful booklet of photographs inside the cd) ... and so many more that it's difficult to remember them all. for a while i felt like a rock'n roll printer. michael stipe used to bring negs to print, and bryan adams. i printed lou reed's first photo show, he must have spent a couple of months in my darkroom so we could play and work and figure out how to make his images into a coherent series. nick zinner (yeah yeah yeahs) used to work for me as a printer then, and he helped me print timothy greenfield-sanders's 700 portraits series (set of 3 btw).
so when i said in the first week i wrote this blog, that a printer's resumé is their clients' images, i wasn't far off. without all these unbelievable photographs of musicians i wouldn't have much to talk about as far as printing goes.
i've also been printing for patti smith for about 15 years. i've always admired her words and music, and her photographs really touch me as well. she shoots polaroids and i reproduce them on a soft warm paper the same size as the originals, about 3x4 to 4x5 in. this requires very subtle moves as i have to go from cold glossy to warm matte keeping the feeling the images portray, usually very quiet and understated. all done with old-fashioned 4x5 copy negs for those who might wonder.
there is also sam erickson (who used to work at my lab as well), he went on to do a documentary about dave matthews and brought all the prints to do. and justin jay who was following puff daddy (at the time) everyday, everywhere, for maybe two years or so, coming back once in a while with a huge bag of film. kevin masur used to bring a lot of black and white prints as well, all from negs and a few at a time, i remember a very strong contrast but details everywhere. and i got to know about hip-hop better through the images i printed for ricky powell. a new york culture that was and is still through his eyes, and i made the prints always with a few great stories from ricky. same with don paulsen, many stories to go with all the 8x10's i made of a lot of his great images of the 60's and 70's. and i can't forget nigel scott's pictures of bob marley that we printed in a way that he could include them on surfboard designs. the boards look amazing.
i moved to new york in 1987 to do photography and film, in part because i would listen to a lot of new york music like patti smith, velvet underground and the ramones. i didn't think at the time that printing good ol' silver prints would bring me so close to a certain rock scene i was drawn to. i still listen to the music from that period, i do when i print for bob gruen (often), and i can listen to whatever i want whenever i want with pandora on my phone through speakers. it really changed the way a printing day goes. i used to play tapes (hotel california when i was 12 or so), listen to the radio, play cd's, more radio, ipod made a big difference, and now the biggest technological problem in my darkroom is the wifi. the music varies with what i print, from leonard cohen to led zepplin, reggae, from patti smith, bob dylan to the clash and tom waits. and a lot of french music. and the radio, live or on-demand brings the whole world into my darkroom. and this week i'm printing one of my favorite pictures of the clash, the 4 of them on stage by bob gruen. i really like that picture, it's a treat to print it, or them rather, as 20x24's, 16x20's and 11x14's. because at the end of the day, it's just about making prints.