Fast Film: 50 Years of Music Photography by Heather Harris At Pop Obscure Records, Saturday May 6th 2017
Heather Harris has been taking pictures of musicians for 50 years and this, in itself, is amazing…. 50 years is more than a half life, it is a half century, and have you had a look at 50 years old cameras? She shot everybody, every rock ‘n’ roll royalty I can only dream of, from David Bowie to Prince, from Lemmy Kilmister to Michael Jackson, from Iggy Pop to the Beatles and the Who,… in 50 years you can see a lot of people, a lot of famous people, and her music photographs tell Los Angeles rock ‘n’ roll story. Her pics have been featured in Rolling Stone, MOJO, Billboard, Los Angeles Times, Rock & Folk, Creem, among many publications
She was presenting a collection of her most famous photos at a relative new independent music store, downtown Los Angeles, the very cool Pop Obscure Records, which has a large collection of vinyl downstairs and a gallery space in a mezzanine. The place was soon filled with rock ‘n’ roll people, as all of them looked like they were playing in a band and most of them were. The store has even a small stage for live music – Mike Watt played there in January – and the Blessings performed inside the store for the grand opening of the exhibit.
Call it a retrospective, a celebration, or anything you want, I am always impressed when someone manages to pursue something for 50 years, I suppose it helps when it is a passion, and it has to be a passion for Heather Harris, otherwise why would she even continue? She was still taking pictures of the Blessings during their performance, and her camera was not even impressive in size, very tiny compared to all these huge Canons and Nikons I see in photo pits. I bet she did use a small one too when she shot these Bowie pics! I have no idea if it was easier or more difficult to bring cameras at shows 50, 40, 30 years ago, you obviously need photo passes for the big ones these days, but, with or without a photo pass, Heather documented everything, and this is admirable.
Someone asked me whom, among all these rock stars, I would have liked to shoot if I have had the chance,… and of course I immediately answered Bowie, then his anti-camera majesty, Prince,… and you get what I mean, they are both dead now, and that’s why taking pictures, capturing a moment, stealing a pause, immortalizing a show, a performer and his or her music, is very important. Prince was obviously wrong.
The Blessings, a favorite band of hers, took the stage and rocked the record store with a series of well-crafted songs rooted in the 70s. The Blessings were an interesting choice to go with all these photos, with a foot in the past they were doing their own thing, with tambourine and harmonica, woman-man harmonies, plenty of air kicking and mic-stand swinging. The Blessings have the look of the times when true rock was roaring the airwaves, but they also have a soulful organ, some foot-tapping tunes and a few Rolling Stones-like guitar licks,… that’s why they were perfect band for the night.