When it comes to the rock stars we idolize, G. Douglas Seitsinger has seen them all. And, with his keen photographer’s eye, he has captured images of them that stand shoulder to shoulder with the work of the top rock photogs of the era. Put Seitsinger’s name next to Jim Marshall, Bob Gruen, Danny Clinch and Lynn Goldsmith. His work will be on display and available for sale Saturday at the Last Dollar Saloon from noon to 7 p.m. The show is called Eyebomb Photography Presents: Rock ’n’ Roll Photo Party. It’s an eye bomb, indeed.
The timing is perfect for a show like this, what with the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival in full swing. Many of the artists he’s shot have performed at the festival, like Warren Haynes and Buddy Guy.
The Peoria, Illinois, native had always loved shooting with cheap disposables when he was a kid, so when he got his first camera in 1979 his passion took flight. His world was already deeply into rock and blues music. He’s an accomplished guitarist, and possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of bands, musicians, albums and the rich lore that surrounds rock and blues legends. That intuitive understanding of the work happening onstage gives his photos an effortless, natural feel.
With his new Canon AE-1 camera in hand, Seitsinger made his way to a small hall in Peoria when country music legend Johnny Cash was performing. He never looked back.
“Something clicked in my head,” he remembers of that first show as a shooter. “I thought, ‘This is really cool.’”
After a move to Texas, he worked as a freelancer for local music magazines and shooting production stills for commercial and movie sets. But it was the clubs, halls and arenas that showcased the biggest stars of the day — Pete Townsend, Robert Plant, Stevie Ray Vaughan — where Seitsinger could be found most nights.
He perfected his black and white photography and printed his own work.
“I loved hanging out in the darkroom,” he said of those heady, pre-digital days.
Flipping through the prints he’ll have available at his Eyebomb Photography show at the Buck is like seeing rock and blues music history spool through your hands. B.B. King, Eric Clapton, JJ Cale, John Prine, Leon Russell, Albert King, Neil Young, Keith Richards, David Crosby — and there’s a story to go with every shot.
Photographers are permitted just a few songs to shoot an artist and then must vacate the pit. In David Crosby’s case, that was one song. He was working behind the lens for the permitted song and as soon it was over, the notoriously prickly musician looked right at Seitsinger and emphatically gestured that his time was up. The shot he captured of Crosby pointing stage left is riveting.
Seitsinger would love to publish a book and accompany each of the shots with its unique story.
“I’d love to share my work with the rest of the world,” he said.
The purpose of the show is not just to share his stellar work, but also to clean house so he can move to the next phase of his career. Work on a book is in his sights, as is “graduating from shooting musicians” to more intimate portrait work.
“It can be limiting creatively with rock shots and set stills work,” he said. “I’d love to work one-on-one with subjects.”
A visit to his online studio — eyebombphotography.com — reveals a body of work that ranges far beyond the dark stages where rock stars prowl. His outdoor work, using natural light and shot in both black and white and color, is by turns color-drenched or stark and serene. His portraits of women friends are bright and sensual and his series on vintage cars feels like a trip down Route 66. His recent years in Las Vegas afforded him a wealth of new subject matter — everything from rising rock stars like Greta Van Fleet shot at The Bunkhouse, to the neon allure of Sin City.
G. Douglas, as he prefers to be called, wrote in his artist’s statement that shooting is contentment.
“There has always been a certain, highly satisfying level of happiness and contentment within me whenever I pick up my camera and go searching.
“Capturing moments that need to be. Loving that feeling knowing I hit on a beautiful and timeless freeze frame. Easier these days, obviously, to just glance down and confirm that hit, as opposed to waiting on the validations from a darkroom.
“But I always knew. The art of the perfect blend, visually and technically. That feeling. Whether with the true warmth results of a film camera or the cool warmth immediacy of our digital world, it all comes down to who belongs to the eye on the viewfinder.”
Seitsinger will be sure to tell a story or two at his photo party. Stop by. He’s ready to share.