Woodstock: 50 Years of Peace and Music • 1969-2019 • Artifacts of a Long Time Gone.

I’ve been thinking a lot these days about what the 1969 Woodstock Festival means, and specifically how it affected me. Since it undeniably did, -not only from a musical perspective, but from a very visual one, writing this post was important to me.

In context, I was born 6 years after Woodstock, in 1974, very far away from White Lake, Bethel - NY, where the festival was originally held. 

My copy of the Woodstock vinyl album - Released 1970 © Cotillion/Atlantic Records - Album cover photo by Burk Uzzle. 

I've lived in New York for a long time now, but so far haven't visited the site of the original festival: Max Yasgur's farm. Located in a treasured part of New York State, up in the Catskills, the place is mythical. There are a few reasons for not having been there yet (-basically work in NYC keeps me busy!-), but the main one being that I believe the people who were really there 50 years ago are the only ones who can have a real grasp of what the event did for them and their generation. The location and its significance can only be truly described first-hand by them, the attendees. Only they can really know how everything has changed in these 50 long years -though some may not remember at this point. 

But, for those of us who were magnetically drawn to the experience of the festival, especially through the film and the original soundtrack, Woodstock is also is a huge deal. It wasn't only "3 Days of Peace and Music". The legacy has been with us a full fifty years in time, since August 1969.

My copy of the Woodstock Two vinyl album - Released 1971 © Cotillion/Atlantic Records - Album cover photo by Wadleigh-Maurice Film Crew.

I discovered Woodstock and its older sibling -1967’s Monterey Pop-, when I was about 12 or 13, through an uncle who was a great music lover. Monterey Pop had an amazing lineup, and the film was masterfully directed by D.A. Pennebaker who we just lost a few weeks ago (R.I.P.). It really is an absolutely stunning visual and sonic piece of work, and The Criterion Collection did a gorgeous job on the remastering of the Blu Ray. Monterey Pop is one of the greatest films in my collection and is up there among my top-five favorite films of all time.

But Woodstock, the film, the documentary, is also up there. Directed by Michael Wadleigh. Edited by Wadleigh, Stan Warnow, Martin Scorsese, Yeu-Bun Yee, Jere Huggins, and Thelma Schoonmaker. All the editors deserve full-credit as this was a massive undertaking that masterfully compressed over 78-hours of filming into a 224-minute feature (on the director's cut version) -yet most people only cite Scorsese as the principal editor.

More of my Woodstock collection. Books by Michael Lang, Abbie Hoffman, Elliott Landy and memorabilia of posters, ticket stubs, DVD's, Blu Ray's, etc. © PBS, Reel Art Press, Elliott Landy, Michael Lang, Abbie Hoffman, Life Magazine and Warner Bros. Pictures.

Woodstock became the staple for every important festival that would follow. Glastonbury, the Isle of Wight, Live Aid, Lollapalooza, Roskilde, Coachella, Bonnaroo and all the others that are held today owe basically -everything- to Woodstock. And you can really SEE that when you see a full-screening of the film.

On those 3 days (actually, 4 -when counting Jimi Hendrix's performance on the morning of the last day, - / a Monday that implied that thousands of people had already left the originally 400K+ crowd because they had to go back to work), the appeal of the massive gathering that coexisted without peril, and under the psychotic weather, was enhanced by the thrill of witnessing such a lineup of artists perform on circumstances quite different from the ones we have today.

At some point after Joe Cocker's Sunday's performance, it all seemed to be approaching the verge of catastrophe, with the threat of collapsing/scaffolding audio towers and the risk of general electrocution, which funnily enough is always a thrill to watch.

The opening to the experience of Woodstock is really all encompassed in the film and in the original soundtrack. But mostly in the film. Every filmmaker or cinephile should watch Wadleigh's  Woodstock, and every musician should listen to at least 5 performances of the many ones recorded in the festival. Oh, and I know people who are filmmakers and consider themselves very cultured but have never watched a minute of Woodstock. They don't know what they are missing on every possible level.


So, now you can see how since I was a teenager I have been collecting almost everything that has been released about Woodstock and Monterey. 

These are just some of my Woodstock artifacts. Vinyl records, cd’s, magazines, newspaper articles, dvd’s, blu rays and books. No matter how much I look at the pictures and hear the sounds of the 1969 festival, I always find something new and exciting about the unfolding of the event and the energy it transmits. 

Another look at the quintessential artifacts: The soundtrack and the film. The original vinyl records and the 40th and 45th Anniversary editions of the films in DVD and Blu Ray discs. Packed with extras, they have a ton of previously unseen material. A real joy to watch and listen to in Hi-Fi. © Cotillion/Atlantic Records - Warner Bros. Pictures.

In a time when everyone seems to be bashing Michael Lang and company for not being able to make deals and secure permits to make a 50-year celebration happen, I think it’s totally fine (and probably better) that it didn’t happen this time. Nothing beats true originals. The music of today and the industry that merchandises it has very little to do with what was happening in the late ’60s. These are different times, and not necessarily thankfully.

* A very short text-less post about the festival (but with more pictures) was posted on my Instagram account on the exact date of the 50th anniversary of the launch of the festival, here

I'm sure I'll visit the location of the 1969 festival sometime soon; the bowl that held all those thousands of people. Woodstock turned it into a place of legendary status after being just a dairy farm. The farm owned by Max Yasgur, who believed in Lang, Roberts, Rossman, and Kornfeld, masterminds behind the festival's conception... Aren't we all supposed to go back to the garden anyway?

Eye Candy from Philippe Halsman / Dalí Atomicus (The Original Shot)

Wow 11 months have passed so far this year and I have been away. Tons of work, and fun, hence my blogging tasks left abandoned. But here's a little eye candy to make up for the lost time.

Philippe Halsman (no introduction necessary) met most of the members of the Surrealist movement in Paris in the 1930's while he was living there, and since the early 1940's he started a successful collaboration with the Spanish surrealist master Salvador Dalí.

This, perhaps the most iconic result of the collaboration was shot in 1948: "Dalí Atomicus". Most people know the final/retouched print of the photograph (which was done manually also in '48 -pre Photoshop era, of course, and I suppose very painstakingly in a darkroom, with extra careful attention to detail).

So, I was stumbling upon the many photographs I used to collect for photo-educational purposes and discovered this treasure that well deserves to be shared: Dalí Atomicus: The Original Shot, (in music terms, the remastered bonus track, or in film terms the extra feature on the Blue Ray/ DVD). It shows the cables that were holding things together and a pair of hands clutching the legs of the chair on the left side. It is a very rarely seen photograph in its original form, shot most probably in 8x10 (large) format and printed as a contact sheet.

Enjoy. It's a click away.

Dalí Atomicus - 1948 © Philippe Halsman 


(The more famous, manually retouched print that can be seen at MoMA in NYC)

The Timeless Photographic Past. Part V.

It's been a while since I posted in the "timeless past" series. This post covers 1970 to 1980.

My generation was born in this decade. Events in the field were unfolding so rapidly. Photography was everywhere by now, and almost everyone had an Instamatic camera to shoot or spare. Paralelly, professional photographers were charging enormous amounts of money for their commercial work. It was the strongest era of the printed magazine, and this lasted for another decade.

"Digital" was a word rarely heard of, and it meant computerized technology mainly, or something expensive and sophisticated, -related to science, and probably unreachable as the future, yet it felt as something relatively near and approaching.

The fine art world was also starting to recognize photography as an art form, and photography galleries were now opening in the major capitals of the world.

As an early son of 1974, I must confess that I cried as a child whenever a picture was being taken, especially if a flash was used and pointed at me (haha). It scared me to see so much light in front of my eyes. Very paradoxical, as I never knew I would become a photographer, and I always dreamed of being an architect.

My father inherited his duly Instamatic to me and I played with it, sparely. I remeber being interested in photo albums more than in the actual camera then. But all of that changed when I got my first Canon AE1-P, years later. I fell in love with it, and never let it go -until it was stolen inside of a good friend's car.

So speaking of photo albums, here's the historical compilation of some of my favorites from this decade.

Jane Birkin, Serge Gainsbourg - 1971 © Benjamin Auger

 Anita Pallenberg, Keith Richards and Friends - 1971 © Dominique Tarlé 

Martinique - 1972 © André Kertész

Plank Piece -1973 © Charles Ray

Still from World on a Wire - 1973 © Rainer Werner Fassbinder 

Untitled (Red Veil) - © 1973 Shomei Tomatsu

The Red Ceiling, Greenwood Mississippi - 1973 © William Eggleston

Photo Transformation - 1974 © Lucas Samaras

Jack Nicholson and cast on the set of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" - 1974 © Mary Ellen Mark

2nd Street East and South Main Street - 1974 © Stephen Shore

Michelangelo Antonioni on the set of "The Passenger" - 1975 © Floriano Steiner

Red Coat / Fifth Avenue NYC - 1975 © Joel Meyerowitz

Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles CA June 21, - 1975 © Stephen Shore

California - 1976 © Ernst Haas

Jodie Foster -1976 © Terry O'Neill

Frozen Foods - 1977 © Irving Penn

Mario Alberto Kempes after scoring with Argentina (vs. Holland) - 1978 © Unknown Photographer / Getty

Accelerator Bullet Hits Apple - 1978 © Harold E. Edgerton.

Sick of Goodbys (Sic) - 1978 © Robert Frank

World Trade Center Twin Towers, Lower Manhattan - 1978 © Thomas Struth

French Chris on the Convertible, NYC -1979 © Nan Goldin

Pedestrians Crossing a NewYork Street inWinter Time Cast Long Shadows -1980 © Ernst Haas

Untitled (Green Car) - 1980 © Helen Levitt

Blind Twins, Saint Mandé, France - 1980 © Jane Evelyn Atwood

Blooming and Ready.

These guys have been showing up around the windows.

With spring in full bloom now, they're feeling the warm-up of the season and getting ready to nest.

While giving me a chance to do some long tele-photo work, they're also making me some sort of weekend bird n' flower paparazzo. : )
























Spring, New York - 2013 © Miguel Gómez.

The (Nothing) Special Manifest.

I am decidedly fighting any kind of especialization in my work.
It has always been that way, but now I feel stronger than ever about it .

I want to see the world and all it has to offer.
Everything.

When you're a photographer and you only shoot one kind of thing, you are missing out on everything else. It is as wrong as choosing to use your eyes only to see spiders, or just to glimpse at the sea and skip all the rest.

You'll miss out on the people. You'll miss out on the trees, the glorious and even the dirt.
Specialization is inhumane. Fight it. Be universal. A photographer has one thing to specialize on regardless of anything, and that one thing is light.

Start mastering the capture of light. The rest will unfold.

Be a human: See, touch and feel everything that catches your eye.
Photograph it.

Shoot everything and shoot it every time you can.
Duty calling.

Exit.

The following set of photographs belongs to a series I am working on here in New York:
"Exit".

Exit signs seem to be surrounding us everywhere in the city.

And however simple the word "EXIT" seems to be, it is loaded with a deeper meaning. It is an imperative command, that also involves a sense of danger. When seen, it is accentuated by the standardized use of the color red and a simple elongated typography.

But an exit also encloses an interesting contradiction far from the context of imperativeness, danger and obedience. It involves a relief in itself: Given the opportunity to escape from fire, arson or any other dangerous situation, an exit is no other thing but a blessing. I am interested in exploring that duality with this series.






Exit, New York - 2012 © Miguel Gómez.

The Timeless Photographic Past. Part IV.

This post covers photographic highlights from 1961 to 1970.
A period of expansion in culture, that included significant advances in the way society interacted.

The early sixties brought a sense of excitement that resulted in liberation and expansion of consciousness. Halfway through the decade music and art started bringing all the ideas together and its energy was felt in fashion and politics, affecting all human behavior. (Music photography in the sixties deserves a separate dedicated post).

The sense of possibility and a longing for freedom in the sixties, resulted in a modern renaissance period. The revolution then was photographed, televised, and broadcast and reached virtually every aspect of social interaction.

Here's a glimpse into my favorite era of the XXth Century.

    Jean Shrimpton, NYC - 1962 © William Klein

     Anne St. Marie, NYC - 1962 © William Klein

   Simone D'Aillencourt, Paris - 1963 © Melvin Sokolsky

    Marianne Faithful, London - 1964 © Gered Mankowitz

    Beauty in Strength, New York - 1964 © Hiro

    Marianne Faithful, London - 1964 © Jeanloup Sieff

    Giraffe - 1964 © Pete Turner

     Andy Warhol, New York - 1964 © William John Kennedy

    Enco Gas Station, Palm Springs CA - 1965 © Albert Frey

    Self-Portrait - 1965 © Peter Beard

     Grace Coddington - 1966 © David Bailey

    Op Art, Badeanzugvon Sinz - 1966 © F.C. Gundlach

    Grace Slick, San Francisco - 1966 © Herb Greene 

    Twiggy in front of a Bridget Riley Painting, London - 1967 © Bert Stern

    Three Tulips - 1967 © Irving Penn

    Fallen Man - 1967 © Joel Meyerowitz

    Joseph Beuys - 1967 © Liselotte Strelow

    There's A Girl Under There - 1967 © Seymour Sheer

    Jane Birkin - 1968 © Jeanloup Sieff

    New York City - 1968 © Gary Winogrand

    Françoise Hardy - 1969 © Reg Lancaster

    The Somnambulist - 1970 © Ralph Gibson

    Untitled - Tricycle & Memphis - 1970 © William Eggleston