Did your favourite portrait album cover make the cut? Mine did. Famous album cover portraits – The Guardian.

© Chris Grabin

© Chris Grabin

While reviewing this collection of album cover portraits (see link), I noticed one possible criteria for selection that was completely absent: one of technical excellence. Dylan’s portrait for his “Blond on Blond” album, for example, is a photograph with “camera shake” – usually the bane of many a photographer when the camera or subject (or both) are moving in unison with a slow shutter speed. These photographs usually get binned. Nevertheless, this photo has succeed in becoming part of the iconic vocabulary of modern music. In this day and age where precision and rationality are venerated – and have the technology to deliver it – we are in danger of forgetting why things “work” and why they don’t. Perfection doesn’t work. Perfection rarely interests people. It’s boring. Like music itself, it’s the seemingly random empty spaces between notes that confers harmony and emotion and not only the perfect notes themselves. Photographers don’t need to be perfect technicians to make great photographs – they need to be able to capture images that convey emotion with sublime subjectivity. The best photographers are usually humanists. They understand that life is messy (like this poorly written piece) and transient and create work that celebrates this fact rather than trying to ‘perfect’ it.

Link to article: Björk, Blondie and Bruce – the cover portraits that deserve to hang in a gallery | Music | The Guardian.

2 comments

  1. Clive

    Good comments, Sean. I’d agree with them and even, if you don’t mind, summarize by saying that it is the presence of the flawed that accentuates beauty. My fav, in keeping with idea would be the Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, the english cover and not the Puritanical American one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sean Hayes

      Saw your post of the Hendrix cover on fb – great. Another album cover photo, that surprisingly didn’t make the cut, is The Clash’s “London Calling” of Paul Simonon smashing his guitar on stage. Rough and ready personified. But communicates its contents perfectly.

      Like

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