JasonK's Album: Wall Photos

Photo 20 of 20 in Wall Photos

Frank Hamrick Photography
In 2013 I bought a used 8x10” large format view camera while traveling during the summer and had it shipped to Jim Sherraden's house. Jim liked the tintype’s character and proposed making tintypes of musicians at Hatch Show Print. He believed folks would sit for a unique portrait made using an archaic process in an authentic setting. I told Jim I was interested and the first musicians I wanted to have sit for the series was Gillian Welch and her partner, Dave Rawlings.

That next year a new version of the Dave Rawlings Machine was assembled, which featured both Dave and Gillian, along with former Old Crow Medicine Show multi-instrumentalist Willie Watson, Punch Brothers standup bassist Paul Kowert, and on mandolin and fiddle, John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin.

A string of dates was booked with the tour ending Friday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. I wrote to Jim, who in turn had my letter forwarded to Gillian and Dave’s record label. Time passed without any response. More tour dates were added to the itinerary including a Saturday night show on the outskirts of town at the Grand Ole Opry.

Friday, the day of the first Nashville show, the record label called Jim. His contact there had just returned from vacation and was now responding to his letter. Gillian and Dave loved the idea and wanted a tintype of the whole band. They had an hour and a half window of time Saturday evening before the Opry appearance.

Due to the tintype’s long exposure time, it was decided the portrait would be made outside in Jim’s backyard rather than inside at Hatch. The band arrived already wearing their stage clothes. It became evident why they were interested in sitting for a tintype when Gillian said she studied photography in college and Dave made photographs with his Leica while I explained the wet plate process to everyone so they would know what to expect.

The band was positioned under a large oak tree. Gillian and Dave sat up front while the rest of the band stood behind them with John Paul, the patriarch, in the center. Each tintype was sensitized, exposed and developed one at a time. Between shots the band ate BBQ in the driveway while Dave and John Paul played Neil Young’s “Last Trip To Tulsa”. Exposure times crept from six to eight seconds as the sun fell behind the trees. The band posed out in Jim’s field for a final ten-second exposure before heading to sound check.

That night while driving into town for ice cream, we listened to the band’s Grand Ole Opry performance live on WSM AM radio.

Two days later I was back in Louisiana making a tintype of Andy, one of my former graduate students. I showed Andy the final tintype from the Dave Rawlings session, “You may not recognize him but this guy in the middle is John Paul Jones.”

Andy studied the image, “The name sounds familiar.”

“Maybe you’ve heard of Led Zeppelin.”

Andy, who once played drums in a punk band, looked into the distance, “I’ve only heard one Led Zeppelin song and it’s the one where they sing ‘We don’t need no education’, which shows just how much they need education because that’s a double negative.”

“Andy, that’s Pink Floyd.”

“Well, then I guess I only know one Pink Floyd song.”

Frank Hamrick
Photography & Book Arts
frankhamrick.com
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