Less than two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Newy York-based photographer and filmmaker Jerry Schatzberg. Prior to that, I met Schatzberg at the inaugural Art Miami New York where his photograph of Edie Sedwick was used as a promotional image for the art fair.
For many in the film and the art world(s), Schatzberg needs no introduction. The remarkably youthful 87 year-old artist has been creating memorable images since circa the early 1950’s. Even those who may not know his name are well familiar with his images – especially, those of fashion photography in the 1950’s, musicians in the 1960’s and movie stars and movie makers through the 1970’s.
The following is a preview of our conversation:
Homa – If you were to do photography now, would you do digital?
Jerry – I like digital. I am not a technical snob. The late Mary Ellen Mark who just passed away, she would never shoot digital. For me, it is the mind and the content that makes the photograh not the film or the technology. I want my films to be beautiful. If I take a photograph on the subway and it is blurred, if I like the content, I don’t care that it was blurred.
I mean look at Blonde on Blonde. It is moving. I only had three images like that. Everyone is trying to say that it was a trip. It was LSD. It wasn’t any of that. We started shooting in the studio. And, we thought, let’s go outside. We’ll find more light outside, somewhere in the meatpacking district. People are always asking me where it was taken, and I have tried to find it. I think they’ve gentrified it.
Homa – [Laughs] You think?
Jerry – Well, there are places that have remained the same, but I think that place is gone. I did take some very beautiful images that I really liked and that I have shown in exhibitions. It was Dylan that chose that blurred photograph for the cover his album. It was cold. We were shaking. So the photo came out blurry. People have always tried to theorize it. But that was it. Though the [Columbia] Record company would have never allowed that. But Dylan could do whatever he wanted.
Homa – So, the quivering anxiety of a new generation wasn’t what you had in mind?
Jerry – We let people interpret their own thoughts. It’s just that no one wants to hear about the technical aspects or how cold it was. It’s really Dylan they’re interested in… blurry or not. [laughs]
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