Sunday, November 26, 2006
Sam Sargent, ROCKIN' s indefatigable photog
Yesterday I visited with lensman Sam Sargent and his wife Mary Merrick, also an esteemed photographer, and presented them with their copy of ROCKIN'. Sam shot all the archival material for ROCKIN'--the hundreds of 45s, 78s, LPs, magazine covers, and related historic paper and ephemera--that designer Brent Rector used so creatively months after the actual photo sessions. Sam and Mary were very interested to see how everything had unfolded since, as you can't quite get a grasp on the overall plan when you're obsessively focused-in on each piece separately.
Sam said the hardest thing about flat-art photography is that you're 'assuming the position' (ie, half bent over, as in the photo above) for hours on end. Patience and exactitude are the requirements here, as you get only one chance to do it right. Sam's work captured magnificent treasures from the collections of Frank Vacanti, Joel Selvin, Barry Wickham, Paul Getchell, Mickey McGowan, Mike LaVella and others (see previous blogs), some in their own homes, some in Sam's Oakland, CA studio.
What pleased Sam the most about ROCKIN' was seeing the fidelity of the capture all the way through to the actual printing of the book. The devil's in the details, and the details of each piece are there in each shot. And many pieces were truly difficult to work with--such as the black-on-red record labels.
The collectors really appreciated Sam's care. We never dropped a piece (I was Sam's positioner and retriever), never scratched a record, never bent a corner, and there were nearly 2,000 such captures made. Whew!
I took this photo in the apartment above Chris Strachwitz' Arhoolie Records vault, where Sam set up shop for a memorable afternoon shoot involving some of the rarest blues 78s in the world. More on that in an upcoming blog . . .