Project Description

Photographing The Band: The image used for the Music from Big Pink Album (1968)

We took several beautiful photographs at Big Pink. One was a picture of them taken from behind, sitting on a bench in front of a pond. Band members Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel had explained that they didn’t want a name because they wanted the focus to be on the music, not on themselves, and didn’t want to be “labeled” and defined by the audience’s preconceptions…

They wanted to be free to change musically. So, they wanted to stay almost anonymous, which I think we captured in that photograph. But they didn’t feel it was right. So, I went back to do a second shoot. We did some nice shots at a few different places, but those weren’t what they wanted either. We talked about what was missing in the photos, and I showed them a book of photographs of the Old West taken by Matthew Brady and suggested we go for that look. They liked the idea. I realized that the subjects of those photographs were very connected to the land, they seemed to be planted there. We looked around for the right place to take the shot and found it in their front yard.

The other element present in the old photographs was respect. People took the camera seriously. A photographer’s visit was an important and unusual occasion. People stood up straight and looked right at the camera, which made them look dignified. People were a different sort in those days. They were connected to the earth, there were no modern conveniences. Of course, I couldn’t have created that old-time classic look with just anyone. It was their spirits that came out and greeted the opportunity for self- expression.

The photographs in this website are presented in a Gallery format. Most of them can be specially ordered as prints by contacting Elliott. Some of them are listed in our E shop. Because we wanted this to be primarily a photo experience, not a shopping experience, we did not clutter up the interface with purchase links.