Saturday, August 9, 2008

In Love with the Devil

The Devil turns me on. Photographically. Without question that began with the late great bass baritone, Norman Treigle. There are performers in every discipline who have an aura, iconic personalities. This was Treigle. When he entered the stage he wasn't acting a part. He WAS the character. He could have been wearing a ratty tee shirt and old pants and the audience would have been mesmerized. He didn't even have to open his mouth. The audience was riveted. And the sound,- a haunting cavernous sound pouring out of this skinny guy, -totally gripping. I was once in a tavern in New Orleans. He was asked if he'd sing something. There was instant silence. He sang "Old Man River", - haunting, sweet, soulful, breathtakingly beautiful. He was the great Mississippi and held that audience spellbound.

Any photographer has the editorial responsibility to capture the truth, but if that "truth" is bigger than life, more powerful, more intense, then it becomes a challenge to try and preserve this magic. I admit to getting "buzzed". Treigle was a force of Nature. What could I make the camera do to capture the greatness that was happening. This wasn't conscious. It came from my guts. This was 1969, 1970, 1971, film days. One evening I got excited and ran out of film mid-way through an act. On the spur of the moment I re-wound the film partially and started shooting over previous shots. This is risky-silly, because there is no way to tell what the overlaps will be like. This also would never have been appropriate had the subject matter been classically serene. But it's an option for a Devil. In live theater there is no "stop" option. You have to get what you want or miss it. Lighting is out of the photographer's control. Get it or miss it. My guts were completly attuned to the Devil. There was no way I could stop. The results started me on the path of experimentation. How could I show demonic forces, insanity, obsession, intense emotions. It all began with Treigle. He did comedy and tragedy and everything in between and it was always a total presentation. Sadly, his personal demons contributed to his early death.

1 comment:

Daniel P Quinn said...

Fabulous site; I have a collection of material on Treigle as well.