Photo Book Review: Still Moving by Danny Clinch
“Still Is Still Moving To Me.” – Willie Nelson
So begins the colossal new book by New Jersey photographer Danny Clinch.
He is a man with stories. He keeps them in his head and tells them with his camera.
For all of his rock-god images, I first came to know of Danny’s work around 2007 and a business story. Well, a story about a business man.
It was a 2007 cover shoot of Virgin Atlantic’s Richard Branson for Outside magazine. I was listening to a podcast about the challenges about that shoot, when it was mentioned that he’s also done a lot of photography for Rolling Stone, Spin, Vanity Fair, and other music outlets, including concert shots and album covers.
Including a lot of work with Bruce Springsteen. Of course my ears perked up.
I then did more research on Danny Clinch. And became enthralled with his images and work.
Whether it was the wet-plate images of the Montauk, NY, surf community (also in Outside), to his short video features to, yes, his concert and backstage images of the likes of Pearl Jam.
His new book, Still Moving, is three things: Engulfing, Sumptuous and Grand.
It’s all here. From work from as far back as 1984 (a blurry shot of a jumping David Lee Roth on Van Halen’s 1984 tour) to about 2013 (a shot of Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field). And Everyone from Tupac to Greg Allman to Tony Bennet.
And, yes, Springsteen.
The book is set up into five broad chapters with brief intros to each:
*Documentary: Capturing a moment, my love of music, the creative process…
*Friends & Family: I often find myself in situations where I see friendships unfold…
*Backstage: Improvisational, works spaces, backstage, recording studios, tour buses, poorly lit, hallways. Another day at the office
*Live: In the middle of music….
*Portrait: A portrait of capturing the essence of someone. A moment that reveals their character.
In all, 206 main images, many full bleed. A couple of extras (Willie Nelson’s room; Danny’s cameras) also are at the front and back, plus, too, a couple of nice three-page gatefolds.
A very nice B&W portrait of Bruce Springsteen opens The Boss’ introduction to his friend’s book. In all, there are 12 photos of Springsteen, one of his favorite subjects, including one of Bruce and Danny’s father Maxted.
Danny covers it all, leaning heavily on his trusty Leica to do so.
But, as he has said in interviews, this is just the tip of the iceberg. More on that in a bit.
Still Moving is published by Abrams Books, with design and creative direction by YARD(which, incidentally, does design for fashion designer John Varatos, who, by the way, and has hired Danny to shoot his “Rock-And-Roll Gentleman” line, as well as other work over the past 10 years.)
The main pages are of glossy stock with uncoated, natural feeling end pages.
Prior, I said 206 main images. However, the inside front and back covers contain even more images in a collage format – 44 in all. And also the cover shot of Eddie Vedder and his ukelele and the back cover shot of blurry, jumping Tom Waits that has been a staple on Danny’s website for years. And why not? It’s a great shot.
The outside spine binding is cloth with DANNY CLINCH bigger than Still Moving on the spine.
The book retails for $50.00.
Danny puts you in the spot. Where he is, he takes you there. In the Friends And Family section, you feel the intimacy of the Elvis Costello/QuestLove (of The Roots) discussion.
In the Live section, you can feel the raw emotion of the live performance, see the strands in Bruce’s neck as he shares a mic with Neil Young, and leaping energy of Ben Harper in a small venue.
In the Portraits section, you get a contact high from the telephone pole –size joint that Willie Nelson is smoking.
It’s all there in gorgeous color and glorious B&W.
What Still Moving isn’t….
It isn’t a how-too manual. Danny’s not talking f-stops and exposures and lighting here. No Strobist-like info, no Joe McNally lighting diagrams. He’s simply showing what’s reflected in his lens. Nothing wrong with that
It isn’t too clear in a way. What I mean by that is… I kinda wish they labeled the photos. You have to flip to an thumbnail index in the back to find out who or what the subject of the photo is. Not a killer, but not ideal either. It’s probably a design aesthetic, though, and I get that.
It isn’t overtly diverse, as strange as that may sound for a book with over 200 images. I’ve heard some interviews with Danny about the book. He’s said he submitted 1,200 images to the publisher, and they made the first cut to 400. Then to this final cut. Obviously some great ones were left out. I love the Springsteen pics, but maybe go with six instead of 12 and get in that Al Green shot, or that Bo Diddly shot that you’ve talked about, Danny. And/or maybe a few more Pearl Jam shots. Just my opinion.
Finally, personally, I love the stories behind the photos. However, there’s no text here except for the intros. More text = less images. I get that. Still, I would have liked a little more narration. While it’s great to listen to Dave Marsh interview Danny for nearly two hours on E Street Radio (though Dave seemed under-prepared, in my opinion), it would have been cool to read a little more of the backstories to the images.
I’m nit-picking here for sure. It’s a fantastic book. The one thing that’s obvious is that these performers trust Danny to let him in. Plus, Danny is a musician too, playing harmonica in the Tangier Blues Band. Danny and his subjects are a kin spirit. That certainly helps.
Even though Danny interned with her, he’s the anti-Annie Liebovitz (in my eyes), she of huge set up and tons of lighting setups. Danny likes to travel light and small and use available light. Leica is what he leans on. That’s reflected in these images. Still, his portraits exhibit a mastery of available light…and catching that “essence.”
In conclusion…if you’re a Danny Clinch fan, if you’re a music fan, if you’re a photography fan, you’ll love this book.
And speaking of catching that essence…Part two of this post coming up tomorrow.
© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2014