May 21 In an effort to not fail out of my summer courses, I have to periodically work on my coursework, and admittedly, miss out on some cool experiences. I've already managed to get behind in some of my courses (not having relaible internet service in Yellowstone will do that to a person). So I spent today catching up while Karen and Haley hiked to the Hollywood sign.
When they picked me up from the cafe I had spent the first 5 hours of my day in, we all traveled to Henry Diltz' studio. Haley met Mr. Diltz at Cindystock, a mock Woodstock that raises money for charity. Mr. Diltz was invited to attend in part because he was the official Woodstock photographer.
He photographed decades of great music and great musicians. From album covers to promotional materials, he documented the music scene on such an enormous scale that I wonder if any musician could really count him or herself as being "in" until he photographed them.
In my experience, important people who have spent their life around important people are typically a little less interested in the little guy. Not so in this case. At all. We were warming greeted and given so much of his precious time. He was so kind to us and seemed to enjoy our presence, even labeling us as "friends". (Woohoo!)
He discussed his start in music photography and his passion for it; he told us fantastic stories of his mistakes and triumphs in photography. He began his career by starting another career, music. He was in a band, and he photographed his friends with slide film. He said that he didn't know it was slide film until he got it developed, and he cited this film as being his original love of photography. He chose to show the photographs to his friends in slide format. They would hang out on the weekends and watch the slide projections. Their encouragement and the beauty kept him pursuing it. He began to love capturing his friends and showing it to them; he said his greatest pleasure comes from one of his friends saying, "I didn't even know you took that!"
He kept photographing (arguably the best way to become good at photography), and eventually, he was photographing promotional materials for countless bands.
His studio is a ranch house that is 4 doors down from his house; he shares the space with his archivist. Mr. Diltz has shelves and shelves and boxes filled with negatives, slides, books, and other various documentation tools. I asked him about how he developed the film, wondering if he had printed his own photographs, etc. He laughed at my question, and almost as if it were a secret, joked about how he has never printed or developed a single one of his pictures.
I was pleasantly shocked. So many photographers carry a pretentious air about processing your own photographs and I've often felt harsh glares for how I choose to edit my photographs. I keep it a secret, much like people who don't like cats OR dogs must keep their preferences silent. It's nice to hear from such a great photographer that success doesn't have to be THE way I've been told. Beautiful.
I left feeling rejuvenated and blissful. Mr. Diltz was so kind, so down to earth. I often worry that my ambition will get in the way of me being comfortable with simply existing. Visiting him was a reminder to do what I LOVE and to let my passions take me. I don't have to go the prescribed route. In fact, I shouldn't.
As one of my photography professors says, "Stay on the bus." When you love something, DO IT. Stay on the bus; don't get off before you've arrived. If you love projecting slide images to your friends, DO IT DO IT DO IT. But that's no way to make a living, right? Well, maybe ask Henry Diltz about that.