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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Eric Ogden interview

A Photographic Journey Introduction to “Michigan Music” By Eric Ogden is photographer Ogden’s own story.

Born and raised in Flint, Michigan, Ogden studied at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor before moving to New York City to pursue work as a photographer.
He has lived in Brooklyn, New York, for the last thirteen years, working and traveling frequently on assignment.
His photographs have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Rolling Stone, W, the New Yorker, Esquire, Time, Interview, Entertainment Weekly, Teen Vogue, Glamour, and Spin, and on covers of Newsweek, as well as in advertising for ABC, USA, FOX and the CW television networks; Nike; Sean John; Atlantic Records; Sony Music; Warner Bros Records; RCA records; and Miramax and Paramount Pictures.
His images have been awarded publication in the American Photography annuals and his work has been featured in articles in American Photo and Photo District News.
Ogden is currently at work on a book of evocative portraits and landscapes of his hometown, Flint, Michigan.

Ogden writes:
“Flint, Michigan. Sitting on the cracked concrete of a friend’s driveway, huddled around a boom box, a cassette by some new band turning its wheels in the deck, we would sprawl out and watch the night sky. The porch light was off. Parents were gone. Yards were dark and empty. And we had no desire to talk, just to listen as a world unfolded.
"For those growing up in a small Midwestern town, music was an escape, but it was also an identity. It helped us create ourselves. Surrounded by a landscape of faded strip malls and parking lots, neon diners, and the fluorescent lights of gas stations and convenience stores, kids growing up in Michigan needed a soundtrack to set to the endless nights they spent driving around in their cars.
"And as often as not, in their boredom they’d strap on a guitar and create the soundtrack themselves. I know that’s what my friends and I did, inspired by the shows we’d seen in the basement of the Capitol Theater.
"Sitting on thrift store couches in rooms heavy with the scent of clove cigarettes, talking to a girl with rings in her nose, we’d watch bands rotate through pounding sets of melody and noise and plot our own band’s takeover.
"When I was given the opportunity to pitch an idea for Character Project, it was important to me that it be personal. A kind of return to something I knew, a place I’d lived, or people I’d admired.
"So the idea of celebrating the music that has come out of my home state of Michigan seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally combine my photography with my passion for music. It was also a way to revisit the landscape of my youth, a place where music was life changing.
"Not to mention the fact that it was an incredible opportunity to work with some of the artists I have long admired. I set out to create a portfolio of idiosyncratic musicians that would span different genres, from living legends to rising bands just under the radar.
"In a place that has given birth to a great range of talent, I aimed for the
artists just left of center, independents who ride the edge of the mainstream. People grounded with a real strength of character, who often have a vivid sense of the absurd, the bizarre, or who just have their own
unique take on the world.
"I started with artists I knew, and from there my research expanded, often linking one band to another as I discovered a network of collaborations formed over the years. Sometimes I’d find the odd satellite fully
formed at the edges of the map, an artist who’d managed to come out of nowhere and find his own path. But there was a definite core of musicians from Detroit who all knew each other (or knew of each other), and in
that way, it was like shooting portraits of as many members of one expansive, eccentric family as I could cram into a few weeks.
"Detroit occupies a unique place in music history. It is rich with the legacy of Motown, but also the origins of punk and garage rock, and happens to be the birthplace of techno, too. Why? Maybe it’s because of what a
friend of mine calls “a Midwest work ethic.” Or maybe it’s because Detroit is a place with no musical borders.
Musicians here aren’t averse to mixing styles and genres, bringing history crashing up against the present, or pushing it toward the future. Every one of the people in these photographs has sent their own unusual vision into the world. Whether they’re brash or deceptively quiet, whether they’re creating original works or reformatting little-known classics until the songs have taken on a new life, they each capture an independent spirit that drew me to music in my early teens, that sparked the excitement I felt of seeing music played live.
No matter how small or dilapidated the venue, the bands of my youth always seemed larger than life. In this portfolio I aimed to show the musicians I photographed in that light."

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