Outtakes: November 2012

November 5, 2012

 Photograph, from August 2003
Over the past 20-plus years with BASS P LAYER , Art Director and photographer Paul Haggard has accumulated a shelf full of broken cameras and some dusty memories. He will recount some over the next few columns until either he can't remember any more or they fail to be interesting, whichever comes first.

I AM A 98-POUND WEAKLING. ACTUALLY I WAS A 98-POUND weakling, but as of late I have consumed much too much pizza and beer and so I am not only weak, but also pudgy and out of shape—well over 98 pounds. And so I am always envious of the muscular and fit, like Tim Commerford of such great and rebellious bands as Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave. Tim has a lean and hungry edge like he is always ready to leap at you to argue with a ferocious vehemence his position on freedom from oppression, or freedom from whatever. This persona, combined with powerful bass playing, made him a great choice for the August 2003 cover.

When Tim arrived at the offices around 1:00 pm for interview and photos, the spacious and glamourous photo studio (closet) had been prepped for full- length shooting. My intent was to capture as much of his imposing physique as possible. Tim got right to the point. “I’d rather not do this shoot, but management insists that I should, so I’m here.”

Wow. Within one sentence he was already raging against my machine. This attitude is what a photographer seeks. At that moment I knew I was not going to have to work very hard to capture some of this marvelous disdain through the lens, and humbly, with all modesty aside, I was right. As the strobes popped, Tim came through with a series of powerful poses, gestures, grimaces, and glares. He flexed, and postured, and twisted, and then he jumped.

The first jump caught me off guard, and I missed. The following ones I caught, but he was up so high his head had cleared the top of the backdrop. No matter: We will simply retouch and extend the background up. Believe me, I am no Henri Cartier-Bresson; no Lee Friedlander; no Jim Marshall; no in- camera composition purist. If the image is fl awed, I bust out Photoshop faster than a teenage girl can text OMG.

Afterward, as usual I acted cool and nonchalant until Tim had left and was out of sight, and then I leaped into my car and sped the film to the lab in a fit of spastic glee, impatiently waited the three hours it takes for the E6 process, and then repeated the action to go pick it up. Upon first examination, there preserved was a spectacular array of mighty images—a wealth of cover possibilities, the foremost of which were the jumps.

The next day Tim called and thanked me for the shoot. He is a good guy under his fierce exterior. “Oh, and don’t use the jumping shots.”

Wait. What?

“I’m not getting enough air. Don’t run them.”

Indeed this unneccessary vanity was most frustrating, as I generally will not use images vetoed by the subject, but in this case Tim was incorrect—he was just up too damned high. He cleared the backdrop in bare feet off the solid floor for Pete’s sake, so we snuck in this one on page 57.

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