A sound & vision photo project in memory of David Bowie.
I'm not going to go into what David Bowie meant to me or how shocked and deeply saddened I was upon hearing the news of his death. I am sure it's not much different than what thousands of people felt around the world. It's been one year without him, however, a year where my husband and I had plenty of Bowie tribute nights, watched every documentary there is about him, listened to all his albums over and over, read and watched his interviews online and admired beautiful projects made by artists in his memory. A year where all of this brought him even closer to us, soothing our souls like a warm blanket.
This here is something I wanted to do for a while but decided to leave it till the anniversary of his death. Actually till the day after, when most of us found out about it. I went through numerous of photos from my street photography collection and tried to figure out what David Bowie song title would suit each photo, as a caption. It was a lot harder than I thought, which is why I focused on the title and not necessarily the content. I don't caption my photos, my aim is for them to be able to speak for themselves, but I made an exception in this case. By no means does the title or the content apply to the photo in reality, it is just a little exercise where I practice a bit of story-making with my images, while having a certain soundtrack in mind for each. So, here is my own little tribute to this giant. A sound and vision project. A marriage between his songs and my own images.
Round And Round (B-side of the single "Drive-In Saturday" 1973)
This one was easy. The song came to me immediately as I saw this picture. I took plenty of panning shots of my son, Shane, on the carousel at a festival. Round and round on a merry go round he went. And if he could have it his way, which he didn't, he'd 'never stop rocking till the moon went down'.
Changes ("Hunky Dory" 1971)
This very talented street performer saw his photo online and contacted me to tell me how mind blowing he found it to be, as his name happened to be Ernest too. He had never noticed the poster of Ernest Bewley behind him. That was one hell of a coincidence I was really excited about. We went on talking about how this could be seen as Ernest of the past and (or vs) Ernest of the future. I captured this shot after multiple attempts, trying to get this moment where they both seem to be having an identical moment. 'Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes' came to mind, 'turn to face the strange, don't tell them to grow up and out of it' which, to me, is basically everything Bowie represented.
China Girl ("Let's Dance" 1983)
Ok, I have to admit that whenever I see beautiful Asian girls walk down the street this song and especially its intro will pop into mind. This is a photo where that song was already playing in my mind when I clicked the shutter. And most likely this tune will have been playing in my head for the rest of the day with his voice singing 'I could escape this feeling, with my China girl, I feel a wreck without my little China girl, I hear her heart beating loud as thunder, saw the stars crashing'... (Now, I wouldn't be too familiar with the traditional outfits so forgive me if this is not a traditional Chinese outfit, it could be Japanese, where Bowie's 'Crystal Japan' may apply).
Be My Wife ("Low" 1977)
I do not know this couple but, boy, were they cute! They seemed oblivious to the world around them as they were wrapped into each others arms in a very intimate and passionate moment. They never noticed me getting into position for this photo. It wasn't a fast click either, I felt I had enough time to frame it and wait for the best moment. In times like these it's always 'Love is in the air' that comes to mind, but while looking at this photo thinking of a Bowie tune for my project, I came up with 'Be My Wife' and 'Please be mine, share my life, stay with me, be my wife'.
Everyone Says 'Hi' ("Heathen" 2002)
Purely based on the song title alone. A moment in street photography where you are noticed and you get all sorts of reactions. It's not candid but I love it as it documents a video clip in the making. It only took one of them to see me and then seconds later they were all posing and waving and smiling away. One of the things that I love about Dublin is that everyone says hi, as soon as you get eye contact, be it a complete stranger on the street, or your neighbours. A smile and a hi is all you need as soon as you step out of the house. Would love to see the video clip, I should have asked them who they were.
Fashion ("Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)" 1980)
This woman looked like she just stepped out of a glossy fashion magazine page as soon as I saw her. Even the way she was positioned in the middle isle of O'Connell Street waiting to cross the road, completely still and staring ahead, she looked out of place, yet ready to dive into her surroundings if that makes any sense whatsoever. There's something 80s about this which matches Bowie's 'Fashion'. 'Listen to me, don't listen to me, talk to me, don't talk to me, dance with me don't dance with me'.
Lady Grinning Soul ("Aladdin Sane" 1973)
What can I say about this picture? A genuine laugh, contagious and vivid bringing out a personality of a person you would like to know and be friends with. Based on the title alone, she was for me a Lady grinning soul. Just like the piano in this song, her laugh would light up any room and fill it with melodies.
I'm Deranged ("Outside" 1995)
This was taken in town on a Halloween night. He saw me point my camera to him and came running towards the gates of the building he was coming out from. He jumped on the bars and shook them violently while I took the photo. If it wasn't for Halloween and the fact that he was laughing and excited, I would probably be paralysed with fear. 'And the rain sets in, it's the angel-man, I'm deranged'...
Oh, You Pretty Things ("Hunky Dory" 1971)
Beautiful youth hanging out. The boys and girls in this photo and their body language are so pretty. Almost delicate. We used to be them and now we are their parents. We're looking at our past with nostalgia and they're looking at the future with wonder. 'Oh You Pretty Things' Bowie sang, 'Look at your children, See their faces in golden rays, Don't kid yourself, They belong to you, They're the start of a coming race'.
Slip Away ("Heathen" 2002)
This woman made this photo very easy for me. She was stood there daydreaming for a while, long enough for me to compose this shot. She had a quiet sunny corner by the window, away from all the background noise as she slipped away into her thoughts. Far far away. 'Don't forget to keep your head warm, twinkle twinkle uncle Floyd, watching all the world and war torn, how I wonder where you are'.
Jump They Say ("Black Tie White Noise" 1993)
This skateboarder was there for a while, trying to pull off this trick where he would jump in the air and land onto one of the side railings with his skateboard and slide all the way to the other side. I am sure there is a special term for this but, unfortunately, I don't speak skateboard language. A friend of his was filming him with his phone and shouting NOW, or JUMP when he thought it was the right moment. I didn't stick around long enough to see if he eventually did it, maybe because it looked altogether impossible. But I got this shot where he was giving himself a little boost by flapping his arms. 'They say Jump, Got to believe somebody, Got to believe'.
Rebel Rebel ("Diamond Dogs" 1974)
A night in Temple Bar, Dublin. We stood outside a bar with tripods for this long exposure shot. It was raining and it was cold but that was no obstacle for the bold ones, the rebels. They all looked fabulous and excited and ready to dance the night away and go through it in a blur. 'Hey babe, your hair's alright, hey babe, let's go out tonight, you like me, and I like it all, we like dancing and we look divine'... Is this not one of our favourite tunes, still, when out? How can your heart not skip a beat when that riff kicks in?
I could go on and on with this project and ideally include a song from every album to match a picture, but it would be a seriously long thread and no one would ever get to the end of it. I will however include a portrait photo I took last year of Shane. I had plenty of time in my hands and was still grieving David Bowie and decided to spray paint the iconic lightning bolt from Aladdin Sane onto his face with very basic software. Mainly as a fun distraction. And it was fun. I named it Aladdin Shane.
I hope you enjoyed this post. I certainly enjoyed putting this together. Feel free to share it away. Can you think of different Bowie songs you would have matched to the above images? Please let me know in the comments below and don't forget to subscribe if you want to get updates. Thank you x