Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rock 'N' Roll Times: The Style and Spirit of the Early Beatles and Their First Fans

by Jurgen Vollmer

John Lennon, in his forward to Jurgen Vollmer’s book Rock ‘N’ Roll Times remarked “… Vollmer was the first photographer to capture the beauty and the spirit of The Beatles…We tried very hard to find someone with his touch after we returned from Hamburg, Germany…nobody could…The photographs…speak for themselves.”

In the '70s, three photographic books by Jurgen Vollmer were released in New York. Nureyev in Paris utilised images Vollmer had taken of the star in 1966; African Roots included photographs from his trips to Senegal and Gambia (which was published with the endorsement of Alex Haley, author of Roots); and finally Sex Appeal, a collection of candid, youthful images taken in Europe and America with an introduction by William S. Burroughs. Rock 'N' Roll Times, his book chronicling his early 'rocker' shots wasn't released until the following decade.

"You know, I began to see the significance of many of my photos only decades after they were taken," Vollmer admits. "At the time I took them I just followed my instincts. I couldn't tell you why I took the photos when I did. It's so hard to explain. It's like a drive. For most great writers when they write, it comes naturally; they don't analyse, they don't construct sentences intellectually. This is why they also say if you as a writer are too intellectual, you might destroy or suppress the instinctive, creative urge. For me, it's the same with photography. I never know why I take a photo at a particular time because you can't know consciously as these moments pass so quickly; it is an instinctive action. It's odd. You're always learning about yourself from what you produce creatively. If you allow creativity to come from that subconscious, instinctive matter, you are reaching inside to where you yourself can't always know what is there. This is true for my art, for my photography.

"I am not a trend photographer. I want to go to the essence of what life is all about, what people are all about and I think in my lifetime, I have achieved that with some of my images. And these are the ones I'll always treasure."

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