Elliott Landy was the 1969 Woodstock festival photographer and some of his most famous photographs adorn the Thompson Room foyer for the duration of the American Story Show 2 presentation. The famous artist was present at Trois-Rivières for the premiere of the show on August 2nd.
This exhilarating musical production – a tribute to the ’69, ’94 and ’99 Woodstock Festivals brought the audience to its feet every night. Elliott’s photos provided the onstage backdrop and his prints were exhibited throughout the theatre. He even got a standing ovation when introduced on stage!
August 12, 2019
Woodstock: Elliott Landy, Privileged Witness of an Era
TROIS-RIVIÈRES – The most famous photos of the Woodstock Festival in 1969, we owe to Elliott Landy, an American photographer among the most famous and loved of the twentieth century. Fifty years later, the artist is still active and celebrates with pleasure the fiftieth anniversary of the event through, among others, the commemoration of Trois-Rivières.
Despite his immense reputation, the man is exceptionally kind and modest. We can testify to having met him at the premiere of the show American Story Show 2. The Woodstock years on August 2, when he was invited by the producers. His shots marked the world of music since much of his professional production in the 60s and 70s was focused on the music industry. His pictures of shows have been reproduced to illustrate the precious pockets of vinyl records of the time.
Yet, in the 70s, Landy saw his career take a completely different tangent, far from the music. He devoted himself to a production directed towards photos of his own family, landscapes, news or even celebrities but also the exploration of new avenues like technological innovations bringing his work as a photographer to that of a filmmaker. “I consider myself more as an artist in a broad acceptance of the term than as a simple photographer,” he explains. I do not deny anything I did, especially in Woodstock. In fact, I see my photos of the festival and there are several that still give me a great pleasure. “
He’s the one who suggested to the people of Musicor, producer of the American Story Show 2. The Woodstock years, the enlarged clichés that adorn the walls of the foyer of the Thompson Room. “I remember taking 76 rolls of film at the festival and I would say there were maybe 150 really good pictures. What makes me like a photo? It is a question of visual harmony but above all, of emotion: it is what these photos arouse in me when I look at them. Still today, these are pictures of which I am proud and that I look with great pleasure. It’s the kind of images that strike you when you see them and that make you say, “Wow! That’s a good photo. “
Landy has often confided in interviews, he was not aware of experiencing historical moments in Woodstock. “No one who was there could have said it. It was a music festival, quite simply. The success was obviously huge, but I’m sure nobody could have predicted that we would talk about it again 50 years later. As far as I’m concerned, I was the appointed photographer, so I was at work; I did not pay much attention to the general context. I was on the edge of the stage, sometimes even below her to protect me from the rain, and I was in the moment looking for interesting angles of view. That’s all. I was a shadow worker somehow. These are my photos that have become famous, not me. People know my pictures but not my face and that suits me very well. “
If he was not aware of it at the time, the decline allowed him to understand what gave a timeless side to this festival which he so brilliantly testified. “It was the symbol of an extraordinary time. It was these years that put forward the idea that women are the equal of men, that people could love each other without conflict and that we could erase them. racial differences. Individuals were looking for ways to be in deep contact with themselves in a search for a deep and universal truth. When we celebrate Woodstock, it’s a tribute to all the counterculture of the 60’s that we make and I find it really good. “
“Fifty years later, we can see that the world has changed and not for the better. The coming of Donald Trump to the presidency makes us realize how far we are from the aspirations of the time. That does not mean that we have failed: it simply means that the way to get there is longer than we thought. That’s all. There are a lot of people who still have the same aspirations today and are working on it. “”I would not say that there is reason to be optimistic today, but rather, as the known formula says, that there is no reason not to be optimistic.”
His own attitude testifies somehow. The photographer in him is constantly on the lookout for a beauty to imprison in a cliché. “It is not that I am so much in search of beauty: it is rather she who strikes me when I see her. I also tend to say that these are not my photos, but the capture of a beauty that does not belong to me. “
The irony of Woodstock’s archicelebral photos is that despite their immense circulation, they have not made the photographer rich. “The contract for Woodstock was sealed by a simple handshake and I have never been paid. I got some extra income from selling the photos afterwards, but I’m still waiting for them to make me rich! They circulated very freely. It’s OK.; it’s life. Although I moved on to something else in my career, I am still happy to share these photos. They are good and they talk about the 60s that always fascinate me. I still vibrate to the values of that time and his music always makes me feel so much.