Clockwise from top left: Les Claypool, John Patitucci, Charnett Moffett, Victor Wooten, Robert Trujillo, Timothy B. Schmit, Mike Dirnt, Jason Newsted. Center: Michael Anthony
Over the past 20-plus years with BASS PLAYER, 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.
Photographic moments from over the years.
IT COMES DOWN TO A MOMENT. OR RATHER, IT COMES DOWN to the anticipation of said moment, because in terms of photography, once the moment happens, it has happened. Gone. Finito. Expired. Photographers are hunter–voyeurs who peek through a little keyhole into the room where all the magical visual elements come together to form a two dimensional plane. And those elements can be magic, or perhaps merely a magic instant assembled from an infinite menu of possible combinations. There are angles, and fields of focal depth, anticipation and release, and textures, times, history, and mood, to say nothing of color, light, and shadow. Take your pick; mix and match. There are really no rules except to try and break the rules.
All of these variables, and thousands more potentially important possibilities, exist in three dimensions for us hunter–voyeurs to twist and wrangle and pull through our lenses to form the 2-D compositional dramas that play out inside the camera’s little room, until we release the shutter—and a moment unlike any other is preserved forever.
If the subject happens to be a living, breathing human being, multiply the list of possibilities by factors of experience, naïvete, anxiety, confidence, hubris, trepidation, happiness, sadness, fear, hatred, or bravado. The result can be any of a billion possibilities. It is the job of the photographer to assemble his or her moment from this menu.
There are a couple of means to that end: careful, planned and calculated, responsible photography, where expert knowledge of the medium is paramount in the patient craft of image—or the wanton, scattershot approach, involving hundreds of exposures and the desperate hope that random spontaneity will create something unique and exciting. Try to guess which one I use.
Whichever the style, the moment will be decisive. It will pass before your eyes and then be gone. It is up to the photographer to capture it from the world inside the keyhole and call it art.