Maximum Rock and Roll interview continued...

Who are some of your favorite photographers? Are you interested in other punk photographers?

Gilman photo

As for other punk photographers, I like Charles Peterson's Screaming Life (great pictures of Cobain) and Glen E. Friedman's Fuck You Heroes (classic shots of Bad Brains), but those books go back many years. Murray Bowles does great action color shots of people performing; he started before me and he's still going. These days everyone is a photographer--that is what digital has done. And with digital many people put their stuff on line so you can see it the next day; that's great.

My favorite photographers: Weegee, Robert Frank, Arbus, Friedlander, Larry Clark, Larry Fink, Garry Winogrand (absolutely the greatest), Salgado, Eugene Richards... the list could go on and on. I've learned from them all, but I have to say that what matters is shooting in a way that somehow evokes the deepest cultural/human suggestiveness and implications of the subject. Technique is just something you pick up along the way to help put your understanding to work finding images that resonate. That's why Winogrand is so great. His techniques took the medium to its limits, but that effort was just a means to finding images to say things about his times that were beyond what anyone else was even thinking of saying.

I'll note that my work tends to be sharp and focused, whereas a lot of punk photography uses slow sync and blurred action effects. My artistic choice is based on the idea that if we're using the artificial effect of black and white, then we might as well see all the details. The downside is that the flash washes out all the ambient light and even stage lights that we normally are aware of, and aware of in color. So there is nothing real about what I'm doing. It's graphic, arrangements in space. If I ever go digital, maybe I'll adapt to ambient light and color motion, because digital does those better than previous technologies.

I was reading your statement about the American Idiot art show that was rejected. Can you tell us the story for the people who havent seen it?

Gilman photo

The American Idiot art show was the idea of an events planning group hired by the Berkeley Rep to put on an after-show party to celebrate the official opening night of the Rep's rock opera based on Green Day's album of that name. They wanted something special to spike up the party, they found out about my work, and came to me looking for images to put on display during the party. Of course I wasn't around Gilman till a little after Green Day left, but it was close enough. They just got fascinated by my work from back then in the mid-90's, and I got swept up in their enthusiasm. So images were to be projected large on the walls in two areas of the party, and some 20 framed gallery prints were to be hung on specially made backdrops. On the afternoon of that day, 9/16/09, the band rather unexpectedly did a walk-through of the area, saw tests of my images being projected, and said no, leave all that stuff out. The story I heard was that someone in the band (I won't say who) said that it made him feel "sad" to see those images of people he may have known back in the day at Gilman, and therefore the entire art show was dumped. A lot of work went for nothing. I was mad at the planners because I would have expected that they would have had an agreement that something like that couldn't happen, but no, the band had final say. You can see a lot of the pictures they had selected to use on my web site.

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