model twiggy in helicopter by photographer melvin sokolsky

Lessons from an Iconic Harper’s Bazaar Photographer

Artists tend to be elusive with the press. Like magicians, they can be wary of revealing their tricks. One in particular, Harper’s Bazaar photographer Melvin Sokolsky, confessed he felt burned by the press and swore against interviews for good. But all that changed in the days leading up to his show at SoHo’s Staley Wise Gallery. In discussion was much more than just the creative process behind his legendary “Bubble” series that popped onto the pages of Harpers in the early 1960s. Here are five life lessons distilled down from our conversation.

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Sam France Oxygen

Foxygen: Legends of Generation Y

Foxygen possesses what most bands lack—the intangible it factor. And no level of talent will help a band obtain what’s so nearly impossible to put your finger on. But these San Francisco psych-poppers have their finger right on it.

I remember once—having posted a contact sheet from their live set at Forecastle Festival sometime back—saying that I had captured “the wild movements of singer Sam France whose powerful mojo hand is painted in the psychedelic colors of the rainbow”. Somehow, a couple years later, this imagery still rings true.

What did I mean? Well, this born frontman twists and bends his rock and roll mojo through a kind of technicolor prism, morphing at every turn. He stretches his otherworldly aura into other times and head-spaces.

When I saw them in the wake of the We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic tour, he was channeling the frantic energy of someone like Jim Morrison. Quite literally writhing on stage in tangles of mic chord like a man possessed.

It was mesmerizing to watch. Needless to say, I wanted to capture every second of it, as if to bottle it up and take it home to study later under laboratory lights.

Evidenced here:

foxygen contact sheet

Lately he’s been entering into the twilight realm of soft rock glamour, dawning jump suits with the plunging neck lines you thought only Mick Jagger could pull off, and vamping into the camera like in one of their latest videos for “Coulda Been My Love”.

The lead singer plays into the camera in the snappiest rock and roll fashion, while in the background the guitarist weeps away on the slide and slowly moves in on the female love interest in the song. It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to think of the rift between Keith Richards and Brian Jones over Anita Pallenburg… or any such similar story.

Any other band would have made the premise of this video seem like some kind of parody. But somehow with Foxygen it’s credible. Like they were there. Like they are one of them. They’re the real deal. Legends of Generation Y.

You won’t want to miss any of this band’s movements.