Thursday, October 16, 2008

RIP - William Claxton, 80 years old

Mr. Miles Davis, taken from William Claxton's website.

A mutual infatuation of photography and music lead me to William Claxton and his documentary photography of the Jazz legends of the 50s and 60s. I believe this happened sometime during my freshman year in college; I can't be certain of the exact date because all I really remember is immediately falling in love, deeper and deeper with every photo, and then things became a blur. Beautiful, rich, original and compelling, Claxton took such legendary musicians as Billy Holiday and Miles Davis (whom normally roamed the dark stages of smokey clubs and dim-lit backstage areas), out onto the bright streets and beaches of sunny California, and showed their deep souls in the light of day. Through Claxton's photography, a viewer could feel the intensity through which these musicians lived ever day of their lives -- where it was crying out the blues, dancing on the streets in joy, or clutching at their instruments or mics, longing for their next chance to shine. It was as if, by staring into a Claxton portrait, you became engluffed in the Blues, immersed in Jazz, taken over by Soul. Black and white photography has always been a passion of mine, and to know that each one of Claxton's photos was not only taken with passion and pleasure, but then slaved over through processing, printing and spotting with his own bare hands, makes even more energy and life stir from every print he's created. It's beautiful and stirring, and though I'm sad to hear he is gone, I know his photographs will stay with me forever.

Thank you, Claxton, for sharing your passion with us.

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