Boots and Wurlitzer (Color)

Boots & Wurlitzer 1977 (Color)

“Boots & Wurlitzer” is one of my most published images and has been done only in its original black and white form since it’s inception. There is a complete back story on the black and white photo and it’s making on my website listed under the backstories.

Here is a bit of background on the color version. I never intended to print this image in color. My process back in the 1970’s was to sketch out ideas on a note pad that had come to mind. Not always but sometimes I would take a few shots on color slide film after the sketch as a trail study. This is what happened here with this color version. I used my Leica M4 with Agfachrome slide film. This slide had been tucked away for decades. I came across it this winter as I was going through older negatives along with some other slides. It was intriguing to me examining it in color. Especially the appearance on the old Agfa film. I laid the slide on the light table and made a few iPhone shots of it. I consulted with a gallery owner and a few collectors about their first impressions.

My first thoughts were that they would find it of historical interest. It was at their urging to see it printed that I took on the task. The slide had to be scanned and then the file put into the flow of the digital darkroom. The old film scanner needed updating and had not been fired up in years. In the back of my mind, I wondered if it would even be worth all the effort, and would I be successful?

It took a lot of time, but I found the result most interesting. Very distinct from the black white with a much different feel. As I looked and worked on it my thoughts were that it is a little jewel. Unlike the big black and white but coming from the same family.

The printing proved to be superb, and it has been kept small to maintain its precious charm.

E. McD July 11, 2022


Boots & Wurlitzer, 1977

Boots & Wurlitzer 1977

It was the summer of 1977 and we had moved from Albuquerque into our Santa Fe home – Susan, our 3-year-old daughter Melissa, and myself. Also along with us came our two dogs and one cat. We all settled into to our new lives here in the high desert. My studio and darkroom were set up and life was a marvelous dream living in the beauty of the landscape amongst fellow artists and friends. It was a time that was full of day-to-day adventures along with trying new and different things.

I was experimenting with photographic techniques and studying those I thought of as masters of the medium. I acquired Edward Weston’s daybooks and read it cover to cover. It was intriguing to me that he discussed diet and its affects on his mind and work. Susan had started us on a regimen of vitamins and health foods that I found did make a big difference in my physical and mental vitality. Almost daily Dr. Hook was on the car radio singing about getting his picture on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. It was a catchy tune that subliminally rested deep in my psyche from hearing it over and over.

The thought came of someday I might make a photograph for the cover of Rolling Stone. Still being a young man who liked to accumulate and drag objects, things, and all kinds of stuff home, it was a 1946 Wurlitzer jukebox that was acquired. Susan was most always fine with my random additions, but this one she approved of right away. It was a beauty and in mint condition, plus it actually worked! We found a special spot in our tiny living room and there it stood with its glowing bubble lights, shinny chrome frame, varnished wood, and cloth-covered speaker. Dr. Hook’s song kept playing on the radio and one day the image came into mind right after Susan had purchased some beautiful cowgirl boots. She was sitting on our fabulous Italian chair placed next to the Wurlitzer. With my small Leica I took some Kodachrome shots that became my early proofs. In my mind came the affirmation that this really would be a great cover for Rolling Stone. Next was to attempt a black and white with my Deardorf view camera. On the floor with a tiny tripod the set up was prepared, the model with boots on sitting in the chair, and the Wurlitzer was all lit up. The afternoon light that came steaming in across the floor was perfect!

I remember standing over the darkroom sink and seeing the film after it was first developed. An exhilarating feeling flowed in my veins. It was so wonderful to see that we can use our minds to see something and then make it happen. I had been juice fasting for about 3 days prior to making this photo. Mind, body, vision, and perception were very sharp. The realization came that this must have been what Weston was writing about. Diet does have an effect upon our work. And lets not forget Dr. Hook’s song playing over and over in my head. Why juice fasting? It was Susan’s idea as she had been reading about the benefits; she was and still is my health guru today.

The image became a hit. It did make different covers and went around the world in the form of thousands of posters; fine art prints went into museum acquisitions, and on to collector’s walls, but never on the cover of Rolling Stone. Perhaps I should have sent them one. Funny thing, I still hear from people who have been on recent trips and they tell me they see the old posters not only in towns and cities here in America but in the strangest of exotic and far off places.