My first memory is sitting in a hallway with a book in my lap.
Side journeys in my life led me to artmaking of all kinds. I latched onto photography and then came back to books. This time around, I made my own—made the paper, sewed the bindings, all that.
Death of paper, e-book readers, all that. Yeah I know. I still like to make books.
Whether I’m working with handmade paper and ink or InDesigning and uploading to a print-on-demand site like blurb.com, I like the challenge and control when I create a book myself.
illustration by SARAH MAZZETTI for The New Yorker
PASSION & GLORY AT THE OPERA [working title] – in progress
Compiled from 175 in-person interviews plus documentary behind-the-scenes photographs, #TheTenorBook invites the reader to join a unique quest for the answers about an art form that’s evolved and survived for 400 years.
Interview-based, with rehearsal and performance photographs, to answer the “what is it” question: What is it about the tenor voice? Why does it make such an impact on the audience? What about tenors themselves?
Then the conversations would go in many directions, finding its way. A new question riffs off something given in a response. After a few dozen of the interviews (with singers of all voice types, conductors, teachers, directors, coaches, a fight director, impresarios, composers, a makeup artist, a vintage record collector, critics), themes begin to emerge:
I wrote this book to answer a question. Why couldn’t we recreate something from the past? Why didn’t it ever work again? Once I finished the book, I didn’t need to keep looking for the answer.
We were a group of photographers on the Fine Art Board (FAB) on AOL. Those arly days were wild and crazy. Discussions weren’t threaded. People wrote long diatribes; others answered them. Our board attracted a lot of attention because it was different: intelligent, respectful, meaningful. Mostly, anyway.
Interacting with my own kind, as it were, helped me come of age as an artist, and I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. This is our story.
Inside the Music is about the people who make music. And depending on how you look, it can be a portrait of the music itself.
The guys and a few gals who were on the smooth jazz circuit in the early-to-mid 1990s are still performing. I made stage shots in a lot of different venues, learned a lot about photography and about myself as a photographer. (I don’t like shooting mountains or sunsets, I do like people as my subjects.) Most of all, I learned how to pursue a sense of emotion in my photography.
The musicians themselves are dedicated to the music. Not all of them were stars, then. Several of them were just starting to see success as they released CDs. They all knew each other, played backup for others, had a great time. That joy comes across, through the lens.
A hundred interwoven stories of how opera gets to opening night create a mosaic of the most-collaborative performing art.
My long-term documentary project had some steep learning curves but, trial by fire, it really made me as an artist. Almost two years of daily observation with cameras and journal in rehearsals and backstage gave me the raw material. My original vision had been a lot of photographs with identifying captions, but it evolved – as creative projects do – into a patchwork quilt of stories wrapped around the images.
Even though the book was finished when it went to press, there was more I needed to explore. That’s what the current project is, Passion & Glory at the Opera.