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Matinee: Graham Nash Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

22 November 2014

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the sixtieth in our series of Saturday matinees today: Graham Nash.

This Pix Channel eight-and-a-half minute interview, which takes place in his back yard and his music studio (yes, that Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young), ranges from why and how Nash takes photographs to his ground-breaking efforts in digital printing, which earned him a Lifetime Achievement award from PMA in 2007.

His approach to photography is pretty wide ranging, "just about what's been going on in my life -- and it's been a crazy life."

Nothing is predetermined. "I'm going out with my camera," he sets the scene. "Something's going to happen. I don't know what it is." But invariably something happens.

So he constantly reminds himself to take his camera along. "I'm getting better at it," he admits. But still he's tortured by the fear he'll miss something like Elvis trotting around the corner on a giraffe. "It's happened," he says.

"How can a musician take photographs?" he asks. "It's just the same desire to shoot my mouth off," he smiles, "to express myself."

But it wasn't easy getting recognized.

He remembers the resistance of galleries to any imaging in which a computer was involved. They didn't understand how much work went into the preparation of an image, he says.

So he isn't among the purists who decry any kind of image manipulation. He doesn't think it invalidates the art. In fact, he says, when you move a step to one side to avoid a lamp post coming out of your subject's head, you're already manipulating the image. It's the job.

It was a natural extension of that philosophy that led to his experiments in digital printing, which have become Nash Editions.

Preparing for an exhibition in Tokyo, he discovered a $126,000 machine capable of printing photographic quality. He and his partner pushed the envelope to get that printer to deliver a level of quality they knew it could do on papers it wasn't built to handle.

The other problem collectors have with digital prints is ink fading.

Print permanence is a problem "we've been dealing with for years," he admits, but quickly points out that prints today can last 200 years. He wants to see 1,000 year prints some day but he realizes anything that light falls on will fade.

The interview is nicely interspersed with his clips of his own images. Life would like us all to be sheep and lie down watching TV, he says at the end of the interview, but he prefers to wake us up to see what's going on around us.

That's exactly what we were doing when we met Nash in 2007 at PMA.

We were putting our notes away at some event, a Sneak Peak, if we remember, relaxing a minute with a bottle of water in the desert when we heard someone accuse us of hitting the virtual water cooler. It was a reference to something we had written in the newsletter we had been editing at the time. And the person making it was Kim Brady, the woman who had combed through each issue until 2004 when Shawn Barnett replaced her, untangling the knots we had woven before it was sent out to 50,000 readers.

We had never met in person before but we were old friends.

To this day, we miss her feedback on our work. There wasn't a story we wrote that she didn't improve (yes, even the one in which she argued taking movies of cats was amusing). And we were always grateful to her for caring as much about our work as we did. That's a rare editor.

We managed to get a PR person to snap of photo of us for posterity just as Nash was walking by. Kim just happened to know Nash from the days before Young joined the band so she introduced us to him.

We shook hands and congratulated him on the award for his contribution to fine art printing. "I'm getting old," he joked modestly, implying if you hang around long enough, they start giving you awards.

But there is something about photography that keeps you young. And if you love it as much as Nash, perhaps even immortal.

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