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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Making Love in a Church

Sorting through hundreds of discs the other day, I found this image from a shoot I did a few years ago. It was a moment of capture that I remember for two reasons. Yes, I am pleased with the image, but it has even greater meaning to me than that. Its all about making love in a church.

Please. Allow me to explain.

I was excited to have been commissioned by the ABC to photograph a training session for young and upcoming conductors. An Italian maestro had been invited to Australia to run a series of workshops for these young men and women. Their toolbox was the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, renowned worldwide as being among the orchestras of choice. I had the privilege of standing right smack bang in the middle of this world famous orchestra and listen to several renditions of a Mozart piece - the name of which eludes me now. Its rather well known and rather beautiful, but I can't remember its name. I like Mozart. He was an interesting dude. His is a very sad story, the ending of which is even sadder. Genius is not always a blessing. 

Anyway, what surprised me was the difference in the response to each conductor by the orchestra. Sometimes the orchestra responded with such an audible glow that I was taken upwards by it. At other times, it was just...played. Between conductors I asked members of the orchestra why they responded differently, even though the notes on the paper were the same. It was all about the manifest passion of the conductor. In the end, the maestro took control, leading the orchestra without a single movement of his hands. By his face alone, he made them play that piece better than any of those whose hands had waved about in fervent endeavour like Robbie the Robot. 
In the image above, I distinctly remember the Italian maestro becoming so frustrated by this young conductor's rather academic approach to the music that it became impossible for him to contain it. Sure, the young man knew the piece, he knew the notes, he knew the timing. But he lacked feeling. In this image the maestro is trying everything to make this young man feel the piece, not just know it. 

"Feel it! Feel it! Pretend you are....making love! You are making a church!" he pleaded with this young conductor. Alas, it made little difference. Even I could hear that all his pleadings were falling on someone who needed more life. There is no replacement for that.

Without doubt, photographers are conductors also. They conduct orchestras of their own and the instruments are the elements within the frame. It is irrelevant whether they be the elements within a landscape or still life, the bridal party at a wedding or the corporate leader whose portrait needs updating for an annual report. Without passion applied to each, the music will change. Sure, the little black notes will be the same, but the feel will be different. 

I once knew a young man who played the violin. He knew the notes very well, but his instrument sounded like a strangled cat. He knew the notes, not the intention. By all means, learn the little black notes that belong to each image you create, but get in touch with the reason for the image, the message within it, the desired result. Apply your head to its science, but your heart to its creation. If you have to, pretend you are making love in a church. 


Anonymous said...

Very well written and is so true!!

mAryd said...

you should get extra points for this in heaven... thank you for sharing!

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller