Jim Marshall
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Buy *Proof* by Jim Marshall online

Jim Marshall
132 pages
August 2004
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Jim Marshall, a photographer who began shooting in the 1960s, really defined the art of rock photography. Those famous photos that have been seen in books, on posters, and on album and magazine covers probably all came from his cameras. Jimi Hendrix's arm-extended in half-crucifix posture taken at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival is Marshall's; Janis, slouched on a couch backstage with her bottle of Jack cradled on her lap, is his; the cover of the Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore East, where the band is in various postures of repose against a backdrop of guitar, drum, and amplifier cases, is also Jim's.

What makes this particular book so intriguing is the fact that complementing the main iconic photo are the contact sheets from that various session. For instance, when you see the serene, eyes-closed and tripping photo of Brian Jones wandering around the Monterey Pop fairgrounds on the right page, on the left is the contact sheet containing the dozens of photos shot during on that day. And the final image, if you look closely, is outlined in grease pencil, signifying, "This is the one."

All the images here are in black and white, Marshall's métier. The lack of color lends an austerity and an intimacy and a poignancy. This style would later be adopted by rock photographer Neil Zlozower, who would see the artist through Marshall's Nikon, as it were, but translate it through a lens colorfully. Neil, the shooter who just released a pictorial on Van Halen, gave color to his subjects and brought to life with living breathing hues the world of the rocker.

Journalist Joel Selvin has provided an intro and essay pieces on the various shots. He puts into context these wordless pieces of art. The writer talks about working with the lensman: "Nothing is ever easy and Jim Marshall is a man who can give being difficult a bad name." Those stories have circulated, but at the end of the day, here was an individual who understood how a camera worked and provided us with some of the most enduring and fascinating photos ever taken.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Steven Rosen, 2007

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