Photographing The Beatles

Linda McCartney looked pretty stealth working in those Beatles Get Back sessions that were shown on Apple TV last year, wielding her Nikon probably loaded with Kodak Tri-X film. The beauty of black and white for documentary photographs–that’s something that only can be done with a camera using film.

Sure, today you could shoot on digital formats, but the result wouldn’t have the soul. It would be sharp and clear but without the feeling of that gelatin silver grain. I accept not everyone feels what I do from using film, but most professional musicians choose tube amplifiers, not solid-state which are much lighter in weight, for their warm tone.

A Denver band played at a bar in my town a couple months ago and the singer piano-playing singer reminded me of Ben Folds in style–clever music and lyrics. His name is Andy Sydow and I told him so at a set break. He eagerly accepted the compliment.

You can catch him at The Bluebird Theater in Denver where he’s headlining June 2, 2023 and here’s a clip of him singing his song, Alibi.

So, the next day, I found him online and contacted him and asked if I could do what Linda McCartney did for the Beatles with them–photograph them in rehearsal or a studio at work. Pure documentary photographs. And all on film, my go-to, Ilford HP5+.

Andy said yes and invited me to a Denver recording studio last week. He said he would be recording with the other bandmates for three days, so I did what any documentary photographer would do–I went all three days. I used a quiet Leica M6. I hovered and flitted around, staying out of their way and documenting their progress.

Here’s some of what three days photographing produced.

They like the photos. Certainly, they show them as they are in their recording session, unposed, real.

But more importantly, I like them. I was able to make the kinds of photographs that are meaningful to me when I create an opportunity to document something photogenic–in this case, extremely talented creatives–and I take complete creative control by setting up the photo session.

I hope the band goes far and perhaps I will be able to photograph them again and even work on their album covers. But no matter what, when I had three days free, I didn’t park myself in front of the TV, (I never do), I went out and made work.

Work that I can show the next band that impresses me.

Who knows who you’ll meet if you just show up and make the work?

Every connection is a connection to another circle of people who get to know you and your work.

Just make the work.

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