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Tuesday, 08 March 2011


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TOP gets better every day. Love Waits, love that album, love that picture. In fact "Rain Dogs" was my first one by Tom, bought at a flea market in a rainy day.

Love these. Thanks.

First photo is interesting for all the reasons you cited, and also because Frank seems to be shooting Polaroid, which I shouldn't find surprising but do, and which I find surprisingly poignant.

The second photo is just fabulous! The comment, perfect.

Tom is also an actor in one of my all time favorite movies, "Down by Law," by Jim Jarmusch. It's B&W, of course.

@Dan, robert e and Mike:
There is a good explanation why Robert Frank used a Polaroid camera: They were great!
Not the common cheap models, but the "professional" Polaroid 180, 190 and 195 models with rangefinder and 114mm Tominon lenses. I would still give an arm and a leg for one of this cameras and the gorgeous Polaroid 665 pack film...

I see a forthcoming coffee table book, "Photographers Photographing Photographers," Mike would be the perfect editor. I doubt I'm alone in finding Barron's photograph a lot more interesting than Franks'.

That first photograph (and the stories behind it) is just so yummy! 1985, Central Park, Tom Waits, Robert Frank. I was ten years old then and had no idea of the place and people that I would come to romanticize in later life.

And it IS baseball season again. Finally. Wonderful. It's a skilled man that can catch a bat and still remain in control of his can of Red Stripe. Take me out to the ball game!

I swear that I caught a foul ball at an Atlanta Braves game with my left hand, never spilling the beer in my right on opening day about 10 years ago. One of the highlights of my life. Sadly, that guy in that cool Dave Goldman picture has topped me by a mile. What a great shot.

Wow, they let you bring cans of beer to the ballpark in Florida. You sure can't do that in NYC. Actually you can't even bring an SLR with a long lens. You can bring a super large "D" and part of a Fence to football games though.
Which makes no sense, at least to me.

I accidentally came across Moriyama Daido shooting his autocord in Shinjuku one night:


I later included the shot in a photobook I presented to him when he visited Taipei last year. He seemed to like it and signed a copy for me :)

Thanks for that, that first pic made my day! I love Rain Dogs, although it's always seemed like Swordfish Trombones part 2, to me. That ain't a criticism mind, Swordfish Trombones is one of only a handful of albums I would rate as pretty much perfect.

I had pretty much forgotten about Tom Waits and his gravely voice. Really like the 2nd shot though. Way back when I use to be a Boston Bruins fan and the folks ducking the bat remind me of a puck flying into the crowd. Some folks covering up and others reaching for the big catch. Of course beer spilled everywhere. Ah the memories.

Indeed, I was just commenting on the chosen shot, which I didn't think was the one Barron captured here. Not that that matters.


I always thought that shot of Mr. Waits a little undignified.

And the baseball photog's skill is not, as the comment suggests, in getting the focus and exposure correct. Any pro DSLR would have that covered. The skill is in the shooter's presence of mind and hand-eye coordination.

And luck, of course, but a good photographer purchases luck by chasing it.

Mike, you said this "if you photograph for color, then meanings are arbitrary." in the post about Tom Waits.

Am I to assume the second photograph you've selected here is therefore meaningless or has any meaning I care to assign it, just because it's in colour.

I suspect I've missed a point here. Is their a difference between "photograph for color" and "photograph in colour"?

(nothing need be said about the use of "color" or "colour").


No, in that picture, as in most color pictures, the color is arbitrary. The photographer is photographing a man catching a bat and the reactions of the crowd. He's not arranging colors or making any statement about, or with, color. The colors in that shot are actually quite nice (IMO), but that's just incidental. The meaning of the picture would have been the same if the colors of the peoples' clothing were all different.


Rain Dogs is, along with Bone Machine, my favourite Tom Waits album, so this post has brightened up my morning - thanks!

So Robert Franks shot album covers - well, you live and learn!
Incidentally, the puddle which Waits is hunched over makes it look a little like he just peed on the ground.

To non-US eyes both these images are very, very American; almost exclusively so.

Young photographer at work, 2011. http://flic.kr/p/9oPxeX

Shooting Polaroids is still fun. It takes the instant out of the instant. We had a PolaroidSunday in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam with some twitter friends last Sunday and my 7 year old son totally digs it. The 40 year old Polaroid Land Camera 320, now with 2 AAA batteries and expired Sepia film is a joy to play with.

Haven't scanned the picture he took of our group yet.

Hi Mike,
Check out Danny Clinch for some great Tom Waites stills & video or just great music photography.TOP rocks the world!!

I assumed that the Polaroid was for a test shot and the "real" camera was in the bag held by the guy to Robert Frank's right. Maybe I'm wrong about that.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Frank was using the Polaroid to test shoot - the only way to "chimp" back in the day.
In fact if I weren't so tight and unsure of myself, I'd bet on it.

By the way, I really like the re-design of the New York times Magazine that they debuted on Sunday.

As an aside - there is a photo book that was just released including Tom Waits poems and photos by Michael O'Brien. It's called Hard Ground and is well worth the $25.86 Amazon is asking for it. They're all shot on Polaroid 55. Man I miss that film.


I love the use of foreground in the Waits shot. It isolates and documents what's happening. Great use of negative space.

Tom Waits lives in my home town. I see him around and he really hates being photographed. Never the less, I've taken some fun candids of him with and without his knowledge. One day my daughter e-mailed me a "behind" shot of Tom sitting at the bar in a local restaurant. She called it "Tom Waits ass" because, from behind his jeans were only covering half . . . well you get the idea.

I feel rather stupid for not seeing the (back) cover of one of my favorite albums by my favorite male artists in that shot.

In my - weak - defense, there are a few more people on the cover shot.

I, too, would have given this a touch less foreground, but most because less foreground means more Waits.

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