Forgive the partiality, but when a life-long friend who you’ve always suspected of having “the gift”, finally puts together a collection of her work; a loving chronicle of Rock’s pivotal moments captured on film, not only are you thrilled, but you have this compulsion to point and yell “told you so!” to everybody who finds this treasure and thumbs these pages.
Let me start by saying I have known Sherry Rayn Barnett for more years than either she or I would like to admit. I met her when she first settled in Los Angeles and was busy setting up shop and doing what needed to be done in order to accommodate certain necessities like food, rent and film. She was delivering sandwiches to offices up and down Sunset Boulevard – dropping off healthy food accompanied by an infectious grin. I was struggling to make my own ends meet while trying to establish a career somewhere between Music, Film and Words and it was Sherry who kept me alive while I tripped, stumbled and opened a few doors in my own somewhat chaotic world.
It wasn’t until I landed one of my first writing gigs that I found out what Sherry actually did. Seeing this rather diminutive young woman with wild mop of hair, same infectious grin and a Nikon slung around her neck one night at The Troubadour, racing back and forth between the audience and the stage as Linda Ronstadt played to a packed and dazzled house.
Seeing the finished work weeks later in a published story, the thing that struck me was the remarkable celebration of artist-as-human-being Sherry had packed into each frame she shot. This was the part where “the gift” came in.
Anybody can buy a camera and start shooting photos – a lot of people spend time taking classes, hanging out at camera stores, investigating techniques, reading how-to books. Many of those people transition over to “professional” and they have a technical proficiency that most likely nets them a reasonable if not handsome living. But there are those few who can take a seemingly random moment and turn it into a magical experience. That nano-second between eye and shutter that captures the true emotional spirit of the subject – the unguarded moment, the humanity of the artist – that essence that can’t be learned or purchased; that’s “the gift”. You’d be surprised at just how rare that quality is after wading through thousands of photos.
And for all the gigs and interviews, concerts and festivals I saw Sherry working over these past few decades, every one of those had a heart attached. She loves music – more than that, she likes people – you can tell, no matter what she may think or tell you, it’s there in the frame. Shutters and f-stops don’t lie.
So Eye of The Music is a celebration of more than that. More than just a chronicle of a truly pivotal era in music, it’s an exploration into the heart of music and the creative experience.
Friendships aside, this is an essential book – one I am thrilled to share on the shelf with Henri Cartier-Bresson and Mary Ellen Mark (no pressure Sherry – you’ve already done the work anyway).
Fingers crossed there’s Volume 2.
The book has been selling out quickly (already well into its second printing) – it’s available from her website: Eye Of The Music
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