On Being Real

On Being Real

SimoneLipscomb (23)

Masks make me uncomfortable. Not costumed masks but those invisible masks humans create to hide the truth of their being. I suppose that’s why my photography has almost exclusively focused on nature and wildlife…until a couple of years ago.

SimoneLipscomb (20)
Billy McLaughlin

A conversation with fellow photographer and Frog Pond Sunday Social attendee about photographing musicians made me laugh and understand something about myself. I made the comment that I was much more comfortable with animals and nature and had never photographed people too much until I began focusing on portraits of musicians. His reply–“Well, they’re not that different from animals you know.” He said it to be funny and we had a good laugh but what he said is very true.

SimoneLipscomb (14)
Grayson Capps

When musicians are really in the creative groove and are connected to their source of inspiration, they appear to be in an unmasked state of being. They seem to invite the audience to witness their journey and meet them in that place from which they bring forth beauty…and magic.

SimoneLipscomb (15)
Will Kimbrough, Corky Hughes & Grayson Capps

I’m basically shy and much more comfortable alone in the woods or underwater with my cameras. I discovered, while listening and photographing Robert Randolph, why I like photographing musicians.

SimoneLipscomb (8)
Robert Randolph

I connect energetically with musicians when they bring forth their gifts through performance. It’s as if I can see beyond the outer appearance to their true essence and meet them there through my photography. It’s as if we make an unspoken agreement to share that space of truth.

SimoneLipscomb (6)
Robert Randolph

When I photographed Robert, I squirmed my way to the stage to see the energetic and amazing performer who had a huge crowd of people dancing. He was channeling lightning, or so it seemed. He is a pedal steel guitarist and bringer of a dynamic force to all in attendance willing to meet him. Me? I stood there with a huge smile on my face. How could I not? His smile rocked the festival. As the intensely-loud music bounced through me (I was in front of massive speakers) and I focused on him with my camera, I understood my love of photographing musicians while they are playing.

SimoneLipscomb (17)
Sarah Lee Guthrie

Live music is one of the rare experiences where we can see humans engaged in the creative process. Musicians that are truly in their happy place allow their masks to fall away  to expose a truer self.  That’s probably what separates the really great musicians from the good ones…a willingness to tap into a higher expression of who they are in front of an audience. That’s no small thing. And that’s probably why I think of these same musicians as being like ministers….leaders who invite us all to a deeper yet higher place.

SimoneLipscomb (21)When I am standing in a river photographing elk headed straight for me, I feel a similar emotion as I do when photographing an expressive musician. I am much more comfortable with elk and other forms of nature but that’s because I don’t create a mask when I’m in nature or surrounded by animals.

Will Kimbrough

Musicians are teaching me to shed my masks and meet them in the truth of the moment, where music melts walls of division and creates harmony of spirit.




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