Longtime contributing photographer and ND’s first photo section editor C. Elliott recently received the Rialto Theatre’s Michael McGrath Partnership Award. It is a community partnership award for her impact on the downtown Tucson, Arizona, community, and her dedication to and her support of the Rialto Theatre for the past 10 years.
Elliott has been the Rialto Theatre’s house photographer, which includes its new venue, 191 Toole, as well as being on the board for the past six years. She donates both her time and photos taken there to the theater.
She also continues to share the photos she takes at the Rialto and elsewhere in the area with ND readers. She even goes a step further: as I know she has a vast catalog of photos, when I am in need of some to feature in a column, she unfailingly finds what I can use in her hard drive(s). So, in recognition of that award and her continued dedication to ND, some of her recent work is being featured this week.
But, instead of talking about the musicians she has photographed, lets think about photography and the role a photographer such as Elliott has in a community, in documenting living and working there. Whether the photographer be a Vivian Maier, Diane Arbus, or Henry Diltz, he/she plays a vital role.
The performance photographer can often times capture the essence, the energy, the ambiance of a live show in a single image, be it static or dynamic. Think of how many memorable photos have been used as album covers, and how many times that photo has come to symbolize the music on that LP or CD — Blue, Blonde on Blonde, Abbey Road, Nevermind, Blue Train, At Folsom Prison, to name a very few.
Too often photography is taken for granted or overlooked. Think about the recently discovered photos of The Last Waltz, Warhol’s pictures at The Factory and Club 54, amateur photos of the Mudd Club and CBGB, iconic shots from bluegrass festivals and of blues legends, and what they add to musical history. Not to mention photos of musicians before they had careers, and those who were not able to sustain one. And the ones that got away, such as there being only two known photos of Robert Johnson.
Think of Daniel Kramer's 1960s photos of Dylan, Linda Eastman's Hendrix photos, and Annie Leibovitz's photo of John Lennon with Yoko Ono taken only hours before his death. So, when you look at photos featured in this column, remember photos are more than photos; they document a place in time that will never happen again. They are history. Our history.
Now, take a look at what C. Elliott has documented in the Tucson area in just the past two months, from Lyle Lovett to Whitney Rose to BeauSoleil to Calexico to Alejandro Escovedo and several dozen more that make up this coat of many colors that is roots music.