Cap­tur­ing a move­ment

Adrian Hatwell talks with pho­tog­ra­pher Ian Jor­gensen about his en­cy­clopaedic per­sonal project cov­er­ing a decade-and-a-half of pas­sion­ate mu­sic pho­tog­ra­phy

The Shed - - Personal -

Count­less per­sonal projects die at con­cept stage. A flash of in­spi­ra­tion gives birth to an ex­cit­ing idea, only to quickly be sub­sumed in the work of mak­ing a liv­ing and liv­ing a life. For Ian ‘Blink’ Jor­gensen, one such idea re­mained dor­mant for some 12 years as he bus­ied him­self with a di­verse ca­reer of pho­tog­ra­phy, pub­lish­ing, band man­age­ment, mu­sic videos, and event man­age­ment. While his planned book of early mu­sic pho­tog­ra­phy never did come about, the en­su­ing years proved fer­tile ground for the idea to ger­mi­nate, com­ing to full bloom this year in an im­pres­sive 10-book box set.

A Move­ment is the (“thor­oughly pre­ten­tious,” ac­cord­ing to Jor­gensen) name of the hefty project, chron­i­cling 15 years of the pho­tog­ra­pher’s work shoot­ing bands. The 10 vol­umes fea­ture some 1000 pho­tos of 300 bands, mostly lo­cal but some in­ter­na­tional, or­ga­nized around vary­ing themes. It’s a huge

en­deav­our, but Jor­gensen says he sim­ply couldn’t fig­ure out how to make it any smaller.

“I wanted to have mul­ti­ple shots of the bands I worked most closely with over the pe­riod, and re­ally strug­gled choos­ing who to leave out. I will even­tu­ally get a re­ally nice on­line ar­chive to­gether show­cas­ing a bunch more of the work I couldn’t pub­lish, prob­a­bly in an­other 15 years.”

Jor­gensen started his first pho­tog­ra­phy busi­ness af­ter leav­ing high school, ini­tially with an aim to work as a real-es­tate pho­tog­ra­pher while shoot­ing bands as a hobby. It was af­ter get­ting a sur­pris­ingly pos­i­tive re­sponse from the band Shi­had upon of­fer­ing to shoot a con­cert that he felt the se­ri­ous tug of mu­sic pho­tog­ra­phy.

“Pre-dig­i­tal days there weren’t the throngs of hip­ster blog­gers up the front of ev­ery show, I was one of just a hand­ful of pho­tog­ra­phers in the coun­try who were pho­tograph­ing mu­sic, as such I very quickly got es­tab­lished with the mag­a­zines at the time and was able to eas­ily find low-paid work.”

Jump for­ward 15 years and Jor­gensen has worked with many of the most im­por­tant acts to come out of New Zealand dur­ing that pe­riod in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ca­pac­i­ties, but never with­out cam­era close at hand. The re­sult­ing ar­chive he has cre­ated is likely the most com­pre­hen­sive vis­ual record of that scene, and

AMove­ment hand­somely col­lects the essen­tials. Re­leas­ing a sin­gle photo book in to­day’s mar­ket is no easy feat, but a box set of 10 is al­most un­heard of. Jor­gensen was acutely aware of the un­wieldy eco­nomics, and de­vised a way to more palat­ably spread the cost to read­ers, com­bin­ing crowd-fund­ing with a good old­fash­ioned book club.

“The full re­tail cost of the box set is around $300 and, frankly, no­body has that sort of spare cash float­ing around, es­pe­cially to pay for ridicu­lous projects like this. I re­al­ized that the key way I was go­ing to sell these books was by creat­ing a book club where mem­bers paid a small amount ev­ery week and re­ceived a book in the post ev­ery sec­ond week. Re­ceiv­ing mail is awe­some, and also it’s kind of over­whelm­ing try­ing to nav­i­gate your way through 1000-odd pho­tos all at once, so hav­ing two weeks with each book felt right to me.”

The pho­tog­ra­pher at­tracted around 60 mem­bers to the book club with its ini­tial Kick­starter launch, enough make the project hap­pen, and he’ll run an­other mem­ber­ship drive when the set is re­leased in March, for those who also want to get in on the mail-or­der ac­tion.

For Jor­gensen, one of the big­gest

achieve­ments in get­ting the project com­pleted was be­ing rid of the boxes of un­or­ga­nized neg­a­tives that would act as a clut­tered daily re­minder of his un­fin­ished am­bi­tion. He had ac­crued in the area of 40,000 neg­a­tives, but a cou­ple of Nikon Coolscan ma­chines from the US and a de­cent work­flow made the scan­ning process fairly pain­less. Neg­a­tive touch-ups were a dif­fer­ent mat­ter, but Jor­gensen took ad­van­tage of the on­line plat­form fiverr.com, on which you can get al­most any ser­vice done for $5, to spread the te­dious load. Track­ing down ac­cu­rate info about what was pic­tured in any given im­age was an­other la­bo­ri­ous task, but the fin­ished prod­uct was well worth the effort for the pho­tog­ra­pher.

“When I first saw all 10 books sit­ting in a box to­gether, I got a lit­tle choked up. I’ve com­pleted a lot of projects in my life, but this is a mas­sive per­sonal achieve­ment, made sweeter by know­ing how dif­fi­cult the en­tire process was and be­ing hands-on the whole way. I al­ways dreamed of pub­lish­ing my mu­si­cal pho­tographs; to see it done is a bucket list–type mo­ment.”

With­out a bud­get to ad­ver­tise or pro­mote the book in the tra­di­tional ways, Jor­gensen will fall back on his con­sid­er­able tour­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to get the word out about AMove­ment. He has or­ga­nized a swathe of 25 events around the coun­try, be­gin­ning March 12, which will in­clude an ex­hi­bi­tion, ap­pear­ances in book and record stores, a com­pan­ion film screen­ing, many live shows, and a mini one-day mu­sic fes­ti­val.

“It wouldn’t have seemed right to re­lease some­thing as ridicu­lous as a 10-book box set with­out do­ing an equally stupid num­ber of re­lease events,” he ex­plains.

To sign up to the AMo­ment book club, find in­for­ma­tion on the nu­mer­ous events planned around the re­lease, or to check out more of Jor­gensen’s work visit ian­jor­gensen.com or alowhum.com.

Liam Finn, Betchadupa, The Cusp NYE, Trafal­gar Park, Nel­son, 31 De­cem­ber 2002

Ruban and Kody Neil­son, The Mint Chicks, Out­side The Zone, Whanganui, 27 Jan­uary 2004

Dold De Borst, The Dat­suns, Bodega, Welling­ton, 10 Oc­to­ber 2002

Jon Toogood, Shi­had, Town Hall, Welling­ton, 10 November 2000

Michael Prain, Die! Die! Die!, Ian’s flat, Welling­ton, 5 Fe­bru­ary 2004

David Mor­ri­son, Noel Meek, Ben­jamin Knight, The All See­ing Hand, The Noisy Room, Camp A Low Hum, 10 Fe­bru­ary 2012

Reuben Win­ter, Car­oles, Pup­pies, Welling­ton, 20 April 2014

Joshua Heptin­stall, 1QA, The Fac­tory, Welling­ton, 17 Au­gust 2002

Shayne Carter, York Street Stu­dios, Auck­land, 22 March 2002

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