On August 3, 1985, according to my proofsheet, I photographed Henry Butler for The LA Reader. The story detailed his life, as a jazz pianist, and photographer, both challenging careers for someone who had been blind, from birth. I dug out my assignment, because of the Los Angeles Times article in today’s - 6.17.09 - Calendar Section, “The inner eye” by Christopher Knight, a review on the photography exhibition “Sight Unseen” at the California Museum of Photography, UC Riverside. Guest curated by Douglas Mc Cullob, one of the artist’s names jumped out at me - Henry Butler. Devoted as Butler was to his photographic craft when I earlier met him, his New Orleans portrait in today’s paper shows a definite growth and confidence. Great that he’s still shooting! In my photo for The LA Reader, Henry holds his camera in position to photograph me, circled in red on my proofsheet. Never got to see that image…wonder what it looked like….
I share a quote with you from the LA Reader article of 1985, “The Photos of Henry Butler,” written by Kirk Silsbee, along with links to the current exhibition and LA Times article:
“A couple of weeks ago, Butler was led to the piano bench at a concert. He put his hand down and struck a note, seemingly at random, and was instantly off into a composition. No warm-up, no trying to determine where the keys were in relation to him. Just GO! When reminded of the incident, Butler laughs. ‘I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t have done that before I started working with this photography thing. Just as you have to take a picture in an instant, I feel that you have to be able to create a composition in an instant. You have to be able to see the plan in your mind. People like Keith Jarrett can do that. Mozart could do that. That’s one of the reasons I keep doing photography. I know that the more I call on intuition, the more it will help me in my chosen field.’ ”
Image: Henry Butler Proofsheet © Loretta Ayeroff 1985