Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What The Eagles Taught Me About Photography

by Kelly

A couple of months ago, I was flipping through the stations one night and I stumbled across a documentary about the rock band, Eagles, on Showtime.
Directed by Alison Ellwood, this intimate, meticulously crafted patchwork of rare archival material, concert footage and never-before-seen home movies explores the evolution and enduring popularity of The Eagles. Part 1 investigates the band's creation and rise to fame in the 1970s through its breakup in 1980.
Just for the record, I am a huge fan of the Eagles.  Although I didn't really discover their music until after they had broken up, what I loved most about the group were their beautiful harmonies and the stories they told with their songs.

Anyway, I was fortunate to have caught the program near the beginning and so I watched as the narrator told the story of how all of the original members came together.  But there were two particular pieces - one about Glenn Frey and one about Don Henley - that really stood out to me.

OK...I do realize that I write for a photography blog...and I know that you're probably wondering what in the world Glenn Frey and Don Henley could possibly have to do with my photography.  But just hang in there with me.  It'll all come together.

So as the story goes, Glenn Frey's first big 'gig' was playing acoustic guitar and singing backup for Bob Seger on the record "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man".  And it was during this time that Bob strongly encouraged Glenn to focus on writing his own, original songs.  Which was something Frey had always had an interest in.

After Frey's success with Bob Seger, he moved out to California, and through a mutual acquaintance, he was introduced to Jackson Browne.  Frey and Browne became friends and Frey eventually moved into the empty apartment directly above Browne's.  But it wasn't just friendship that brought them together...Frey greatly admired Browne's gift for songwriting, and Frey knew that he could learn a lot from him.

During one of the taped interviews, Frey fondly recalls:
Around nine in the morning. I’d hear Jackson Browne’s teapot going off with this whistle in the distance, and then I’d hear him playing piano. I didn’t really know how to write songs. I knew I wanted to write songs, but I didn’t know exactly, did you just wait around for inspiration, you know, what was the deal? I learned through Jackson’s ceiling and my floor exactly how to write songs, ‘cause Jackson would get up, and he’d play the first verse and first course, and he’d play it 20 times, until he had it just the way he wanted it. And then there’d be silence, and then I’d hear the teapot going off again, and it would be quiet for 20 minutes, and then I’d hear him start to play again … and I’m up there going, so that’s how you do it?  Elbow grease. Time. Thought. Persistence.
Hard work. Time. Thought. Persistence...man I love that.

No joke...I have thought about this interview off and on for the past month.  And I think whether you are an aspiring songwriter or a empty-nesting momma with a camera, there is so much truth in these simple words.  There is no magic button...You can't just sit and wait for inspiration to strike. Inspiration is in the work.

And finally, there's this....before Don Henley dropped out of  North Texas State University to care for his ailing father, he was studying English literature.  He failed his one and only music theory course. An original member of one of the best selling rock and roll groups of all time...and he failed a college music course.  Clearly, past failures do not determine ultimate success.

I know that I often write about the learning aspects of photography. And it's because I so often feel like I've just barely scratched the surface....there's still so much I would like to learn and discover.   Finding new ways to express the music my heart.

But this I do know for sure.  And that is whether your music is played with an instrument or comes out of a camera, all you really need is a passion to express yourself and a desire to learn.

As always, thank you for letting me share my music with you.  Until next time...



Dotti said...

What a great lesson and reminder this is for us all, Kelly! It's so true, whatever the discipline, what it really takes is hard work, perseverance, getting your hands dirty, so to speak. And for photographers, well, it's easy to forget that it doesn't just come. You have to put yourself and your camera out there seeking it and then letting it come to you that way. Gorgeous photos to start of this Tuesday morning, as well. I'll be thinking about this post all day and ... when I get my camera out. Which I need to do. It's getting dusty.

Unknown said...

Great reminder!!! Thanks Kel!

Carol said...

I didn't wonder a bit why a photography blog was writing about The Eagles - I love them! I also love listening to creative people tell about how it works for them. Big believer in the practice, the work, but also , the time, the quiet. "Whether your music is played with an instrument or comes out of a camera " - yup so good

Anonymous said...

Great inspiration post! Hard work, time, thought and persistence is definitely going into my daily reminder! And your photos….wow…crisp clear music to my ears!

CarolHart said...

Such a lovely, thoughtful post Kelly. Thank you.

terriporter said...

I really love the comparison between a writer of music and a maker of photos. Whenever I get frustrated and feel like I'm not the photographer I desire to be, I remember that this hobby is never truly mastered. It is always a work in progress and the more work you put into it, the better you'll be but you will never fully master it. I think that's what keeps us all coming back, working at it and trying, and it's what makes us love it. I've read through your post twice and there is so much wisdom there. I will carry these thoughts with me as I pick up my camera today.

Unknown said...

Lovely images, the spider's web is my favourite, thank you :)

Beverly said...

Kelly, I hope you are keeping these posts for a book as well! Seriously!

kybarb said...

Loved this post so much Kelly! I had to search Amazon for the Eagles documentary and just finished watching the first part. I love the connections you made here and of course your beautiful photos are always an inspiration to me to get out there and keep shooting. I so love that this group is always inspiring me to learn something new or make a connection I might never have made on my own. Thank you!

Deanna said...

Oh I loved this post, Kelly. And how you compared music with photography was just magic. We can never stop learning or be totally satisfied in place, we all have to continue to learn and grow.

Viv@Thoughts from the Desktop said...

Such a great piece Cathy it really hits home that as with learning an instrument you have to get up every day and practise, I love the Eagles and did get to see them the last time they toured Europe.

Viv@Thoughts from the Desktop said...

Oops I do apologise Kelly. :)

Ida said...

That was great. First I love the Eagles and have had the thrill of hearing them in concert a few times. Loved every minute. I also purchased a copy of the Documentary that you mentioned. It really was something else. I like the insights you gained from it and how you related them to photography. Thanks for sharing.

Kim Stevens said...

And on those days that I don't necessarily feel inspired I have to remember that it's the action itself that inspires. If it wasn't for my caterpillars and butterflies this summer my camera may very well have sat in my bag. Wonderful music today Kelly, and that last image...makes me want to sing! xo

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