My 14-yr old nephew’s band asked me to take some pictures of them, which was good because I’d been BEGGING them to let me take their picture for like a year. I figured I’m a photographer (well ok, I’m photographeresque at least) and I’ve been all about rock and roll forever and I’m super-cool, so how would there be any problem with me playing Annie Leibovitz to their U2 or Rolling Stones or Guns & Butter?
So I ask the band to meet me at a local park at 9:30am one Saturday morning. Now before you say it, I KNOW that getting up early on a Saturday morning is not rock and roll! I know this! It should have been a midnight shoot in a back alley or the top of some abandoned building or a desert in Arizona! But cut me slack – there were summer vacations to be scheduled around. And curfews. In order to do my part to make it as rock and roll as possible, I stayed up all night the night before and showed up drunk and with a prostitute. I suffer for the art.
There are 6 little dudes in the band (and by “little” I mean “seriously, stop looking me in the eye, I changed your diapers, that’s enough being tall out of you. And that goes double for your little friends.”); of those six most of them were pretty easy to work with, one didn’t show up because he didn’t have a ride (yeah, because that is SO rock and roll) and then there was the Lead Singer. And like all Lead Singers, this kid was drama. D-R-A-M-A.
I’m thinking of simple shots, straight forward, and with really only one rule: no smiling. I’m doing shots like “up against the chain link fence” or “sitting on the picnic bench” or “under the tree” and I’m getting stuff that I think will work. Lead Singer is asking for things like “can you take a picture of our instruments and put it with a picture of fire and make it look like our instruments are on fire?”
Now I was so gonna let that go! But this was just the beginning.
LS: “Here’s what I want: we’re all standing on the grass and we’re pointing in the air. And they won’t know what we’re pointing at.”
FT: “…I’ll take that picture if you want. However you should know that in photography circles that’s called the ‘Sears Catalog Shot’. But I’ll take it if you really want me to.”
The Band: “NO!”
LS: “Here’s what I want: if you can just make sure that there are no cars coming down the road, and then we’ll all walk across the street like we’re just crossing the street.”
FT: “Are you talking about Abbey Road?”
LS: "Oh you know it?”
FT: “I’m not ripping off Abbey Road! What is WRONG with you?”
LS: “Here’s what I want, and I hope that nobody’s too religious but whatever: We do like the last supper picture (oh boy), but with our heads over the regular heads (ok, that’s not THAT bad I guess). And I’ll be Jesus.”
FT: “NO! And do you know why "No!"? Because “And I’ll be Jesus.”! That's why!"
While setting up the shot “standing on and around the 2 swings (an exploration of childhood, mirth and rock n’ roll)” Lead Singer is acting all hinky and I ask him what’s up. And he says to me this:
“nobody’s gonna want these pictures is all.”
“why, because they’re not cool enough?”
“they’re just not rock and roll.”
And sadly, at that moment, I killed him with the laser beams, ROCK AND ROLL laser beams, from my eyes. Had to be done.
OK, I didn’t kill him. I said to him this: “Dude (because that shows that I’m young and hip), I have been seeing rock and roll pictures and listening to rock and roll music and going to rock and roll concerts LIKE THESE GUYS (and I point at my chest, and my strategically selected Police t-shirt which I just got last summer because I am THAT COOL) since long before you were filling diapers. So if you could just give me half an ounce of trust that would be excellent.” (and then the rock and roll laser beam from the eyes.)
250 pictures. Very, very cool pictures. And even MORE important: no lives were lost. So I am a SAINT.