Andy Summers, Ralph Gibson and Danny Clinch

Luminato 2009: Shadow Notes on Photographs and Autographs

When I wandered into Yonge-Dundas Square recently, I noticed large-scale black-and-white photographs featured on large, box-like structures scattered around the square.

It's a free Luminato exhibition of the work of Danny Clinch and Ralph Gibson, two photographers obsessed with music, and Andy Summers, a musician obsessed with photography.

On Saturday morning I attended Illuminations: Shadow Notes, a related talk at the Art Gallery of Ontario's Jackman Hall that featured the three discussing their work.

The three photographers waxed nostalgic about their Leica cameras, eschewing notions that the digital age of photography has much more to offer. As a photographer who enjoys shooting musicians, I savoured the little glimpses into the process behind their work

I found it fascinating to hear their stories about how they got into photographing musicians, and what worked best for them. Things like making friends with the roadies, bringing a classic old car to a photo shoot or simply waiting for the moment that captures the subject just right, such as from backstage the moment before they take the stage.

It was obvious that Summers had a bunch of Police fans in the audience. One such fan I encountered after the talk was a middle-aged woman with a stack of vinyl records under her arm, eager to have them signed. I think the purpose of the talk was totally lost on her. She lamented having had to spend $15 to sit through the talk, mumbling how she could've just come afterward to get her autographs.

But the joke was on her.

As the lineup formed to meet and greet the photographers for the autograph session, we were told that they'd sign only one item. And they were only signing books. I don't even think she was interested in Summers' photography at all, let alone acquiring a copy of Desirer Walks the Streets, his latest book of photography.

Photos by Roger Cullman.


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